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2009 WSOP: Williams, Mueller Advance to Final Shootout #50; Bonita Tops #51 NLHE

David Williams

$1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout Event #50, Day 2 – The Final Table is Set

Day 2 of Event #50, $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout, concluded with eight winners, all returning Sunday for the final table with equal chip stacks. The final eight contenders are Joep van den Bijgaart, David Williams, Marc Naalden, Jose Barbero, Greg Mueller, Matthew Sterling, Millie Shiu, and Flaminio Malaguti.

The shootout format meant that each of the 64 single-table winners from Day 1 was in the money, but then had to win a second, eight-handed table on Day 2 in order to advance in the payouts and play at the final table. The 56 who failed at that task each went home with $4,350. This group included Shawn Buchanan, Nick Binger, Juha Helppi, Jean-Robert Bellande, Humberto Brenes, David Plastik, Dan Heimiller, and double-bracelet winner Brock Parker.

Not surprisingly, given the limit structure, table winners did not emerge quickly. In fact, by the dinner break none of the original eight tables had even come close to producing a winner – three tables had five players left, two had six, two had seven, and one table still had all eight original members in contention.

Joep van den Bijgaart was the first to claim a final-table seat, at about 10:00 p.m. His last remaining opponent, Qinghai Pan, raised from the button with {J-Spades}{3-Spades}, van den Bijgaart reraised with {K-Clubs}{6-Spades}, Pan reraised all in, and van den Bijgaart called. The board ran out {Q-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}{9-Clubs}{A-Clubs}{K-Hearts}, and Pan was done.

Just a few minutes later, David Williams was the next to punch his return ticket. On the last hand, Mike Halioua raised from the button/small blind, and Williams made the call. The flop came {3-Spades}{Q-Spades}{2-Spades}. Williams checked, Halioua bet, and Williams called. The turn was the {2-Hearts}. Williams checked, Halioua bet, Williams raised, and Halioua tossed his last 2,000 into the middle. Williams turned over {8-Spades}{4-Spades} for the flopped flush, meaning Halioua was already drawing dead with his {K-Diamonds}{7-Spades}.

By about 10:45 p.m., the remaining six tables were all down to heads-up play. Jacob Petersen put the last of his chips into the pot on the turn, with the board showing {10-Clubs}{3-Hearts}{7-Clubs}{5-Diamonds} and {K-Diamonds}{3-Spades} in his hand. But Marc Naalden had flopped top pair with {J-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}, and the river {9-Hearts} did not change the standings, sending Jacobson to the exit and Naalden to the finals.

Jose Barbero, who earlier in the day had received a relatively rare one-orbit penalty for using his cell phone during a hand, defeated Johnny Neckar to take his seat at the final table. On the flop of {9-Spades}{5-Clubs}{K-Diamonds}, Barbero checked, Neckar bet, Barbero check-raised, Neckar reraised all in, and Barbero called. Barbero tabled {K-Hearts}{10-Spades} for top pair, while Neckar had {J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}, and could not overcome Barbero’s lead when the turn and river ran out {7-Diamonds} and {6-Hearts}.

Greg “FBT” Mueller faced Tom Schneider as his final opponent. The majority of the damage to Schneider’s stack came when he flopped a set to Mueller’s flush draw. On the flop of {J-Diamonds}{8-Spades}{3-Spades}, Mueller checked his {7-Spades}{5-Spades}. Schneider bet, holding {3-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}, Mueller raised, and Schneider made the call. The turn was the {Q-Clubs}. This time Mueller led, Schneider raised, and Mueller called. On the river {2-Spades}, Mueller led again, receiving a call from Schneider, who mucked his cards face-up. That hand left Schneider critically short-stacked, and soon thereafter he was all in preflop with {9-Hearts}{5-Clubs} to Mueller’s {9-Diamonds}{8-Spades}. When the community cards came {A-Spades}{4-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{6-Clubs}{9-Clubs}, the 2007 WSOP Player of the Year was eliminated and Mueller moved on.

The sixth battle came to an end when Matt Sterling defeated Robert Tanniru. Sterling raised from the button, Tanniru reraised, and Sterling called. The flop came {9-Clubs}{6-Spades}{7-Hearts}. Tanniru bet, Sterling raised, Tannriu reraised with the last of his chips, and Sterling made the call. Tanniru showed {A-Spades}{5-Diamonds} and Sterling flipped over {J-Spades}{10-Clubs}. Tanniru’s ace-high was best, but Sterling caught a pair with the {10-Diamonds} on the turn, and the river {K-Clubs} failed to rescue Tanniru.

