After battling through the largest entry field in the history of the event, Femi Fashakin completed what he started. Coming to the final table of the “BIG 50” at the 50th Anniversary World Series of Poker, Fashakin wasn’t even slowed down on his way to capturing the biggest payday of his career and his first WSOP bracelet.
Nine-figure Stacks is “Short Stack” Poker?
Fashakin held a 17 million chip lead over second place Walter Atwood as the final seven players came to the table. Fashakin showed he wasn’t going to just sit back as, on the very first hand, a short-stacked Daniel Ghobrial shoved his 101 million chip stack to the center and Fashakin made the call. They both held Big Slick, meaning no harm, no foul, and Ghobrial would have to wait to double up until he caught against Atwood to lengthen Fashakin’s lead.
The first elimination would come in a slight bit of a cooler situation. Adrian Curry, knocked down to the short stack after Ghobrial’s double up, pushed in his stack with pocket tens. Unfortunately, Rafi Elharar would wake up with pocket Kings and, of course, he called. After the board blanked out, Elharar picked up Curry’s chips and sent him to the rail in seventh place. Ghobrial would fall soon afterwards in sixth place when Nick Chow turned trip fives to crush Ghobrial’s baby Ace.
The frenetic play would continue as, despite the nine-figure stacks of chips, the blinds didn’t allow for much play in the game between the competitors. Chow would take over the lead as he ramped up his aggression, taking down Atwood in fifth place and moving ahead of Fashakin. Even after this, however, Chow only had roughly 30 big blinds as the 10 million/20 million blinds and 20 million ante began to eat away at the stacks.
Chow Unable to Sustain, Fashakin Fights Back
It was at this point that the wheels came off for Chow. As Elharar and Paul Cullen were able to find opportune doubles, Chow instead saw his chips slip through his fingers. It was a final clash against Fashakin, Chow’s A-4 off suit against Fashakin’s Q-10 off suit, that ended Chow’s day. A Queen on the flop was all that was necessary for Fashakin to take over the lead and, after a Jack and a trey filled out the board, Chow was out in fourth and Fashakin had over 40% of the chips in play.
Smelling blood in the water, it was Fashakin’s turn to go on the attack. Although he would double up Cullen once, Fashakin was able to take down Elharar in third place to enter heads up play with nearly 70% of the chips in play. It would only take eight hands for the penultimate hand to occur and, when it did, Fashakin won in style.
Fashakin completed from the button and Cullen, in the big blind, made his move with a raise to 140 million. Fashakin made his statement, moving all in, and Cullen decided that Fashakin was just trying to steal and made the call. It turned out Fashakin had the goods; after Fashakin turned up two red Aces, Cullen’s Q-J off suit shrank up in comparison. Some hope would come for Cullen on the 2-Q-8 flop, but a four on the turn and a ten on the river provided no further assistance as Femi Fashakin captured the “BIG 50” championship, the WSOP bracelet and the massive first place payday of $1,147,449.
1. Femi Fashakin, $1,147,449
2. Paul Cullen, $709,183
3. Rafi Elharar, $534,574
4. Nick Chow, $405,132
5. Walter Atwood, $308,701
6. Daniel Ghobrial, $236,508
7. Adrian Curry, $182,192
8. Morten Christensen, $141,126*
9. David Rasmussen, $109,922*
(* – eliminated on Thursday night, part of official WSOP final table)
Naturally for someone who only had $60K in previous tournament cashes, Fashakin was stunned by his newfound fortune. Asked by the WSOP blog how he felt following the tournament, Fashakin responded, “Overwhelmed, it’s really amazing, super excited. I can’t even describe it but I’m also grateful and it’s a humbling experience. It’s my third cash at the WSOP here in Vegas and I think it’s been okay so far! I didn’t really plan a celebration because I wasn’t sure. But I had a feeling! Today I sprinted in the hallway of the hotel and I thought: when I get to the end of the door, I’m going to stop there and visualize the bracelet. I did that sprint and I saw it…”.
If it is to be a “one-off” event, the “BIG 50” certainly did its job. The most entries in history (28,371), the most unique entries in history (17,970), the biggest prize pool for a $500 tournament (over $13 million) …the list goes on for the firsts the tournament achieved. Will it be back in 2020? If it isn’t, the “BIG 50” certainly etched its name in the annals of WSOP history.