WSOP Europe 2013

The seventh running of the World Series of Poker Europe featured as much talk about the future of the event as there was about the action on the felt, at least at the beginning of the series. The third and final year of the Caesars’ contract with Barriere took WSOPE to its third city and third different venue, to the shores of Lac d’Enghien in the suburbs of Paris.

As has been the case with the last several runnings of WSOPE, the poker rightfully stole the headlines as the series progressed. The first-ever WSOP Ladies’ Championship in Europe featured a notable champion and a 21-year-old won a bracelet in the first live tournament of his career — all of which happened in the first few days.

The action continued to crescendo as two top American tournament pros took down long-awaited first bracelets, the first French multi-bracelet winner was crowned and big names made big runs in almost every event. The last days of the 2013 WSOPE brought serious drama in the WSOP POY race, which was won in epic fashion by Daniel Negreanu in his last opportunity of the year, and it all wrapped up with an 18-year-old champion.

While the future home of the event hangs in limbo, one thing’s for sure — wherever it will be held in 2014, WSOP Europe will always feature some of the best final tables of the year.

€1,100 Ladies No Limit Hold’em

Jackie GlazierChampion: Jackie Glazier – €21,850 (*First bracelet)
Total Entries: 65
Notable Finishes: Gaëlle Baumann (7th), Liv Boeree (12th)

Jackie Glazier had been tantalizingly close to great poker milestones on a couple of occasions before making the final table of the first-ever WSOPE Ladies’ Event. Glazier finished second to Greg Ostrander in a $5,000 WSOP bracelet event in 2012, earning just shy of $500,000. It was a mostly quiet summer of 2013 at the WSOP for Glazier, with a cash in the Ladies’ Event there representing her only result at the Rio — until the Main Event started.

Glazier fought her way through to Day 6 of the Main Event on a seemingly perpetual short stack until she finally fell in 31st place, which still earned her $229,281. The very next bracelet event she could play — the WSOPE Ladies’ Championship — would finally be Glazier’s time to shine. There were a handful of other pros in the field, but Glazier took the lead early and would not let go, finishing off her final seven opponents to win the historic event.

€1,100 No Limit Hold’em

Henrik JohanssonChampion: Henrik Johansson – €129,700 (First bracelet)
Total Entries: 659
Notable Finishes: Daniel Weinman (4th), Chino Rheem (22nd), Barry Greenstein (35th), Jeff Madsen (41st), Dominik Nitsche (55th), Matt Ashton (63rd)

The first open event of the series brought out lots of hopefuls and plenty of pros, both local and otherwise. November Niner Jay Farber got out to a massive start and was among one of the big stacks through early action, but Day 2 was unkind and Farber went out on the bubble. Matt Ashton survived just a little longer and, in matters more important than the value of a min-cash, earned a little bit more breathing room in the WSOP POY race.

The Americans and the big names in the field fared rather poorly on Day 2, without much exception. Daniel Weinman, who is credited with the creation of Fantasyland in OFC and plays in some of the biggest games in the world, was the lone American in the final nine, finishing fourth. It would, instead, be 21-year-old Henrik Johansson, who had never played a live tournament before satelliting into this event, leaving Enghien-les-Bains with this bracelet.

€5,300 Mixed Max No Limit Hold’em

Darko StojanovicChampion: Darko Stojanovic – €188,160 (First bracelet)
Total Entries: 140
Notable Finishes: Dan O’Brien (2nd), Noah Schwartz (4th), Shannon Shorr (5th), Phil Ivey (10th), Mark Newhouse (12th), Marc-Etienne McLaughlin (16th)

The WSOP dropped the buy-in for the WSOPE Mixed Max No Limit Hold’em for the first time since its debut in 2011, and the field increased by about 50 percent. A slew of notables played into the money and the four-handed portion of the tournament, a new wrinkle on the structure, but a lot of them fell short of heads-up play. Phil Ivey’s search for his second international bracelet of the year was for naught, while a pair of November Niners earned cashes just a few weeks before heading back to Vegas.

With Shannon Shorr’s elimination in fifth place, the final four counts were unbalanced to say the least — Dan O’Brien’s lead seemed to all but assure him of his first WSOP bracelet. Noah Schwartz’s hopes of getting heads-up were dashed in a single hand of heads-up play in the semifinals — his pocket nines fell to the ace-five offsuit of Darko Stojanovic to set up an O’Brien/Stojanovic final. The American had experience and a chip lead on his side, but for the second straight year Dan O’Brien left WSOPE with a second-place finish but no first bracelet.

