Main Event End of Level 16: Dan Smith Surges to Lead as Bubble Bursts

Dan Smith jumped into the chiplead without showdown and continued to build his stack as the 2014 WSOP Main Event bubble burst. (Drew Amato photo)

Dan Smith jumped into the chiplead without showdown and continued to build his stack as the 2014 WSOP Main Event bubble burst. (Drew Amato photo)

Day 4 of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event featured one of the more exciting events in all of poker – the biggest bubble in terms of scale that’ll be seen all year. More than 50 people had to go out before that could happen, and it the remainder of Level 15 and almost half of Level 16 until the field dipped under the 700 player mark.

After a whirlwind hand on the bubble – the only one needed during hand-for-hand play – the money was reached and the eliminations cascaded as the dam broke. There’s a new chipleader in town, and a guy named Ivey is slowly inching his way up the chip counts too, so let’s get right into three of the most exciting hours of the 2014 WSOP Main Event so far.

Five All-Ins on First Hand of Bubble Lead to Three-Way Tie for 693rd

For the second consecutive year in the WSOP Main Event, the bubble burst without a long, extended session of hand-for-hand play. After resetting all the tables at 695 players – two away from the money – Tournament Director Jack Effel instructed dealers to sit down and deal a single hand. What followed was a long, tense period that ended with 692 very happy players and three that were a little bit less psyched.

By the time most of the dealers in the room had stood up to signal the hands at their tables were done, there were five all in and calls to deal with. The one that took the longest to get called was the first to get shown down. Before a crowd got their chance to crowd around, it all started quietly enough as Mark Newhouse raised to 10,500 in middle position and John Dwyer called on the button, with small blind coming along as well to see a K Q 5 flop. The small blind checked, Newhouse bet 18,000, Dwyer called and the small blind folded, bringing the 5 on the turn.

Newhouse bet 32,000 and Dwyer called as the A fell on the river. Newhouse slid two stacks of orange chips into the middle to put Dwyer all in, and this was when the tanking began. Minute after minute the crowd grew larger as other tables finished their first hand. Dwyer eventually called but had to wait for Effel to make his way over for the showdown. Dwyer had pocket queens for a full house, but Newhouse had turned the one-outer with 5 5 for quads, knocking Dwyer out and putting him at serious risk of going out empty-handed.

The second pot was as standard as it gets on the bubble, as Zhen Cai open-shoved from early position for 29,500 and Darren Keyes called in the big blind. After waiting close to ten minutes, Effel arrived to call the action as Keyes tabled A A and Cai showed Q Q. The board ran out 8 6 4 8 6 and Cai was eliminated, guaranteeing at least 693 players of walking away with a payday.

Kori Hunter was the third player at risk, shoving 46,000 from the button after Harry Kaczka raised under the gun. Kaczka called and they waited as all of the other tables finished their hands and the first two all ins played out. Eventually the ESPN crews were ready and Hunter tabled A A, which was up against one of the worst hands aces could see there, 8 9. “Crackers” said Kaczka. The Q 8 7 flop gave Kaczka a pair, and the 5 turn gave him four more outs going into the river. It was the 9, however, and Kaczka’s two pair made Hunter the third bubble casualty.

Paul Tedeschi’s A A held against Arthur Morris’ Q Q and Stuart Rutter’s A J held off Daniel Alaei’s J 9 on a J 7 2 flop, earning both short stacks a double-up. Dwyer, Cai and Kaczka were then brought up to the stage, where they were informed that they’d be splitting up the 693rd place prize – $18,406 – and high-carding for a seat to the 2015 WSOP Main Event. Hunter got the 6, Cai drew the K and Kaczka the 6, giving Cai the consolation prize. The clock was then restarted, and the eliminations started coming in at an expectedly rapid pace.

Graner Won’t Show, Smith Grabs Chiplead Without Showdown

Stephen Graner raised to 17,500 in the small blind and Dan Smith called in the big blind, bringing a flop of T 4 2. Graner bet 25,000, Smith called and the turn was the 6. Graner bet 65,000, but Smith raised to 175,000, causing Graner to pause. He eventually three-bet to 430,000 and then it was Smith’s turn to tank, before eventually calling as the ESPN camera crew circled over. The river was the J, Graner checked and Smith moved all in for his last 600,000. Graner spent several agonizing moments thinking over his decision.

“You should put the whole 15 minutes on ESPN,” said another player at the table.

The small blind eventually mucked his hand and the dealer grabbed it to show it to the ESPN cameras. The small blind became very upset and grabbed the cards from the dealer and tried to forcibly push them into the muck. The dealer stopped them and put them on the other side of the well.

“I pay $400 in rake to play this tournament, you can’t show that to the public,” said Graner.

“I was going to show, but now I can’t,” said Smith and puts his cards face down in the muck before the dealer could do anything.

Without being able to show Smith’s hands to the ESPN cameras, they mucked both hands and Smith likely took over the chiplead with 1.45 million. He’s since cleared the 1.8 million chip mark.

Ivey Chipping Up Again

Before the bubble burst, Robert Gaudio got all in preflop holdling A Q and Phil Ivey called with pocket tens. The board ran 6 4 3 3 K and Ivey caught a four-flush with his T. Gaudio was eliminated short of the money and Ivey chipped up to 676,500.

