WSOP Main Event Day 7 Level 32: Fast Times at Final Two Tables

Jacob Balsiger Charged to the Top while the Chips were Flying During Level 32 (Heather Borowinski Photo)

Day 7 here at the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event has been moving along at a nice clip and there are now just 14 players remaining in the hunt for the final nine seats at October’s final table. There are two women still charging to make the final table, Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille. Pro Danny Wong is also still vying for a spot among the final nine, as is 2010 WPT L.A. Poker Classic champion Andras Koroknai. Jacob Balsiger is in the lead with 25 million.

Current Top 10 Chip Counts

1. Jacob Balsiger – 22,700,000
2. Robert Salaburu – 21,900,000
3. Michael Esposito – 20,125,000
4. Greg Merson – 19,850,000
5. Russell Thomas – 18,300,000
6. Steve Gee – 16,800,000
7. Marc Ladouceur – 16,740,000
8. Scott Abrams – 15,400,000
9. Jeremy Ausmus -14,800,000
10. Elisabeth Hille – 11,710,000

Paul Volpe Eliminated in 20th Place

Action folded around to Steven Gee, who moved all in from the cutoff for 3,885,000. Danny Wong was on the button and re-shoved all in and had Gee covered. Paul Volpe was in the small blind and had less than Gee’s original all in bet. Volpe looked at his cards and quickly called off his stack. All the hands were turned on their backs with Gee and Volpe at risk of elimination.

Gee showed 8 8 and was in bad shape against Wong’s T T. Volpe on the other hand, got a good price to be flipping against two people with his A K. The flop  was 7 6 5 and there were some rumblings from Wong’s supporters since he now picked up an open-ended straight draw. The turn was the J and helped nobody. The river was the 4 which gave Gee his straight, eliminated Volpe from the tournament, and left Wong with just over 3 million in chips.

Gee now has over 10 million in chips and is right back in the middle of the chip counts. He threw his arms up in the air and cackled as the dealer pushed him the pot, obviously excited about his new lease on his tournament life.

Jamie Robbins Eliminated in 19th Place

Jamie Robbins raised to 400,000 under the gun preflop and Jacob Balsiger reraised to 1.2 million on the button. Robbins called and the flop fell 9 5 4. Both players checked and the T fell on the turn. Robbins moved all in for 2.9 million and Balsiger called. The two players then flipped over their cards:

Robbins: K J
Balsiger: 9 9

The river fell 3 and Robbins was eliminated in 19th place. He will take home $294,601 in prize money. Balsiger now holds 19.5 million. A short break was taken after Robbins elimination for the players to draw for new seats at the two final tables.

David Balkin Eliminated in 18th Place

On the first hand after the redraw at 18 players, a pot of over 12 million developed between David Balkin and Michael Esposito. Balkin raised in middle position to 425,000 and Esposito called to his immediate left. Everyone else folded and they saw a flop of K 8 8. Balkin bet 625,000 and Esposito called. The turn was the Q, and then the fireworks erupted. Balkin checked, Esposito bet 925,000, and Balkin check-raised all-in for 5 million total. Esposito quickly called and the cards were turned up.

Balkin: A A
Esposito: A 8

Esposito had caught a perfect flop and Balkin was left with one out with just one card to come. The river was the Q and the last Australian in the field was eliminated in 18th place. Esposito was up to over 18 million after that pot.

“With my chip stack at the end and getting aces, my chips were going in no matter what,” said Balkin of his elimination.

Bob Buckenmayer Eliminated in 17th Place

The first orbit of play after the redraw was an active one at the featured table. A second all-in confrontation quickly developed between the formerly short-stacked Wilfried Haerig and Bob Buckenmayer. Haerig opened to 400,000 from early position and it folded around to Buckenmayer in the small blind, who three-bet all-in for just over 4 million total. Marc Ladouceur folded in the big blind but Haerig called, and the hands were turned up

Haerig: A K
Buckenmayer: A Q

Buckenmayer would need some help to avoid going out in 17th place, but the 7 5 4 9 6 runout would give Buckenmayer no help in avoiding that fate. Haerig was over 13.5 million after winning this pot.

“It’s been a great ride. I feel like I was doing the right thing the whole time. I felt like I could get into the November Nine but I came up against ace-queen vs. ace-king, a classic coin-flip situation. Not disappointed with my decisions at any point and I had a great time,” said Buckenmayer after the hand.

Percy Mahatan Eliminated in 16th Place

Percy Mahatan raised to 450,000 in hi-jack and was called by Robert Salaburu in the big blind. The two took a flop of K95 and Salaburu check-called a bet from Mahatan.

