The Five Diamond World Poker Classic is one of the most popular stops on the World Poker Tour every year. On Sunday, Season X of the WPT continued on the Fox Sports Network with the latest Five Diamond World Poker Classic from the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The $10,000 Main Event, which originally took place from Dec. 6 through 11, 2011, attracted 413 players and created a prize pool of $4,006,100, with $821,612 reserved for first place.
The broadcast kicked off by highlighting the early stages of the tournament, beginning with Day 1. “Bellagio’s just got that mystique to it, you know,” said Legends of Poker champion Will “The Thrill” Failla. “All the heavies played here. If you win here, you’ve really showed up, you know what I mean? If you can win here, you can win anywhere.”
Indeed, the Five Diamond World Poker Classic has proven a great success every year, due in no small part to its location at the Bellagio. Given that it’s in Vegas, the field tends to be dominated by the biggest names in the game, and this year would be no different. Failla, Esfandiari, Erik Seidel, Matt Giannetti, Carlos Mortensen and Faraz Jaka were all among the 283 players who survived Day 1, though all were trailing the big stack of Vanessa Selbst, who finished with 165,800.
On Day 2, the field got even tougher as Barry Greenstein, Noah Schwartz, Jennifer Harman, Phil Hellmuth, Ben Lamb, Jason Mercier, John Hennigan, Freddy Deeb, Daniel Alaei and Doyle Brunson were all among the pros who took advantage of the late registration. After a long day of play, just 149 players remained with Grant Lang’s 382,000 stack leading the pack.
Needless to say, the action on Day 3 was fierce as the field was quickly cut down to size as Seidel, Hennigan and Hellmuth all hit the rail. The latter’s demise came when he ran into the of Canadian Braden Hall. The board ran out an uneventful and the “Poker Brat” was sent packing.
Leading up to the money bubble, both Brunson and Darren Elias were eliminated, leaving 101 players alive when only 100 were slated to be paid. It took some time, but the money bubble burst when Brent Sheirbon found himself all-in holding against the of John Krpan. The board provided no help and Sheirbon earned the unfortunate distinction of bubble boy.
Once players made the money, a flurry of eliminations occurred that saw Failla (93rd - $11,942), Krpan (82nd - $11,942), Jeff Vertes (78th - $11,942), Shaun Deeb (73rd - $11,942), Mortensen (71st - $11,942), Deeb (67th - $12,937), Alan Goehring (59th - $12,937), Justin “Boosted J” Smith (53rd - $12,937) all hit the rail, leaving just 49 players headed into Day 4 including chip leader Kyle Julius, who bagged up 1.457 million.
The fourth day of action began the same way the day prior had ended — with bustouts. Allen Cunningham (46th - $15,922), Allen Kessler (45th - $15,922), Dwyte Pilgrim (37th - $19,903), Scott Clements (34th - $19,903) and Matt Glantz (25th - $23,884) were among the notables to hit the rail, while the WPT’s Raw Deal host Tony Dunst found his tournament life on the line in a classic race with his trailing the of James Dempsey. The flop gave Dunst a flush draw, while the turn added a gut-shot straight draw. Unfortunately for him, the river was a blank and he was sent packing in 18th place for $31,845.
Ty Reiman (17th - $31,845), Matt Marafioti (15th - $39,806) and Blake Kelso (14th - $39,806) joined Dunst on the rail before action came to a halt with just 13 players remaining. Leading the way was former World Series of Poker November Niner Soy Nguyen, holding a monstrous stack of 3.1 million.
It didn’t take long for the first elimination to occur on Day 5. It happened when William Reynolds doubled up Vitor Coelho and was then eliminated at the hands of Hall. Reynold’s 13th-place finish for $39,806 gave him the highest finished by a Season X Ones to Watch, though it was of little consolation.
From there, Julius (12th - $39,806) and David Williams (9th - $47,767) found themselves on the rail, and before long the TV final table bubble was on. How did it burst? Nguyen moved all-in holding on board and got Larry Wells, who won his seat into the tournament in the very last satellite held at the Bellagio, to call off with the inferior .
With that, the final table was set. Once again it was a stacked final table, but the big story was Esfandiari’s title defense and the possibility of becoming the first player in WPT history to win back-to-back titles in the same event; in fact, no player had ever won the same title twice.
Here’s how things stacked up at the start of the final table:
WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Final Table
First Hand: With the blinds at 30,000/60,000 and a 10,000 ante, Dempsey was first to act and opened for 125,000 with . The field folded to Selbst in the small blind and she came over the top for 310,000 with . Nguyen folded in the big blind and Dempsey conceded the hand.
Antonio Esfandiari Eliminated in Sixth Place: On what would be Hand #10 of the final table, action folded to Dempsey on the button and he put in a big raise, enough to put both blinds all in if they chose to make the call. The defending champ did just that from the small blind while the big got out of the way.
The flop gave Dempsey a wheel draw, but it was the that spiked on the turn to give him the lead. At that point, short-stacked Coelho shot his arms up in the air, knowing full well that Esfandiari’s elimination would earn him at least $39,806.; meanwhile, “The Magician” was on his last leg, looking for either a ten or five on the river to stay alive. The dealer burned and put out the . With that, Esfandiari’s title defense came to an end in sixth place for $119,418.
Vitor Coelho Eliminated in Fifth Place: On Hand #12, Nguyen opened for 120,000 with and Coelho committed his last 260,000 with . “Ok guys, time to double up,” the softspoken Coelho said. Selbst then came along for the ride with . Both active players proceeded to check down every street as the board ran out , and Nguyen took down the 860,000 pot.
Coelho, who had made the final table of the WPT stop before the Five Diamond, finished in fifth place for $159,224. “Very happy, very happy,” Coelho told sideline reporter Matt Savage in his post-elimination interview. “I ran very good, did my best and I’m very pleased with it. I have plans to make my third final table in a row.”
Tune in Next Week: Part II of the Five Diamond World Poker Classic is set to air on Sunday, May 20, on FSN, so be sure to check your local listings. If by chance you miss it, check back next week for the latest recap of all the action right here on PokerNews.
Past Five Diamond World Poker Classic Champions
*Picture courtesy of World Poker Tour.