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2012 World Series of Poker Day 38: Esfandiari Wins $18 Million; Eastgate Making Moves

  • Shari GellerShari Geller
Antonio Esfandiari

On Tuesday, history was made at the World Series of Poker when Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari won the single largest prize in sports history by taking down Event #55: $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop and the $18 million first-place prize money. But there was a full schedule of events going on at the same time throughout the Rio. Event #53: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em crowned a winner and Event #54: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em played down to heads-up. Event #56: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em burst the money bubble and narrowed the field to the final 22 players. Finally, two more events got under way.

Event #53: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em

After 10 levels of play on Day 3, there were still two players remaining to claim the first place prize, Neil Willerson and Vladimir Mefodichev. In the end, Willerson emerged as the winner. The 36-year-old from Dallas, Texas, will take home his first gold bracelet along with the $737,248 top prize. For his second-place finish, Vladimir Mefodichev takes home $456,217.

Willerson came into the heads-up match in the lead with 8,920,000 to Mefodichev's 5,335,000. But, Mefodichev came out of the gate firing, and pulled to almost even after the first hand. He continued to chip up and took the lead a few hands later, only for Willerson to take it back. From then on, it was almost all Willerson.

Mefodichev hung on, doubling his short stack, when his {J-Clubs}{9-Diamonds} out-flopped Willerson's {a-Hearts}{9-Hearts}. However, a few minutes later it was all over. Mefodichev called all-in on a {4-Hearts}{3-Spades}{8-Spades} flop with {K-Spades}{5-Spades} for a spade flush draw. Willerson held {J-Spades}{6-Spades} for a worse flush draw but the {6-Clubs} on the turn gave him the lead with a pair. Mefodichev needed an spade or a king to grab the hand back and stay in the match, but the {10-Hearts} completed the board and he was out in second.

Event #53 Results

PlacePlayerPrize
1Neil Willerson$737,248
2Vladimir Mefodichev$456,217
3Hugh Henderson$322,866
4Zachary Humphrey$233,708
5Mathew Graham$171,135
6Hai Chu$126,770
7Bryan Piccioli$94,971
8Randy Ashe$ $71,933
9Ryan Hughes$55,093

To follow all the heads-up action, or to catch up on the earlier action from this event, make sure you check out the live reporting blog.

Event #54: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em

Day 3 began with 15 players still vying for one of the few remaining bracelets to be won this summer. This event had the biggest field of the summer for an open event with 3,118 entrants, creating a first place prize of $500,075. At the end of three days of play, there was still no winner, so the final two players Will Jaffe and Luis Campelo, will be returning for an unscheduled Day 4 of heads-up play.

Jaffe was the chip leader going into the final day, but the most notable player left in the field was David “Bakes” Baker. Unfortunately for him, his run toward the gold was brutally cut short. Campelo had moved all-in on the button with {k-Clubs}{j-Spades} and Baker called from the big blind with {a-Spades}{k-Spades}. After the board ran out, {10-}{q-}{10-}{j-}{10-}, Campelo stood up to head to the rail thinking he had lost to Baker’s turned straight. Then he saw that he had rivered a full house and Baker was now the short stack. A couple of hands later, he was out in 13th place ($22,640).

Brett Schwertley was the final table bubble boy. He open-shoved all-in with {A-Diamonds}{Q-Hearts} and was called by Ken Fishman who had {K-Diamonds}{K-Spades} on the button. The board ran out {8-Spades}{q-Clubs}{7-Clubs}{8-Clubs}{7-Hearts} and Schwertley was out in tenth place ($28,931).

Jeff Fielder had hope of a triple up with {k-Clubs}{j-Spades} but he lost to Nghi Van Tran’s pocket queens to go out in ninth place. Then Joseph Kuether plowed through the field, eliminating Benjamin Grise in eighth, Muhamet Perati in seventh, Jason Tompkins in sixth, Fishman in fifth, and Nghi Van Tran in fourth place. But he did not get the next knockout.

Kuether had Campelo all-in and behind with the flop reading {Q-Clubs}{9-Hearts}{10-Hearts}. Kuether’s {10-Spades}{Q-Hearts} gave him top two with a back door flush draw, but Campelo had outs with [Jh10c} for a open-ended straight draw. The {5-Hearts} on the turn gave Campelo a flush draw to go with his other outs. As he had in his all-in hand with Baker earlier in the day, Campelo caught the card he needed on the river, this time the {8-Spades} for the straight, and he was the new chip leader.

On the next hand, it was over for Kuether. He raised on the button holding {a-Hearts}{7-Clubs} and Will Jaffe called with {10-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}. The flop came down {10-Clubs}{7-Hearts}{6-Spades} and all the chips went in. Jaffe had two pair and Kuether was the one in need of help, but the board ran out {6-Clubs}, improving Jaffe to a full house, and then a {2-Spades} and Kuether was the third place finisher.

