Big One For One Drop: Esfandiari, Rast, Trickett Top Final 16

Antonio Esfandiari won a massive pot with pocket aces against Jason Mercier's pocket kings to grab the chiplead in the Big One for One Drop. (Ryan Lucchesi photo)

Just 11 players were eliminated on Day 1 of the World Series of Poker’s Big One for One Drop, but the field was cut down by the same amount in the first two levels on Day 2. The stakes continue rise in more ways than one, as just 16 players have survived to make the dinner break.

Brian Rast was the only player to cross the 10 million chip threshhold on Day 1, but a few players passed him in the early stages of Day 2. Rast would eventually pick up pocket kings in two big pots to bust Bob Bright and Dan Shak to get over 15 million and recapture the chiplead, and he would also be the first over 20 million. But Antonio Esfandiari would cooler Jason Mercier in a 20 million chip pot in the last hour before dinner to take the chiplead for the second time on Day 2. One Drop founder Guy Laliberté is among the top 5 as well.

Level 10

It didn’t take long for the first all-in to take place, and it would be the start of a hectic level in which six players went out over the course of the first hour. Chamath Palihapitiya three-bet all-in for 630,000 from the big blind on the very first hand of the day, and John Morgan called to put him at risk. Palihapitiya’s KT was up against Morgan’s AQ, but the board ran out QJT83 to end Palihapitiya’a tournament.

Vivek Rajkumar was out the door soon thereafter as well. Rajkumar opened and eventually four-bet all-in for 1.275 million, Frederique Banjout called, and it would be a flip between Rajkumar’s AK and Banjout’s QQ. No help from the board came for Rajkumar, and he was knocked out early in Day 2 as well. Phil Galfond’s run would end during this level as well, as he called off his last 1.1 million on a K74 flop with A7 against Esfandiari’s KQ. No spade, ace, or seven meant Galfond would not continue in the Big One for One Drop. Noah Schwartz got short during this level, and couldn’t come from behind with A5 against Mercier’s AJ all-in preflop, knocking him out as well. Mercier would win a number of pots like this one to quietly climb the chip counts throughout the day.

The biggest pot of the level, however, saw the demise of two of the most recognizable poker players in the world. Tom Dwan flat called a raise from the hijack, Daniel Negreanu went all-in for 355,000 from the cutoff, and Mikhail Smirnov four-bet to 900,000. Dwan five-bet all-in for about 2 million, and Smirnov called. Dwan was in good shape to more than double-up with AA against Negreanu’s AT and Smirnov’s 99, but the 974 flop gave Dwan just one out to retake the lead and stay alive. The 8 gave Negreanu a heart draw and straight draw, but the 9 gave Smirnov quads to bust both Dwan and Negreanu.

Level 11

The pace did not slow down much at all as the blinds went up, as players continued to get into big confrontation after big confrontation. Tobias Reinkemeier would be the first on the chopping block, as he three-bet all-in for 1.2 million over an open from Esfandiari, and Esfandiari would call to put him at risk. Reinkemeier’s KJ looked to improve significantly against Esfandiari’s QQ with the K in the window, but the Q5 completed the flop, putting Esfandiari far ahead. The Q was the river to give Esfandiari quads to eliminate Reinkemeier.

Morgan had the first elimination of the day, but he too would get short as the blinds got big. Richard Yong opened, Morgan three-bet all-in for 650,000, and Ilya Bulychev four-bet all-in over the top. Yong folded and it was a flip between Morgan’s A8 and Bulychev’s 77, with the board running out Q52JQ. Morgan would be the 19th player eliminated, finishing the tournament in 30th place. Phil Ruffin would take 29th, calling all-in on a T639 board with JJ but behind Talal Shakerchi’s T9, with the A sealing Ruffin’s fate.

Esfandiari continued to move up the chip counts throughout the day, and further improved his position during the second level of the day. Esfandiari, Smirnov, and Paul Newey went three ways to a 943 flop, with Newey betting 575,000 and both of his opponents calling. The turn was the 7, Newey went all-in for just over 1 million, Esfandiari called, and Smirnov folded, putting Newey at risk with AA against Esfandiari’s top set with 99. The river was the 4 giving the pot and the chiplead to Esfandiari, and eliminating Newey in 28th.

Gus Hansen was unable to register in time to get into the One Drop field “the easy way”, but earned his way in via the $25,000 satellite on Saturday night. In his biggest pot of the tournament, Hansen opened to 190,000, Philipp Gruissem three-bet to 580,000, and Hansen four-bet all-in for 3.4 million. Gruissem called and Hansen was caught bluffing, but his JT was live against Gruissem’s AK in a big pot. The J53 flop put Hansen ahead, but the A turn and A river snatch the pot back for Gruissem as Hansen made his exit in 27th, but he does leave having paid a much smaller price than most of his fellow competitors.

Level 12

Phil Ivey is having one of the better Summers in recent memory thus far, having made five final tables over the course of just two weeks a the WSOP. A bracelet has thus far eluded him to this point, and it won’t be coming in the Big One for One Drop, either. Ivey opened from the cutoff to 200,000, Gruissem three-bet enough to put Ivey all-in, and Ivey called off his last 1.3 million with the best of it, holding QQ against Gruissem’s A8. It was all looking good for Ivey on the J98 and T turn, but the 4 gave Gruissem the nut flush and sent Ivey quickly out the door in 26th as he immediately went to late register for another $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event.

