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Duhamel, Racener last two standing at WSOP Main Event final table

7 Nov 2010

By Vin Narayanan
LAS VEGAS -- For one night, poker felt like fight night in Las Vegas. The final nine players in the World Series of Poker Main Event were introduced to a raucous crowd inside the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio in traditional fight style. Each player, escorted by a "ring" girl, walked in the to music of their own choosing -- Italian Filippo Candio chose "We No Speak Americano" by Yolanda Be Cool and DCup. The voice of the octagon, Bruce Buffer, kicked off play when announced "It's tiiiiiiiiiiiiime to shuffle up and deal," at 12:32 p.m. And at 1:45 a.m., Jonathan Duhamel knocked out Joseph Cheong to advance to heads up play with John Racener. Duhamel and Racener will play heads up for the WSOP Main Event championship and $8,944,310 first-place prize Monday night.

The end of Saturday's marathon poker session was sudden and jarring. Cheong was the chipleader with 95.05 million when he and Duhamel launched in betting fireworks never seen before at the WSOP. In three-handed play, Cheong and Duhamel exchanged five bets to bring the pot 22.75 million. After thinking about it for a minute, Cheong decided to push all in for 95.05 million, and Duhamel made a quick call. Cheong had Duhamel covered by about four million, creating the largest pot in WSOP history.
John Racener will be the decided underdog when he hits the felt for heads-up play Monday.

John Racener will be the decided underdog when he hits the felt for heads-up play Monday. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Cheong turned over As-7h and Duhamel flipped over pocket queens. The queens held up and Duhamel had about 180 million in chips. After doubling up once and stealing the blinds a few times to start to once again become a threat, Cheong bowed out a few hands later when his Qs-10c couldn't crack Duhamel's As-2c. Cheong won $4,130,049 for finishing in third.

The 23-year-old Duhamel will enter heads up play with 188.95 million in chips. The 24-year-old Racener will have 30.75 million in chips.

Soi Nguyen was the first player eliminated Saturday. With about two minutes left in the first level of the day, Nguyen pushed all in with Ad-Kc. Jason Senti called the 7.6 million bet with pocket queens and pandemonium ensued.

The crowd at the Penn & Teller Theater rose to their feet, yelling and screaming.

Senti supporters drowned out the rest of the audience with "Jason Senti" chants. Senti yelled "one time" and the dealer went to work.

A flop of Qh-3s-10c put Senti in firm control of the hand. Senti dodged Nguyen's outs with a nine of spades on the turn and a king of spades on the river and Nguyen was out of the tournament with $811,823.

"It's all right," Nguyen said after his elimination. "It happens. I played all my hands correctly today. I did everything like I wanted to."

"I wasn't afraid (to finish ninth) because nobody expected me to get this far anyway. Any further... would have just been gravy."

Jonathan Duhamel started play Saturday as the chip leader, and he ended play Saturday night as the heavy favorite to win the Main Event.

Jonathan Duhamel started play Saturday as the chip leader, and he ended play Saturday night as the heavy favorite to win the Main Event. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Fifteen hands after Nguyen's elimination, Michael Mizrachi and Matthew Jarvis faced off in a hand that will become an instant classic.

Jarvis moved all in pre-flop for 14.3 million. Duhamel, who opened the betting with 1.4 million folded. And Mizrachi, who had called Duhamel's first bet, deliberated for a few minutes before calling Jarvis' bet.

Jarvis turned over pocket nines and Mizrachi flipped Ad-Qd. The flop came out Qs-8d-Qc, giving Mizrachi trip queens.

While the crowd went nuts, Mizrachi remained calm. He knew there was more to come.

A nine came on the turn, sending the Penn & Teller auditorium into a fervor. Jarvis had just hit a full house was improbably back in the lead. And his cheering section was going bonkers.

WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel calmed everyone down and reminded the audience that "The Grinder" still had outs.

Effel's words proved to be prophetic. Mizrachi hit an ace on the river for a better full house, and Jarvis was out of the tournament in eighth place.

Jarvis, who won $1,045,743 for finishing in eighth, took his bad beat with a smile and a great deal of class.

"Made for TV, that's for sure," Jarvis said, describing his hand.

"He played it right, I played it right," Jarvis added. "It is what it is. This is a card game, you can only do as much as you can and you have to let the luck come after that. I wish all the guys the best, they're all excellent players and it's going to be a good final table to watch."

After Jarvis' show of class came his show of emotion, when his cheering of section of 60-strong started chanting his name.

The 26-year-old Canadian's eyes began to mist up. "I'd better put these on," Jarvis said, putting his sunglasses on after he couldn't wipe the tears away with his sleeve.

"They've been just great," Jarvis said of his supporters.

The excitement Saturday wasn't limited to elimination hands. Candio was a whirling dervish of excitement every time he was in a big pot.

