Over the past year, we’ve learned a few things about Faraz Jaka:
1) The kid can play
2) The kid can play any two cards at just about any given time
3) The kid runs good
If you weren’t already sure of these things before, Day 4 of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship event affirmed that Jaka is a player whose super aggressive style makes him a feared and dangerous opponent. Combine that with a wholly unconventional style of play and a little run good and you have a recipe for disaster. Just ask Heather Sue Mercer.
Mercer came into the day trailing only Day 3 chip leader Shawn Buchanan in the counts. She laid low during the early parts of the day, but was still one of the largest stacks in the room when she raised from under the gun and Jaka reraised behind her. Mercer did not back down and put in a 4th raise and the fearless Jaka responded by moving all-in.
Mercer snap-called with pocket aces only to discover she was up against Jaka’s 39. Jaka flopped two pair on a 9-5-3 board and it held up to eliminate Mercer and give him the biggest pot of the tournament, worth over 2 million chips. Mercer, meanwhile, came up just shot of the money, going out in 21st.
From that point, Jaka’s 3 million chip stack just kept growing. He clashed in a massive pot with Matt Stout where he took the bulk of his chips to get up over 4 million and began open raising to ten times the big blind and putting his opponents all-in repeatedly with holdings ranging from Q5 to A-K. Jaka lost a chunk of his stack doubling up both JJ Liu and Billy Baxter, but he still ended the day on top with 3,117,000 chips.
While Jaka was wreaking havoc at his table, David Benyamine was picking up pots just one table over. He repeatedly found ways to get the best of Olivier Busquet and took the bulk of former WPT Championship winner Carlos Mortensen’s chips when he flopped a set against him. As a result, Benyamine is second in chips at the end of Day 4 with 2,350,000 chips.
Thirty-five players began the day, but only the 18 runners who made the money survived it. Joining Mortensen and Mercer on the rail during Day 4 were Todd Terry, Randal Flowers, Brian Lemke, David “Devilfish” Ulliott, Chris Moore and Dan Smith. Reigning WPT Champion Yevgeniy Timoshenko was also eliminated today, which means there will be no repeat winner this year. Tony Cousineau managed to survive the day and make the money, but he will be returning Thursday with just 60,000—less than the starting stack and the equivalent of three big blinds.
Also returning on Day 5 is Day 3 chip leader Buchanan, Phil Hellmuth, Busquet, Stout, Scotty Nguyen and Josh Arieh, all of whom have a chance of catching Jaka in the WPT Player of the Year race should he fall short of the final table. Liu, Baxter, David Williams, Eric Baldwin and Cliff Josephy are also still alive in the event. Thursday the remaining 18 players will return to the Bellagio to play down to the final ten, which means it could be an early day in Las Vegas. However, the pace of play has been deliberate during the late stages of this tournament, so a full day is certainly not out of the question.
Here are the top ten chip counts headed into Day 5 of play:
1. Faraz Jaka – 3,117,000
2. David Benyamine – 2,350,000
3. David Williams – 2,072,000
4. Billy Baxter – 1,630,000
5. Nikolay Evdakov – 1,426,000
6. Phil Hellmuth – 1,377,000
7. Shawn Buchanan – 1,224,000
8. Olivier Busquet – 1,088,000
9. Scotty Nguyen – 941,000
10. Eric Baldwin – 880,000
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