PartyPoker Premier League VI: Esfandiari Ends Cold Streak; Duhamel Leads Group A

Antonio Esfandiari

Dan Shak virtually secured a seat in the Party Poker Premier League VI final on Wednesday. After earning 11 points for a runner-up finish in Heat 1, Shak picked up 16 points for taking down Heat 2. He now shares the Group B lead with Tobias Reinkemeier, who finished second in the second heat.

Group B Heat 2 Results

1Dan Shak16$32,000
2Tobias Reinkemeier11$22,000
3Talal Shakerchi8$16,000
4Jennifer Tilly6$12,000
5Tony G4$8,000
6Phil Laak3$6,000
7Igor Kurganov2$4,000
8Jason Mercier0$0

*Each player receives $2,000 for every point earned during the event

Although Jason Mercier was among the favorites to excel in Group B, he's been struggling to find his place. He gathered only six points in the first heat and added nothing to his total Wednesday after busting in eighth place. With just 61,000 in chips (five big blinds) on his last hand, Mercier shoved with {j-Spades}{9-Diamonds}. Talal Shakerchi called behind with {a-Spades}{j-Hearts} and the better hand help up to send Mercier to the rail empty-handed.

Igor Kurganov participated in a few key hands in the early levels but couldn’t kick-start anything into full gear. He shoved his remaining 54,000 chips with {q-Hearts}{j-Clubs} against Shakerchi’s pocket threes. The board ran out {2-Diamonds}{a-Diamonds}{6-Clubs}{9-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}, sending him to the rail in seventh with two points.

After Phil Laak lost most of his chips in an all-in confrontation against Reinkemeier, a double elimination sent Laak and Tony G to the rail in sixth and fifth place, respectively. Laak moved all in for 4,000 chips on the button. Tony G shoved all-in for 238,000 with {a-}{j-Clubs} from the small blind and Shakerchi, holding {10-Hearts}{10-Clubs} called behind. The {2-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}{7-Clubs} flop gave Shakerchi a huge lead in the hand, but the {q-Clubs} on the turn gave Tony G some outs for a straight. Unfortunately for him, the {2-Diamonds} river provided no help, resulting in a brief rant as he walked off the stage: “I shouldn’t have even come here today.”

Jennifer Tilly held her own through the first two heats, taking third place in Heat 1 and fourth in Heat 2. Tilly committed her stack with {7-Spades}{5-Spades} on a {j-Diamonds}{3-Hearts}{7-Clubs} flop, only to run into Shak’s {j-Spades}{10-Spades}. The {j-Hearts} turn sealed the deal for Shak, and Tilly added six points to the eight she earned in the first heat.

As the blinds got higher, Shakerchi's stack dwindled and he eventually exited in third place. Reinkemeier opened to 60,000 with pocket fours and Shakerchi three-bet shoved for 373,000. Shak responded with a four-bet all-in with {k-Spades}{k-Diamonds}. Reinkemeier quickly folded and the players tabled their hands. The {6-Spades}{k-Clubs}{q-Hearts} flop gave Shak a set of kings and left Shakerchi drawing dead. The {8-Clubs} turn and {j-Spades} river completed the board and sent Shakerchi to the rail while picking up eight points in addition to the two he earned from Heat 1.

At the start of heads-up action, Shak lead Reinkemeier by 1,468,000 chips to 932,000. Shak was on top of the leaderboard for most of the second heat and finished on top when it was all over.

The final hand saw Reinkemeier open shove for 403,000 with {j-Hearts}{7-Diamonds} and Shak call with {k-Clubs}{4-Hearts}. The board ran out {10-Clubs}{a-Clubs}{q-Diamonds}{8-Spades}{a-Hearts} and Shak scooped the 16 points and $32,000.

In an interview with host Kara Scott, Shak said: “I feel really good. I got heads-up with a chip advantage and then he seemed to win like the first 20 hands in a row. I was almost embarrassed he was outplaying me. So I decided I wasn’t going to be pushed around anymore. I stayed composed and didn’t tilt.”

Group B Overall Standings

1Dan Shak27$34,000
2Tobias Reinkemeier27$34,000
3Jennifer Tilly14$28,000
4Talal Shakerchi10$20,000
5Phil Laak7$14,000
6Jason Mercier6$12,000
7Igor Kurganov5$10,000
8Tony G4$8,000

Heat 3 of Group B wrapped up on Thursday and was one for the ages. In the most action-packed and entertaining heat of the series, Antonio Esfandiari pulled a win out of his bag of tricks to put himself back in contention to make the eight-handed final table.

