Mark Vos gave the Rio a déjà vu moment, with chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oy, oy, oy!” filling the tournament room. He outlasted the field to get heads-up with Nam Le, and then battled back from a 3:1 chip disadvantage to ultimately take his first WSOP bracelet and the $803,274 cash that came with it.
Two early hands gave David Wells an indication of the kind of day it would be for him. First, he moved over the top of Vanessa Selbst and was called. His beautiful queens were good enough for a chopped pot, as Selbst held the identical hand. J.R. Reiss limped on the next hand. Looking at Big Slick (A-K), Wells moved all-in from the big blind hoping to pick up the blinds and antes. Reiss was fine with a race, calling with pocket jacks. The jacks held up, and Wells was now the short stack with $70k. He would be out soon in 8th ($87,315), his 10 [c] taken out by held by Selbst. Before that, the early exit would belong to Juan Carlos Mortensen.
Mortensen was at this final table for one thing, to win the bracelet. After Selbst raised to $60k, Mortensen moved in for another $199k. Selbst called, showing to Mortensen’s . The other red ace was the first card to show on the flop, and Mortensen’s hard work for two days would leave him out of his quest for another bracelet in 9th place ($73,344). Mortensen knew, headed into this final table, that he’d need to win at least a couple races, and unfortunately he was correct.
Selbst’s day would unravel, going from second chip position to out in a hurry. She wasn’t one to patiently sit on her stack and wait for others to bust out. On her exit hand, she made it $66k to go and was called by William Chang. Kevin Petersen re-raised to $200k, and Selbst moved all-in. Chang folded, but Petersen instantly called with the best starting hand in NLHE, pocket aces. Sheepishly, Selbst showed her . Sheepishly and Selbst are two words that you’d rarely find in the same sentence, as she impressed throughout Event #6. She was second in chip position when she made this play, so her ambition got the best of her. Petersen unnecessarily caught quad aces, and the Fulbright Scholar Selbst was out in 7th ($101,285).
Petersen now had a monster stack of over $1.5M in chips with the other five players holding a combined $2.3M. Play tightened up considerably, and Nam Le built his stack from $400k to $800k until he got involved in a crucial hand with the chip leader. The standard play for chip leaders to get their chips in the pot pre-flop looks like this: raise/re-raise/all-in/call, and that’s what we saw here. Le had K [c] and Petersen held . The pot would decide the chip leader, and the cards would extend the drama until the end. kept Petersen in the lead, giving Le eight outs (queens to the straight, as well as any ace or king). The brought a huge roar and Le now had the $1.5M chip stack and the lead. On the next hand, Le dominated short stack J.R. Reiss - pocket jacks vs. pocket sevens. A seven on the flop kept Reiss alive, moving him up to $420k in chips.
Mark Vos had rarely been heard from at the table, but now down to $320k he made a move from the small blind and was called by Thomas Hunt in the big blind. Vos’ looked in bad shape vs. Hunt’s , but these Aussies seem to have more lives than an alley cat. Vos doubled through when finished hitting the board. Petersen, the chip leader less than an hour before, was out in 6th ($115,255), his 10 [c] never improving vs. the pocket threes of Reiss.
On the next hand, Le would take out Willard Chang (5th, $136,211). It would quickly get heads-up. First, Vos moved all-in from the small blind and was called by Thomas Hunt, whose was well ahead of the held by Vos. Vos caught trip sixes on the flop, Hunt was down to one $5k chip, and he was out on the next hand (4th, $160,659), a bitter dose of medicine to swallow.
Le played the next hand brilliantly. On a board of , Reiss moved all-in with and was called by Le’s . The jack that made Reiss’ hand also sealed his finish in 3rd ($209,555).
Heads-up, Nam Le had an almost 3:1 chip advantage over Mark Vos. A very bad read by Le cost him that advantage. After taking a pot from Le, Vos called a $70k raise by Le. The flop came , and Le led out for $80k. Vos raised it up to $190k, and Le called. came next, and Vos bet $275k, which Le called. The river brought the , and Vos bet $300k. Le moved all-in, and Vos quickly considered if he was beat. Unknown to Le, Vos was down to one card that could beat him, so he made the call then prayed Le didn’t have that . Le’s cards were red ( ), Vos flopped a monster that stayed ahead ( ), and he now had the chip lead. Le quickly regained the chip lead, showing a full house with his J 4 that Vos called down on a board of . Vos doubled through with pocket sevens to move back slightly on top. Vos took two more pots to add to his chip lead. A poker hand would end it.
As anyone who plays can tell you, it is much easier to move all-in and hope for the best. It’s quite another thing to finish a tournament with decisions to make on the river. Vos raised it to $90k and Le called. The flop came and Vos bet $150k after Le checked. Le called, and the was dealt. Now Le check/called $250k from Vos. It was difficult for anyone there to put either player on a hand. Who was on the spade draw? Had Le flopped a set of eight’s? These were brutally difficult decisions by each player, and the on the river brought little relief. Le again checked, and Vos pushed his remaining chips into the pot. Le called hoping the spade draw didn’t get there for Vos. Le turned over while Vos showed . Trip tens brought a runner-up finish to Nam Le ($401,647).
The bracelet celebration sounded eerily familiar, shouts that resonated all the way back to Melbourne and Sydney. Mark Vos the pride of Australia for a day, winning his first WSOP bracelet and $803,274. Oy, oy, oy indeed!