November Nine: Cheong’s Demise Sets Up Duhamel-Racener Battle

When play got down to the final three players, many thought it was a foregone conclusion that Jonathan Duhamel and Joseph Cheong would be battling heads-up for the bracelet.  As this final table has reminded us though, in poker there are no foregone conclusions.  Instead of a Cheong vs. Duhamel showdown, poker fans will be treated to a heads-up battle with Duhamel and John Racener, as Joseph Cheong’s untimely demise resulted in his exit in third place.  Here’s how it all went down:

Jonathan Duhamel Doubles Through Joseph Cheong

Sorry Matt Affleck, we have a new hand of the tournament.

Joseph Cheong raised to 2,900,000 from the small blind and Jonathan Duhamel made it 6,750,000 to go out of the big blind. Cheong fired back with a raise to 14,250,000 and Duhamel did not back down. Instead, he five-bet to 22,750,000 and Cheong tanked a bit before announcing he was all-in. Duhamel called quickly with QQ and Cheong shocked the room when he turned up A7. The crowd was abuzz as the flop fell 932 and the turn came 6.

With one card to come, John Racener, who stood to benefit tremendously from one of the big stacks faltering, finally cracked a smile. The 8 on the river secured a double up for Duhamel and set the record for largest pot in WSOP history at 177 million chips.
Cheong was left with just 4,000,000 chips after the hand, less than 5% of what his stack was at the start of the hand.

Joseph Cheong Doubles Through Jonathan Duhamel

Two hands after the pot of the tournament, Jonathan Duhamel raised to 3,000,000 on the button and Joseph Cheong moved all-in from the big blind. Duhamel called with K9 and Cheong showed 37. The K in the window was followed by the J and the 3, giving both players a pair. The 3 on the turn gave Cheong trips and the advantage in the hand. The A on the river meant the pot belonged to Cheong and he doubled up to over 10,000,000

Joseph Cheong Eliminated in Third Place ($4,130,049)

John Racener folded on the button and Joseph Cheong shoved all-in from the small blind for a little over 17 million. Jonathan Duhamel called out of the big blind with A2 and Cheong turned over QT. The K96 flop gave Cheong additional outs with a gutshot straight draw and he was drawing live after the turn brought the 6. The river was the 7 and Cheong stoically exited the tournament area while Racener and Duhamel’s fans descended upon the table to congratulate the heads-up finalists.

And there you have it. Now there are two. Duhamel will begin heads-up play with a more than 6-1 chip advantage over Racener, the player many of whom had already written off as the third place finisher.  By comparison, last year Joe Cada came into heads-up play with what was perceived as a decent chip lead with 135 million chips to Darvin Moon’s 58 million.  When play resumes on 10pm Monday evening, here’s how the chip counts will break down:

Jonathan Duhamel – 188,950,000 (158 BBs)
John Racener – 30,750,000 (26 BBs)

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