We’ve already hit the first weekend of the 2019 World Series of Poker, but there were some loose ends to tie up before the weekend bacchanalia could begin in earnest. In a tough battle against the Media Director of the WSOP, Nicholas Haynes was able to emerge as the champion of the Casino Employees Event.

Comes from Mid-Pack to Championship Gold

Haynes was in perfect striking position when the final six came to the table for the Event #1 finale. Haynes sat with a healthy stack of 2.725 million, but it was a bit distant from the top two players. Isaac Hanson, the WSOP Media Director, was the “Top Dog” at the start of the day with his 5.55 million chips, but Jorge Ruiz was nipping at his heels with a 4.82 million stack. Rounding out the final table participants a sizeable chunk behind Haynes were Jesse Kertland (1.62 million), Adam Lamers (1.49 million) and Jeffrey Fast (1.19 million).

The bottom three were looking to make their move, but nobody thought that move would be on the first hand of the day. Fast, a dealer at Fallsview Casino, opted to stick his final million chips in the center and Hanson, with the big stack, decided to play table sheriff. They both were hunting for the same thing; Fast’s K♥ 5♥ had the edge over Hanson’s Q♥ 9♥, but the nine that came on the flop didn’t care about suits. Looking for a King to edge over Hanson, Fast instead saw the board blank out and he was gone on the first hand in sixth place.

Only 15 hands later, the next departure was issued. Lammers pushed his chips to the center from the cutoff and Ruiz woke up in the small blind with a call, ensuring that Kertland in the big blind didn’t get in the mix. Ruiz’s A♦ J♦ was in the lead against the K-Q off suit of Lamers and the eight high flop didn’t change a thing, sending Lamers to the rail in fifth place. Kertland, who never could find any traction on the day, was out next in fourth place at the hands of Haynes, who happened to wake up on the button with pocket Aces to dominate Kertland’s K-5.

Still Some Work to Do

Even after knocking off Kertland, Haynes still had some work left to do. Hanson was playing some outstanding poker, at one point sitting on more chips (10 million) than Ruiz and Haynes combined (7.4 million). It looked to be a battle between Ruiz and Haynes to see who would face Hanson and, on Hand #147, that clash took place.

Pushing from the button for his nearly four million chip stack, Haynes squeezed his cards and responded with an all-in of his own for nearly the same stack. That was enough for Hansen to get out of the way, at which point the hands were turned up:

Ruiz: K♥ Q♥
Haynes: pocket 10s

There wasn’t much of a sweat for Haynes as the flop and turn brought no hearts, but paint on the river brought some drama. That paint turned out to be a Jack, however, and Haynes took the hand. After the chips were counted down, it was determined that Haynes had been the at-risk player in the hand, but the 6.2 million pot pushed his way put him in second. Ruiz, with only 550K left after the clash, would depart on the next hand against Hanson as heads up play was set.

Hanson held almost a four million chip lead over Haynes heads up (10.7 million to 6.8 million), but that was quickly eliminated by Haynes. Over the span of four hands, Haynes was able to take over the lead and never look back. On the final hand (Hand #156), Haynes put Hanson to the test with an all-in push, which Hanson called. Haynes’ K-8 off suit was live against Hanson’s A-9 off suit, but an eight on the flop (7-Q-8) pushed Haynes into the lead. A Jack on the turn opened more doors for Hanson with a gut shot straight draw, but the trey on the river sealed the tournament and the WSOP bracelet for Haynes.

1. Nicholas Haynes, $62,345
2. Isaac Hanson, $38,503
3. Jorge Ruiz, $26,681
4. Jesse Kertland, $18,785
5. Adam Lamers, $13,441
6. Jeffrey Fast, $9776
7. Christopher Bowen, $7229*
8. Joseph Appler, $5438*
9. Travis Williams, $4161*

(* – eliminated on Thursday, part of official WSOP final table) uot;des

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