Maybe some of the young guns of poker are a flash in the pan, a bright star exploding on the scene only to collapse when cards run dry or their game gets figured out. It looks like the youngest winner of a World Series bracelet, Jeff Madsen, is now the youngest holder of two bracelets. Who knows how many bracelets he’d have if you could enter at 18 years of age.
Five hundred-seven players started Day 1 with lots of room at the table, four seats light provides plenty of room to spread your wings. The short-handed tournament plays right to the strength of players spending their time online at 6-max tables, as well as those playing higher limits where play digresses to short handed late in the night. With $5k in chips and blinds at $25/50, players would have plenty of time to chart their course. Some left quickly, Andy Black out in the first level against Josh Arieh. Phil Hellmuth
made his customary entrance ninety minutes late after running some errands. The blinds had eaten $1.5k out of his stack, but it was a small price to pay for his dry cleaning safely picked up. In an incredible bit of misfortune, Jeff Madsen bet $600 after the flop of , from the small blind, and the victim raised to $1.5k. Madsen had him covered and pushed all-in and was immediately called. The victim had pocket 4’s, with Madsen dominated holding . The followed, giving Madsen an all-time suck out and $13k in chips early in this tourney. By the end of Day 1, those left were well in the money with the top 54 cashing. Phil Hellmuth led the charge of those cashing but not lasting to see Day 2. Others included Bill Gazes, Jennifer Tilly, Joe Tehan, and Sam Grizzle.
Day 2 started with six tables of six, with only one table left at the end of the day. Captain Tom Franklin sat on $237k. Vanessa Rousso immediately doubled up to $85k, while Marco Traniello failed to do so early, out in 26th ($11,319). John Juanda, always dangerous, became someone to fear as he doubled through Marty Wilson. Madsen quickly showed he respected but couldn’t be intimidated by Juanda as he raised Juanda’s bet of $29k to $69k. The board read , Juanda folded, and Madsen flipped over his pocket fives as he stacked the new chips. Robert Williamson III followed Kenna James
out the door, (21st & 22nd, $11,319 each). It took two hours to get down from six to three tables; it took another eight hours to get down to one table. Michael Banducci had snuck ahead of Franklin for the chip lead with $390k to Franklin’s $325k, with Paul Foltyan on the short stack with $55k. The other two short stacks left quickly, jacks being no good for Greg Merkow (18th, $15,489) against Cliff Cantor’s aces. For John Juanda, it was a much more bitter story. He got into a bidding war with Paul Wisicka. Juanda held pocket kings, so it was an easy call when Wisicka tried to push him off of the pot pre-flop. Wisicka turned over , but that was golden when the board eventually showed . Everyone marveled at the straight flush, but it was brutal to a day that could have been much more for Juanda (17th, $19,063).
Vanessa Rousso busted Peter Fischir (16th, $22,638), building her stack to $233k. Madsen went on a torrid run, catching A-K that held up, pocket aces, then the nerve to bet 10-9o with a 10-high board. He’d moved to the chip lead with $380k, and no one doubted this player’s game. Joe Awada had a roller coaster of an ending. He was down to $12k. He built it back up to $120k in just over 20 minutes, and then lost with pocket 5’s as Cliff Cantor caught an ace on the flop. Tom Franklin ended it this time for Awada (14th, $29,786), his over cards no good when Franklin hit a jack on the turn. Meanwhile, Madsen was unrelenting. He lost $100k only to continue putting pressure on his table. He caught Phillippe Boucher making a move with , Madsen’s superb after the flop of . Boucher exited at 13th ($33,361), and the remaining dozen redrew for their seat selection at the final two tables.
In a stunning hand, Vanessa Rousso raised to $26k with Erik Lindgren the caller. The flop came , and Lindgren checked. Rousso bet $35k, then after long deliberation Lindgren moved all-in. Rousso called so quickly that he instantly knew his read was way off. She turned over , a flopped straight so far ahead of Lindgren’s . The brought nothing, but the on the river chopped the pot, a huge disappointment for Rousso.
