There was no ESPN feature table, there was no $10,000 buy-in, there was no No Limit Hold’em. Despite lacking all the components traditionally associated with a great WSOP final table though, the $3,000 buy-in HORSE event improbably assembled one of the most compelling final tables of the year because it possessed something none of the others had—Phil Ivey.
The presence of Ivey was the likely explanation behind the large crowd of observers huddled in a corner of the Rio watching a single table of players taking part in a lower buy-in HORSE event, but he was far from the only attraction. In fact, this was arguably the most stacked final table of the year, as it featured Ivey, Bill Chen, Dave Baker, bracelet winner Ken Aldridge, Chad Brown, 2009 WSOP Player of the Year Jeffrey Lisandro, and this year’s newest Player of the Year frontrunner, John Juanda, who was making his astonishing fourth final table of this World Series.
In the end though, stacked as it may be, there was room for only one winner and that man was none other than Ivey, who rallied from short stack to winner in an epic heads-up battle with Bill Chen that saw nearly 100 people eagerly watching two people Razz at 4 o’clock in the morning. For most of the rail, it was well worth the wait, getting to see Ivey make history by winning his eighth career bracelet and leaving many poker fans speculating just how much money in prop bets this latest win is worth. Rumor has it that Howard Lederer and Ivey have a bet worth seven figures if Ivey can nab two bracelets in three years. If that’s true, he’s halfway there.
All Ivey would say on the matter following his big win was that the bet is worth more than $20.
We’re guessing the bet is probably worth more than $200 as well considering Ivey’s reaction following the memorable win.
“This one is actually pretty sweet because there aren’t too many tournaments left and I was starting to kind of feel the burn a little bit, so I really tried to focus in and knew I had to give it my all the rest of the way out,” Ivey admitted. Giving it his all certainly proved to be enough on Monday, as Ivey weathered a rough road at a stacked final table en route to yet another WSOP victory.
When the final table began with one Team PokerStars Pro holding a heap of chips while another was short on chips after doubling up Baker. Chen was in great shape and used his big stack to stay active early on. Meanwhile, Brown chipped down to under 100,000 and decided to take his final stand during the Limit Hold’em round. He raised the cutoff with J9, Chen defended out of the big blind, and both players checked the T54 flop. The 2 on the turn proved to be an action card, as Chen led out, Brown raised all-in, and Chen called with 67 for an open-ended straight draw. Brown’s jack high flush draw was good for the moment, but the 6 on the river paired Chen up and sent Brown out in eighth place.
While Baker kept finding spots to double and stay alive, Albert Hahn was not so fortunate. He tangled with Lisandro and Ivey in a three-way pot during the Omaha Hi-Lo round that saw action on every street as the board ran out A528Q. Hahn was all-in preflop and could only sit back and watch as Lisandro’s A884 improved to a set to take the high and Ivey’s KK47 made a low to take the other half of the pot. Hahn mucked his hand and headed out in seventh place.
Baker continued to stave off elimination a little longer, but the perennial short stack couldn’t stay alive forever. Similarly to Hahn, Baker got his chips in preflop against two players, this time Juanda and Ivey, and could only watch the side action. Ivey fired on the Q96 flop and Juanda called. Ivey bet out again after the 9 hit on the turn and that was enough to get Juanda to fold. Ivey showed AQK2 for queens up and Baker’s A5K6 needed a diamond or a six to stay alive. The river brought neither and the field was cut to five.
A massive Stud pot in which Aldridge hit a boat on seventh to best Lisandro’s straight left the ’09 POY with just 35,000 chips, which went in the middle the very next hand when he picked up a pair of fives. Once again, he found himself up against Aldridge, who had the best of it with his pair of eights. As the cards were dealt out, Aldridge improved to two pair, while Lisandros hand failed to get better, so he was out in fifth place, leaving Aldridge to contend with the trio of pros.
He tried to contend, but a rough run of cards and a big Omaha pot with Ivey would mean there would be no second bracelet for Aldridge. Ivey and Aldridge saw action on the flop and turn as the board fell JT28. The last of the chips went in after the eight hit with Ivey showing J986 for two pair and a straight draw and Aldridge holding QJ32 for an inferior two pair. The river 8 filled up Ivey to give him the pot and eliminate Aldridge.
Ivey’s hot streak continued while previous chip behemoth Juanda began to falter. During three-handed play Juanda dropped a couple of sizeable pots to Chen and, though he was able to double his short stack up through Ivey once, Ivey got it all back plus some with the following Stud hand:
Ivey was showing a 248 to Juanda’s 3A7 when the money went all-in on fifth street. Juanda held just ace high, while Ivey showed 82 in the hole for two pair. Juanda paired up with a 3 on sixth street and even improved to aces up with the A on seventh, but Ivey’s final card, the 2, gave him a full house and the pot. Juanda came up short of the bracelet, but his latest strong showing is enough to give him the lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race for now.
When heads-up play began, Chen held a 3-1 chip lead over Ivey. It seemed as though Chen’s lead was insurmountable. But we are talking about Phil Ivey here. In the span of twenty minutes and just a few hands, Ivey scooped pot after pot to completely erase his 5-1 chip disadvantage and amass a tidy chip lead of his own.
From there, it was the Ivey show. Chen would battle back, but Ivey always found a way to keep his opponent at bay. On the final hand of play a series of bets and raises in a Razz pot resulted in the two getting it all-in on fifth street with Ivey holding a 6-5 low to Chen’s 7-6. Chen failed to improve and Ivey took the pot and the bracelet. In typical Ivey fashion, he celebrated by getting on his phone and sending some texts. Don’t think he is done logging some serious time at the WSOP tables though.
“I’m going to keep playing tournaments. I want to win another one before the end and I want to do well in the Main Event, of course,” he explained. “I should win that one of these years. I’ve been deep a lot and fell short a bunch of times, so I am looking forward to playing in it again this year and giving it my best shot.”
As for that prop bet on the bracelets, we’ll let Lederer and his Twitter feed do the talking:
Here are the complete final table results from the $3,000 HORSE event:
1st: Phil Ivey – $329,840
2nd: Bill Chen – $203,802
3rd: John Juanda – $129,553
4th: Ken Aldridge – $93,418
5th: Jeffrey Lisandro – $68,417
6th: Dave Baker – $50,871
7th: Albert Hahn – $38,391
8th: Chad Brown – $29,406
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