As the 2017 World Series of Poker gets ready to head into its second full weekend of action, two poker professionals walked off with the latest bracelets. In one case, it was the second time picking up the jewelry and, in the other, it was a third chance to “taste the gold” from the WSOP.
Event #14 – $1500 H.O.R.S.E.
Only 18 players were remaining from the 736 players who started the event two days ago with a star-studded field of players in the mix for the championship. Such notable names (and, in some cases, WSOP bracelet holders) as David ‘Bakes’ Baker, Max Pescatori, David Singer, Ian Johns (the defending champion of the tournament), Brandon Shack-Harris, Richard Ashby, Yuval Bronshtein and Esther Taylor were all sitting with chips in front of them at the start of the day. They were all looking up at Paul Sokoloff’s 700,000 chip stack that led the way, however.
In a departure from the usual H.O.R.S.E. or mixed game tournament, the rate of bust outs in the early action was rapid. Within the first two hours of the day’s action, the field had been whittled down to the final 11 players and Baker had taken over the lead from Sokoloff. Another three hours of play – and the elimination of Shack-Harris in ninth place by Kevin LaMonica – brought the official final table to action with LaMonica holding 2.15 million of the chips in play.
Singer was a methodical player throughout the day, reserving his short stack for hands where he would maximize his value. Singer eliminated Taylor in eighth place and Baker in seventh to creep over the million-chip mark and would take over the chip lead by the time the dinner break arrived. After the meal break, Singer continued his march in knocking off Mike Coombs in fifth while LaMonica attempted to keep pace by taking down Pescatori in fourth.
LaMonica, for his part, was frustrating those at the table with an unorthodox, “play any hand” style that left his opponents scrambling to figure out what he was holding. In one hand, LaMonica hammered bets on all three streets of a J-9-9-Q-10 board with Andrew Kelsall calling all the way. When LaMonica revealed an A-K for the rivered straight, Kelsall could only sigh heavily and toss his cards to the muck; he would depart soon afterwards at the hands of Singer.
As heads up began, Singer held a slim lead over LaMonica, but LaMonica’s unorthodox play would raise its ugly head again. LaMonica slow-rolled Singer who, after Singer having rolled up sevens in Stud Hi/Lo without improvement, said “Three sixes,” as LaMonica exposed that plus another pair of tens for a full house. The 750K chip pot was significant as it slid towards LaMonica.
Singer, for his part, didn’t allow LaMonica’s problematic style and approach affect his play. Although at one point he held only 350K in chips, Singer began to slowly work his way back into the mix, retaking the lead from LaMonica when Singer hit The Wheel in Omaha Hi/Lo to take down a nice pot. Limit Hold’em – the “H” in H.O.R.S.E. – would end up being the stumbling block for LaMonica.
On a Q-J-3-8-3 board, Singer called a raise pre-flop and bets on each street from LaMonica, besting him when Singer’s A-3 made trips by the river against LaMonica’s Big Slick (big nothing). Down to only 750K, LaMonica would double up in the first hand of Omaha Hi/Lo, but would meet his demise on the second.
In a departure from his unorthodox approach, LaMonica simply called pre-flop and Singer checked to see a seemingly innocent K-9-2 flop. Singer would check-raise LaMonica, but LaMonica was committed to his hand and moved the rest of his chips to the center. Singer called and, after he tabled his K-3-3-2 against LaMonica’s 8-6-5-5, was ahead with his Kings up. A deuce on the turn made a boat for Singer and, once he dodged one of the two fives that LaMonica needed to steal the hand, David Singer was the proud owner of his second WSOP bracelet.
1. David Singer, $203,709
2. Kevin LaMonica, $125,904
3. Andrew Kelsall, $88,221
4. Max Pescatori, $62,733
5. Mike Coombs, $45,281
6. David ‘Bakes’ Baker, $33, 184
7. Kyle Loman, $24,696
8. Esther Taylor, $18,669
Event #15 – $10,000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em World Championship
Four men had a chance at WSOP gold on Friday from the 129 players who started the tournament on Wednesday. John Smith, Charlie Carrel, former WSOP Europe Champion Adrian Mateos and former World Champion Ryan Riess were the quartet of men who would battle it out, with Smith and Riess in one pairing and Carrel and Mateos in the other. Awaiting the victor was the $336,656 first place prize and a shiny new piece of jewelry.
Smith and Riess would put on a show for the railbirds in attendance. Over the span of 105 hands, the twosome passed the lead back and forth. By Hand 94, however, Smith had eked out a bit of a lead that he wouldn’t let go of. On their final hand of battle, Riess committed his chips to the center with pocket nines and Smith called him with a K-Q off suit. The Queen was in the window, much to Riess’ chagrin, and he couldn’t find one of the two nines to save him. Instead, an eight and a four came on the turn and river, keeping Smith in the lead and sending him to the finals.
In comparison, the Carrel/Mateos match was a sprint. Only 37 hands were played between the two men, with Mateos getting down early against Carrel. After 28 hands, Mateos faced more than a 2:1 deficit, but he righted the ship on Hand 34 when he doubled up to take his own big lead. On the final hand of action, the twosome got in a raising war that eventually saw Carrel’s stack in the center. Carrel, however, was taking the worse end; his A-10 was no match for Mateos’ A-K and, after a Queen high board missed Carrel, Mateos would move on to face Smith.
The visual contrast between the grandfatherly Smith and the youthful Mateos did not apply to their methods of attack in the Championship Match. Mateos jumped out to an early lead after 10 hands, but Smith pulled it back to nearly even after 37 hands of action. On Hand 50, Smith moved into the lead after Mateos folded to a Smith check-raise on a J-5-3-6-K “no flush” board. That only seemed to inspire Mateos, who went on a rampage that would eventually win him the championship.
Over the next 20 hands, Mateos increased the pressure on Smith and worked his way out to a 3:1 lead, but he was also the beneficiary of a bit of luck. On the final hand (Hand 73), Smith limped only to see Mateos pound out a raise from the big blind. Smith made the call and, on the A♠ 9♠ 3♥ flop, Mateos made a continuation bet. Smith wasn’t going anywhere as he made the call and, after Mateos looked him up, the cards were on their backs. Mateos’ 5♠ 2♠ had a chance at a baby flush/Wheel straight and mathematically was ahead (63%/37%), but Smith’s Q-8 was visually on top after the flop. The Q♠ ended the discussion, however, leaving Smith drawing dead to the flush and Adrian Mateos becoming the youngest person ever to win three bracelets (22 years old).
1. Adrian Mateos, $336,656
2. John Smith, $208,154
3. Charlie Carrel, $112,379
(tie) Ryan Riess, $112,379