The $15k Doyle Brunson North America Final Table is in the books, and it was a wild 100 hands to determine a champion.
Daniel Negreanu came into the day as the chip leader with 4.67M, and he immediately took a nice pot off Mads Anderson in second chip position. Anderson played five of the first six hands, bleeding over a Mlion chips without a river card hitting the board. Negreanu looked to be in the kind of zone that he was in during the 2004 season, a combination of catching cards and outplaying his opponents that proved so lethal then yet had eluded him afterwards. He took a nice pot showing pocket aces during the second orbit then made a remarkable call to send the night's first player packing. Ed Jordan raised to 200k, then Anderson reraised to 625k from the cutoff. Negreanu raised on the button as did Jordan. The flop came , and the trio checked it around. The came on the turn, and Jordan moved all-in for his last 1.045M. Anderson folded, and Negreanu deliberated several minutes before making the call, turning over . Jordan showed on a pure bluff, and the gave Negreanu an unnecessary flush to send Ed Jordan home in 6th ($169,145).
Five hands later another player was lost. David Redlin and Joseph Hachem got in a raising war pre-flop until Redlin's entire 1.4M in chips was in the pot. Hachem called to show , and Redlin looked to be in very bad shape with his . The kept Hachem in the lead, but the audience gasped when the peeled off on the turn. Fans erupted when the dealer turned over on the river. The case queen brought a set to Hachem, and David Redlin stood in disbelief, out in 5th ($253,715). Negreanu held 9.0M in chips with the other three players holding the remaining 8.5M. Hachem steadily built his stack to close to 5.5M taking 1.0M from Anderson after knocking out Redlin. Jim Hanna entered the evening as the short stack but weathered the pressure and played deliberately, taking 800k from Hachem and 550k from Negreanu. Anderson regularly moved all-in during several hands, and ultimately Negreanu decided to pick him off with . Anderson held and flopped his queen for good measure to double up to 2.0M. Negreanu took half of that back on the next hand, his big slick catching a king on the turn with Anderson calling a 600k on the river. Folded around to Anderson on the next hand, he moved all-in and was called by Negreanu's . Anderson showed , and the flop of gave him the lead but brought a nut flush draw into play for Negreanu. The didn't improve either player, but the gave Negreanu his flush. Mads Anderson left in 4th ($380,630).
Hachem won five of the next six hands to close the gap with Negreanu, his 6.5M within striking distance of Negreanu's 8.1M and well above Hanna's 3.4M. The pendulum would swing mightily over the next hour. After a few small pots, Hanna tangled with the chip leader. On a flop of , Negreanu check-called Hanna's 350k bet. The came on the turn, and again Negreanu checked. This time, Hanna bet 500k, and Negreanu moved all-in. Hanna made the call, showing with top pair and a flush draw. Negreanu was drawing to a nine when he showed for the same pair of kings with a worse flush draw. The gave the 3.9M pot to Hanna. On the next hand, Negreanu bled more chips to Hanna. Negreanu bet 300k on a flop of only to see Hanna raise to 1.2M. Negreanu called, and the turn card led Hanna to move all-in. Negreanu folded as Hanna stacked more of his chips. Half a dozen hands later it happened again and then again. Negreanu raised to 400k from the button and Hanna called from the small blind. Both players checked the flop, then the brought a bet of 500k from Hanna. Negreanu called, and came on the river. Hanna bet 800k and Negreanu called. Hanna showed Q-J for the Broadway straight, and Negreanu flipped his cards into the muck. Next hand Hanna raised to 480k, Negreanu called, three face cards hit the board, Hanna bet 500k, and Negreanu folded.
Hanna had grabbed the chip lead with 7.78M to Hachem's 7.39M, while Negreanu counted his 2.34M as he gathered his wits. Kid Poker sees a lot of flops, so these types of swings are not foreign to him. Even a seasoned veteran like him had to be reeling a bit from all the body blows of the last hour, and losing two of the next three hands to Hanna didn't help matters. He let Hanna and Hachem tangle, and Hachem stopped the momentum Hanna had grabbed. Hachem flopped a set of deuces on a 10-high board, and Hanna bet into him the whole way, first check/calling 200k then betting 400k and 1.0M as more rags hit the board. Two hands later the pivotal hand of the Final Table occurred.
Hachem raised 450k from the button, and Negreanu moved all-in for another 1.125M from the small blind. Hanna looked at his hand, thought for awhile contemplating a call, and then mucked the hand. Hachem called and turned over to the of Negreanu. Hanna was overheard saying he'd mucked pocket 10's after seeing Negreanu's ten. The board of kept Hachem's pocket pair ahead, and Daniel Negreanu finished in 3rd ($592,000). He was the favorite when everyone sat down and looked like he'd take home another WPT title, but the bad run against Hanna ultimately sealed his fate.
Two players with the initials ‘J.H.' squared off for the title, one with a scant resume vs. another holding the most prized possession in poker, a WSOP Main Event bracelet. Hanna held a chip advantage, 9.5M to roughly 8.0M, but that really wasn't much of an edge for him. Chip Reese /Andy Bloch and Daniel Negreanu/Mike Sexton had been epic heads-up battles this summer, but this test lasted only nine hands. Hachem won three of the first five hands to even the chip counts, but the sixth hand turned the tide. Hachem raised to 450k and Hanna re-raised 900k. Hachem studied his cards and opponent and then made the call. The brought a 3.0M bet from Hanna. Hachem moved all-in, sending Hanna into the tank for several minutes. No clock was called, and we'll find out later if Hachem wanted a call or not. Hanna mucked, and Hachem had a commanding chip lead with 13.4M in chips to Hanna's 4.1M. Hanna took a million back on the next hand and then folded pre-flop to Hachem. On the button, Hanna raised it to 720k, and Hachem moved all-in. Hanna called with to Hachem's , and the flop of kept Hachem in the lead. The on the turn brought the suspense of a flush draw for Hanna, and the accompanying raucous shouts from the huge gallery. The crowd exploded when the ended the night. Jim Hanna was 33rd out of thirty-three players yesterday and was the short stack heading into the final table. That spot paid $42,285, but Hanna took home $1,099,430 tonight. He played his short stack masterfully for the final two days and had a million dollars to show for it.
Joseph Hachem cashed four times at this year's World Series, making the money in the Main Event while making two final tables including 2nd and $256,800 in the $2.5k Short Handed NLHE event. He is one of the seven players suing the World Poker Tour, although their website has had no updates since August. The rumor was that Hachem didn't sign the infamous WPT Release form. He'll always have a warm place in his heart now for the WPT, as he accepted his check for $2,182,075 and crystal from Doyle Brunson. Proudly wearing his trademark black shirt with the PokerStars.net logo, he said, "When I won the World Series, I wasn't this excited, and a lot of it has to do with validation." Hachem joins an elite group of Scotty Nguyen (ME 98, Tunica 06), Juan Carlos Mortensen (ME 01, Bellagio 04), and Doyle Brunson (ME 76 & 77, Bicycle 04) as the only WSOP Main Event Champions to take down a WPT title. For anyone with questions, that should be validation enough.