They needed a fourth day of action at the 2014 World Series of Poker to determine a winner in the $5,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em, but after taking control of the heads-up match Thursday night Kevin Eyster sealed the deal Friday afternoon.
Eyster defeated Pierre Neuville after one extra level on Day 4, earning his first career WSOP bracelet, $622,998 and the second major title of his career.
“This is what I’ve been dreaming about my whole life,” said Eyster. “Watching on ESPN growing up… words can’t even explain it, I’m just speechless. It’s awesome.”
This wasn’t the first time Eyster made a big run in a Six Max field at the WSOP. Just a year ago Eyster ran through most of a supremely talented group in the $25,000 Six Max before finishing ninth. With the level of play in an event and buy-in of this caliber, the bracelet victory was made just a little bit sweeter.
“To be the best, you have to beat the best,” said Eyster. “When they’re at your table you don’t want to play against them, but it gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment.”
After starting Friday’s action with a lead of almost 2-to-1, Eyster turned the pressure up to 11 in the early action and opened a 7-to-1 lead in the first 20 hands of the day. Eyster put Neuville to the test yet again, open-shoving from the button to put Neuville all in for about 1 million. The Belgian made his stand with K Q and he was well ahead of Eyster’s K 9, giving Neuville a great chance to double.
Eyster’s rail called loudly and repeatedly for a nine, and after the K appeared in the window their requests were answered as the 9 and 3 followed. The rail absolutely exploded when they thought he clinched the bracelet on the 9 turn, which gave Eyster a full house, but Neuville still had the case king for a chop on the river. It was the A, though, and Eyster’s victory was offical. Neuville earned his third second place finish in a major event, along with two previous runner-up finishes on the EPT, but once again the title eluded him.
Thursday’s action started with 17 players vying for the bracelet, and some heavy hitters were sent to the rail before the final table was set. Recent $3,000 Shootout winner Kory Kilpatrick was the first to make his exit, followed soon after by Griffin Benger. 2012 WSOP Main Event Champion and Player of the Year Greg Merson’s pursuit of a third bracelet ended in 13th, and his exit was followed by a wave of notables making their way out the door. Amanda Musumeci (12th), Pratyush Buddiga (11th), Byron Kaverman (10th) and Matt Jarvis (9th) were picked off one by one in the playdown from two tables to one, and Mustapha Kanit narrowly missed out on his second final table of the 2014 WSOP after more than two hours of seven-handed play.
When the official final table got underway, the stacks looked like this:
- Kevin Eyster – 2,743,000
- Bryn Kenney – 1,699,000
- David Borrat – 1,068,000
- Andrew Lichtenberger – 978,000
- Jeremy Kottler – 945,000
- Pierre Neuville – 685,000
Six-handed play stretched on for an extended period too, with the first hour remaining relatively uneventful. Neuville was the first player at risk, when he three-bet all in with A Q over a raise from Andrew Lichtenberger and got called by 7 7. The 8 8 8 flop gave Neuville one additional out and the K turn added three chop outs, but it was the Q river that gave Neuville the double. Neuville climbed into second and then took a big pot off of Eyster to overtake him for the chiplead going into the dinner break.
The distance between Neuville, Eyster and Bryn Kenney, the three chipleaders, and the three shorter stacks was dramatic – the top three stacks were all over 2 million, and the three short stacks all had less then 600,000. Lichtenberger got three all ins in a row through, putting himself ahead of the trailing pack, but an elimination seemed inevitable as the short stacks kept getting shorter.
David Borrat and Jeremy Kottler, the two short stacks, went head to head for all of Borrat’s chips and most of Kottler’s. Borrat started the action with an open-shove for 375,000 and Kottler called in the small blind with Q Q. Borrat needed to catch up with K T, and though he would increase his outs on the T 7 4 flop, there’d be no saving grace on this hand as it ran out 6 and 5 to end his tournament in sixth.
The wind came out of Neuville’s sails a little bit when he ran into Kenney’s A A in a big pot, pushing Kenney into the chiplead with over 3 million. By the time the next all in pot was decided, the tournament became a four-horse race.
Before that could happen, though, Kottler would run into some bad luck. Eyster raised to 100,000, Kottler three-bet all in and Lichtenberger thought it over for about 90 seconds. He eventually four-bet all in over the top with A T and Eyster folded, but Lichtenberger was behind against Kottler’s Q Q. The 8 7 6 flop added four outs to Lichtenberger’s three preflop winners, but it was the A on the turn that made his hand. The river was the 2, and Kottler was sent to the rail in fifth.
Eyster and Neuville went in opposite directions for a while, with the former climbing to 3.3 million after taking some big pots and the latter falling all the way to fourth at just under 1.2 million. Neuville nearly made his exit at the hands of Eyster at that point, opening to 125,000 and then four-betting all in when Eyster responded with a raise. Eyster quickly called and had a big lead with T T against A 7, only for Neuville to spike an A on the flop to double.
This was one of the tightest point of the tournament, with all four stacks sitting between 1.75 million and 2.2 million, but it only lasted for a brief moment. Lichtenberger took his turn in the lead after taking a big pot off of Kenney, sending the early chipleader back to the bottom. He’d continue to slide, and after a Neuville raise to 150,000, Kenney three-bet all in for 730,000 (12 bb’s). Neuville called with A 9, which had Kenney’s A 5 in rough shape until a J 5 4 flop. Kenney was ahead for exactly one street as the 9 fell on the turn, and he was eliminated in fourth when the 6 fell on the river.
Eyster, Lichtenberger and Neuville got tight again three-handed, all holding stacks between 2.5 million and 2.9 million. Lichtenberger climbed to over 3 million once more, briefly, but his tournament started coming apart in a monster pot against Neuville. He called in the small blind, Neuville raised to 140,000 and Lichtenberger called, with the flop coming out J 9 3. Lichtenberger check-called a bet of 235,000, the turn was the 9, and he took the lead for 480,000. Neuville called and the river was the K, prompting Lichtenberger to bet 600,000, and Neuville raised all in for 1.5 million – which sent Lichtenberger deep into the tank.
He’d eventually throw away his flush with 8 2 and was right, as Neuville’s K K made a full house on the river, but Lichtenberger couldn’t turn the tide back in his favor for the rest of his time in the tournament. After getting even shorter, he minraised to 160,000 on the button and Eyster three-bet to 360,000 in the big blind. Lichtenberger thought it over for a moment and called to see a Q Q 4 flop. Eyster bet 300,000, Lichtenberger called and the turn was the 3.
Both players checked and the K fell on the river. Eyster pushed his stack of 620,000 into the middle, having Lichtenberger barely covered, and once more Lichtenberger took his time to make a decision – only this time it was for his entire tournament. After almost four minutes he called with A 8 for ace-high, but Eyster showed T T for queens and tens to take the pot. Lichtenberger earned the second largest WSOP cash of his career, but for the time being his pursuit of his first bracelet continues as his fate in this event was a third place finish.
Neuville started heads-up play with a 4.7 million to 3.4 million lead and expanded it slightly, clearing the 5 million chip mark. A 9 for Neuville.
2014 World Series of Poker – $5,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em Final Table Results
- Andrew Lichtenberger – $242,827
- Bryn Kenney – $160,927
- Jeremy Kottler – $109,844
- David Borrat – $77,145
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