Tuesday's 2011 World Series of Poker night on ESPN airs two new episodes every week on the way to the highly anticipated November Nine. Last week, Day 3 coverage of the Main Event concluded, which meant four of the 24 Main Event episodes were in the can. With 6,865 players entering this year's “Big One,” creating a prize pool of $64,531,000, you could tell the capstone event of the money bubble was going to be entertaining.
Heading into Day 4, a plethora of notables remained including Jeff Lisandro, Erick Lindgren, Amanda Musumeci, Daniel Negreanu, Sam Barnhart, Vanessa Rousso, Jean-Robert Bellande, Ben Lamb, and of course Phil Hellmuth. With only 852 players in the field, the average chip count was 241,725. Here is a look at the top chip counts a few minutes into the broadcast:
Start of Day 4 Top Ten Chip Counts
Let’s Get It On: With the blinds at 2,000/4,000 and a 500 ante, former World Champion Phil Hellmuth was at the featured table, albeit with a short stack of 77,000. He managed to take a small pot on the first hand of the broadcast before the following one developed. Hellmuth limped from middle position with and Patrick Devlin, who Norman Chad joked looked a little like Arnold Schwarzenegger, also came along from the button with . Martin de Knijff checked his option from the big blind holding , and there was three-way action to the flop.
All three players checked, including Hellmuth, who had flopped the nuts. When the appeared on the turn, de Knijff bet 7,000, Hellmuth raised to 18,000, Devlin folded, and de Knijff made the call. The river saw de Knijff check-fold to Hellmuth’s 36,500 bet, and the 1989 Champ chipped up to 115,000. Interestingly, the only other former champs left in the field were Berry Johnston (1986) and Robert Varkonyi (2002).
Brenes Busted: Two-time bracelet winner Humberto Brenes got all-in preflop holding only to run into Mike Ellis' . With 151,500 in the pot, and Brenes singing to the crowd, the board ran out an uneventful . Brenes tossed what appeared to be one of his patented shark card protectors to Ellis before making his way to the rail.
Hello, Sam Barnhart: If you haven’t heard of Sam Barnhart in 2011, you may be living under a rock. In February, he won the WSOP-Circuit Harrah’s Tunica Main Event and qualified for the National Championship, which was held at Caesars Palace right before the 2011 WSOP kicked off at the Rio. Barnhart managed to win that too, earning $350,000, and carried that momentum into the Main Event. ESPN must have been impressed with Barnhart, who laid down pocket kings preflop on Day 3 (rightly so as his opponent had aces), and decided to give him some air time on the secondary feature table.
It was there that Barnhart won a big pot off Patrick Poirier, before becoming involved in a hand with John Wilson. It began when action folded to Barnhart on the button and he made it 11,000 to go with . Wilson defended from the big blind holding and the two were heads-up to the flop. Wilson checked, Barnhart bet 30,000, and Wilson moved all-in for 146,500. Barnhart took his time before tossing in a call and discovered he was a 64 percent favorite. Neither the turn nor river changed a thing, and Barnhart captured the 321,000 pot.
ESPN Secondary Feature Table
Lisandro Loses: Jeff Lisandro was all-in preflop with and up against the of Lance Steinberg. We’re not sure how the money got in, but we do know there was 148,500 in the pot and Steinberg was a 59 percent favorite. Unfortunately for Lisandro, his opponent became a 95 percent favorite on the flop, while the turn left him drawing dead. The meaningless was put out on the river for good measure as the resigned Lisandro made a quick exit.
Casa del Hellmuth: An entertaining feature on Phil Hellmuth’s home in Palo Alto, California, was shown, which included the “Poker Brat” picking a lemon from a tree in his backyard and eating a part of the skin. “Wow, I rarely do this, but it’s really not bad,” Hellmuth said as he chowed down. Hellmuth also discussed his life outside of poker, which included writing books and pursuing other business ventures.
Quad Kings for Cody: In the second hour of broadcast, $25,000 Heads-Up Champion and Triple Crown winner Jake Cody moved all-in preflop for 27,000 with and was called by Matthew Kay's in the small blind. Cody was a 68 percent favorite, but the in the window no doubt gave him some concern. Luckily for him, it was followed by the and . Cody had hit a set, but the turn gave Kay a flush draw. Sure enough, the river was a spade when the plunked down. Unfortunately for Kay, it was a spade that gave Cody quads!
Queens for the Lady: Amanda Musumeci found herself involved in a monster pot worth 620,500 when a raising war resulted in her racing against A.P. Phahurat’s . The latter stood from his chair and donned his backpack, prompting Musumeci to ask, “Are you standing up because you’re ready to go?”
“I’m a little scared, not gonna lie,” Phahurat admitted. The flop was safe for Musumeci, as was the turn. To stay alive, Phahurat needed either an ace or king on the river, but it was not meant to be because the rolled off. With that, Musumeci was up to around a million in chips.
Hellmuth Exits Stage Left: Phil Hellmuth, who was down to around 20 big blinds, raised to 12,500 with only to have Martin de Knijff three-bet to 32,500 from the small blind. Hellmuth made the call and watched as de Knijff led out for 30,000 on the flop. Hellmuth asked for a count and took his time before moving all-in for 68,500. De Knijff snap-called and Hellmuth only had a 13 percent chance of winning the hand.
The turn gave Hellmuth a flush draw and improved his chances to 25 percent, but the river was not what he needed. Just like that, Hellmuth’s 2011 WSOP came to an end. Surprisingly, he was gracious in defeat, shaking hands with the entire table before making his exit from the main stage.
When asked by Kara Scott to reflect on his 2011 WSOP success, Hellmuth responded: “We’ll let history be the judge of the World Series. I mean three seconds, it hurts a lot. But I know, on some levels, I did phenomenally well. I can’t go around talking about I’m great at this or great at that, I just can’t do that anymore. History has to be the judge of that.”
Money Bubble: With 695 players remaining and only 693 slated to get paid, players were anxious to lock up a minimum $19,359 payday. It was at that point that Daniel Negreanu found himself all-in for his last 43,000 on a flop of . Lucky for Negreanu, he was out in front with against Andrea Vezzani's . “First time I’ve been all-in the whole tournament, it’s kinda scary,” Negreanu joked with the crowd. Much to his delight, he doubled since neither the turn nor river helped Vezzani.
Unfortunately, Reza Kashani was not so lucky. He got all-in holding on a flop of only to run into 2010 November Niner Joseph Cheong who was holding . The turn left Kashani looking for a ten on the river, but it was the that spiked to give Cheong quads. With that, Kashani became the 2011 WSOP Main Event Bubble Boy, with the consolation prize of a free entry into the 2012 Main Event!
Interestingly, Cheong was the sole remaining survivor from last year’s November Nine.
Closing it Out: In the last hand of the episode, Jake Cody got all-in preflop with and was facing off against the Fabio Sousa. With 293,000 in the pot, the board ran out and Cody exited with his third cash of the 2011 WSOP.
Tune in Next Week: Every Tuesday leading up to November, ESPN will air episodes of the 2011 WSOP Main Event. Be sure to either check your local listings or come back next week for our recap of the action.