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WPT on FSN Five Diamond Part III: Raghavan Finally Gets His Due While Making History

Ravi Raghavan

This past Sunday night the conclusion of the World Poker Tour Season XI Five Diamond World Poker Classic aired on Fox Sports Network. Just four players remained in contention for the $556,480 first-place prize in $10,000 Main Event, which took place at the Bellagio in Las Vegas from Dec. 4 through 9, 2012.

In our recap of Part I, we highlighted the event’s history, the early stages of the tournament and the elimination of Jeremy Kottler, while last week’s recap touched on Andrew "LuckyChewy" Lichtenberger’s elimination and Jason Koon of the WPT Ones to Watch.

Here’s how the final four looked at the top of this week’s episode, which began in Level 27 with the blinds at 40,000/80,000/10,000.

WPT Season XI Five Diamond World Poker Classic Final Table

Antonio Esfandiari
Antonio Esfandiari

1Antonio Esfandiari 
4Ravi Raghavan 
5Shawn Buchanan 
6Thomas Winters 

History in the Making: Two of the four players at the final table—Ravi Raghavan and Antonio Esfandiari—were looking to make poker history. Raghavan was attempting to become just the sixth players in the WPT’s 11 years to start the final table as the short stack and claim victory, while Esfandiari was hoping to capture the same title for the second time in three years (amazingly it was his third consecutive Five Diamond final table).

“This is What We Call the Cooler in Poker”: That’s what commentator Mike Sexton said when Esfandiari opened for 200,000 from the small blind holding the {A-Clubs}{K-Hearts} only to have Raghavan look down at the {A-Spades}{A-Hearts} in the big blind and three-bet to 490,000. Esfandiari responded with a four bet to 1.4 million, Raghavan instantly moved all in and Esfandiari quickly called off his stack of 3.84 million.

“How is that possible small blind, big blind? That’s so sick,” Esfandiari lamented. The {4-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{j-Diamonds} flop meant “The Magician” needed to catch running cards to stay alive, and he got one on the turn when the {10-Diamonds} peeled off. Esfandiari’s dad, who was sporting a 3Bet shirt at the Royal Flush Girls Social Bar, began shouting for a queen, but he was silenced when the useless {6-Diamonds} bricked. Esfandiari, who began the final table as the chip leader, was eliminated in fourth place for $329,339.

“All my loved ones are here, all my friends, my family, you know it’s really a nice feeling,” Esfandiari said in his post-elimination interview with his arm slung around his dad. “I’m a little sad I could bring home the victory for them since they’ve been so supportive this whole tournament, but unfortunately they’ll just have to wait until next year.”

Veterans in Vegas: At every stop on the WPT, the Royal Flush Girls, in association with the WPT Foundation, visit a charity to do their part in helping the local community. This week it was the United States Veterans Initiative in downtown Las Vegas, which provides much-needed help for veterans looking to get back on their feet. According to Executive Director of U.S. Vets Shalimar Cabrera, there are about 260 veterans in the Las Vegas area, many of who experienced homelessness, that utilize the service.

Cowboy Thrown Off his Horse: About midway through the broadcast, a hand took place that saw the elimination of 45-year-old cattle rancher Tommy Winters. It happened when Shawn Buchanan raised to 240,000 from the small blind with the {10-Spades}{10-Hearts} and Winters three-bet to 700,000 from the big holding the {A-Spades}{7-Diamonds}. Buchanan responded by moving all in and Winters called off for 2.695 million. The board ran out an uneventful {6-Diamonds}{2-Spades}{3-Spades}{8-Diamonds}{5-Clubs} and Winter was sent back to Marble Falls, Texas with $483,031 in tow. Not a bad chunk of change to take back to his kids, Tiffany and Thomas.

The James Dempsey celebration.
The James Dempsey celebration.

The Best Celebration: Every so often the WPT broadcast takes a look back at the season prior and offers up an award. In this episode it was the “Best Celebration of Season X,” which happened during the heads-up battle between James Dempsey and Soi Nguyen during last year’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Dempsey had Chris Moorman and company on the rail, and as anyone who has been at a final table containing a Brit knows, their countrymen can be quite loud and persistent. So when Dempsey took down the title you can imagine the noise level increasing tenfold.

Raghavan Gets His Due: Ravi Raghavan is beloved by many, but up until this point he hadn’t broken through in a major event. That all changed on what was the last hand of the broadcast. It happened when Buchanan, who already has his name inscribed on the WPT Champions Cup, moved all in for 2.875 million holding the {K-Diamonds}{7-Spades} and Raghavan woke up with the {7-Hearts}{7-Clubs}. A call was made and Raghavan, who was clearly on the edge of his seat, stood from his seat as he rubbed his hands together.

The {9-Diamonds}{j-Spades}{9-Hearts} gave Buchanan some more outs as a jack would counterfeit Raghavan, and the {8-Spades} turn did the same. Fortunately for Raghavan and his supporters, the harmless {4-Diamonds} fell on the river and he became just the fourth player in WPT history to begin the final table in sixth place and emerge victorious.

“After I ran aces into ace-king I thought it was destiny,” Raghavan told Mike Sexton in his winner’s interview where he was flanked by friends Jonathan Aguiar, Darryll Fish and Season X Player of the Year Joe Serock.

Tune in Next Week: The first part of the L.A. Poker Classic is set to air on Sunday, June 9 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.

Five Diamond World Poker Classic Champions

1Gus Hansen146$556,480
2Paul Phillips314$1,101,908
3Daniel Negreanu376$1,770,218
4Rehne Pedersen555$2,078,185
5Joe Hachem583$2,207,575
6Eugene Katchalov626$2,482,605
7Chino Rheem497$1,538,730
8Daniel Alaei329$1,428,430
9Antonio Esfandiari438$870,124
10James Dempsey413$821,612
11Ravi Raghavan503$1,268,571

*Pictures courtesy of World Poker Tour.

**Lead picture courtesy of Jason Koon's Facebook profile.

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