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WPT on FSN Legends of Poker Part II: RFGs Workout, FBT Blown Out and More

The Royal Flush Girls

On Sunday night, Season XI of the World Poker Tour continued on Fox Sports Network with the second installment of the Legends of Poker from The Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, California. The $3,500 Main Event, which took place in August last year, attracted 622 entries and created a $2,111,690 prize pool of which $500,000 was reserved for first place.

In last week’s episode, the action leading up to the final table was showcased, as was the elimination of Jeff Madsen. On just Hand #20 of the final table, with the blinds at 30,000/60,000/10,000, Max Steinberg limped from small blind with the {A-Spades}{A-Hearts}, and a short-stacked Madsen moved in with the {A-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds} from the big blind. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here’s how things stacked up at the top of this week’s broadcast, which recommenced with the blinds at 30,000/60,000/10,000:

WPT Season XI Legends of Poker Final Table

1Max Steinberg2,770,000 (46 BBs)
3Raouf Malek1,605,000 (26 BBs)
4Greg Mueller2,780,000 (46 BBs)
5Josh Hale9,230,000 (153 BBs)
6Ali Eslami2,315,000 (38 BBs)

“I’ve Got You, Bro”: After Ali Eslami ironed out a straight in the first hand holding the {Q-Spades}{Q-Hearts}, he promptly informed his opponent, Josh Hale: “I’ve got you, bro. You’ll see it on TV.” Speaking of TV, this marked the second WPT final table Eslami had made, though the high-stakes cash-game player made a quick exit his first time around. “Last time I was at the final table such a short amount of time they didn’t even bother putting a bio in for me,” Eslami explained as the WPT aired his long overdue bio.

Full Blown Tilt is Full Blown Gone: After growing short stacked in Level 30 (50,000/100,000/10,000), Greg "FBT" Mueller looked down at the {7-Clubs}{7-Hearts} in the under-the-gun position and moved all in for 2,025,000. Max Steinberg picked up the {A-Clubs}{K-Spades} in the small blind and moved all in over the top, inspiring the big blind to fold. Both players were on their feet for the race, and neither looked particularly confident.

Greg Mueller with the WPT's Diana Cox.
Greg Mueller with the WPT's Diana Cox.

According to the PokerNews Odds Calculator, Mueller had a 54.80% chance of surviving the hand, and that jumped to 70.81% on the {5-Clubs}{8-Hearts}{10-Clubs} flop. Mueller seemed to gain confidence after the flop, but it this was short-lived as the {K-Diamonds} peeled off on the turn. Mueller visibly flinched as Steinberg paired his king to become a 95.45% favorite. The {4-Diamonds} blanked on the river and Mueller took a deep breath before taking his leave in fifth place for $97,100.

“Obviously I’m pretty disappointed. I mean, I thought I faded a race one time and the king rolled off,” Mueller told WPT sideline reporter Matt Savage in his post-elimination interview. “I was really looking forward to winning this one. I felt good all week.”

The Venice Beach Experience: After returning from a commercial break, a segment was aired showing the Royal Flush Girls working out at an outdoor gym on Venice Beach. Wearing nothing but bikini tops and short shorts, the RFGs promptly put in a workout—insert sex appeal into a poker show, CHECK! Will "The Thrill" Failla lingering in the background—CHECK!

The Demise and Rise of Ali Eslami: On Hand #60 of the final table, Josh Hale opened for 210,000 under the gun holding the {Q-Hearts}{J-Diamonds} and received a call from Ali Eslami, who held the {K-Diamonds}{Q-Spades} on the button. Raouf Malek then looked down at the {A-Hearts}{K-Spades} in the big blind and he moved all in for 1.73 million. Hale threw up his hands before tossing in his cards, and Eslami asked for an accurate count before making the call. It was a terrible spot for Eslami, and he received no help as the board ran out {j-Hearts}{4-Clubs}{2-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{2-Clubs}. With that, Eslami was left with just 120,000.

Eslami managed a double and then a triple over the next five hands, bringing his stack up to 750,000. On Hand #66, Malek opened from the button for 210,000 with the {A-Diamonds}{6-Hearts} and Eslami called from the big blind with the {K-Hearts}{8-Clubs}. The {5-Hearts}{9-Hearts}{3-Diamonds} flop brought about two checks, and the {3-Hearts} turned to give both players a flush draw. Eslami promptly bet 310,000, Malek called and the {J-Hearts} completed the board on the river. Eslami got tricky with a check, and it worked as Malek moved all in with his six-high flush. Eslami snap-called off, and just like that he had worked his 120,000 stack up to 1.59 million. As if that wasn’t enough, he doubled on the very next hand through Hale to work his way up to 3.4 million—a chip and a chair, folks!

Best Moments: In a new segment, the WPT took a look back at Season X and opted to give away an award. In this episode the award for “Best Emotion” went to Canadian Jeff Vertes for his battle against Will “The Thrill” Failla at that season’s Legends of Poker final table. You can read about the Vertes/Failla mêlée in our recap of the WPT Season X Legends of Poker.

Malek Cracks Kings Twice: On Hand #89, which happened in Level 31 with the blinds at 60,000/120,000/20,000, Ali Eslami limped under the gun with the {K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs} and Max Steinberg called from the button with the {6-Hearts}{5-Clubs}. A short-stacked Raouf Malek then moved all in for 1.5 million from the small blind with the {A-Hearts}{10-Clubs} only to have Josh Hale move all in over the top with the {K-Spades}{K-Hearts}. Eslami quickly called off for 3.175 million and Steinberg folded.

“What! This is a disaster,” Eslami exclaimed before lightheartedly telling an amused Hale, “Don’t laugh, this is terrible. This is a disaster, stop your laughing.” The crowd was on its feet as the dealer put down the {q-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}{7-Spades} flop. Hale and Eslami were primed to chop the pot and eliminate Malek, but then the {A-Clubs} spiked on the turn. The crowd went wild as Malek pumped his fist. Hale and Eslami were both drawing dead, and the meaningless {8-Hearts} completed the board to put an end to the hand.

“We’ve had more up and downs than a ship in a storm here,” Mike Sexton quipped to close out the broadcast.

Tune in Next Week: The conclusion of the Legends of Pokers is set to air on Sunday, March 31 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 here on PokerNews.

Who will be the next player to add his or her name to this prestigious list of champions?

Past Legend of Poker Champions

The Royal Flush Girls
The Royal Flush Girls

1Chris Karagulleyan$258,000
2Mel Judah$579,375
3Doyle Brunson$1,198,290
4Alex Kahaner$1,125,900
5Joe Pelton$1,577,170
6Dan Harrington$1,635365
7John Phan$1,116,428
8Prahlad Friedman$1,034,500
9Andy Frankenberger$750,000
10Will “The Thrill” Failla$758,085

*Pictures courtesy of World Poker Tour.

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