2013 World Series of Poker: Simeon Naydenov Shootout Champion, Veteran Michael Moore Limit King

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On Saturday at the 2013 World Series of Poker, two more bracelets were handed out. In one event, a popular face on the European poker scene captured his first bracelet while in the second a veteran poker player from the past earned his first ever bracelet.

Event #36 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout

Yesterday saw the final twelve survivors return from the massive 1194 player field return to play down to the champion. In the Shootout format, the twelve men had already battled through two tables to reach this point and, for all practical purposes, had virtually the same chip stacks (Mike “SirWatts” Watson was the low man with 440K in chips and Tobias Wenker on top with 449K). While everyone was assured of at least $18,407 for their work on Saturday, they all had their eyes on the $326,440 first place prize.

Divided into two tables of six players, two eliminations had to be made to get to the official final table. Salman Behbehani would take a huge chunk of chips off of Vladimir Kochelaevskiy (with Behbehani’s pocket Kings delivering a slight cooler to Kochelaevskiy’s pocket tens) before Kochelaevskiy was eliminated by Watson in twelfth place to take the lead overall in the tournament, while Simeon Naydenov hurt Kevin Vandersmissen in moving into the second place slot. Watson would then eliminate Vandersmissen in eleventh place to join the hunt atop the leaderboard.

Down to the final table, the players ratcheted up the action to determine the champion of this Shootout. Watson would crack the million chip mark in taking a hand off of Noah Bronstein and Jose “Nacho” Barbero doubled up through Behbehani to bring Behbehani down to earth a bit. After Andrew Kloc eliminated Sumanth Reddy in tenth place and Naydenov dumped Bronstein in ninth, the final eight players continued a fight that would be over in four hours.

Naydenov would be a force on the felt over that four hour span, doubling through Jan Kropacek to further his drive to the title. The big push, however, was when Naydenov was able to eliminate Watson from the tournament in sixth place. After opening the betting for 50K, Naydenov saw Watson three-bet the action to 125K. Naydenov immediately moved all in and, to his surprise, Watson snap-called his bet.

Once the cards were on their backs, Watson had a big lead with his pocket Queens over Naydenov’s pocket nines and the 4-A-K flop kept “SirWatts” in the lead. The turn delivered a cruel blow in a nine to switch the fates in favor of Naydenov. Looking for two outs, Watson saw paint on the river but, after further look, it was a Jack to eliminate him from the tournament.

Naydenov would get another fortuitous card in a hand against Jake Schwartz. On a 6-6-7-Q-Q board, Naydenov was able to get a call from Schwartz before showing a K-Q for a runner-runner boat. All Schwartz could do was show his pocket sevens for the flopped boat and disgustedly toss his cards to the dealer.

For his part, Schwartz didn’t give up after that difficult beat. He doubled up through Wenker first and then Kloc before eliminating Wenker in fourth to reemerge as a challenger to Naydenov. After Naydenov eliminated Kloc in third place, he had a nearly three million chip lead as he and Schwartz went to heads up play.

Heads up would only last for nine hands as both players aggressively attacked. On the final hand, Schwartz moved the action up to 60K and, after a Naydenov call, the duo saw a 4♠ A♠ 9♠ flop. This lit the fuse as both men took turns raising until Schwartz called all in against Naydenov. Schwartz had to feel good about his A-9, but that feeling disappeared when Naydenov rolled out K♠ 8♠ for the flopped nut flush. Looking for another Ace or a nine, Schwartz would instead see a seven on the turn and a deuce on the river to end his tournament and award the championship to Naydenov.

1. Simeon Naydenov (Sofia, Bulgaria), $326,440
2. Jake Schwartz (New York, NY), $202,035
3. Andrew Kloc (Naugatuck, CT), $126,250
4. Tobias Wenker (Germany), $91,749
5. Jose “Nacho” Barbero (Buenos Aires, Argentina), $67,732
6. Mike Watson (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), $50,774
7. Jan Kropacek (Pelhpimov, the Czech Republic), $38,621
8. Salman Behbehani (United Kingdom), $29,771
9. Noah Bronstein (Kirkland, WA), $23,259
10. Sumanth Reddy (Franklin Park, NJ), $18,407

Event #37 – $5000 Limit Hold’em

Although the tournament only drew in 170 players, the final twelve men who came back on Saturday to decide the championship in Event #37 all had excellent credentials. There was two-time WSOP bracelet winner Greg “FBT” Mueller (whose two bracelet victories had come in Limit events), 2012 bracelet winner Ronnie Bardah and Justin Bonomo. It was Todd Witteles who was on top of the leaderboard at the start of the day, holding a stack of 442,000 for the battle.

Bonomo would draw the first blood on the day, eliminating Jeffrey Yass in twelfth place, and Bardah would soon follow with his own elimination of Jan Sjavik. When Witteles took care of Steve Landfish in tenth place (coolering him with pocket Kings to Landfish’s pocket tens), the final table was set only about two hours into play.

For all the speed the players took in getting to the final nine men, the tournament would drag endlessly thereafter. It would take two hours just to make the next elimination, with Mueller doing the deed to Bonomo. “FBT” couldn’t hold onto those chips, though, giving them up to Dom Denotaristefani and Gabriel Nassif before being eliminated in eighth place.

After Ben Yu was eliminated in seventh place by Witteles, the players went to a break with Witteles looking to catch Brian Aleksa for the top slot. On down the six man leaderboard was a name from poker’s past, Michael Moore, who had been biding his time. Moore, the 10th place finisher in the 1995 WSOP Championship Event and a longtime veteran of the game, was at the bottom of the table, but his journey was only starting for the evening.

Although he was able to take a few hands after the break, he saw most of those chips disappear in a three hand span. It wasn’t until he was able to double up through Bardah (when his A-4 miraculously hit trip fours against Bardah’s A-J) that he was able to right the ship. He would double through Witteles to get some more ammunition and then use those chips to get into the third place slot behind Bardah and Nassif. By the time the midnight hour struck, it was down to Nassif (holding 1.68 million chips) and Moore (870K) for the title.

Although Moore would come out on the attack over the first 40+ hands of play, he was barely able to put a dent in Nassif’s stack (1.575 million to 975K). After another 20 hands of play, however, Moore had been able to reverse the tables, taking a 1.6 million to 950K chip lead through grinding down Nassif. The twosome would battle for another hour before the penultimate hand was dealt.

After a series of bets saw Nassif finally get his chips to the center against Moore, he found he was nicely ahead with his Q-J over Moore’s 10-4. The flop hit both players, coming down 10-J-8, but Nassif was still in the lead and had an excellent opportunity to get back into the match. The ten on the turn changed that, however, giving Moore trips and leaving Nassif looking for another Jack to beat Moore. Instead, an innocuous deuce came on the river, ending Nassif’s tournament in second place and earning the title for the veteran Moore.

1. Michael Moore (Agar, SD), $211,743
2. Gabriel Nassif (Paris, France), $130,852
3. Ronnie Bardah (Brockton, MA), $94,793
4. Brian Aleksa (Ivyland, PA), $69,968
5. Todd Witteles (Las Vegas, NV), $52,582
6. Dom Denotaristefani (Mendham, NJ), $40,205
7. Ben Yu (Henderson, NV), $31,264
8. Greg Mueller (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), $24,721
9. Justin Bonomo (Denver, CO), $19,863

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