Heads-up, Jaffe and Campelo were virtually even in chips. They battled it out for two levels, each supported by enthusiastic rails. They swapped the chip lead during that time, but neither was able to put much distance between himself and his opponent. Coming up against the hard stop at the completion of 10 levels, Jaffe ended the day with the chip lead — 5,390,000 to 4,275,000 — but it is still anyone’s game. Campelo, after all, has already survived two all-ins coming from behind to make it this far. He and Jaffe will return at 1400 PDT (2200 BST) to finish the match.

Event #54 Results

PlacePlayerPrize
1??$500,075
2??$309,429
3Joseph Kuether$218,983
4Nghi Van Tran$158,512
5Ken Fishman$116,072
6Jason Tompkins$85,981
7Muhamet Perati$64,414
8Benjamin Grise$48,788
9Jeff Fielder$37,367

To make sure you don't miss any of the final heads-up action, or to check out all the eliminations as the field played down to the final two, check the PokerNews live reporting blog.

Event #55: $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop

Day 3 of this historic tournament began with eight players — four pros and four wealthy amateurs — vying for the largest single prize in all of sports. Coming into the final table, it was American pro Antonio Esfandiari with the chip lead, followed by English pro Sam Trickett. In the end, those two were the last two standing and in just 16 hands of heads-up play, Esfandiari emerged as the winner, taking down the unparalleled $18,346,673 first place prize money and a first-of-its-kind platinum WSOP bracelet.

Esfandiari had corrected a prefinal table interviewer who asked him what he would do if he won, saying it was “when” he won. Esfandiari took that confidence to the final table where he looked relaxed and focused. Even after a small setback, when he doubled up the all-in David Einhorn, pocket kings versus pocket aces, he bounced back to reclaim the lead and then never let it go.

The final table consisted of Esfandiari, Trickett, Cirque du Soleil founder and the man behind the One Drop charity and this million dollar buy-in event, Guy Laliberté, two-time bracelet winner, Brian Rast, all-time WSOP bracelet winner, Phil Hellmuth, businessmen David Einhorn, Richard Yong and Bobby Baldwin, who could just as well have been considered a pro given his four WSOP bracelets and 1978 WSOP Main Event win.

Yong, a regular at the Macau high-stakes games, came in eighth, followed by Baldwin, Rast and Laliberté. Hellmuth could not get much going at the final table and was relatively short-stacked throughout most of the day. He had a glimmer of hope of a double up when it was down to four-handed when he was all-in with {A-Spades}{10-Spades} against Trickett’s {A-Hearts}{Q-Hearts} and the flop came {A-Clubs}{10-Hearts}{5-Hearts}. But the board ran out {k-Diamonds} {J-Clubs} and Trickett rivered a straight to knock out Hellmuth in fourth place. Einhorn followed him to the rail after moving all-in with {K-Spades}{9-Clubs} only to be called by Esfandiari who was holding a dominating {K-Clubs}{10-Spades}. They each paired their under cards, and Einhorn was out in third with $4,352,000, which he had promised to donate to charity.

Heads-up, Esfandiari had almost a 3:1 chip lead and was raising nearly every button. It took just 16 hands for the match to be over. Esfandiari had the button and raised to 1.8 million. Trickett called and the flop came down {J-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{5-Clubs}. And then the betting frenzy started. Trickett checked, Esfandiari bet, Tricket raised to 5.4 million, Esfandiari reraised to 10 million, Trickett tanked then reraised to 15 million, Esfandiari came over the top all-in and Trickett called.

Trickett turned over the {Q-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds} for a flush draw and Esfandiari held trip fives with the {7-Diamonds}{5-Spades}. Trickett was the player at risk with his 36 million on the line. The turn was the {3-Hearts} and Esfandiari stayed in front. There was a long pause as everyone waited for the last card which came — the {2-Hearts}. Esfandiari jumped up into the air, tossed his glasses on the table and ran over to embrace his friends and family in the audience.

Antonio Esfandiari enters the sports history books for winning the largest single event prize, $18,346,673, and is the proud owner of a second WSOP bracelet, this one in platinum.

The Big One for One Drop Results

SeatPlayerPrize
1Antonio Esfandiari$18,346,673
2Sam Trickett$10,112,001
3David Einhorn$4,352,000
4Phil Hellmuth$2,645,333
5Guy Laliberté$1,834,666
6Brian Rast$1,621,333
7Bobby Baldwin$1,408,000
8Richard Yong$1,237,333

PokerNews has all the hand-by-hand action from this epic final table, so make sure you check out the live reporting blog for all the details.