€1,650 Pot Limit Omaha

Jeremy AusmusChampion: Jeremy Ausmus – €70,324 (First bracelet)
Total Entries: 184
Notable Finishes: Juha Helppi (2nd), Jason Mercier (4th), Jonathan Little (7th), Dan Kelly (11th), Mohsin Charania (14th), Fabrice Soulier (17th)

Before he even stepped foot in Paris, Jeremy Ausmus was already having a busy and lucrative 2013 campaign. He had 13 cashes, including a final table in the WSOP National Championship, a final table at WSOP APAC, a Venetian DeepStack Main Event win and a semifinal appearance in the $3,000 Mixed Max during the summer. After finishing fifth in the WSOP Main Event in 2012 Ausmus lit the world on fire, but a bracelet still eluded him — but not for much longer.

After fighting his way through the rest of the field, the final two tables were absolutely loaded with talent. Fabrice Soulier would see success later in the series, but finished 17th here. The final table featured two-time PLO bracelet-winner Jason Mercier, Jonathan Little and Juha Helppi, but Ausmus would not be denied. Ausmus earned just shy of $100,000 along with his first gold bracelet.

€2,200 No Limit Hold’em

Roger HairabedianChampion: Roger Hairabedian – €148,820 (Second bracelet)
Total Entries: 337
Notable Finishes: Erik Seidel (2nd), Mike Watson (6th), Jonathan Duhamel (16th), Jonathan Little (22nd), Phil Hellmuth (29th), James Dempsey (35th)

Despite boasting such names as Fabrice Soulier and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, until this particular tournament there were no French poker players with two bracelets. Roger Hairabedian changed all that, and did it in dramatic fashion, denying Erik Seidel his ninth WSOP bracelet and earning his second in as many years in Europe. “Big Roger” grabbed the headlines for both good and bad reasons in Cannes in 2012 (creating controversy along with Brandon Cantu in the semifinals of the Mixed Max), but Hairabedian let his poker do the talking for him in this tournament.

The other notable event that took place during this tournament was the 100th career WSOP cash of Phil Hellmuth, extending the record that he owns. It now stands with Hellmuth’s record for most WSOP bracelets and several others as one of the most outstanding accomplishments of a storied career.

€3,250 Mixed Max Pot Limit Omaha

Noah SchwartzChampion: Noah Schwartz – €104,580 (First bracelet)
Total Entries: 127
Notable Finishes: Ludovic Lacay (2nd), Vitaly Lunkin (T-3rd), Phil Laak (7th), Matt Ashton (9th), Dan Shak (14th), Konstantin Puchkov (16th)

The first-ever Mixed Max Pot Limit Omaha tournament ever held made its debut late in the series at WSOPE. Such a specialized game was sure to bring out the game’s biggest names, and for the second time in this series Matt Ashton put even more pressure on Daniel Negreanu and others chasing him in the WSOP POY race. Ashton’s ninth-place finish would be his sixth and final in the money result at the WSOP in 2013.

For the second time in a week Noah Schwartz played his way down into the heads-up portion of a Mixed Max tournament, but this time he’d play his way into the finals to face off with French pro Ludovic Lacay. Lacay has an EPT title to his credit, but was admittedly an inexperienced PLO player. He put some scares into Schwartz, but the bracelet would ultimately go to the American — his first WSOP victory after more than seven years on the tournament poker circuit.

€25,600 High Roller

Daniel NegreanuChampion: Daniel Negreanu – €725,000 (Sixth bracelet)
Total Entries: 80
Notable Finishes: Philipp Gruissem (3rd), David Peters (4th), Scott Seiver (6th), Jason Koon (7th), Erik Seidel (8th), Marc-Etienne McLaughlin (10th)

There were several changes made to the WSOPE High Roller in 2013 — the buy-in was cut in half, and re-entries were disallowed. The biggest change, however, was that it was now a bracelet event and also counted toward WSOP POY. That gave Daniel Negreanu one more chance to win POY, but it also gave almost a dozen other contenders another chance, too.

After Negreanu busted out of the Main Event in 24th, he immediately jumped into the High Roller and built up quite a stack. Negreanu and Ashton played deep into Day 2, as did several other POY contenders, but Ashton eventually made his exit with just three tables remaining. As the money bubble approached, only one player remained who could still pass both Negreanu and Ashton — and Marc-Etienne McLaughlin would have to get top two in both this tournament and the WSOP Main Event, a tall order indeed.

McLaughlin and Joni Jouhkimainen were much more focused on something else on the bubble, though — they each had less than five big blinds with almost $70,000 awaiting whomever could outlast the other. McLaughlin officially made his exit and nine players were left — leaving Negreanu just one more player to outlast to pick up WSOP POY, which he soon did.