A short-stacked Ben Ponzio gambled the last of his chips with {7-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds} before the flop, up against Millie Shiu’s {A-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}. He picked up a straight draw on the flop of {3-Hearts}{8-Spades}{5-Hearts}, but it failed to materialize when the board completed with {8-Hearts} and {J-Clubs}. Shiu’s ace was enough to propel her to the final table.

It took another 45 minutes for the last winner to be determined. On the final hand of the night, Flaminio Malaguti raised from the button, Andreas Hoivold reraised, and Malaguti called. The flop came {J-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}. Hoivold bet and Malaguti called. The turn fell the {9-Hearts}, and again Malaguti called Hoivold's bet. The river was the {3-Diamonds}. Hoivold checked, Malaguti bet, and Hoivold called off the last of his chips. Malaguti showed {Q-Clubs}{9-Spades} for a single pair of nines and Hoivold mucked.

The eight winners will assemble for Day 3 at 2:00 p.m. PDT Sunday. The graduated prizes vary from $13,655 for the first one out to a top payout of $194,854, along with the gold bracelet.

$1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Event #51, Day 1 – Bonita Squeaks Into Early Lead

The sixth out of seven of the extremely popular $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournaments at this year’s WSOP, Event #51, got off a rousing start on Saturday when 2,781 players showed up to take a shot at the gold bracelet. That fell just short of the 2,790-player cap that tournament officials had set, and topped last year’s counterpart, which began with 2,693 runners and was won by David Daneshgar. When the cards were put away for the night after ten one-hour levels of play, 349 players were left, with Christopher Bonita edging his way to the top of the leaderboard with 131,700, just ahead of Ryan Price (130,000) and Cody Slaubaugh (125,900).

Amit Makhija had the misfortune of losing all his chips on the second hand of play when his A-K ran into pocket aces. Kevin Saul went out a couple of hours into the day. Holding {A-Clubs}{J-Diamonds}, he put his last 1,400 in chips into an already-raised pot and was called by a player with pocket eights. Saul took the lead when the flop came {J-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{10-Hearts}, and kept it with the {Q-Diamonds} on fourth street, but his opponent hit a third eight on the river to send him home early.

Even with thousands of hands being dealt hourly at the Rio, it’s not every day that a player flops a royal flush. But that’s exactly what happened to Marc Fluss when his {A-Diamonds}{J-Diamonds} perfectly matched the flop of {K-Diamonds}{Q-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}. To make his situation even better, both of his opponents had hands with which they were willing to bet all their chips: one flopped a flush with {8-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}, while the other held top two pair with K-Q, improving to a full house on the turn. Fluss’ stack moved to 20,000 with that triple-up. Only slight less lucky was Michael Carroll, who doubled up twice in Level 9 with pocket aces – the second time flopping four of a kind.

Mark Seif got off to a rip-roaring start, chipping up to over 20,000 early on. But his luck began to falter, and he went out shortly after the dinner break. Seif got the last of his money in good, with {A-Spades}{5-Hearts} against an opponent’s {K-Hearts}{Q-Hearts}. The board went against him, however, as it came down {7-Clubs}{3-Clubs}{Q-Clubs}{10-Clubs}{2-Hearts}.

Paul Wasicka hit the rail on something of a stunner blind-versus-blind hand, just before the day’s end. The exact action was not recorded, but in the end he turned over pocket fours to give him a full house with the board reading A-7-3-7-4. Hon Le, however, had the bigger boat with A-7 in the hole.

Also taking leave of the premises on Day 1 were Adam Levy, Lee Markholt, David Chicotsky, Kathy Liebert, Kenna James, Thomas Keller, Hevad Khan, J.J. Liu, Shaun Deeb, James Mackey, Jonathan Little, Mike Watson, and Bryan Micon. Notable names coming back for Day 2 will include Men “The Master” Nguyen, Amnon Filippi, Steven Levy, Tony Cousineau, Grant Hinkle, Mika Paasonen, and Alex Jacob.

Play will resume at 2:00 p.m. PDT Sunday, with the returning players all shooting for one of the 297 payout slots and part of the whopping $3,796,065 prize pool, including $664,426 for first place.

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