Event #56: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em

Day 2 began with 305 player remaining, just eight spots off the money. Donald Vogel was leading the pack with 145,200 chips. At the end of the day, there were just 28 remaining. Vogel continues to lead the field, moving onto Day 3 with 1,297,000. Joining him in the million chip club are Gianluca Mattia (1,271,000) and a very familiar name, former WSOP Main Event champ Peter Eastgate (1,043,000).

There was no official bubble boy because two players were eliminated in the same hand, allowing them to split the 297th place prize money. But after the field was in the money, the eliminations came quickly. Tony Cousineau, Roland Israelashvili, Jason DeWitt, Jeff Madsen, Bryan Devonshire, Maria Ho, Jennifer Leigh, Negreanu, Eric Mizrahi, Matt Brady, Kennii Nguyen, Cherish Andrews each left with modest four-figure cashes. Some late-in-the-day cashes included Marco Traniello, Chance Kornuth and Blake Cahill.

Also still in the hunt for the gold bracelet are Event #41 third place finisher Paul Vas Nunes, former November Niner Sam Holden, and a short-stacked Will “The Thrill” Failla. They and the rest of the field will return at 1300 PDT (2100 BST) on Wednesday to play down to a winner.

To make sure follow all the final day action, make sure you check into the live reporting blog Wednesday.

Event #57: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em — Six-Handed

On Tuesday, the last six-handed event of the season pulled in 474 players, looking for some fast paced action. Last year this event drew 474 players and was won by Joe Ebanks, who beat Chris Moorman heads-up.

The bust-out list for Day 1 was full of famous names including JC Tran, Tristan Wade, Todd Terry, Erik Seidel, Phil Ivey, Kevin Saul, John Racener, Luke Schwartz, Adam Junglen, Neil Channing, Allen Cunningham and PokerStars Team Pros Daniel Negreanu, Vicky Coren, Bertrand Grospellier, Chad Brown, Jude Ainsworth, and Angel Guillen. Ebanks would not be repeating as the winner; he was the last player knocked out on Day 1.

At the end of eight levels of play, 167 remained in the field, led by Stanislav Barshak with 230,700 chips. Nick Maimone moved out to an early chip lead and ended up bagging 171,800, to finish among the chip leaders. Other big stacks moving on to Day 2 are Dan Smith (210,000), Jeff Gross (152,000), Carter Phillips (170,200), Hafiz Khan (164,600), Ludovic Lacay (160,700), Shaun Deeb (148,600), and Jason Mercier (148,300). A bit further back in the pack is last year's runner up Moorman along with Isaac Haxton, Brett Hanks, Joseph Cheong, Justin Bonomo, David Chiu, Lauren Kling, Liv Boeree and Layne Flack.

They and the remaining field will return on Wednesday to play down through the money bubble which will pop after someone is knocked out in 49th place. They will continue to play as close to a final table as they can in 10 levels of play.

Keep up on all the Day 2 action, and get the full story on whatever happens, as we play down through the money bubble and toward the final table by following the live reporting blog throughout the day.

Event #58: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split 8-or-Better

Last year, 352 players entered a $5,000 buy-in version of this event and Nick Binger ended up winning the $397,073 top prize. This year, 526 players will create a top prize of $330,277 for the winner. At the end of Day 1, Roman Verenko bagged up the most chips, 83,100, followed by Yuval Bronshtein with 71,400 in chips.

A stacked field resulted in a bust out list full of well-known players including PokerStars Team Pros Viktor Blom, Daniel Negreanu, and David Williams, as well as Bill Chen, Ted Lawson, John Racener, Phil Ivey, and fresh off his fourth place finish in Event #55, Phil Hellmuth.

Returning to play on Day 2 will be Amnon Filippi, Erick Lindgren, Chris Bell, Scotty Nguyen, Jennifer Tilly, David "ODB" Baker, Mike Matusow, Nenad Medic, David Bach, Humberto Brenes, Blair Rodman, Scott Clements, Jon Turner, and last year’s winner, Binger, hoping for a repeat. They and the rest of the field will play down to the final 54 who will be guaranteed a minimum payout of $5,557 and then on towards the final table.

To follow all the Day 2 action, make sure to check out the PokerNews live reporting blog throughout the day.

On Tap

Heads-up play in Event #54: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em will continue until a winner in crowned. Event #56: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em will attempt to play down to a winner, while Event #57: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed and Event #58: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split 8-or-Better each play down as close to the final table as possible.

Finally, the last $1K event of the summer will get under way, Event #59: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em.

PokerNews will bring you complete coverage of every event tomorrow, so to make sure you don't miss a single thing, check into the live reporting blog for all the updates.

Video of the Day

Sarah Grant talks to One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari about the story behind the "Hug it Out" t-shirts, life being beautiful, visualizing winning, and the changes that helped him win the Big One.

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