A second 21-year old has won a World Series bracelet as noted online pro Ian Johns bested poker author Jerrod Ankenman in the $3k Limit Holdem event. The field was a small one with 341 players taking aim at an event victory. Two great players sat in the cash at the same table when Day 1 ended. Barry Greenstein still had his book, Ace on the River, sitting neatly under his chair, ready to give it to the player who busted him out. Juan Carlos Mortensen took a big pot late in the evening, catching a queen with to Greenstein’s big slick.
Thirty-five players started Day 2 in the money. Matt Matros had hung on for dear life at the end of Day 1, trying to catch something to move deeper. He came out late to the World Series as he stayed in Brooklyn to consume the World Cup. His departure on Day 2 was quick, out on the first hand (35th, $3,765). Scott Lazar, last year’s final table participant at the Main Event, lasted a few more hands after Matros (32nd, $3,765).
Marco Traniello had a terrific inaugural World Series last year, cashing in seven events and making his first final table. He left in 25th ($5,467), and his wife Jennifer Harman had to be a proud railbird. Traniello cut his teeth watching Jennifer in the biggest games, with players like Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Chip Reese, and Barry Greenstein. He and Greenstein could get together for an early dinner as the noted author busted in 21st ($5,467).
Ian Johns was the recipient of a freshly autographed book to take home. Sandwiched in between those players was California’s Nikki Harris. Harris had cashed in a of couple ladies events in the early 90’s. She couldn’t connect with big slick, knocked out by Mark Newhouse ’s pocket queens (24th, $5,467).
Mortensen survived a bit longer with his third top twenty finish this year. With such a small field that meant a small payout (17th, $7,529). John Noble moved all-in pre-flop for his last $4k in chips and doubled through Charlie Ng. He worked it up to $85k in chips within forty minutes only to watch it drain away. Ian Johns sent him on his way, calling Noble’s last few chips all-in with to Noble’s baby ace. Johns caught a flush draw and his seven on the flop, and Noble regally departed (11th, $11,294). The day ended when Tad Jurgens eliminated Joel Gunarsson. Jurgens didn’t need to flop a set with his pocket 8’s vs. Gunarsson’s pocket 4’s, but it didn’t hurt (10th, $11,294).
In one way, this event was a bit of an afterthought. The small field was not one of exclusivity, rather one of neglect. The nine players were after first prize of $291,755, which was only $5,755 more than the rake paid by the 143 H.O.R.S.E. entrants. Next year’s World Series will inevitably see less Limit Holdem events based on the small turnouts. None of the final table participants cared too much about any of that, as they were focused on an almost 100-fold increase from their buy-in and that coveted bracelet. Ian Johns entered the final table as chip leader. This 21-year old honed his game in the only place he could play, online. He started with a $50 deposit, scraped and clawed until he figured the game out, then became a top online pro. In second chip position was Jerrod Ankenman. The book he co-authored, The Mathematics of Poker, had taken an ownership transfer. Since his partner was William Chen, new owner of two WSOP bracelets, it has been much easier to simply name Chen as the single author. No one knew who this Ankenman was, no one except pros like Greg Raymer in the stands to cheer him on.
Fi Tran (9th, $18,823) and Ben “Kid Rock” Robinson (8th, $28,235) were the first two to leave. Mark Newhouse took a big pot from Ankenman and with it grabbed the chip lead. a had the craziest run of the day. He built his chips early into second chip position only to bust out with pocket pairs on consecutive hands (7th, $37,646). Ankenman continued his strong run, increasing his stack to $480k with a big pot off Javier Torresola. Theo Tran and Thad Jurgens survived all-in’s as players scrambled for position. In limit, once tourney chips are invested, it becomes tough to get away from many hands. Jurgens thought he might make a run, picking up kings in a hand with Torresola and a board of small cards. Jurgens got his chips in by the river, only to see Torresola’s pocket aces that meant curtains for Jurgens (6th, $47,058). Mark Newhouse lost the race of a thousand paper cuts. The one-time chip leader trended down from his peak, not losing monster pots as much as just not winning any pots. He was out in 5th ($56,470).
Theo Tran, short stacked, raised with pocket nines, called by the blinds of Johns and Torresola. On the flop , the two callers checked as did Tran. The , and this time Johns bet $16k and was called by Torresola. The action was to Tran, and with only $10k he decided to fold his nines. The river brought almost visible convulsions, for a rivered full house that was now in the muck. Johns grabbed the pot with for a flopped straight. Tran busted two hands later (4th, $65,881), and it will be tough for him to stop second guessing his under pair fold on the turn when he had so few chips in front of him. He played great throughout the day to get this far.
Johns sat at $530k in chips, with Torresola and Ankenman each looking at $240k. With limits of $10k/20k, anyone could catch a run to win or to leave. Torresola grabbed an early pot but was beaten down by a Broadway straight by Johns, the gapped providing the hidden poison. After Ankenman busted Torresola (3rd, $75,293), he had a $615k-420k chip advantage over Johns as heads-up play began.
The limits moved to $15k/30k, and Johns immediately moved the wrong way, down to his last $100k, he then went on an incredible rush for over twenty minutes as he was all-in and doubled up twice and then grabbed more and more chips. Ankenman called - his last chips in - after Johns bet a board of . In the end, it just didn’t add up to victory for Jerrod Ankenman (2nd, $150,586).
For Ian Johns, first prize of $291,755 could make a nice down payment on a local home in Las Vegas with his wife Mandy Twiggs-John. Since the State of Washington passed a law making online poker illegal on June 7th, Johns hasn’t played online. He may have more options now as a World Series bracelet owner.