Negreanu took a short stack and newly earned WSOP POY honors with him into the eight-handed final table, and his accomplishment would have been strong even if he went out eighth. He quickly fought his way back, though, and Negreanu locked up POY honors in style, along with his sixth career WSOP bracelet (second of the year) and just under $1 million.

€10,450 Main Event

Adrian MateosChampion: Adrian Mateos – €1,000,000 (First bracelet)
Total Entries: 375
Notable Finishes: Fabrice Soulier (2nd), Dominik Nitsche (3rd), Ravi Raghavan (5th), Benny Spindler (6th), Shannon Shorr (8th), Daniel Negreanu (25th)

Daniel Negreanu’s pursuit of WSOP POY essentially took over the storylines for the majority of the last two tournaments at the 2013 WSOPE, but there were a lot of other things going on concurrently in the Main Event. Loni Harwood, one of the breakout stars of the summer, got off to a strong start, as did PLO Mixed-Max runner-up Ludovic Lacay and WPT Champions Club member Ravi Raghavan.

Dominik Nitsche jumped out to a massive lead on Day 2 and stayed there for the bulk of the remainder of the tournament. Benny Spindler and Fabrice Soulier would make their move toward the top on Day 2 as well, but the money bubble didn’t burst until Day 3. That was when the field was set as well — 375 compared to a much healthier 420 one year ago. Negreanu’s run came to an end to set the final 24 for Day 4, and when that day of poker was done, the attention was largely set upon Shannon Shorr, Nitsche, Soulier, Spindler and Raghavan, the four biggest names at the final table.

Shorr and Andrei Konopelko each technically made the final table, but because of time restraints for the final day, the decision was made to play down to six on Day 4, excluding both of those players from the televised broadcast. Eighteen-year-old Adrian Mateos took the chip lead and looked unphased as he played through his competition, until he hit heads-up play with Soulier.

Soulier was looking to become the first French WSOPE Main Event champion, and even had Mateos on the ropes at one point. The 18-year-old showed tremendous poise, though, and eventually outlasted his more accomplished and experienced foe. Mateos became the second-youngest bracelet winner of all time, surpassed by only fellow WSOPE Main Event champion Annette Obrestad in the history books.

Daniel Negreanu Wins the 2013 WSOP Player of the Year Race

For the third consecutive year, the World Series of Poker Player of the Year race went well into October, and for the third straight year, a player snatched the award away from the incumbent leader in their last WSOP event of the year. Daniel Negreanu became the first-ever two-time WSOP POY, starting a list of 2013 POY’s that will almost certainly grow following one of the best years of an accomplished pro.

It all started back in Australia, where Negreanu made a final table along with Phil Ivey early on at WSOP Asia-Pacific. Negreanu put himself firmly into the lead heading into the summer by winning the Main Event and more than $1 million at APAC, but there was a lot more work to be done if Negreanu wanted to hold onto that top spot.

There were several serious challenges to Negreanu’s lead during the 2013 WSOP, with David “Bakes” Baker getting to within a single POY point, but no one could pass him. Negreanu almost earned another bracelet, falling just short against Eli Elezra in the $2,500 Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw in a performance that gave him some breathing room.

Matt Ashton was having a tremendous WSOP as the end of the summer approached, having made three final tables in Seven Card Stud Events. It reached an entirely different stratosphere after Ashton won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, taking down the $1.77 million first-place prize and his first bracelet along with enough POY points to put him ahead of Negreanu at the end of the summer.

With the seven open events at WSOP Europe the only thing left to fight for, Ashton put some more distance between himself and the field with a pair of cashes. Negreanu even managed to miss Event 2, and until the Main Event started, it looked like it would be Ashton’s award to lose. Negreanu made it very interesting with a deep run in the Main Event, but when that ended the High Roller was all that stood between Negreanu and a second-place finish.

There were about a half-dozen players still in the running for WSOP Player of the Year race with three tables left in the High Roller field, including several November Niners and players like Jeremy Ausmus and Chris Klodnicki. After Ashton went out, many of them would fall, and with 10 players left there were just three players left who could win — Ashton, Negreanu and Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, who’d have to finish top two in both this tournament and the WSOP Main Event.

McLaughlin made his exit in 10th, bursting the money bubble and leaving Negreanu just one spot away from locking up the award — he needed to finish eighth or better after his Main Event run pulled him close to Ashton. With Joni Jouhkimainen’s exit in ninth place the title belonged to Negreanu, who would then go on to go from short stack to eventual champion.

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December 2013