The $2.5k NLHE event, held over three days, started with 1,290 players. Friday ended with some familiar names in the money chasing chip leader Mark Wilds with $108k. Erick Lindgren and Scott Fischman each had around $90k. Max Pescatori, Joe Cassidy, David Plastik and Men “The Master” Nguyen sat in very good shape in the $45k-60k range. Mike Matusow ($27k) would need to have no slip-ups, and for Terrence Chan and J.J. Liu ($12k), they would have to make something happen in a hurry.
The day was set early by a hand between Chan and Men the Master. Chan had built his short stack up to $38k and pushed with pocket eights. Men the Master called and flipped over nines, a dominating hand until the flopped. Chan doubled up and Nguyen was out in 63rd ($7,418). Some familiar names and faces held the chip lead. Corey Cheresnick, a 5th place finisher in the 2005 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars tourney, grabbed the chip lead only to be overtaken by Mike “The Mouth” Matusow with close to $200k. Anthony Reategui knocked out two players with 7-3o to be the first player over $300k. Lindgren made it long into the tournament but couldn’t get rolling, knocked out by Chan (22nd, $19,286). Melissa Hayden (14th, $41,538) and Sarah Bilney (12th, $50,439) made it to two tables but were out before the night was over. Pescatori knocked out William Lin (10th, $59,340); his pocket tens chased down by the Italian’s A-Qo.
Early play at the final table can be characterized by two things: Anthony Reategui and the all-in move. Reategui entered the final table with almost a million in chips, with Terrence Chan in second holding roughly half that amount. In the pots Reategui wasn’t grabbing with his monster stack, the all-in move was sending folks scurrying. Matt Heintschel came over the top of Reategui once early, who then folded only to see Heintschel show his kings. Michael Scott next shoved twice, with Matusow reluctantly folding the second time. Heinstschel again came over the top of Reategui, who this time called with . Heinstschel led the table in laughter when he turned over but was horrified when the flop . The hit on the turn, and Heintschel’s day ended (9th, $66,758). Reategui continued to use his chip stack to perfection. He came over the top of a Matusow raise, and Mike the Mouth had to lay down the hand.
Chan next raised preflop, and Justin Pechie must have been hypnotized by the all-in moves as he too shoved all his chips into the middle. Chan called with and totally dominated Pechie’s . Could there be a more brutal thing in poker to see than a flop like this one: ? Terrence Chan is a good enough player not to let this flop cripple him for years to come, but it was a tough pill to swallow. Chan was out a few hands later (8th, $74,175), the room still buzzing. (NOTE: See our PokerWorks interview with Terrence Chan leading into the World Series ).
Pechie would next use these chips with devastating effect. Matusow ran through a series of pots, then raised pre-flop and was called by Pechie. The flop came , and Pechie led out with a bet of half the pot. Matusow moved in and was quickly called by Pechie, whose 10h-9h had trapped Matusow’s . The turned helped Matusow, bringing the queens into his list of outs. The ended this day for Matusow (7th, $89,010). Reategui knocked out Tri Ma (6th, $103,845), his pocket aces holding up against Ma’s . Down to his last $100k a few hands later with blinds at $8k/16k, Michael Scott moved all-in and was called by Pescatori and Pechie. The flop brought and both players checked, but Pechie fired out another $100k after the hit on the turn. Pescatori mucked, and saw Pechie turn over two black jacks to Scott’s . Scott was gone unless an ace hit, and it did, bringing Scott a nice lifeline and a triple-up to boot.
Cheresnick moved all-in soon after, re-raising Reategui’s $42k raise for another $150k. Reategui called and turned over . Cheresnick was delighted and turned over , but Reategui turned a straight to the jack, and Cheresnick left in 5th ($118,680). Reategui now had $1.6M in chips, more than the other three players combined. Pescatori sat at $300k as the short stack, not desperate with blinds at $8k/16k but clearly the vulnerable man at the table. Scott must have felt the pressure, as he moved in on Reategui’s initial $63k for another $300k or so more. Scott’s didn’t connect against Reategui’s -5 [h] and he was out (4th, $148,350). Reategui had a whopping $2.3mil in chips to Pechie’s $630k and Pescatori’s $295k. Many times, you’d see players biding their time trying to make sure they got second place money. This was not one of those times.
Reategui and Pechie tangled in a big pot, with Pechie coming over the top of Reategui’s turn raise. Reategui mucked the hand. Next, Pechie and Pescatori mixed it up in what was a remarkable play. Pechie bet $23k on a board of , and Pescatori called. The river brought the and a $62k bet by Pechie. Pescatori deliberated for several minutes, as he would be severely hurt if he called and was behind. Finally, Pescatori called and flipped over his cards first: for nothing but king high. Pechie incredibly sent his cards into the muck, and Pescatori stacked every chip with pride. Pechie next doubled through Reategui and took the chip lead, only to have Reategui drag a monster pot to take it back in a battle of kickers with trip kings. Pescatori finally moved in for his last $194k and both of his adversaries called. Thinking he was heads-up, Pescatori turned over A-8o. An ace hit the board, everyone checked it down, and Pescatori had tripled up.
Another wild hand got heads-up action. Pechie moved all-in and Pescatori called . The flop kept Pescatori in the lead, set over set, and the changed nothing. The made it prettier but bitter for Pechie nonetheless, out in 3rd ($206,207). Pescatori moved up to $875k, still very distant from Reategui’s $2.34M. Or very close, if Pescatori doubled up, which he did immediately by turning a flush. He took more chips with a four-card flush on the board - holding a five. Pescatori used the momentum which had clearly shifted to him, moving over the top of Reategui’s river bets twice to force lay downs. The final hand was a fitting conclusion to this tourney. They got all their chips in the middle on a flop. Reategui had to feel good with his to Pescatori’s . The red king was inconsequential on the turn, but the made Pescatori’s gut shot. Anthony Reategui didn’t win his second bracelet (2nd, $356,040). No, this day belonged to a native of Milan on a day that was all things Italy. Italia, World Cup Champions, and Max Pescatori, World Series of Poker Champion ($682,389). Ciao for now!