Late Saturday night at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, the question on everyone's lips was "is Phil Hellmuth going to win his 12th WSOP bracelet?" Alas, it was not to be as John Juanda gained the ascendency in the heads up and eventually took down event 16, the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship.
Hellmuth and Juanda clashed in a tough heads up at the end of the third and last day of the event following the elimination of Richard Ashby in third place by Hellmuth earlier in the evening.
The two had started Saturday among a surviving field of nine, all that was left from the initial starting lineup of 126 that included some of the best players in the business. An indication of the quality of the field was the fact that no fewer than 21 bracelets were represented around the table, with only Joe Cassidy yet to achieve the honour.
John Juanda could boast four bracelets and a WSOP-E Main Event title; Greg Raymer won the main event in 2005 whilst Richard Ashby, David Baker, Steve Sung, Hasan Habib, and Nick Schulman all own WSOP bracelets.
Ashby led the field when play re-commenced, with Hellmuth down at seventh in chip counts.
By 7 pm PST Hellmuth had improved to lead in chip counts on 1.1 million, but Ashby was chasing hard and was just 100,000 chips behind him, well ahead of third positioned Juanda who had just shy of 600,000. By then the first eliminations had taken place, with Greg Raymer headed for the exit and Joe Cassidy following him a little later.
The action was brisk from there, and by mid-evening Richard Ashby was on his way home, eliminated in third place to set the scene for a promising heads up between John Juanda and Hellmuth. Ashby had the disappointment of busting out of his second WSOP final table, but the consolation of a $143,000 pay day.
Juanda and Hullmuth immediately got down to the business of deciding the winner, and the lead moved back and forth as the duo battled on into the night, with Hellmuth occasionally grandstanding in his usual style, but playing with skill and aggression.
At level 26 and just before midnight it was all over, with Juanda having dominated the closing stages of the game to take the bracelet - his fifth - and the $367,170 main prize.
Hellmuth, denied a new record, at least collected a second placing check for $226,907.
In other WSOP competitions, event 13, the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Shootout concluded after three days of action with Andrew Badecker claiming the bracelet and a first prize worth $369,371 after starting the day as chip leader and pretty much dominating play throughout the final table.
Besting masters like Frank Kassela, David Pham, Dan Kelly, Erik Cajelais, Lars Bonding, and Vitaly Lunkin, he breezed into the heads up against Robbie Verspui with a three to one chip lead and never really looked like losing.
Runner-up Verspui collected a check for $228,334 for his time and trouble.
The third day of event 14, a $3,000 Limit Hold'em contest, saw the remaining 18 players quickly reach a final table with Brandon Demes leading the field.
The heads up that eventually transpired was between Demes and Tyler Bonkowski, who were evenly matched on chip counts at the start, requiring almost three hours before Bonkowski was able to gain the advantage and win the match, the bracelet and the $220,817 main prize.
Demes's second placing was worth $136,419.
Event #15 was a $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold'em contest which saw Ronald Lee leading a field olf 88 survivors as Day 2 play commenced. Early eliminations included John Dolan (71st), Davidi Kitai (64th), Matthew Hawrilenko (62nd), Joe Sebok (60th), Michael Leah (58th), Alessio Isaia (51st), Hoyt Corkins (49th), John Racener (39th), Mickey Petersen (26th), Christopher DeMaci (25th), Randall Flowers (19th) and Christian Harder (17th).
Day 2 play was halted when a final table was reached which comprised Dajuan Whorley, Daisuke Endo, Ted Lawson, Allen Kessler, Andrew Cohen, John Gordon, Ronald Lee, Ali Eslami, Mika Paasonen and chip leader Brian Rast.
Event 17 - the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. attracted a field of 963 players - up 135 from 2010 - in a field that included Svetlana Gromenkova, Jeff Madsen, Matt Savage, Chris Reslock, Doyle Brunson, Erick Lindgren, Jeff Lisandro, Chad Brown, Bryan Micon, Allen Bari, and Michael Chow.
Going into the second day of action Eli Elezra led 196 survivors, but by the early hours of Saturday morning PST only 23 were left, with the action still ongoing and David Bach in the lead, just ahead of David Baker.
Event 18: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em started Saturday with 3,157 registrations, among them respected players like David Vamplew, Zach Gruneberg, Scott Montgomery, Jerry Yang, Jason Mercier, Kathy Liebert, Victor Ramdin, Jeff Madsen and Valdemar Kwaysser.
By the early hours of Sunday morning level 10 had been reached and there were just 650 players still competing, headed by Stuart Stone.
Event 19 - the $2,500 Limit Hold'em / Six Handed also kicked off Saturday with 354 entrants creating a prize pool worth $805,350.
Among those taking their seats on the first day were Jennifer Harman, Jordan Smith, Joseph Cheong, Robert Cheung, Jon Spinks, Jeffrey Lisandro, and Lex Veldhuis.
By early Sunday morning the field was down to 186, led by David Chiu, with Greg Mueller in hot pursuit.
Source: InfoPowa News