Another heavy hitter went down just before the end of Level 12 as well. Tom Marchese opened to 160,000 and only Ben Lamb called, bringing a flop of J64. Marchese checked, Lamb bet 220,000. Marchese check-raised to 720,000 and Lamb three-bet to 1,370,000. Marchese four-bet to 2,070,000 and Lamb moved all in for 4,700,000, with Marchese making the call. Marchese was ahead with 44 but Lamb’s 78 gave him outs to both the straight and the flush. The turn was the 2 and the river was the 7, keeping Marchese’s set ahead and temporarily giving him the chiplead. Lamb, the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year, was one favorable card from potentially holding the chiplead, but his tournament came to an end in 25th.

With 24 players left, the clock was paused as there was a full redraw for the final three tables.

Level 13

Rast had maintained his stack at around 10 million throughout the day, but he would catch two big hands in short order to recapture the chiplead. First he would take Bright’s last 1.3 million with KK against Bright’s AK, and then he’d play a big pot with Dan Shak. Shak opened, Rast three-bet to 425,000, and Shak four-bet all-in for about 3.8 million. Rast called, as he had once again picked up KK, but Shak could produce just A8. With a Q75J9 runout, Shak would be out in 23rd and Rast would break 15 million. Rast would claim a few smaller pots and would also be the first to cross the 20 million chip mark.

Laliberté continued to make a strong run towards the top of the counts in his own tournament, this time taking on Smirnov in a big pot, with Smirnov opening to 255,000 from under the gun and Laliberté calling from the button. The flop was J92, Smirnov bet 425,000, Laliberté raised 1 million more, Smirnov went all-in for 3.7 million and Laliberté quickly called. Smirnov had AA but had been outflopped by Laliberté, who had JJ, and the 4 on the turn an the 3 on the river brought Smirnov’s tournament to an end in 22nd, while Laliberté crept into the top five.

Level 14

Film producer Rick Salomon made a pretty deep run in this event, but his stack never got to the point where he was among the leaders. Action folded around to him in the small blind and he open-shoved for just under 1.8 million. Sam Trickett called in the big blind but was behind with A8 against Salomon’s 99, that is of course, until the board ran out AT8K3 and Trickett’s flopped two pair ousted Salomon in 21st place.

Mercier and Esfandiari were hovering around the 10 million chip mark and seated right next to each other, a potential recipe for fireworks under the right circumstances. It started innocently enough as Esfandiari raised to 250,000 on the button, but Mercier would three-bet it to 680,000. Esfandiari put out a big four-bet, raising it to 1.6 million, but Mercier wanted to play for more, five-betting to 2.9 million. Esfandiari all but clicked it back, raising Mercier less than double his bet to a total of 4.489 million, but Mercier countered with a seventh and final bet, going all-in for just over 10 million. Esfandiari snap-called and tabled AA, while a devastated Mercier produced KK. The board ran out J7466, and with one fell swoop Esfandiari jumped into the chiplead and Mercier went from one of the bigger stacks in the room to out in 20th.

Level 15

Esfandiari continued to dominate his table and looked poised to be the first to 30 million. Perkins put his last 2.35 million in the middle with 99 and Esfandiari looked him up with KQ. The board ran out KQ4AA to increase Esfandiari’s stack to almost 27 million, but he had a big hug for his friend Perkins before he was sent away in 19th.

Laliberté would continue to push towards the top as well. His AQ was good enough to claim Shakerchi’s final one million, as A8 was not good enough on the 655A3 board and his run ended in 18th place.

Trickett had something to say about Esfandiari’s unbelievably hot run, however, and he’d put a big speed bump in Esfandiari’s path. Einhorn raised to 350,000, Trickett called on the button, and Esfandiari three-bet to 1.125 million. Einhorn got out of the way but Trickett four-bet to 2.2 million, drawing an all-in bet from Esfandiari and a call from Trickett for a total of just under 8 million. It was a mis-step for Esfandiari, as Trickett was well ahead with AK against Esfandiari’s AQ and would stay that way through the 85299 board. Trickett would double to almost 16 million, while Esfandiari was left with a similarly sized stack, though he would be able to build it back to over 20 million by dinner.

Haralabos Voulgaris, one of the premiere sports bettors in the country, purchased his seat from the winner of a Lottery contest in Canada, and had made an impressive showing to this point. But he too ran into the buzzsaw that is fellow Canadian Laliberté. Voulgaris got the last of his chips in on a T548 board with QQ, but Laliberté had turned the straight and had Voulgaris drawing dead with 67. With Voulgaris’ elimination in 17th place, the clock was paused and the final sixteen players redrew for the final two tables.

There are still 16 players left, and players are currently on a 90 minute dinner break, and they will return at approximately 8:45 pm PT. Just 9 players will cash, but they’ll combine to one table when the get down to ten. Once they reach the money, they will play until one more player goes out in order to set the final table of eight for Tuesday. Here’s how the final 16 players in the Big One for One Drop stack up heading into the dinner break.

  1. Antonio Esfandiari – 23,200,000
  2. Sam Trickett – 16,360,000
  3. Brian Rast – 15,375,000
  4. Guy Laliberté – 13,965,000
  5. Philipp Gruissem – 12,640,000
  6. Richard Yong – 10,765,000
  7. Frederic Banjout – 9,940,000
  8. Brandon Steven – 9,365,000
  9. David Einhorn – 6,850,000
  10. Roland De Wolfe – 5,800,000
  11. Tom Marchese – 4,840,000
  12. Phil Hellmuth – 4,645,000
  13. Bobby Baldwin – 4,200,000
  14. Ilya Bulychev – 2,725,000
  15. Cary Katz – 1,560,000
  16. Mike Sexton – 1,530,000
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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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