It was a pretty epic day at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship at Bellagio. First of all, despite only needing to play down from ten to six players, Day 6 of play took longer than any other day of play, going on for nearly ten hours before drawing to a close. Second of all, it was an intense day of action with some crazy hands, big names and more table talk than you know what to do with.
The top ten who began the day consisted of top poker pros from live and online, including Cliff Josephy, David Williams, David Benyamine, Phil Hellmuth, Billy Baxter, Eric Baldwin, Scotty Nguyen and Shawn Buchanan. Josephy made an early exit on the 11th hand of play when he flopped top set against Williams’ straight with a straight flush draw on a 986 board. The two got it all-in on the flop and the river did bring the 6 to give Josephy a boat, but it also made a straight flush for Williams and his 7T, so Josephy was out in 10th place.
Nikolay Evdakov was the next player to go. He had the best of it against Hellmuth with pocket kings to Hellmuth’s pocket jacks, but a jack on the river gave Hellmuth the pot and left Evdakov with just a single blind. Evdakov was all-in the next hand, failed to take the pot and made his exit in 9th place.
Those two eliminations came fairly early in the day, but it would take quite a while before the table lostNguyen in 8th place. As play continued on 8-handed, tensions started to mount between Hellmuth and Baldwin, Hellmuth and Buchanan and Hellmuth and, well, just about everybody.
Things really got intense during a preflop confrontation between Benyamine and Hellmuth. Benyamine opened from middle position, Hellmuth reraised on the button and Benyamine thought a while before moving all-in having Hellmuth covered. Hellmuth was clearly frustrated, telling Benyamine he didn’t understand why he wanted to do this. After several minutes of deliberation, Hellmuth laid down AT face-up, causing the table to burst out into laughter, as they were all expecting a much bigger hand. Benyamine obliged Hellmuth and the table by revealing his hand—pocket kings.
Benyamine would serve as executioner in the hand against Nguyen, getting it all-in on the turn with Nguyen holding a set of eights to Benyamine’s set of tens. The big pot gave Benyamine the chip lead and left the table with just one elimination to go before the final table was set. After losing his chips over the course of several big pots, Hellmuth was down under ten big blinds and desperately needed a double up in order to survive to the final table.
Hellmuth’s stack dwindled to three big blinds when it folded to him on the button and he limped in. John O’Shea was in the small blind and moved all-in and Baxter reraised all-in out of the big blind. Hellmuth laughed at the jam he was in before folding, leaving Baxter’s pocket aces to duke it out with O’Sheas pocket threes. The aces prevailed to double Baxter up and Hellmuth was still the low man on the totem pole.
With just two big blinds, Hellmuth limped in again, getting action from Baldwin in the small blind and Williams in the big blind. The flop came king-high and Hellmuth’s one big blind shove was enough to get both players to fold and double Hellmuth up without showdown. Hellmuth’s luck would run out a few hands later when his K-10 could not get the best of Williams’ A-J and the Poker Brat had to settle for a 7th place finish.
The final six will return to the Bellagio Saturday at 4PM to play down to a winner. Here are the chip counts and seat assignments for the televised final table:
Seat 1. John O’Shea – 1,200,000
Seat 2. Billy Baxter – 2,440,000
Seat 3. Eric Baldwin – 4,490,000
Seat 4. David Williams – 4,700,000
Seat 5. David Benyamine – 4,705,000
Seat 6. Shawn Buchanan – 1,965,000
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