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The WSOP on ESPN: In the Money

Johnny Chan

Everyone loves the bubble. Well, everyone except for the short-stacks, forced to sweat their payday with every passing hand. After four hard-fought days on the felt, 747 of the 7,319 players in the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event saw their work rewarded with a five-figure payday while hundreds went home with nothing to show for it. This week’s two-hour block of coverage on ESPN devoted quite a bit of airtime to that crucial moment, players like Johnny Chan and the four Mizrachi brothers surviving the bubble, while others like Dan Harrington, Angel Guillen, and Annie Duke weren’t as fortunate.

Cast of Characters: Chan had a top-ten stack to start the day and held court on the main featured table along with Brett Richey and retired Australian boxer Jeff Fenech. The action on Table 2 featured Gavin Smith, Dan Harrington, Max Casal, and Frank Kassela, who was looking to lock up at least a portion of WSOP Player of the Year honors (he’s tied with Michael Mizrachi) by making the money. Still lurking in the field were the four Mizrachi brothers plus Patrik Antonius, Phil Galfond, Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier.

He’s still “Johnny Chan the Master”: Chan’s aggression factor was in overdrive on Day 4 and he put pressure on his opponents at every opportunity. After he opened {4-Diamonds}{5-Hearts} for 7,500 on the button, Virgil Beddingfield reraised to 17,000 from the big blind with pocket tens. Chan called and they saw a {K-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}{4-Hearts} flop. Beddingfield led out for 16,000, Chan raised to 33,000 with only bottom pair, and Beddingfield called. The turn brought the {6-Clubs}. Beddingfield slowed down and checked, opening the door for Chan to move all-in for 108,300. Beddingfield couldn’t find a call and Chan raked in the pot.

Later on, Chan pulled a similar move when he raised on the button to 7,500 with {8-Diamonds}{6-Clubs}. Fenech defended his big blind with {8-Spades}{10-Clubs} and hit top pair when the flop came down {10-Spades}{7-Clubs}{5-Hearts}. Fenech checked, Chan bet 12,000, and Fenech quickly raised to 30,000. Chan called. The {A-Hearts} on the turn was a bit of a scare card for Fenech. He checked over to Chan, who shoved for 89,200 with his open-ended straight draw. Fenech folded and Chan picked up even more momentum.

PokerNews reporters spotted: Bruno Santos, Martin Harris, Eric Ramsey, and’s Remko Rinkema.

Notable eliminations: Barry Greenstein was eliminated when his ace-queen fell to Jason Somerville’s ace-king. Hank Azaria busted just outside the money when his pocket queens fell to {A-Spades}{K-Hearts}.

“The kid just killed Chief Wiggam!” quipped Norman Chad as an ace fell on the river, ending Azaria’s Main Event.

Reigning WSOP-Europe champion Barry Shulman went out short of the money, as did one of the last remaining world champions in the field. Although Dan Harrington doubled up earlier on Day 4 with {A-Hearts}{K-Clubs} catching a lucky ace on the turn against Joe Brandenburg’s {K-Spades}{K-Diamonds}, he ran into Ronnie Bardah’s flopped straight when he moved all-in on a {K-Clubs}{10-Hearts}{Q-Hearts}{7-Hearts} board holding {Q-Clubs}{J-Clubs}. The {K-Diamonds} fell on the river and Harrington made a hasty exit from the Amazon Room.

Also suffering elimination on the wrong side of the money bubble were Annie Duke, who fell to Corwin Cole, and barking man Ted Bort, who left the Amazon Room with his tail between his legs.

Bad beat of the week: Jason Mercier got his money in with {Q-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs} on a {J-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{5-Clubs} flop , but found himself in dire shape against Simon Pearson’s {A-Spades}{A-Hearts}. The turn was a blank for Mercier, the {6-Spades}.

“How about a queen, you want to go on record for a queen?” Mercier asked, just as the {Q-Hearts} spiked on the river. Ouch.

The bubble boy and the REAL bubble boy: With 748 players remaining, Tim McDonald moved all-in with {Q-Spades}{Q-Diamonds} against Ismail Erkenov who had made a full house on the {A-Clubs}{A-Spades}{2-Diamonds} flop. The turn was the {7-Diamonds}, and the {Q-Hearts} made McDonald an inferior boat. Although McDonald was the Main Event’s “official” bubble boy, he did earn a little something for his anguish — a $10,000 seat into next year’s Main Event. The real bubble boy was Team PokerStars Pro Angel Guillen, who saw his pocket aces cracked by pocket jacks and sent home truly empty-handed in 749th place.

