The 2011 World Series of Poker Europe may have concluded in October, but action continued on the airwaves Sunday for the first time as ESPN 2 aired six one-hour episodes. The coverage kicked off with the broadcast of the Caesars Cup, which saw Team Europe (Tony G, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Jake Cody, Maxim Lykov, and Gus Hansen) take on Team Americas (Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Ben Lamb, Johnny Chan, and Jason Mercier), with the latter team looking to avenge their loss in the inaugural event in 2009.
Let’s Get It On: The best-of-five competition, which would feature two doubles matches (alternate action/same stack) and three heads-up matches, began with Lamb and Mercier taking on Tony G and Jake Cody, the latter team sporting a questionable red zip-up, while Team Americas donned its black counterpart. Norman Chad took note of the outfits and quipped, “In those get-ups, Tony G and Jake look like they should be working with a ground crew at LAX.”
The first match was fairly subdued with the exception of a Lamb-Mercier double that happened after Team Americas' held, after all the money in on a flop of , against Team Europe's . Neither the turn nor river helped Cody-Tony G, and Team Americas doubled to 192,000. On the very next hand, Team Americas dispatched its opponents and went up 1-0.
Middle Matches: The second match of the Caesars Cup saw Phil Hellmuth, the Team Americas captain, and Daniel Negreanu take on the “Great Dane” Gus Hansen and Russian pro Maxim Lykov. As in the first match, there were not a lot of big hands as Team Americas slowly chipped away at its opponents, only to have Team Europe double back to even. From there, Hansen and Lykov collected a few pots before calling Team Americas’ all-in preflop bet of 55,000.
The board ran out an uneventful and Team Europe evened things out.
The third match was the first of three heads-up battles and saw two-time WSOP Main Event champ Johnny Chan square off against Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, captain of Team Europe. That competition saw Grospellier receive an early double to put Chan on the ropes, but Chan battled back and doubled.
ESPN then aired a segment featuring Grospellier as he traveled around Cannes, France: “I’m very happy the World Series of Poker is being held here this year,” Grospellier said in French. “It’s an incredible change from London. As you can see there is the beach, the ocean, and the sun. It’s true that all the conditions are perfect for a great time and to play poker.”
In what would be the last hand of the third match, Chan looked down at and moved all-in. ElkY called off his stack of 88,000 with and watched the flop come down , giving him some more outs. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, the turn took away some of those outs and the put an end to his day. Chan gave Team Americas the 2-1 lead.
Hail, Caesar!: The fourth match saw Hellmuth face off against Lykov, 24, in a bout that saw the chip lead exchange hands several times. Eventually Hellmuth worked up to a 3-1 chip lead before he looked down at and limped from the button. Lykov responded by moving all-in with , Hellmuth called, and the flop came down , giving Team Americas the lead. Neither the turn nor river helped Lykov and Team Europe was felled 3-1. There was no need for a fifth match as Team Americas avenged their 2009 loss by capturing the Caesars Cup.
Changing Gears: The proceeding five hours of broadcast were dedicated to the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event, with action picking up with the final 16 players of a 593-player field. With a prize pool of €5,692,800 generated and €1,400,000 reserved for first place, the competition was fierce and comprised of some of the game's best.
Chip Counts at the Top of the Broadcast
Double, Double, and Drummond in Trouble: Early in the broadcast, both Elio Fox and Arnaud Mattern managed to double back into contention, but Michael Drummond was not so lucky. He found himself all-in with , up against Brian Roberts' . The board read , and Drummond shoved the river only to have Roberts make the call. Drummond was sent packing in 16th place, good for €43,000.
The Haves & Lehav-Nots: In the second episode of the WSOPE Main Event, a three-way pot developed that saw Amir Lehavot and Andy Moseley both all-in and at risk against Brian Roberts.
Roberts was in great shape to eliminate two players, but the flop paired Moseley and gave him the lead. The turn and river ensured a near triple-up for Moseley, while Lehavot was sent to the rail in 15th place for €43,000.
The Island of Dr. Moreau: Shawn Buchanan opened for 50,000 with only to have Steven Moreau move all-in for 474,000 with . “I’m gonna have to call,” Buchanan uttered, doing just that. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, the flop paired Buchanan. The turn gave Moreau a flush draw, but the river bricked, sending him home in 14th place. No doubt the €53,000 payday was a nice consolation for the satellite qualifier.
Moseley KO’d; Guenegou Dusted: Even with the aforementioned triple, Andy Moseley couldn’t get much going and soon found himself all-in for 138,000 with and up against Fox's . The board ran out and Moseley was eliminated in 13th place, earning €53,000 for his performance.
Likewise, Thibaud Guenegou was jettisoned after pushing all-in from the small blind for his last 425,000 holding only to be called by Elio Fox, who was holding . The flop wasn't particularly helpful to Guenegou, but the turn doubled his outs with a flush draw. Unfortunately, the river was not what Guenegou was looking for, and he was eliminated in 12th place for €67,500.
