The UK & Ireland bracelet count still stands at one at this year's World Series of Poker but it was almost a different story had Lady Luck not decided to leave Neil Channing's side when he needed her help the most. Channing finished as runner-up in Event #43, the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em tournament.
The third and final day saw 20 players return to their seats, each with the common goal of becoming the eventual champion. Their reward if they could achieve this goal would be a wallet-padding $654,380 and a coveted gold WSOP bracelet.
Over the course of four hours the 20 starters in Event #41 were whittled down to the official nine-handed final table. When the chips had been moved across to the “Mother Ship” the players lined up as follows:
It took just 20 minutes of play at the final table to lose not one but two players, and it was Channing who sent them both to the rail. First Jared Rosenbaum open-shoved for around 300,000 (blinds 15,000/30,000/5,000a) with what turned out to be and Channing made the call with . The flop was great for Channing but the turn was even better as it locked up the hand for the Brit, leaving the on the river inconsequential.
Almost immediately after Channing found queens in the hole again. This time Francois Dur open-shoved with and Channing snap-called and showed . The ladies held and the table was down to seven players, Channing leading them all.
Another hour passed before Balazs Botond, a talented player who reached the final table of EPT Campione in Season 8, was busted out. Surprisingly, it was not Channing and pocket queens that despatched him, instead he ran his into John Nelson's when he moved in for a little over 10 big blinds. The nines held and Botond became the seventh place finisher.
Channing then turned his attention back to being the executioner when, over the course of two and a half hours, he busted four players to progress the tournament to the heads-up stages. First Hovan Nguyen's short-stacked shove with was snapped off by Channing's dominating , then Nelson committed himself with on a flop and Channing's held.
Next up was Channing's fellow Brit Tom Alner. Like Nguyen's elimination, Alner's exit was a blind-on-blind battle that saw him all-in with against Channing's . Channing was already in front but the flop left Alner drawing to three outs (jacks). They failed to arrive on the turn or river and Channing was sat their with three players remaining and him holding 75% of the chips in play!
He picked up even more chips when he busted out the dangerous James “mig.com” Mackey in third spot. Mackey had doubled up with pocket fives against Channing's ace-six just a couple of hands previously when he found himself all-in against Channing again, this time holding to Channings . Mackey took the lead on a flop, stayed there on the turn but Channing caught a two-outer on the river to send Mackey home in third place.
This left Channing holding a massive 10,200,000 to 2,250,000 chip lead over Henry Lu but that lead was soon almost non-existent when the duo got their stacks into the middle, Channing with and Lu with a stronger . Neither player improved and Lu's queen-kicker won him the massive pot.
Lu then continued to chip away at what was left of Channing's lead but Channing regained the momentum and managed to re-open a huge lead for himself once again. But just as it looked like he was going to become a WSOP champion Lady Luck stuck the knife in. Lu was all-in and Channing called, turning over in the process. Lu showed a dominating ace once again, this time , which held to draw almost level again.
From that point the cards were falling Lu's way and after over two and a half hours of one-on-one action the final hand took place. Channing opened to 250,000, Lu moved all-in and Channing called. It was another big ace for Channing, the a real monster heads-up, but it needed to hit against the lowly pocket fours of Lu. The flop was safe for Lu but the gifted Channing some extra outs. They failed to materialise though as the slammed down on the river to win the pot and the tournament for Lu. Channing sat motionless, seemingly stunned from not winning this tournament but we are sure he will be back for more and in another position to win that elusive bracelet by the end of the series.
Event #43 Final Table Results