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Hellmuth Denied Tenth Gold Bracelet
Day 11 of the World Series of Poker proved unlucky for poker superstar Phil Hellmuth as his quest for a record-tying tenth gold bracelet ended with a fickle river.
Competing heads up against Jeff Cabanillas at the WSOP $5,000 No Limit Hold'em Event #9, Hellmuth's 5h-4s looked good when the flop came 6d-4d-3h.
However, Cabanillas had eleven outs for a win and six more outs to tie with his 5d-3d and quickly called the former World Champion's all-in bet. When the dealer dropped a Jd, Cabanillas had his flush and his first gold bracelet. Before Thursday, Cabanillas had never cashed in a WSOP event or placed in a major tournament.
Heads-up play took nearly four hours to complete. Cabanillas began the heads up portion with the lead, but the two combatants traded the top stack several times in the first hour. Hellmuth won three consecutive large pots halfway through the competition to take a 2-1 lead.
Hellmuth continued to grind Cabanillas down until about an hour to go. Hellmuth flipped after Cabanillas chased him down to the river and caught a pair of fours according to live blogs, and "The Poker Brat" never recovered.
The crowd around Hellmuth was immense as he attempted to capture his tenth bracelet. Even his sometime friend, sometime nemesis Mike "The Mouth" Matasow stopped by to see if his buddy could tie the record.
Given the Hellmuth presence and the variety of personalities in the Event #9 final group, it was easily the most exciting final table players so far in the 2006 WSOP major events, drawing an even bigger audience than Joe Hachem's run in the Six-Handed No Limit Hold'em event.
Solid professional player Quoc Al "Vinny" Vinh went into the final day as the chip leader, but was quickly dismissed, finishing in ninth place.
Crowd favorites Marcel "The Flying Dutchman" Luske and Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier, both terrors on the European and International poker scene, finished a respectable fourth and fifth respectively, leaving Cabanillas, Hellmuth, and Eugene Todd to battle it out for first.
Todd, who has top-25 finishes in both WSOP and major World Poker Tour (WPT) events, was the next player out, sent to the rail when Cabanillas' pocket Tens allowed him to call Todd's all-in raise. Todd received $233,872 for third.
Another Star-Studded Final Table
One day after WSOP spectators were treated to the most exciting final table of 2006, they will once again have a group of eight to cheer about today at 2 p.m. PST.
Johnny Chan, the poker legend who is tied with Doyle Brunson for the most WSOP bracelets with 10, is once again at a WSOP final table. He will try for his eleventh bracelet at the final table of Event #10, a $1,500 7-Card Stud tournament.
Chan won his tenth bracelet in 2005 to take the all-time WSOP victory lead, only to watch Doyle Brunson tie his record later in that series to knot the lead at 10. After fans cheered on Hellmuth's attempt to tie Chan and Brunson, they will now get the opportunity to see if Chan can stand alone at the top.
Chan will have much work to do Friday afternoon if he hopes to break the record. He is currently the short stack. Of his ten bracelets, only his 1994 win came in stud.
Day one chip leader John Hoang continues to lead the event. His $170,000 in chips has him comfortably ahead of young poker superstar David Williams. Williams has $142,000 chips. This is his first final table since he came in second place to Greg "Fossilman" Raymer in the 2004 WSOP Main Event.
Also vying for the 7-Card Stud title is crowd favorite "Miami" John Cernuto. Cernuto has three WSOP gold bracelets, his last coming in 2002 when he captured an Omaha title. He has one other stud bracelet (1996) and has made dozens of WSOP final table appearances in his illustrious poker career. Cernuto was nearly finished several times before the final eight was decided, but he survived multiple all-in bids to earn his spot and now has a comfortable average stack.
Here are the chip counts heading into Friday's final table –
John Hoang - $170,000
David Williams - $142,000
Ivan Swertzer - $118,500
Jack Duncan - $106,000
"Miami" John Cernuto - $86,000
Mitchell Ledis - $42,500
Matt Hawrilenko - $32,000
Johnny Chan - $26,500
You may have heard or a name or two still battling for the WSOP Event #11 $5,000 Omaha High-Low 8/OB. Rail birds still in attendance when WSOP officials called it quits at 4:21 a.m. PST Friday were treated to a cast of famous professional players worth watching.
When play begins again today (Friday) at 3 p.m. PST, Season Four WPT Player of the Year Gavin Smith will try and hold his chip lead against the likes of Sam Farha, Phil Ivey, Michael O'Malley, Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Andrew Black, and Mike Caro.
Combined, this field has 11 gold bracelets, one WPT title, and dozens of final table appearances in the biggest poker tournaments ever played. Whether a spectator is looking to snap a couple of celebrity pictures, or merely seeking out top-notch poker, WSOP Event #11 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino will be the place to be.
The event began at 2 p.m. PST Thursday and didn't get down to the money until nearly 14 hours later. The smallest field so far at the 2006 WSOP didn't keep the professional from playing, most likely choosing this smaller event to take a break from the top heavy Hold'em schedule.
While most of the top professional players were beating each other up at the Omaha tables Thursday afternoon, 701 players opted for the Limit Hold'em event running just a few tables away.
The casual poker observer will have a hard time recognizing any of the names left in this event, but the play was solid, lasting for nearly 12 hours.
Joe Sebok, the son of high-stakes poker professional and poker author Barry Greenstein (Ace on the River), is the biggest name left in the field. He currently resides tied for third place with 55,000 chips, just $2,000 chips away from the day one leader Bobby Law.
The top tier of the tournament is close with Bob Chalmers and Bob Bartmann also within $2,000 chips of Law.
Play in event #11 begins again today (Friday July 8) at 2 p.m. PST.
Ryan McLane is a gaming industry reporter for Casino City and is assigned to the poker beat. Email your comments and questions to him at email@example.com .