Two More Down: Arnaud Mattern opened for 60,000 only to have Alex Dovzhenko move all-in for 455,000. Elio Fox then looked down at his cards and also moved all-in. Mattern snap-called off his stack of 1.53 million, and the cards were turned up:
Mattern was in great shape to double into a commanding chip lead, but the flop gave Fox a set and made him an 88 percent favorite in the hand. The turn left Dovzhenko drawing dead, but gave Mattern the nut-flush draw. The river brought the . Fox got the double knock out, sending Dovzhenko home in 11th place (€67,500), followed by Mattern in 10th (€90,000). With that, the American was the definitive chip leader with 3.9 million.
Goodbye, Patrik: After being three-outed on the river by Chris Moorman and losing 95 percent of his chips, Patrik Antonius called off his paltry stack after Shawn Buchanan had raised to 60,000 with and Moorman coyly called with . The rest of the field cleared out and Antonius had just a 7 percent chance of winning the hand with his .
The flop saw Buchanan check-call a bet of 100,000 from Moorman, only to check-fold to a bet of 225,000 on the turn. Antonius needed a king on the river to stay alive, but it was not meant to be as the appeared. Antonius was eliminated in ninth place (€90,000) and had the following to say: “I played a very good tournament so far, very solid. I didn’t go up and down with my chips, and this was my first all-in, my first flip, and I lost it.”
Here is a look at the official eight-handed final table:
2011 WSOPE Final Table
Off to the Races: Chris Moorman opened for 65,000 with only to have Max Silver three-bet to 165,000 with on the button. The blinds got out of the way, Moorman four-bet to 365,000, Silver moved all-in for 1,715,000, and Moorman made the call. Just like that, the chip leader at the start of the WSOPE broadcast was at risk with 3.5 million chips on the line.
The flop was no help to Silver, and neither was the turn. Moorman needed to dodge an ace and king on the river to eliminate his opponent, which is exactly what he did when the hit. Silver, the youngest player left in the tournament, was the first final-table casualty and took home €115,000.
Cody’s Bid for a Second Bracelet Comes Up Short: In the last hand of the WSOPE’s fourth episode, Elio Fox opened for 110,000, Jake Cody three-bet to 250,000 from the button, and Fox four-bet to 600,000. Cody hesitated for a moment before moving all-in for 2.9 million and Fox snap-called.
Fox was clearly disappointed with the predicament, namely that he only had an 18 percent chance of winning the hand. That increased to 24 percent on the flop, and improbably, the spiked on the turn to give him a ten-high straight and a 95 percent chance of winning the hand, which he did after the was put out on the turn.
With that, Fox took down the 5.91 million pot, giving him nearly 40 percent of the chips in play, while Cody was eliminated in seventh place (€115,000).
Buchanan Drowned on the River: Action folded to Elio Fox on the button and he applied the pressure with a raise to 120,000 holding . Dermot Blain then peered down at in the small blind and moved all-in for 1.7 million, Shawn Buchanan called off 985,000 with , and Fox got out of the way.
Buchanan had been quiet at the final table, and now found himself in a dominating spot; however, the flop was helpful to Blain, giving him straight and flush opportunities. The turn was no harm to Buchanan, but the was, because it paired Blain. Buchanan was modest in defeat, shaking hands with the table, before making his exit in sixth place (€200,000).
Blain Disappears: In the last hand of the fifth episode, Dermot Blain opened under the gun for 175,000 with and was three-bet to 350,000 by Brian Roberts, who held . Blain responded by moving all-in for 1.76 million, Roberts called, and Blain was at risk. When the board ran out , Blain made his exit in fifth place (€275,000).
Bad Turn of Events for Roberts: After running a king-high flush into the ace-high flush of Chris Moorman, Brian Roberts was left with just ten big blinds. Not long after, Chris Moorman moved all-in from the small blind and Roberts hesitantly called off his stack off 765,000 from the big blind.
Roberts was behind but had a 40 percent chance of winning the hand. Much to his delight, the flop fell to pair his eight and give him the lead. The turn brought Roberts one step closer to a double, but the river gave Moorman a straight, eliminating Roberts in fourth place (€400,000).
Kranich Ditched: In the very next hand, Elio Fox was on the button and opened for 160,000 with . Moritz Kranich was in the small blind and shoved for 1,515,000, Fox called, and the Kranich was in terrible shape with . The flop gave Kranich an open-ended straight draw, but neither the turn nor river completed it. He was eliminated in third place (€550,000), narrowly missing out on a Triple Crown of his own (he won the 2009 European Poker Tour Deauville and 2010 World Poker Tour Bellagio Cup VI).
And Then There Were Two: Heads-up play began with Elio Fox holding 11,095,000 in chips to Chris Moorman’s 6,720,000, and the two battled back and forth for the better part of the last episode. On what would be the final hand of the tournament, Fox raised to 200,000 from the button and Moorman three-bet to 430,000. Fox countered by shoving all-in, Moorman called off for about two million, and the cards were turned up:
The flop gave Moorman some hope to a straight, and the turn brought him even more outs to a chop. However, the river was a blank as far as Moorman was concerned, and he finished the tournament in second place, good for €800,000. Fox went wire to wire as the chip leader and became the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event Champion, bringing the title back to the United States.
Final Table Payouts