Candio's first big pot came when he moved all in for just over 14 million. Duhamel, the chip leader at the time made the call and turned over Ah-Kd. Candio showed his pocket aces, and began bobbing and weaving and shrugging his shoulders on the stage like he was a boxer. Candio's aces held up, and all of a sudden had more than 31 million in chips.

Later on in the afternoon, Candio found himself in a hand against Mizrachi and Senti. With a board reading 5h-4d-2d-Kh, Candio made a 2.9 million bet -- about 70 percent of the pot. Senti folded, and after thinking about it, Mizrachi called. The river was a three of spades, which prompted 4.45 million bet from Candio. After Mizrachi folded his hand, Candio jumped up and threw his cards down on the table.

Candio showed Qh-10h for a busted flush and a successful bluff.

Duhamel briefly lost his chip lead to Cheong when Cheong flipped over 4d-6d with the board reading 4c-Ad-10s-6c-Jd. Duhamel, who called a 8.25 million bet on the river, mucked his hand when Cheong showed his two pair.

Duhamel briefly regained his chip lead several hands later, but ended up second in chips with 47.5 million at the dinner break. Mizrachi was the chip leader when the players broke for dinner with 50.525 million. And John Dolan, who started the day 46.25 million, was the short stack with 19.25 million.

The first player to bust out after the dinner break was Jason Senti. And his elimination was as stunning as Jarvis'.

Senti pushed all in with Ad-Ks and was called quickly Cheong, who had pocket tens. The flop came out Kd-Kh-Qc, giving Senti three kings. But a jack on the turn and the nine on the river snatched victory from Senti's grasp. Instead, Cheong eliminated Senti with a king-high straight, as the crowd gasped and tried to process how two-straight bust out hands had turned so dramatically.

Cheong raised his hands in celebration and went to celebrate with his supporters while Senti stepped outside to compose himself.

When Senti was ready to talk, he wore a smile on his face and was gracious in defeat.

"When I found ace-king, I was pretty happy about it," Senti said. "Of course the flop was amazing and I felt really good about it. I was kind of shocked that my luck was still going that well.

"You have to realize that we've all gotten very lucky for a long time now, 7300 players, so to have it keep coming tonight too is pretty sick....My luck finally ran out, I still had a good run and I'm glad I got to do it."

Minutes after Senti went home with $1,356,720 for finishing in seventh, John Dolan exited the tournament in sixth place.

Dolan, nursing a severe short stack, had pushed all in with Qd-5d. He was called by Duhamel, who held pocket fours. And this time, there was no drama. The fours held up easily and Dolan was out of the tournament with $1,772,959 in prize money.

A clearly dejected Dolan said while he was generally pleased with his play at the tournament, he was frustrated with the pace of play at the final table.

"It's pretty brutal with how long it takes to get hands dealt," Dolan said. The 26-year-old pro also noted it was pretty easy to get "bored" in comparison to online poker.

Dolan was eliminated at about 10:25 p.m. on the 129th hand at the final table. Play began at 12:36 p.m., so it took nearly 10 hours (including a 90-minute dinner break) to finish 129 hands.

After 20 more hands of relative peace, momentum shifted dramatically in back-to-back hands involving Duhamel.

First, the French-Canadian pushed all in with Ac-Kh. Racener, who had significantly fewer chips, called As-Qs. A queen hit on the flop, and Racener doubled up to just over 39 million while Duhamel fell to just below 27 million.

On the very next hand, Mizrachi pushed all in with pocket threes. Duhamel, who appeared to be on tilt, called with A-9. A nine hit on the flop, and another nine hit on the turn to Duhamel three nines and the double up. Duhamel was back above 53 million in chips while Mizrachi slipped to about 28 million.

Mizrachi's stumble against Duhamel proved to be the beginning of the end for Mizrachi.

After bleeding some more chips, Mizrachi made his stand when he pushed all of his 19 million remaining chips into the middle with a board reading queen high. Duhamel made the call and Mizrachi turned over queen-eight for a pair queens. Duhamel had pocket aces, and the aces held up to knock Mizrachi out of the tournament in fifth place.

Mizrachi won $2,332,992 for finishing in fifth.

After his elimination, Mizrachi was still stunned Duhamel had called his all-in bet in the pocket-threes hand.

"I was really surprised (Duhamel called)," Mizrachi said. "Maybe he just felt like gambling or he felt like he was short or he just gave up. I don't know. If I win that pot, I would have been in great shape."

"Unfortunately I finished fifth, but I'm happy with my performance," Mizrachi said. "It's a great group of guys left and I'm rooting for Racener."

Filippo Candio was the next player to exit the tournament. With a relatively short stack, the Italian pushed all in with Kd-Qd. Cheong called his bet with Ac-3c and hit the wheel to send Candio packing.

After his elimination, Candio admitted with a sly smile that he enjoyed tangling with Mizrachi.

"I love bluffing one of the best players in the world," Candio said. "I think that if you want to win the Main Event, you must try to beat the best player. If you want to win with the best, you must beat the best."
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