Group A Heat 3 Results

1Antonio Esfandiari16$32,000
2Scott Seiver11$22,000
3Phil Hellmuth8$16,000
4Sam Trickett6$12,000
5Jonathan Duhamel4$8,000
6Marvin Rettenmaier3$6,000
7Daniel Negreanu2$4,000
8Daniel Cates0$0

At the start of the third heat, Scott Seiver and Esfandiari were the two players at the bottom of the leaderboard with only four and three points, respectively. Both really needed to finish at the top of the heat in order to even have a chance at making the final table and they accomplished just that. Esfandiari went on to defeat Seiver, who finished runner-up for 11 points.

A few levels into the match, Daniel “Jungleman” Cates was eliminated in eight after Esfandiari ran a four-card flush against his top pair. Cates was under fire throughout the entire heat for acting out of turn on a few occasions. He received a warning from the players and continued to act out of turn, eventually receiving a one-hand penalty. When he did it again, he got a one-round penalty. His eighth-place finish in the third heat puts him at jeopardy of missing an automatic seat the final table.

After struggling to stay afloat, Daniel Negreanu was the next to hit the rail with two points. Unless he wins the fourth and final heat, Negreanu may have to fight for a final-table seat through a playoff round.

In one of the greatest hands in the event so far, Duhamel pulled an incredible river bluff on Esfandiari with just ace high. From the button, Esfandiari raised to 25,000 with {a-Diamonds}{5-Spades} and Duhamel defended from the small blind with {a-Hearts}{10-Hearts}. The flop fell {6-Hearts}{3-Spades}{j-Diamonds}. Duhamel check-called a 33,000-chip continuation bet from Esfandiari. The {k-Spades} hit the turn, and Duhamel check-called a bet of 57,000 from Esfandiari. The {9-Spades} completed the board and Esfandiari bet 114,000. Phil Laak, providing commentating for the heat, said, “If Jonathan calls this I’m done playing him. I don’t want him at my table, I can’t play him anymore.” A few seconds passed before Duhamel announced he was all-in and Esfandiari snap-folded.

More great poker came during incredible hand between Sam Trickett and Esfandiari. Trickett ran a huge bluff on Esfandiari by moving all in with {k-Spades}{9-Spades} on a {4-Diamonds}{10-Spades}{a-Clubs}{2-Spades}{j-Hearts} board, forcing Esfandiari to fold pocket kings. Trickett bet 306,000 into the 326,000 pot, and Esfandiari looked for a reason to call but couldn’t pull the trigger.

Marvin Rettenmaier was the next to go, in sixth place, earning three points. Duhamel followed after losing a 1,250,000-chip flip to Esfandiari, who opened the action with a raise to 42,000 from the button with {a-Hearts}{k-Spades}. Duhamel three-bet to 105,000 with {a-Spades}{j-Spades}, and Esfandiari four-bet to 232,000. Duhamel then shoved all-in for 609,000 and Esfandiari, who barely had Duhamel covered, called. The board ran out {4-Hearts}{10-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{3-Clubs}{7-Diamonds} and Duhamel collected four points to give him 31 for the group, all but securing his spot at the final table.

Trickett was eliminated in fourth place when Esfandiari's pocket kings held against Trickett’s pocket fours.

Needing to finish in to the top two, both Phil Hellmuth and Seiver were cautious of when to put their chips in, knowing that the extra points would help reach the final. It was Hellmuth who eventually busted in the third spot to collect eight points, moving him into a tie with Cates for fourth in the group standings.

Esfandiari had more than a 4-to-1 chip advantage over Seiver when heads-up play began. Seiver shoved his remaining stack with {q-Clubs}{j-Diamonds} against Esfandiari’s {a-Spades}{5-Hearts}. Esfandiari's hand finished best again and he collected the much-needed 16 points to move him into third in the standings. Seiver, the defending champ of this event, sits in sixth.

Group A Overall Standings

1Jonathan Duhamel31 
2Sam Trickett19 
2Antonio Esfandiari19 
4Daniel Cates18 
4Phil Hellmuth18 
5Daniel Negreanu16 
6Scott Seiver15 
7Marvin Rettenmaier14 

A win for anyone in the last Group A heat will guarantee an automatic spot in the final while a second-place finish for any of the top six should also be enough for an automatic bid.

The top three automatically qualify for the final, with each point they earn equating to 10,000 chips in the final. The players that finish fourth and fifth will have to play heads-up to earn their spot in the final. The player who finishes fourth in Group A will play against the fifth-place finisher in Group B, and the fifth place finisher in Group A will play against the fourth-place finisher in Group B.

Stay tuned to PokerNews for full recaps of each heat of the PartyPoker Premier League VI.

For more, check out the PartyPoker Blog.

Photo courtesy of the PartyPoker Blog.

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