Ivey continued to build after the money bubble burst. He opened to 11,000, Martin Verdegaal called and Ignacio “Nacho” Sanchez calls from the big blind. On a flop of KQJ Sanchez bet 20,000, Ivey called and Verdegaal got out of the way. The turn brought the 5 and Sanchez check-called Ivey’s bet of 48,000. The 7 on the river saw Sanchez check once again as Ivey bet 135,000, setting Sanchez all in for his tournament life. Sanchez gave it some thought before letting it go. Ivey climbed to over 810,000 while Sanchez slipped to 110,000.

Ronnie Bardah Sets Record With Fifth Straight Main Event Cash

Both Ronnie Bardah and Christian Harder entered the 2014 WSOP Main Event with cashes in four consecutive WSOP Main Events. With Harder’s early exit, Bardah stood as the only player with a chance at breaking the record, which was shared with several other players who previously failed to get five in a row. Despite his stack getting crippled to just 55,000 early on in Day 4, Bardah fought his way back and made it into the money. After striking out for the rest of the 2014 WSOP, it’s a big milestone and a chance to make up for it with a big cash.

“It does,” said Bardah. “It’s the best tournament you want to have a shot in. The other tournaments are all really tough with a shallow structure. This is the one you want do it in. It’s up there with winning a bracelet for sure – it’s close. Maybe winning a bracelet is better, but I’m the only one that his this record.”

As to whether he’d trade five straight cashes for a second WSOP bracelet?


Randy Ohel Scores Key Bubble Double Through Ali Eslami

After a couple of preflop raises, Randy Ohel moved all in for his last 130,000 and Ali Eslami went into the tank. Eslami asked for a floor and then inquired about the breaking order before calling.

Ohel tabled A J and was in the lead against Eslami’s 8 7. The flop was K 4 2 and Ohel had to sweat against Eslami’s flush draw. The turn was the 5d, adding a straight draw to Eslami’s hand. The river was the 2c and Ohel doubled up to 255,000, while Eslami dropped to 585,000.

“It had nothing to do with you,” said Eslami after the hand about why he called.

“I don’t know what it had to do with then,” said Ohel.

Ohel was later crippled to less than two big blinds just before hand-for-hand play began, but he managed to sneak into the money before being the first player to be eliminated post-bubble.

Ace-High Call for Hastings is Good Against Kenny Tran

Brian Hastings and Kenny Tran were at the turn on a 7 5 4 7 board. There was around 70,000 in the pot already and both players checked. The river came 5, Hastings checked and Tran bet 42,000 after a few moments of thought. Hastings also spent some time thinking, tossed in a call and Tran mucked his cards instantly. Hastings turned over A J to drag the pot and chipped up to 320,000 while Tran slipped to arond 620,000.

Cunningham Falls Short of 2014 Main Event Cash

Jeff Madsen limped in from mid position, Allen Cunningham completed in the small blind and David Feldman raised to 21,000 in the big blind. Madsen called, but Cunningham raised all in for 130,000 total. Feldman called and Madsen quickly folded, pitting Cunningham’s Q Q against Feldman’s A A. The board ran out 5 4 6 9 5, both men stood up, and Cunningham said, “It was a pleasure playing with you” as he exited the table.

Table 350 was a tough one to start, with John Monnette joining Madsen and Cunningham to start the day. Monnette’s already made quads in a big pot against Madsen, and both are likely looking forward to their table breaking in the near future.

Hutter Can’t Dodge Bullets, Baby

After running pocket kings into the pocket aces of Gal Erlichman a little bit earlier in the level, Barry Hutter ran into pocket aces a second time before the bubble was burst. He got all in on a Q 9 7 flop with Q J against Jay Goldenberg’s pocket aces, and while Hutter added more outs on the K turn, the 2 river guaranteed his exit before the money.

Velador Forces Fold

Luis Velador and Steve Chantabouasy built a pot north of 150,000 on the turn. The board read 7 4 3 2 and the river came 5. Chantabouasy checked and Velador slid out 150,000. Chantabouasy tanked for a good bit before folding pocket fours face up. Velador cracked a smile as he collected the pot.

“Did you have a bigger set?” another player asked.

Velador smiled, shook his no and chipped up to about 550,000.

Notable Bustouts

Huck Seed (Last Main Event Champ Standing)
Allen Cunningham
Gordon Vayo
Barry Hutter
Hasan Habib
Max Pescatori
Randy Ohel (692nd)
Olivier Busquet (641st)
Ben Yu (611th)
Daniel Buzgon (608th)

Players Remaining: 574

Top 10 Chip Counts – 2014 WSOP Main Event, End of Level 16

  1. Dan Smith – 1,875,000
  2. Mehrdad Yousefzadeh – 1,330,000
  3. Jack Schanbacher – 1,205,000
  4. Matthew Sedgeman – 1,160,000
  5. Roman Valerstein – 1,150,000
  6. Mark Herm – 1,120,000
  7. Andoni Larrabe – 1,100,000
  8. John Gorsuch – 1,080,000
  9. Andrew Liporace – 1,030,000
  10. Rasmus Larsen – 1,010,000
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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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