The final days of the World Poker Tour’s Season Ten schedule are upon us as the WPT Championship heads into its penultimate final two days with Germany’s Marvin Rettenmaier and Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi leading the unofficial nine handed final table.
In a situation that was hotly debated among the players, the Bellagio staff and the WPT halted play on Wednesday with 19 players remaining, one short of bursting the money bubble. Josh Arieh, who started Wednesday as the short stack, would be the one who came up on the short end of the stick as the odd man out, which led to a withering attack on Twitter by Arieh. “I will never player another poker tour at Bellagio ever again,” he Tweeted. “I hope in the future people will join me and boycott Bellagio’s ridiculous ways. Day 1 & 2 done at 7pm, day 3 9pm and today on the bubble.”
Arieh wasn’t the only one to blast the Bellagio over its handling of the WPT Championship. Former Victory Poker CEO Dan Fleyshman stated over Twitter, “We all love the Bellagio as a setting, it’s their decisions (Like 8 days for a tournament) that are frustrating.” Randy Dorfman, who participated in the WPT Championship, Tweeted his opinion, “Bellagio poker tournaments (are) the worst run tournaments in Vegas. In pit with tables crunched together and dealing with smoking and slots. Just a total joke!”
Following Arieh’s departure from the tournament (Arieh’s A-J couldn’t catch Rettenmaier’s pocket Kings), the final 18 men set about the task of working their way as far down as they could before the close of play for the day. Utilizing his knockout of Arieh, Rettenmaier was able to work his way into the second place slot behind Hafiz Khan. Also in the mix were several contenders for the WPT Player of the Year crown – Joe Serock, Matt Juttelstad, Rinat Bogdanov and Moon Kim – as well as Steve O’Dwyer, Nick Schulman, Barry Shulman, Farzad Bonyadi and Mizrachi.
Guillaume Darcourt was the first player to walk out of the Bellagio with some cash in hand ($40,266) after he was eliminated by Wil Wilkinson. A half hour later, Bonyadi left at the hands of Mizrachi when his A-10 was vanquished by “The Grinder’s” 6-5 after a six came on the flop. Meanwhile, Serock furthered his chances at taking the POY title by doubling up through Trevor Pope, needing to outlast one more player to eclipse Will “The Thrill” Failla to seize the POY lead.
After an interesting three way all in, Serock would achieve his goal. Bogdanov pushed his remaining chips to the center, Juttelstad moved all in over the top to isolate but had Ron Coury come along for less. The three hands seemed to be made for television (Juttelstad with pocket Aces, Bogdanov with pocket tens and Coury with pocket sixes) and the flop indeed provided the drama. A six on the flop pushed Coury into the lead and, once no ten or Ace came on the turn or river, Bogdanov was eliminated in sixteenth place and Coury tripled up.
Following that hand, the players seemed to pick up the pace as the eliminations came quickly. Shulman left in fifteenth place after his pocket nines couldn’t catch Pope’s pocket tens, while Mizrachi dispatched Tom McCormick after spiking a seven on the flop with his pocket sevens to pass McCormick’s pocket nines. After only four hours of play – and the eliminations of Juttelstad (thirteenth) and John Esposito (twelfth) – the players only had to work through two more eliminations to call it a day.
Coury would be the first to leave, after being decimated by Kim. Kim used an A-Q against Coury’s pocket eights to drop Coury to a measly 23K in chips, then finished the job when Kim’s pocket tens stood up to Coury’s Q-8 push. The final ten players would gather at one table to determine which nine men still had a chance at the WPT Championship.
Over a 44 hand battle, Mizrachi would begin his charge to the top of the leaderboard. He doubled up through Khan to take over the chip lead, but would give some of those chips back and the lead to Rettenmaier in doubling up Schulman. Rettenmaier would extend that lead by knocking out Serock when his A-K turned a King to catch Serock’s pocket nines and drop the new POY leader out of the tournament in tenth place.
1. Marvin Rettenmaier, 3.757 million
2. Michael Mizrachi, 3.124 million
3. Steve O’Dwyer, 1.643 million
4. Hafiz Khan, 1.641 million
5. Nick Schulman, 1.35 million
6. Moon Kim, 1.139 million
7. Philippe Ktorza, 977,000
8. Trevor Pope, 800,000
9. Wil Wilkinson, 705,000
While Rettenmaier and Mizrachi have pulled away from the field, there is still work left to be done. The men will come back at noon today to whittle three more players out before the official WPT final table is complete. There is also still a battle for the POY, as Kim will pass Serock with a third place finish in this tournament, leaving plenty of excitement left at the 2012 WPT Championship.