Esfandiari, Hall Set Pace with 15 Players Left in 2014 Big One for One Drop

Antonio Esfandiari has a chance to pull off an unthinkable back-to-back in the Big One for One Drop. (Drew Amato photo)

Antonio Esfandiari has a chance to pull off an unthinkable back-to-back in the Big One for One Drop. (Drew Amato photo)

Nothing can compare to the feeling that Antonio Esfandiari experienced when he won the 2012 Big One for One Drop and its $18,346,673 first place prize. That is, of course, unless he does it all again at the 2014 World Series of Poker.

With the Day 2 field more than cut in half from 31 to 15 by the time the final two tables of players went to dinner, Esfandiari finds himself in a familiar position – on top of the chip counts. Only one player is even close to the defending champion, and that’s high stakes cash game player Tom Hall. While Esfandiari currently has 17,100,000 and more than double the amount of chips that anyone else at the featured table holds, Hall is close behind with 16,245,000 and two other stacks of at least 10 million at his table.

Christoph Vogelsang is fresh off of a massive double through Phil Ivey after his pocket kings held against pocket tens, and he’s one of those two 10 million-plus stacks. Rick Salomon is fourth overall, but he too holds a stack that reaches into the eight-figure range. Daniel Negreanu has a healthy chips going into dinner and sits in fifth place, with Phil Galfond and Sam Trickett each hold a slightly below-average stack. After doubling Vogelsong, Ivey is the shortest stack among the 15 remaining players.

The eliminations started early and didn’t slow down until the final level before dinner, when only one player went out. John Morgan might have gotten somebody to lay down quads in the 2012 version of this event, but he was the first player knocked out on Day 2. He got all in with 5 7 against Cary Katz’s A 8 on an A 8 6 and failed to make his straight. Talal Shakerchi was the next to go as he ran A Q into Scott Seiver’s A A, followed to the rail by Jean-Robert Bellande, who couldn’t hit big enough with A 6 against Connor Drinan’s K J as it ran out J T 4 K A.

Guy Laliberte could not make his dream of back-to-back final tables in his own event a reality after Isaac Haxton cracked his Q Q with a T on the flop and the T on the turn. Daniel Cates was eliminated by Salomon when his K Q failed to catch up to A 9 on an A 8 2 9 Q runout towards the end of the second level of the day

Soon after players made their way back from their first break, two more fell to reduce the field to three tables. After Ivey raised to 185,000, David Sands three-bet all in for 1,325,000 (16 big blinds) and Doug Polk moved all in over the top for about 4 million. Ivey got out of the way, Polk had A K, Sands had K J and it was over by the turn of a 9 6 4 A runout to send Sands out in 26th.

Greg Merson was getting short stacked and raised in late position, with Salomon calling in the blinds. The flop was Q 3 2 and Salomon check-called a bet of 225,000, bringing the 4 on the turn. Salomon check-called a bet of 525,000 on the turn and the river was the 8. Salomon checked once more and Merson shoved for 1,275,000. After thinking it over for about 45 seconds, Salomon called and tabled Q J, which had Merson’s A K beat to send the 2012 WSOP Main Event champion home in 25th.

The redraw did little to slow the pace, with four players going out in rapid succession. John Juanda open-shoved his last 10 big blinds in the small blind with T 2 and Ivey called with A 8. Juanda got one diamond on the flop and little other help from the board, falling out in 24th place. On the very next hand at the same table, Erick Lindgren open-shoved his last nine big blinds with K 2 in the cutoff and Tobias Reinkemeier woke up with J J in the big blind. Reinkemeier held as it ran out Q 7 5 9 A, making him the first satellite winner to go out.

Bill Klein was soon to follow on the main stage, as Esfandiari raised to 175,000 in early position, Klein three-bet all in from the small blind for 22 big blinds with A 8 and Esfandiari called with A K. The Q 4 3 flop helped neither player, but Klein picked up some chop outs on the 2 turn. The river was the T and Klein, who won his seat from a satellite at the Bellagio, was eliminated in 22nd. The wave of eliminations continued as Erik Seidel ran set into set against Gabe Kaplan with 2 2 against 5 5 and couldn’t hit the one-outer.

Noah Schwartz had a pretty strong Day 1 in One Drop, but little went right for him on Day 2. Schwartz raised on the button and Esfandiari called in the big blind, bringing down a T 9 6 flop. Esfandiari led out for 205,000, Schwartz called and the turn was the 2. This time Esfandiari bet 405,000, Schwartz raised all in for 2.4 million and Esfandiari snapped him off with 8 7 for the nut straight. Schwartz was drawing dead with the K T, and made his way to the rail as the 4 fell harmlessly on the river.

Hall added to his then-leading stack at the expense of Haxton in a four-way pot. He opened the action to 205,000 and got calls from Brandon Steven and Kaplan, followed by a three-bet from Haxton on the button. Hall four-bet all in over the top and the other two players got out of the way, but Haxton elected to call with Q Q. Hall had A A and had it sealed by the turn of a T 9 9 A 7 runout.

Pocket aces were decidedly more toxic for Drinan. Katz was first to act and he raised to 225,000, with the action folding around to Drinan in the big blind. Drinan three-bet to 580,000, Katz four-bet to 2 million and Drinan five-bet all in, which Katz quickly called. It was A A for Drinan and A A for Katz, with a chop a likely fate until the K 5 2 flop. Katz was freerolling, but needed running hearts to take the unlikely pot. The 4 made it possible and a tension built around the main TV stage and, as if made for the cameras, the 2 fell on the river to audible groans and gasps. Both players were virtually even and Drinan was eventually found to be the shorter of the two stacks, going out in an 11 million chip pot that won’t soon be forgotten.

Polk got short-stacked and open-shoved his last 14 big blinds with A 8, only to run into Ivey’s 9 9 and bust. His elimination forced the two table redraw as the last 16 players each got new seats at one of the two televised tables. Negreanu started his run towards the top of the chip counts with a double through Colman, as both his A A and Colman’s T T flopped a set after they both got it in preflop. Hall briefly flashed into the lead, but he and Esfandiari traded it back and forth for the last 20 minutes of the level.

Vogelsang got his big double through Ivey, and the German crested above the 10 million mark by picking up the final pre-dinner elimination on the final hand of Level 14. Vogelsang open-shoved on Anthony Gregg in the big blind and the 2013 One Drop High Roller champion called off his last 13 big blinds with A 2. Vogelsang was in surprisingly good shape with his 3 3 and held as it ran out Q T 5 T T, knocking Gregg out in 16th.

Play will resume at approximately 9:10 pm PST, and they’ll play for as long as it takes to get to a final table of eight.

2014 WSOP $1 Million Big One for One Drop – Mid-Day 2 Chip Counts

  1. Antonio Esfandiari – 17,100,000
  2. Tom Hall – 16,245,000
  3. Christoph Vogelsang – 10,305,000
  4. Rick Salomon – 10,075,000
  5. Daniel Negreanu – 8,760,000
  6. Brandon Steven – 8,730,000
  7. Cary Katz – 7,990,000
  8. Paul Newey – 7,670,000
  1. Tobias Reinkemeier – 7,520,000
  2. Gabe Kaplan – 7,475,000
  3. Phil Galfond – 6,130,000
  4. Sam Trickett – 5,580,000
  5. Daniel Colman – 5,010,000
  6. Scott Seiver – 3,110,000
  7. Phil Ivey – 2,355,000
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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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