WSOPE: Roger Hairabedian denies Erik Seidel a 9th bracelet

Erik Seidel

Erik Seidel came up short in his quest for a ninth bracelet, finishing second to Roger Hairabedian who becomes the first Frenchman to hold two. (Thomas Keeling photo.)

There are few players in world poker who command as much respect as Erik Seidel. Eight World Series bracelets and 30 years at the top of the game will do that. But in Europe, and France in particular, they have their own senior figures who don’t tend to set much stall by reputations.

Roger Hairabedian is as recognisable in the poker rooms of France as anybody. “Big Roger”, as he is known for fairly obvious reasons, has a World Series bracelet of his own and more than $4m in live tournament cashes. And although today had been expected to be all about Seidel and his tenth bracelet, Hairabedian had other ideas.

Indeed it was the Frenchman picking up his second title, beating Seidel heads up, and leaving the American still looking for No 9.

“It is a very good thing for me and all French players,” said Hairabedian, who is the first Frenchman ever to win more than one WSOP bracelet. “In a poker player’s life, it is the most prestigious thing to win a bracelet…Many people criticise my play, but now I have proved that my play is good. It is play for winning and I’ve proved that with my second bracelet.”

Hairabedian takes €148,820 for first; Seidel gets €92,003 for second. And really the final table was all about those two. Seidel brought the chip lead, Hairabedian did more than anyone to erode it, and even had Seidel needing to hit a two-outer on the river to survive at one point. (He hit it.)

When they went heads up, Seidel had regained his chip lead, but Hairabedian continued to chip away at it, winning almost all the significant pots (and most of the smaller ones too.)

The final hand came when Hairabedian had Seidel comfortably covered in both chips and cards. Seidel’s pocket eights had run headlong into Hairabedian’s kings.

Seidel beat a hasty retreat, alongside his friend John Juanda, to allow Hairabedian to accept the congratulations of the partisan crowd.

“I want to make like Erik and win eight bracelets,” Hairabedian said, underselling his opponent slightly, but with a clear sentiment.

After shedding 327 of the 337 runners in less than two days, the final 10 squeezed around a solitary table late last night to play either one more one-hour level or until a final table of eight players was set. Most seasoned poker spectators would have bet their house on the clock running out before two more players departed, but they would have been spectacularly wrong.

Not only did Pierre Morin depart in 10th, but Arnaud Peyroles also followed quickly in ninth. And they weren’t even done yet. The tournament officials said the remaining eight might as well play out the level, if only to do a color up ahead of the final. But in the four minutes that remained on the clock, Ariel Celestino also lost all his chips to Kevin Song.

It meant that the final table began today with only seven players, and the following stacks:

Seat 1: Mike Watson, Canada, 156,000
Seat 2: Erwann Pecheux, France, 130,000
Seat 3: Kevin Song, USA, 442,000
Seat 4: Matan Krakow, Israel, 204,000
Seat 5: Erik Seidel, USA, 711,000
Seat 6: Roger Hairabedian, France, 267,000
Seat 7: Max Greenwood, Canada, 113,000

Everyone knew about Seidel’s record in World Series events, but Hairabedian, Song and Greenwood were also already the owners of WSOP bracelets. Watson, on the other hand, won the High Roller event at the WSOPE in France last year, but had to make do with “only” €1m. That seven-figure score was not an official bracelet event.

There was, therefore, plenty of quality in the remaining septet, but it didn’t take too long until much of it was walking out of the door. Seidel set to work on the Canadians first, knocking out Greenwood and then Watson in quick succession.

Greenwood had three bet twice in succession after Seidel had raised his big blind, but on the second occasion, Seidel called and stayed ahead with A 5 against Greenwood’s K 9.

Greenwood won €22,258 and was still at the cashier’s desk when Watson appeared at his shoulder. Watson got his money in with A K against Seidel’s 7 7. But Seidel was flipping good and Watson took €28,683 for sixth.

As one of two Frenchmen in the final table field, Erwann Pecheux had brought the loudest rail. But there was little to cheer when Pecheux got his money in with jacks against his countryman Hairabedian’s queens. Pecheux had laddered up to fifth, but departed with €37,502.

Of the four left, only Matan Krakow hadn’t tasted victory at the WSOP. The closest he had previously gotten was third place in Cannes last year in the €2,500 No Limit Hold’em Six Max event.

This tournament would end in familiar fashion for Krakow, after a ding-dong tussle with Song, before Hairabedian applied the finishing touches. Firstly, Song doubled through Krakow with queens against Krakow’s K Q. But then Krakow got them all back, rivering and eight when he got all the chips in with A 8 against Song’s A K.

But the Israeli player was still short stacked and couldn’t win a flip with 7 7 against Hairabedian’s A T. Fourth place this time was worth €49,784.

After knocking out the Canadian duo, Seidel had tended to stay out of the biggest pots and found himself at risk when he became involved in the first significant pot three-handed. He opened from the small blind to 30,000, and moved all in for 436,000 after Hairabedian three bet from the big blind to 75,000. Hairabedian called.

Seidel: 6 6
Hairabedian: A Q

Hairabedian leapt into the lead on an ace-high flush, and although Seidel quietly prepared to depart, he was hastened back to attention by the 6 on the river. For the first time, Hairabedian was left to wince as Seidel took the chip lead once more with a huge double up.

After that, Song could have been for thinking his 6 6 was the nuts a few hands later when he and Seidel became embroiled in another raising war. Song called all in but was crushed by Seidel’s Q Q, especially after the board bricked.

That took them to the heads up and the start of the one-way traffic. Hairabedian wants more bracelets, and what Big Roger tends to want, Big Roger tends to get.

Final results: Event 5 – €2,200 No Limit Hold’em
1 Roger Hairabedian €148,820
2 Erik Seidel €92,003
3 Kevin Song €67,118
4 Matan Krakow €49,784
5 Erwann Pecheux €37,502
6 Mike Watson €28,683
7 Max Greenwood €22,258
8 Ariel Silveira €17,521
9 Arnaud Peyroles €13,989
10 Pierre Morin €11,317
11 Flavien Guenan €11,317
12 Jason Mann €11,317
13 Nazim Guillaud €9,285
14 Giovanni Rosadoni €9,285
15 Laurent Polito €9,285
16 Jonathan Duhamel €7,719
17 Sam Greenwood €7,719
18 Angel Guillen €7,719
19 Daniel Weinman €6,502
20 Kahle Burns €6,502
21 Stelyan Georgiev €6,502
22 Jonathan Little €5,552
23 Jeff Rossiter €5,552
24 Fernand Michelet €5,552
25 Lee Markholt €4,801
26 Martin Jacobson €4,801
27 Kilian Kramer €4,801
28 Martin Lategui €4,206
29 Phil Hellmuth €4,206
30 Ilkin Amirov €4,206
31 Brice Townsend €3,727
32 Eric Chatelet €3,727
33 Nicolas Le Floch €3,727
34 Cyril Pusset €3,345
35 James Dempsey €3,345
36 Yann Pineau €3,345

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