The elastic bubble mini-marathon left the £5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event returning for its final day with 15 players; all could just about see in the distance the possibility of a World Series of Poker bracelet. Those for whom chip distribution made it that much more likely were chip leader and November Niner John Racener and Hit Squad member Karl Mahrenholz who both started the day with over 200,000. While both comfortably attained the final table, neither could pull victory out of the bag this time, however, with Mahrenholz finishing sixth right behind Racener in fifth. Joining them in the final ten was a veritable minefield of WSOP experience, with four-time bracelet winner and 2009 WSOP Player of the Year Jeff Lisandro in the middle of the pack at the start, along with double bracelet holders Chris Bjorin (who came third in the six-max event here just days ago) and Jeff Madsen.
Counting from before the final table bubble was set (everyone was in the money to start the day) there was another bracelet holder still in, Steve Jelinek, who won the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha 8-or-Better this year in Vegas. He finished this event in 15th place for just over £10,000, while Jeff Kimber (who finished eighth in this very event last year) matched that performance this time round. It was Lisandro who dispatched Kimber, and in doing so gave himself a big chip lead which almost never faltered until the very late stages. Meanwhile, Felipe Ramos, the up-and-coming Brazilian, lost most of his stack and his foothold in the tournament when Willie Tann's aces held against his top pair flush draw/gutshot combo. Although he spent the next level doubling up and dropping back, Ramos eventually finished in seventh place. If you subscribe to poker-themed Twitter, you probably know all that already (plus how Racener and Madsen felt about their respective exits).
Turning to Madsen, who’d held the chip lead off and on, his day appeared a struggle from start to fourth-place finish as he tangled with Racener, doubled up Willie Tann, and finally succumbed to his neighbor Joe Serock's blind-on-blind aces. That left Tann flying the flag for the UK rail (which were solidly behind this stalwart of the live game), and he brought as many viewers to the side of the stage as did the celebrity power of Lisandro or the possibly intoxicated enthusiasm of Serock’s supporters.
Serock, now with over a million chips three-handed (twice the chips of either of his opponents), sat back for a few hands during which Tann and Lisandro attacked each other. Lisandro got the best of the back-to-back finalist, finally cracking his kings to send him to the rail in third with a £71,184 prize to soothe missing out on the bracelet.
Heads-up play was anything but cagey, starting with a crowd-teasing all in early on in which Serock’s went up against Lisandro’s other-suited ; they somehow managed to chop with both players making a broadway straight. Serock’s rail was growing somewhat rowdy (it was 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday night, after all) and while they wondered, “What a bracelet smells like!” their friend calmly carried on. His chip advantage came and went, but in the end it was a 1.36-million chip preflop all-in situation which turned the tables. It was aces versus kings and Lisandro spiked a third king to catapult himself into a dominant position, which soon ended the heads-up match.
Serock will have to make do with his second runner-up spot in a WSOP event – he came second in the $2,500 6-max No-Limit Hold’em in 2009 – while Lisandro gains a fifth piece of World Series jewelry, his first in a discipline outside of Stud, and £159,514. This Series being somewhat shorter than the WSOP in Vegas, he might find it difficult to match his three bracelet takedown in 2009, but it’s a damn good start.
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