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The latest World Series of Poker competition to conclude - event 36: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em - required four days to decide, with Russian player Mikhail Lakhitov walking away with his first bracelet and $749,610 after besting an original field of 1,734, a tough final table and the eventual heads up with second-placed Hassan Babajane.
The 30-year-old Russian pro entered the heads up with a massive 9 million chip lead, despatching his opponent in just two levels at level 32 on the fourth day of a true endurance test of an event.
Lakhitov battled to survive on the third day as the field was whittled down to a hard-nosed final table and then to just five players when play halted after ten levels.
On the fourth day - Friday - the Russian pro returned to the felt with Thomas Middleton (chipleader),Thomas Miller, Eddy Sabat and Hasan Babajane.
Perhaps sensing that it was now or never, Lakhitov ignited on the fourth day to sweep all before him Friday night, enhancing both his reputation and career earnings, which now top a million dollars.
The big win also means that Lakhitov has supplanted Phil Hellmuth on this year's WSOP Player of the Year leaderboard. The Russian has achieved five cashes at this summer’s Series, and previously made a final table in the $5,000 NLHE event.
Babajane's runner up prize was a cool $463,480.
Event 37: $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship saw French pro Fabrice Soulier triumphant in another 4 day nail biter.
Soulier and Shawn Buchanan reached the heads up very late on day three, but the ten level rule meant they had to return for a fourth day with Buchanan holding a 2:1 chip lead.
Undaunted, Soulier fought his way back into dominance, taking over the chip lead after a massive Omaha hi-lo pot that he scooped with a wheel. That pot gave him over 6 million to Buchanan's 2.2 million, and the Frenchman skillfully leveraged his advantage, grinding his opponent down to eventually take the bracelet and the main prize of $609,130.
Buchanan took home the second placing reward of $376,458.
Event 38: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em entered its third day Friday with 23 players still active and New Jersey player Perry Lin in the lead, but with aces like Melanie Weisner (who had four cashes this year already), Brits Paul Nash and Jonathan Spinks, and former bracelet winner Hoai Pham still active.
Pham was among the early casualties of day 3, whilst 25-year-old Weisner lasted until 14th position before being bundled out by Arkadiy Tsinis for her fifth WSOP cash this year.
Daniel Aldridge's elimination set up a final table of nine Friday night that included Perry Lin (still in the lead) Pim de Goede, Arkadiy Tsinis, Michael Blanovsky, Ryan Laplante, Christopher Homan, Paul Nash, Randolph Lanosga and David Rounick.
Heading into midnight Friday this initially 2,192 player event was down to the heads up between Arkadiy Tsinis and Michael Blanovsky, with the former holding an almost 3 to 1 lead at level 30 and the end in sight after over 2 hours of heads up action.
Event 39: $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em/Omaha 22 players were still in action when the ten level halt was called on the second day of this event, which boasted an initial field of 606.
Those 22 survivors included greats such as Joe Hachem, Scott Clements, Carter Gill and David Baker, so day three was always going to be an entertaining and educational experience for the railbirds.
By the early hours of Saturday morning the third day of action was heads up at level 27 between chip leader Mitch Schock (2,600,000) Rodney Brown (1,900,000), with all the big name players eliminated during the third day's play.
Event 40: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed attracted 732 players - many of them notable names - and created a tempting prize pool of $3.44 million. By the end of the first day 172 remained with the money bubble still some distance ahead at position 78, and 2010 WSOP November Niner Matt Jarvis leading the pack.
Still in contention were names like Randy Dorfman, Daniel Negreanu, Eugene Todd, Faraz Jaka, Shaun Deeb and Phil Hellmuth - still hunting for that elusive and record breaking twelfth bracelet.
Play was continuing at level 20 as the competition ground on into the early hours of Saturday morning Vegas time, with Justin Filtz holding a comfortable chip lead over a field of 25 survivors as the end of the second day loomed.
Still in the top ten are Matt Jarvis, Daniel Negreanu and Jude Ainsworth.
Less fortunate and busting out on the second day were Faraz Jaka, Phil Hellmuth, Isaac Haxton, Eugene Todd and Olivier Busquet.
60 tired players reached level 10 and broke for the first day in event 41: $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout which started on Friday, gathering in a field of 538 hopefuls
The top ten at the end of the day gives an indication of the quality of this competition, with Randy Lew leading Hoyt Corkins, Victor Ramdin, Eugene Katchalov, Bryan Huang, Ari Engel, Sergey Rybachenko, Brock Parker, Noah Boeken and Ricky Fohrenbach.
Busted out on the first day were Dwyte Pilgrim, Tom Dwan, Eric Baldwin, J.C. Tran, David Benyamine, Todd Brunson, Greg Mueller, Jean-Robert Bellande, Chau Giang, Sorel Mizzi, Jason Mercier, Jason Somerville, Lex Veldhuis, Humberto Brenes, Jonathan Little, and Barry Greenstein.
The surviving 60 are all in the money for at least $4,118 when play recommences Saturday.
Event 42: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship also completed its first day of action early Saturday morning Vegas time, with 2 levels to spare and Manny Jo in the lead.
The event started with 361 players who generated a prize pool of $3.39 million, but by the end of the first day just 170 players were left standing.
Going into the second day, the top ten chip counts will include Ben Lamb, Tom Dwan, Max Pescatori and Vanessa Selbst whilst a little further back are Erik Seidel, J.C. Tran, Michael Mizrachi, and 2011 bracelet winners Allen Bari and Sam Stein.
Jason Mercier was unable to snag another bracelet in this event, having just picked up one in the $5,000 POL Six Handed competition earlier this week. He was busted out on the first day, along with Daniel Alaei, Eli Elezra, Joe Hachem, Erick Lindgren, David Williams, and Patrik Antonius.
Source: InfoPowa News