If it wasn’t for a fish leaving a cash game, Daniel Alaei would have missed out on over $850,000.
Alaei won the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship event in the early hours of Monday morning, earning him his fourth career bracelet and $852,692. The tournament started on Friday evening while Alaei was playing in a high-stakes cash game. The game broke though, and Alaei was down some money, which caused him to late register for the event.
“I almost didn’t play the tournament,” said Alaei. “I was playing a really big cash game and I played all night and the game was very good. It was already 5 pm (the tournament started at 5 pm) and I had already decided that I wasn’t playing the tournament and then the guy just all of a sudden quit and said that he had to go to the Wynn to play a freeroll tournament. The game broke and I had lost big. I was so steamed up that I came and entered the tournament at 9:40 pm on no sleep.
“I had actually made a lot of bets on this tournament. A lot. I canceled them all on the way to the tournament. I told them ‘I’m steaming and my chips are going to be flying.’ I was actually all in on my first hand and doubled up. Then I got into it.”
While Alaei is starting to rack up the bracelets, he doesn’t keep any of them. Every bracelet he wins goes to a different family member.
“I gave the first one to my father and he passed away in December, so I have that one at home,” said Alaei. “The second one is with my mom, the third one to my brother, and this one is going to my wife. I had promised her one two years ago and finally I am able to fulfill that promise.”
This is the second time that Alaei has won the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship, with the first time coming back in 2010 for $780,599. Alaei may be climbing the bracelet list and becoming part of some elite company in WSOP history, but he still considers himself a high stakes cash player that plays only the bigger tournaments.
“This year they lowered the buy-ins on a lot of tournaments and it didn’t really catch my interest,” said Alaei. “I wasn’t really chasing bracelets the last couple of years, but I would love to win more bracelets. I would love to see them bring some of the Championship events back up to $10,000. Going forward, I will probably only play the bigger tournaments. In the past, I’ve made bracelet events, but it kind of wears me out and I feel like a slave to the tournaments.”
Alex Kravchenko, who finished fourth in the 2007 Main Event and also owns a bracelet, made an appearance at this final table, but was eliminated in ninth place for $67,742. It took 34 hands before the table saw a player eliminated, but it happened after James Wiese raised to 100,00 and Kravchenko moved all in from the small blind for 300,000. Seth Dempsey re-potted from the big blind and the hands were tabled.
Kravchenko showed A973 and was up against Dempsey’s AK87. The flop was 644, giving both players a straight, but Dempsey’s was the nut straight. Kravchenko could still make a bigger straight with an eight, but the 6 on the turn or the 5 on the river wasn’t what the Russian pro was looking for and he was sent to the rail.
The international flair to the final table was gone after the second elimination of the final table. It took over another 40 hands, but with the elimination of Rory Rees Brennan in eighth place, it left seven Americans alive for the last bracelet awarded before the Main Event.
Brennan open shoved all in for 90,000 from early position. After Jared Bleznick three-bet to 200,000, it was heads-up with the Irishman at risk of elimination. Brennan tabled TT43 and was up against Bleznick’s KKJ6. The flop was A72, which gave Brennan both flush and straight draws. The turn was a brick, however, as the Q fell and the river couldn’t fill any of the outs that Brennan needed as the dealer peeled off the 4 on the river.
Just about three hours after he scored the first knockout of Kravchenko, Dempsey hit the rail in seventh. Dempsey and Numit Agrawal got into a preflop raising war that led to all the chips getting in the middle with Dempsey tabling T872 and Agrawal showing KJT9. The flop was Q85, which gave Dempsey the lead with a pair of eights, but Agrawal had a wrap straight draw and live overcards to give him the best hand. The turn was the A, which added a flush draw to Agrawal’s monstrous drawing hand. The river was the T, which filled Agrawal’s straight and eliminated Dempsey.
After a very slow start to the final table in terms of eliminations, the structure caught up with the player deep stacks and players started to drop at a quicker rate.
Gjergj Sinishtaj was the first of these players to be eliminated. Sinishtaj raised in early position and was called by Alaei in the cutoff and Wiese from the big blind. The flop came AT8, Wiese checked, Sinishtaj moved all in and was called by Alaei. Wiese folded his hands and the two that were left turned their cards on their backs. Sinishtaj showed top pair and a straight draw with AKJ3 and Alaei showed bottom two pair with a smaller straight draw with JT87. The turn was the 9, which filled Alaei’s straight and gave him a flush draw to go with it, leavinig Sinishtaj with just three of the queens left to make the best hand. The river was the 9 and the 21 year-old Sinishtaj was elimianted.
Shortly after Sinishtaj was eliminated, Agrawal was the next player to go. Wiese raised to 200,000 under-the-gun and Agrawal three-bet to 770,000. Wises moved all in and Agrawal called. Wiese showed KQT9 and Agrawal had AA63. The flop was gin for Wiese as it came J87, giving him the nut straight and cracking Agrawal’s aces. The 3 on the turn left Agrawal drawing dead and Wiese scooped the pot.
Tom Marchese had been hanging on with a short stack for quite a while. He scored a few double ups along the way but was never truly able to get anything going. Marchese and Bleznick got a few raises preflop in the middle before seeing a flop of T52. Bleznick moved out 500,000 and Marchese called off the remainder of his stack. Bleznick showed 9875 and Marchese tabled AK73. Bleznick’s pair of fives were in the lead and stayed in the lead as the dealer burned and turned the Q on the turn and the Q on the river.
That left Wiese, Bleznick, and Alaei still alive and vying for the bracelet. Three-handed play lasted for a little while, but in the blink of an eye, only Alaei was left standing.
Wiese was eliminated in third place when he and Bleznick got all the chips in on a flop of T62. Wiese had flopped two pair with QJT6 and Bleznick tabled a wrap straight draw with K987. The turn was the 5, which gave Bleznick a few more outs, and the river was the 4, which gave Bleznick the nuts and left him heads-up with Alaei for his first career bracelet.
The two started heads-up play with Alaei holding a slight chip advantage of 6.6 million to 5 million for Bleznick. That slight advantage came in handy as heads-up play only lasted one hand.
Alaei raised on the button to 200,000 and Bleznick called. The flop was 742 and after Bleznick checked, Alaei bet 275,000. Bleznick check-raised to 1.25 million and Alaei called. The turn was the T and Bleznick bet the size of the pot again, which was 2.9 million. Alaei moved all in and Bleznick called. Bleznick showed K765, giving him a pair and an open-ended straight draw, while Alaei tabled TT43, giving him top set. The river was the 2, which improved the set to a full house and earned him the title. Alaei shook hands with Bleznick and went over to kiss his wife in celebration.
Here are a look at the final table results:
- Daniel Alaei – $852,692
- Jared Bleznick – $526,625
- James Wiese – $380,836
- Tom Marchese – $278,298
- Numit Agrawal – $205,512
- Gjergj Sinishtaj – $153,372
- Seth Dempsey – $115,637
- Rory Rees Brennan – $88,061
- Alex Kravchenko – $67,742
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