Jenny Kang made a great run, out in 9th to Paul Foltyn ($54,807). Foltyn played his short stack to perfection, patiently working his initial $50k to $240k with this hand. Madsen made an ultimately big mistake in a battle of the blinds, limping from the small blind with pocket kings and Cliff Cantor checking. They checked the flop of , but Cantor moved all-in after Madsen bet the turn card of . Cantor had for the flush, and the blank on the river doubled up Cantor. Cantor again doubled through Madsen, pocket jacks vs. Madsen’s pocket 9’s. Madsen would catch one more 9 to two more jacks for Cantor, just to keep it even more entertaining. Lindgren took another bite out of Rousso’s stack, his single king giving him quads when Rousso thought her paired small full house might be good holding on a board of . She won some back from Lindgren, but he crushed her in the end. She came over the top of him and he called with A-10 vs. her . The flop of A-A-10 reminded us of the Sam Farha flop to start the World Series Main Event last year. This time, it ended the hopes of Vanessa Rousso (8th, $61,955)
The evening was over with the final six determined but probably in the worst way it can end for a player. Jonathan Gaskell
and Cantor were all-in, with Gaskell barely having him covered. Each man turned over big slick, Gaskell’s vs. Cantor’s . It’s a familiar scene when two players show the same hand, a quick laugh even when a dangerous flop holds your interest. This one of made Cantor the one who was a little nervous. The got the room buzzing, now at his expense, and what a huge card the was - Cliff Cantor, out (7th, $69,104) - Jonathan Gaskell, chip leader with $727k in chips, with Madsen on the other end with $201k. Captain Tom Franklin and Erick Lindgren joined Paul Foltyon and Tony Woods as the six playing on Day 3.
Franklin got involved in a number of hands quickly, and his $365k in chips got down to $100k. He doubled through Gaskell to get out of immediate danger. He slid back in chips only to double through Gaskell a second time. The button moved around the table 10 times before the first player left, Paul Foltyon busted by Gaskell (6th, $83,402). By this time, a changing of the guard had occurred. Tony Woods had grabbed the chip lead with over $730k, with Lindgren and Gaskell around $540k while Franklin and Madsen each hovered around $350k. The lengthy final table now moved into a time of bigger chip motions as the blinds crept up to $10k/20k.
After another 20 hands, players started leaving like a dinner check was on the way. Lindgren cracked Gaskell’s pocket kings, an ace on the river sealing the fate for Jonathan Gaskell (5th, $119,145). Lindgren moved to over $1M in chips for the first time, but doubled up Franklin with a call on the river, Lindgren holding pocket jacks for a flopped set, Franklin holding for a rivered flush. Lindgren then turned his attention to Woods. He called the all-in of Woods, who held to Lindgren’s pocket jacks. The jacks held up, and Tony Woods was 4th ($150,123).
Madsen made up a $120k chip deficit on 2nd place Franklin with a couple of quick raised pots that led to folds, and then these two tangled for the last time. Madsen raised to $55k and Franklin called from the small blind. The flop came , and Franklin checked. This led Madsen to bet $75k, and Franklin moved all-in which led Madsen to call. Franklin had to be confused as he turned over his , and Madsen quickly showed him why he’d call with the . Franklin just watched as the hit the board, and Captain Tom Franklin was out (3rd, $214,461).
Lindgren sat at $1.6M to Madsen’s $920k, so everyone watching had to know that this could go either way. Lindgren might be a published author and big winner on the World Poker Tour, but Madsen was showing no one was as white hot as he. Madsen closed almost to even only to see Lindgren move back to a similar lead. Almost 50 hands into heads-up play, Madsen was all-in with pocket 8’s to Lindgren’s . The flop showed the Lindgren ahead for only the briefest moment until the entire flop was seen, . The brought more outs, but the doubled up Madsen to $1.7M. Madsen won six of the next eight hands to move to $2.2M, Lindgren down to $300k. Trip sixes on a scary board gave a chunk more to Madsen, a raise took more, and then finally a paired queen by Madsen finished it for Erick Lindgren (2nd, $357,435). He’s one of the best young players around, but he had to shake his head as he looked at Jeff Madsen (1st, $643,381). First World Series, three cashes with one 3rd place finish and two bracelets, and almost $1.4M in cash. Move over everybody—Jeff Madsen’s for real!