6-max NLH is one of the most popular games in online poker. The champion of the $1.5k Short-Handed NLH Event #12 is neither a regular of the game nor a prolific tournament player. Thrown a huge lifeline heads-up, Jason Warner road to the WSOP bracelet.
1,427 players started in this 6-max tourney. That's 238 tables for those of you counting. It was a firehose of departures followed by what had to be the longest cash bubble in the history of the World Series. Exactly 1,300 players left the Amazon Room in seven hours, leaving 127 to shoot for 126 places in the money. They played for 2 ½ hours to burst the cash bubble, an incredibly tense and rugged time to be playing five- and six-handed. Oleg Potseluev finally went out around midnight, putting his last 700 chips into the pot only to be checked down by three callers.
Those who earned their WSOP cashes included Michael "hoyazo" Sandler (107th $2,435), Robert Williamson III (67th $3,214), "Miami" John Cernuto (44th $4,472), Erik Seidel (40th $5,884), and John Esposito (23rd $11,882). JC Tran was an action junkie throughout the event, and he ran tables over for long stretches of the event. His train finally ran off the track, out in 15th ($14,804). Joe Awada was the last known face out (8th $46,749), and with departure of William Vosti (7th $46,749), the final table was set.
The sextet took their seats behind the drapes of the set for the webcast. The black ring of fabric extended ten feet above the ground, and players who had been locked in closets by evil stepmothers were at a decided disadvantage as their claustrophobia kicked in.
Jason Warner (945k)
David Zeitlin (899k)
Brian Miller (831k)
David Mitchell-Lolis (736k)
Steve Olek (484k)
Matt Brady (381k)
Blinds started at 15k/30k with a 4k ante, and it seemed more like a 6-max Turbo SNG than the Final Table at the World Series of Poker. Jason Warner moved further stretched his chip lead as he knocked out Brian Miller (6th $61,357) and Matt Brady (5th $92,523). Warner almost had his third scalp, but Steve Olek made a terrific laydown. On a board of 7-J-4-10, Warner bet enough to put Olek all-in. Warner held 8-9 for the straight that he hit on the turn, and Olek took several minutes before getting out of the pot. It was the first big controversy of the webcast as competitors of Warner theoretically could know his hole cards an hour later. With four anonymous players, there wasn't any ruckus. Put Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi as the last four players of this event, and players surely would have been up in arms about the delayed intelligence.
Olek was left with 195k but doubled up several times to quickly build his stack to 1.38m second only to Warner's 1.62m. In a huge hand, David Mitchell-Lolis (), David Zeitlin () and Steve Olek () see a flop of . Mitchell-Lolis bet his flopped straight, then Zeitlin moved all-in with his two pair. Olek thought long and hard, wondering where he stood. He folded and Mitchell-Lolis called. The on the turn powered the pot to Zeitlin with his full house, a massive pot headed to him along with his survival.
Blinds moved up to 30k/60k with a 5k ante. Zeitlin now held the chip lead (2.08m), followed by Warner (1.67m), Steve Olek (900k), and David Mitchell-Lolis (100k). They made a four-way deal then played for the bracelet, and there the fireworks really started. Mitchell-Lolis doubled through twice to stay alive, but it wasn't enough to prevent him from leaving in 4th ($123,689). Olek doubled through Warner when Warner called with pocket sevens on a board. Olek held , and Warner was headed south. He made a play with K-8o vs Zeitlin's A-K but spiked an eight to survive. Zeitlin then outkicked Olek (A-10 vs K-10, and Steve Olek was through (3rd $186,020).
Heads-up, Warner was down to two outs when he moved all-in with pocket fives to Zeitlin's pocket sevens. A five on the flop brought him the pot and with that the chip lead. Somehow Zeitlin survived when he slow-played pocket aces then didn't go bust on a board of 6-Q-10-6-4 as Warner held 6-7 for trips. It ended in exciting fashion.
Zeitlin moved all-in for his last 600k with , and Warner called with . did nothing for Zeitlin, but swung the door to his direction. sent the bracelet to Jason Warner (1st $481,698) and gave Zeitlin a well-earned consolation prize (2nd $269,778).
"I've only played small tournaments before," said Warner as he watched the webcast Sunday. "I played in the $2k NLH event but didn't make it through the first day. I had a huge pot early where I called two all-in's with pocket jacks. The other guys had aces and kings, but I hit a jack to build my stack."
He heads back to work this week. "I'm going back home, but I may return later in the World Series." If he can get time off from work, it might be wise.