It had the makings to be one of the most star-studded World Series of Poker Main Event final tables ever. But poker's all-time tournament money leader couldn't quite make the cut.
Antonio Esfandiari busted in ninth place at the WSOP APAC Main Event late Sunday evening at Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. Esfandiari landed directly on the final table bubble after losing a flip with to German pro Benny Spindler's . His exit secured the eight-handed final table which will be played on Monday starting at 2 p.m. local time.
Daniel Negreanu will serve as the headliner at the final table. "Kid Poker" will enter the final day second in chips behind Spindler, who is quite the established pro in his own right having won a major title on the European Poker Tour in 2011 and adding several big scores around the globe.
Also in contention for the AUD$1,038,825 top prize is 2012 October Niner Russell Thomas, who began the penultimate day with the chip lead and snuck into the final table.
WSOP APAC Main Event Final Table
Day 4 began with 15 of the original 405 players eyeing the first WSOP Main Event bracelet on Australian soil. The action kicked off after the conclusion of the Caesars Cup event, which included Negreanu and Esfandiari. It took about 30 minutes for the first elimination to take place.
Moments after losing most of his stack with to Winfred Yu's pocket aces, Yasar Gueden was sent packing in 15th place. Spindler min-raised to 20,000 from the hijack and Gueden moved all in for 25,000 from the button. George Tsatsis called from the big blind and Spindler tossed in the additional 5,000 to complete the action.
Gueden mistakenly tabled his before the flop but the action continued with Tsatsis check-calling a bet of 30,000. The turn was the and Spindler's 100,000-chip bet was enough to get rid of Tsatsis. Spindler revealed and had Gueden outkicked with his nine. The completed the board and Gueden was the first elimination of Day 3.
After Raj Ramakrishnan and Michael Pedley were eliminated in 14th and 13th place, respectively, Aussie Joel Feldman was sent to the rail after a very interesting four-way confrontation. Spindler raised to 24,000 from under the gun and Feldman moved all in for 266,000 directly behind. Action folded over to Yu, who moved all-in for 555,000 from the button. That sent George Tsatsis into the tank for more than a minute before he finaly let his hand go. Spindler then folded his face up, and Tsatsis revealed that he also folded an ace ().
Even though he was in great shape, Yu couldn't bear to watch as the board ran out . That spelled the end for Feldman, who earned $51,941 for his deep run.
Tino Lechich was the next to go in 11th place. According to WSOP.com, he was facing an all-in bet from Daniel Marton on a board reading . Lechich decided to call off his last 200,000 and he turned over for a flush. But Marton tabled for the nut flush, and Lechich exited in 11th place for $51,941.
He was followed out the door by Jordan Westmorland, who spent most of the day short-stacked. After Tsatsis raised to 48,000, Westmorland took a stand by moving in for his last 100,000 from the big blind with . Action was back on Tsatsis and he called with . The board came up dry for Westmorland and he exited just short of the unofficial final table.
Esfandiari's bustout came about an hour later after the players took a 15-minute break. Action folded around to him on the button and he limped in for 20,000 with . After the small blind folded, Spindler raised to 75,000 from the big blind with . Esfandiari moved all in for around 400,000 and Spindler quickly called.
Esfandiari needed some help to stay alive, but the sent him out the door with $65,408. He was consoled by his father who had been by his side all day.
While Esfandiari fell short of his first Main Event final table, Negreanu will attempt to one-up his runner-up finish at the 2009 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, where he lost heads-up to Barry Schulman. Negreanu will also be eyeing his fifth WSOP bracelet; he hasn't picked up any hardware since 2008.
Stay tuned to PokerNews.com as we bring you a full recap of Monday's final table at the conclusion of play!