The World Series of Poker has stories that capture the public’s attention, no matter what their proclivity. In particular, everyone likes a story of a player who has had some difficulties for a bit but then earns their way back to the spotlight. While it might not have been quite as big, the return of John Monnette to the winner’s circle in Event #16, the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship, certainly had all the earmarks of a classic.
Difficult Final Table to Start
Ten players came back to the felt on Saturday, vying for one of the $10,000 Championships that populate the WSOP schedule. The roster was replete with top pros, including Monnette on the short stack (270K), bracelet winners Ray Dehkharghani (315K), Jason Somerville (670) and chip leader John Racener (1.09 million). But many eyes were locked on a man who manages scientific analysis in his profession, perfect for coming to the Limit Hold’em table – the founder of the predicative website fivethirtyeight.com, statistician Nate Silver (440K).
It seemed that everyone was to spend a bit of time at the top of the heap at the final table. Racener would lose the lead to Scott Tuttle, who was not able to hold on to the slot. Chan made his moves up the ladder, knocking Tuttle out of the top slot in a hand that saw Dehkharghani left with only 50K in chips. Dehkharghani would leave the table as the final table “bubble boy” when Eric Kurtzman out flopped him with a K-J against Dehkharghani’s A-8 on a K-5-7-7-3 board.
Chan, who has routinely driven deep in Limit Hold’em events at the WSOP without capturing the gold, exerted a little of his expertise over the table at this point. He would pull out to a 400K chip lead over Racener but, as he continued to add a few chips to his stack, he would also see a dangerous player in Monnette capture a large pot from him. While Chan maintained the lead, Monnette was beginning to climb the mountain.
After Christopher Chung and Tuttle left the table in eighth and seventh places, respectively, there was a little bit of a logjam at the top of the leaderboard. Kurtzman and Chan were tied with 1.5 million chips, while Monnette had climbed into third place with a 1.1 million stack. The battle was just getting started, however, and the action entered the evening hours.
It was at this time that Silver decided to get in the action, scraping up enough chips to be able to battle equally with the leading trio. The one player who could not match was Somerville, who was cruelly eliminated after he had flopped a Broadway straight against Silver, but Silver caught a seven to make a set and the river paired the board with another ten to give him the backdoor boat.
Just before the dinner break, Chan would leave the table. He would get his final chips in the center with a K-J, only to see Monnette turn up Big Slick for the preflop lead. A Jack on the flop gave Chan top pair, but the turn Ace gave Monnette a bigger pair of his own. Looking for a Jack to salvage the hand (a King was worthless as it would improve Monnette to two pair also), a Queen rolled off on the river to send Chan out in fourth place as the tournament took a break.
Longest Final Table of 2021 WSOP Yet
Already in action for over six hours, there was still a championship to determine between the three survivors. Silver got out to the early edge, taking chips from Monnette, but both Monnette and Kurtzman both had a time in the lead. Kurtzman, however, would begin to bleed chips, eventually dropping from the tournament to Silver in third place.
At the start of heads up, Silver held a decent 600K lead, but Monnette quickly snatched it away from him. Silver battled back, however, and pulled out to almost a 2:1 lead. The duo would continue to battle it out, with Monnette fighting back to even. It was only after the blinds were kicked up to 40K/80K (Level 24) was a player able to take command.
That player was Monnette, who rivered trip sevens against Silver on a 9-7-4-2-7 board (Silver did not show) in one hand and then made a better two pair with his pocket sevens on a 3-K-K-4-8 board in which Silver had pocket deuces. On the final hand, Silver committed his final chips on a 10-8-7-K flop and turn with a Q-10. Monnette had him, however, with a K-9 that faded another ten or a Queen on the river six to earn the championship of Event #16.
1. John Monnette, $245,680
2. Nate Silver, $151,842
3. Eric Kurtzman, $108,747
4. Terrence Chan, $79,210
5. Jason Somerville, $58,697
6. John Racener, $44,263
7. Scott Tuttle, $33,979
8. Christopher Chung, $26,561
9. Kevin Song, $21,149
This was Monnette’s fourth bracelet victory, but it is arguably his sweetest one. Although he has over $3 million in career earnings, Monnette has only earned slightly more than $28,000 over the past three years. The fourth bracelet, while also bringing him a nice payday, also puts him in an elite group of players such as “Puggy” Pearson, “Amarillo” Slim Preston, Dominik Nitsche, Mike Matusow, Jeff Madsen, Eli Elezra, Joe Cada, and Bill Boyd (among others) who have also earned four bracelets.