Another new WSOP record: The 2010 Main Event once again saw the Mizrachi brothers etch their place in WSOP history. Earlier in the series, Michael and Robert became the highest-finishing pair of brothers in a WSOP event with their first- and fifth-place finishes in the $50,000 Players’ Championship. Once the bubble burst, Michael, Eric, Robert and Donny became the first set of four brothers to cash in the Main Event.

Quote of the week: “You know I’m the first Player of the Year to cash in the Main Event the year he won POY,” Frank Kasella said.

“What, you want a doggie biscuit? Get this man a doggie biscuit!” Gavin Smith replied.

One ’09 “Niner” left: The only member of the 2009 November Nine to make the money this year was Eric Buchman. Defending champion Joe Cada made Day 3, but the other seven all went out on Day 1 or 2.

What’s with the Peter Jetten buttons?: Inspired by Phil Ivey superfans Mel and Pat Humphries (who often wear oversized buttons bearing a photo of their hero), Peter Jetten proposed a prop bet to his pal Tom Dwan. They made a last-longer wager at the 2009 Main Event whereby the loser would be forced to wear a giant button bearing an image of the winner for the duration of the 2010 Main Event. Dwan lost and was forced to wear the Jetten buttons. One bore a photo of Jetten cuddling a koala, another showed him wearing a goofy-looking gold plastic crown.

One Mizrachi down, one triples up: Michael’s twin brother Eric was the first Mizrachi eliminated from the Main Event when he got his money in with {J-Hearts}{J-Diamonds} against {A-Spades}{K-Clubs} and pocket aces. Eric could not catch a jack and went out in 718th place. Across the room, youngest brother Donny was all in with {K-Hearts}{Q-Hearts} on a {J-Spades}{10-Clubs}{9-Spades}{2-Clubs} board against Rafael Sans Rodrigo’s set of tens and David Benyamine’s flush draw with {6-Spades}{8-Spades}. Donny’s king-high straight held when the {4-Hearts} hit the river, tripling him up to 400,000.

November Nine watch: This week we caught our first glimpse of Jonathan Duhamel, who was shown folding a hand against Phil Galfond. Filippo Candio also earned a few seconds of screen time as he climbed past 700,000 in chips.

The German Darvin Moon: Hey, those are Norman Chad’s words, not ours (even though they’re pretty darn accurate). Jan Boye was an entertaining presence on the main featured table during the second hour and he scored a major KO, eliminating 2010 WSOP Player of the Year leader Frank Kassela.

Kassela opened for 17,000 with {K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs}, Tom Duong reraised all-in with {Q-Hearts}{Q-Diamonds} from the small blind, and Boye picked up {A-Spades}{Q-Clubs} in the big blind. Despite the raise and the reraise in front of him, he shoved for 97,000, and Kassela quickly called. The flop came down a devastating {Q-Spades}{7-Clubs}{3-Spades}, Duong flopping a set.

“Are you kidding me? A one-outer?” Kassela said.

The {4-Spades} on the turn made things even more interesting as Boye picked up the nut flush draw. The German started begging aloud for a spade on the river and got his wish — the {2-Spades} falling to make his flush — eliminating both Duong and Kassela.

“Dis is good. New money please!” Boye exclaimed, smiling ear to ear as a stunned Kassela left the stage.

Michael Mizrachi, however, was able to get the best of Boye. Mizrachi three-bet shoved from the big blind with {10-Hearts}{10-Clubs} and Boye made the call with {7-Spades}{7-Diamonds}.

“One seven! One seven!” Boye chanted maniacally.

This time, the poker gods did not comply, the board running out {8-Hearts}{6-Spades}{3-Spades}{6-Clubs}{4-Hearts} to give Mizrachi a double-up to 245,000.

Who’s in? Who’s out?: In a repeat feat, Matt Affleck ended Day 4 as the chip leader just has he did in 2009. Two former Main Event champions are still alive and kicking: Scotty Nguyen had a huge Day 4, climbing from 20 big blinds to over half a million in chips, and Johnny Chan ended the session near the top of the pack with over 1 million. The room was left at least 10 percent less attractive with Patrik Antonius’ exit, his pocket jacks falling to {A-Spades}{K-Spades} and 10 percent less intelligent with Allen Cunningham’s departure. Jeff Fenech also threw his last haymaker, Chan scoring the KO when his {A-Hearts}{10-Hearts} flopped Broadway against Fenech’s {A-Diamonds}{5-Spades}.

The 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event airs Tuesday evenings on ESPN. Check your local listings.

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