The turn brought the 7h and now Salaburu just jammed all in and had  Mahatan well covered. Mahatan wasted very little time calling off his stack and tabled QQ and needed to improve against the Salaburu’s turned two pair as he turned up 97. The river was the 4 and Salaburu’s stack grew to almost 26 million as Mahatan left the secondary feature table in 16th place.

“It feels pretty sweet to be in the Sweet 16, I’m really happy to be here. I can’t thank my family and friends more, without them I wouldn’t be here,” said Mahatan after his elimination. “With these internet pros and other players out there I feel a little outclassed, but it’s been an awesome experience. I’m going to split the money 50-50 with the rest of the people at the company I work for and probably invest it.”

He also said of his play: “The hardest part for me was picking my spots in the early rounds of the tournament. There are moments where you just get card dead, and you just got to make a play. I was able to do that. I was able to establish a pretty tight image, and consequently was able to steal a couple of blinds with very mediocre, and very modest hands at best.”

Greg Merson Doubles Through Wilfried Haerig to go Over 20 Million

The biggest pot of the 2012 WSOP Main Event developed seemingly out of nowhere, and yet again Greg Merson was able to make it count when it mattered the most. He raised to 400,000 under the gun and Wilfried Haerig three-bet to 960,000 from middle position. It folded back around to Merson and he called, bringing a flop of 9 8 6. Both players checked and the turn was the J. Merson bet 1.05 million and Haerig called, putting the 5 on the river.

Merson open shoved for 8.3 million and Haerig quickly called, showing A 7, but Merson had turned the nuts with Q T. What was a pot of 4 million before the river was now a 20 million plus chip pot heading towards Merson as he approached the chiplead. Haerig was left with just 3 million.

Andras Koroknai Doubles Through Greg Merson

Greg Merson would quickly give some of those chips back, however. He opened to 400,000 under the gun and it folded around to Andras Koroknai in the small blind. The 2010 WPT LA Poker Classic champion three-bet all-in for 4.7 million, and Merson called.

Koroknai: 4 4
Merson: A K

The board ran out J 9 5 7 5 and Koroknai’s pair of fours were good enough to double him up to 9.8 million, while Merson still had over 16.5 million after losing the coinflip.

Action folded around to Jacob Balsiger in the hi-jack who raised to 400,000. Russell Thomas was on the button and three-bet to 1,050,000. Balsiger thought for a few moments before tossing a call into the middle.

Jacob Balsiger Takes the Chip Lead

The flop was K 7 5 and Balsiger checked, only to see Thomas put out a bet of 1,200,000. Balsiger thought for a minute before putting in a call. The 8 peeled off on the turn and Balsiger checked again. Thomas didn’t slow down though and bet 1,600,000. Balsiger took a few minutes to contemplate before raising to 3,200,000. Thomas sat for a minute before arriving at a call. The river was the T and Balsiger wasted little time in putting out a bet of 3,000,000. Thomas only took a few moments to think the situation over before mucking his hand and watch one of the larger pots played today get pushed to Balsiger.

Balsiger moves to the top of the chip counts with 25.7 million in chips, while Thomas slides back down to the middle of the pack with just over 15 million.

Wilfried Haerig’s Eliminated in 15th Place After His Aces are Cracked

After losing most of his stack to Greg Merson before the break, Wilfried Haerig found a good spot to double up just after coming back. Merson opened to 400,000 in middle position and Michael Esposito called in the cutoff. Haerig three-bet all-in for 2.45 million, Merson called, and Esposito folded.

Merson: K J
Haerig: A A

Haerig had just over 10 big blinds and needed a double to have any chance at a run towards the final nine, and he couldn’t have found a better spot. The K Q 3 flop was a little trouble, but Merson still needed to hit another king or a jack to snatch the lead away. The turn was the J and Merson was suddenly in the lead with one card to go. The river was the 7 and Haerig finished the Main Event in 15th place. Merson was back up over 20 million after this hand.

“I’m feeling sad, but not about the hand I busted out on, mostly about the hand before the break where I lost most of my chips,” said Haerig after his elimination. He continued: “That’s the hand I’m very angry about. I misplayed the most important pot of my life, and I’m a little upset about it. My goal was to play my A-game and make it as far as the cards would allow,  and I think I made it, except for that last pot before the break.”

Eliminations this Level

15. Wilfied Haerig – $369,026
16. Percy Mahatan – $369,026
17. Robert Buckenmayer – $369,026
18. David Balkin – $369,026
19. Jamie Robbins – $294,601
20. Paul Volpe – $294,601

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