The official final table for the $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop has been set after just about 12 hours on the felt. With a little more than 17 minutes left in Level 18, the final elimination occurred with Mike Sexton falling in ninth place. But first, let's recap the day.
When the day began, 37 players remained for the start of Day 2. The money line was set at nine, so everyone hunkered down for what was expected to be a long day of poker. Little did everyone know that the chips would be flying early.
On the very first hand of the day, Chamath Palihapitiya was all in with the versus the for John Morgan. A board of ran out and Palihapitiya headed to the rail.
Next to go was Vivek Rajkumar and then a big one went down between Mikhail Smirnov, Tom Dwan and Daniel Negreanu that saw the latter two eliminated. In a three-way all-in pot, Dwan held the , Negreanu the and Smirnov the . The flop, turn and river ran out and Smirnov made quads to bust both of his opponents.
Following those eliminations, Phil Galfond, Noah Schwartz, Tobias Reinkemeier and Paul Ruffin went out. Then Morgan, Paul Newey and Gus Hansen all got bounced to bring the event down to the final 26 players.
Phil Ivey could never really seem to get much going on Day 2 and wound up falling in 26th place at the hands of Philipp Gruissem. Ivey had raised to 200,000 from the cutoff seat with the blinds in Level 12 at 40,000/80,000/10,000 and Gruissem reraised to put him all in from the big blind. Ivey called off his last 1.3 million or so holding the and was up against the for Gruissem. The board ran out to give Gruissem a runner-runner flush and the victory in the hand.
After Tom Marchese busted Ben Lamb in 25th place, the field was down to the final three tables. Marchese was out in front with Antonio Esfandiari in second and Brian Rast in third.
From there, Bob Bright, Dan Shak, Smirnov and Rick Salomon all busted before the largest hand of the tournament came up that saw Esfandiari send Jason Mercier out the door in 20th place. Mercier had seven-bet shoved with the and ran into Esfandiari's . The pot was worth around 22 million and sent Esfandiari to the top of the counts.
Bill Perkins, Talal Shakerchi, Haralabos Voulgaris, Cary Katz, Roland De Wolfe, Frederic Banjout, Tom Marchese and Brandon Steven finished in places 19 onward before Gruissem fell in 11th place and the final 10 players all redrew to one table.
Esfandiari had the chip led with 10 left while Ilya Bulychev was riding the short stack as the largest bubble in poker history had arrived. Then, just a few hands into 10-handed play, all of Bulychev's chips went into the middle and he was called by Sam Trickett. Bulychev had shoved for his last 2.55 million with the after action folded to him in the small blind. The blinds were in Level 18 at 150,000/300,000/50,000 and Trickett looked him up holding the . After a flop, turn and river of , Bulychev had become the official bubble boy.
With the money reached and all nine remaining players guaranteed at least $1,109,333, the tournament still needed to lose one more player for the official final table to be set and things to end for the night. That player was none other than Mike Sexton, one of the greatest ambassadors the game of poker has ever seen.
Esfandiari had raised it up to 900,000 preflop and Sexton called from the big blind. The flop came down and both players checked. The turn was the and Esfandiari bet 1,150,000. Sexton decided to move all in and Esfandiari called. At first, the dealer thought Esfandiari had folded and he put his cards face down on top of the muck pile. Esfandiari jumped up right away and the floor corrected the dealer, putting his back onto the table after the floor came over to rule on the situation. Esfandiari had two pair and Sexton showed the for a pair of jacks and a flush draw. The river was the and Sexton was eliminated.
Upon making the final table, all eight players have locked up no less than $1,237,333 and it's Esfandiari on top of the pack with 39.925 million. He's trailed closely by Trickett holding 37 million before a big drop off occurs and Guy Laliberté falls in third place with 21.7 million. Those three players are the only ones with above average chips.
Laliberté was the man behind this event from the get go and has done extremely well to find his way to the final table. Not only did he work extremely hard to make the Big One for One Drop happen successfully, but Laliberté buckled down and was all business at the tables for the past two days. For both, he's now reaping the benefits.
When asked about how he felt about making the final table, chip leader Esfandiari said, "It's better than the first time I had sex!" Esfandiari good friend and fellow final table player Brian Rast commented, "This was exactly what I wanted at the start of the tournament."
Trickett, who has several tournaments where he has made final tables with a large stack, described the feeling as "Exhilerating!" and pointed out, I"'ve been in this situation before — coming into a final table with a big stack — I feel comfortable and confident."
Joining those four aforementioned players at the final table are David Einhorn, Richard Yong, Bobby Baldwin and none other than 12-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth.
Hellmuth highlighted, "This was the scariest bubble I've ever seen, because you have investors. You don't want to let your friends down. I have three billionaires investing in me, one of which I hardly know. You don't want to let your friends down."
Coming into the final day of play, Hellmuth holds 10.925 million in chips, which is good for fifth place out of the last eight. He'll surely be looking not to let anyone down.
Einhorn, who will enter the final table with 8.375 million and in sixth place, has pledged to donate all of his winnings from this tournament to charity. That's quite the gesture and quite the chunk of change to be donated, making him the lead runner for the most feel-good story at the final table.
The Big One for One Drop final table from left to right: Antonio Esfandiari, Brian Rast, Bobby Baldwin, David Einhorn, Guy Laliberté, Sam Trickett, Richard Yong and Phil Hellmuth
On Tuesday, the players will return at 12:00 PM PT at the Rio to play to the conclusion of the event. The cards are scheduled to get in the air shortly after noon and you won't want to miss a single thing. Be sure to tune into PokerNews all day and night for all of the One Drop coverage you can handle.
Don't forget to check out all of our exclusive coverage from the 2012 WSOP and until tomorrow, goodnight from Las Vegas!