Francois Safieddine started as the short stack at the Final Table then battled his way to the chip lead. He out Phanned John Phan to take the $2.5k NLH event.
Mike Matusow had used his mouth liberally throughout Day 2. He screamed during Phil Hellmuth's Final Table, angry about the shrouded webcast table. He screamed about the temporary tent's air conditioning, which may have contributed to Eskimo Clark passing out at the table. He loudly proclaimed that he would never play behind the curtain at a Final Table, yet he had strong chips throughout Day 2. Devin Porter prevented Matusow putting Harrah's to the test, as his pocket kings bettered Matusow's pocket jacks (11th $21,435).
With Matthew Gilsdorf's departure (10th $21,435), the Final Table was set.
Lars Bonding (882k)
Devin Porter (819k)
Shawn Hattem (787k)
Marcus Obser (679k)
John Phan (445k)
Grospellier "ElkY" Bertrand (416k)
Alex Bolotin (382k)
Humberto Brenes (343k)
Francois Safieddine (302k)
In the first round of hands, both Phan and Safieddine doubled up at the expense of Hattem and Bertrand respectively. Hattem had more chips, but for Bertrand it was a critical blow. Grospellier raised to 75k and Safieddine called from the big blind. The flop came , and Safieddine moved all-in. Incredibly, Grospellier called with to Safieddine's . It was one of the more bizarre calls in the history of the World Series, and gave Safieddine the flush to send Grospellier to the short stack. He then shoved with , and Devin Porter called with . Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier was done (9th $29,124).
Alex Bolotin made a move with , and Marcus Obser moved all-in over the top with . Obser was always ahead throughout the board, and he caught an eight on the river to catch an unnecessary full house to defeat the smooth headed Alex Bolotin (8th $40,773).
This was the opposite of the Ladies Event as players repeatedly made moves at pots. Obser came over the top of Phan's raise to take his 100k raise. Then in a battle of the blinds, Devin Porter called from the small blind, then Phan raised to 100k. Porter had a monster stack and moved all-in on Phan. He called with , and Porter turned over . The flop of looked to end Phan's run, but brought the straight to Phan. He wasn't out of the woods, but doubled him up to 840k.
Brenes moved all-in for 350k after Porter's raise, and he called with pocket nines. Brenes showed . Rags were dealt out, and Humberto Brenes took his paraphernalia and went home (7th $55,918). Phan then got into a betting war with Lars Bonding. Phan held to Bonding's . kept the spectators on their feet, but gave Phan the full house to knock out Lars Bonding (6th $74,557).
By this time Safieddine was down to 100k and shoved with . Phan called with . A king on the flop doubled Safieddine up to 245k. He then doubled through Shawn Hattem. Hattem moved all-in and Safieddine called with , and Hattem showed . Safieddine stayed ahead and suddenly was up to 460k. Hattem was down to 55k and moved all-in. Porter, Safieddine, and Phan called and checked down until the second ace hit the river. Safieddine bet out with his ace and sent the shaken Shawn Hattem to the rail (5th $97,856).
This wasn't Poker 101. This was the graduate-level poker, the 7th level thinking, game theory, and higher math that makes most of our heads hurt.
Phan raised to 100k, and Safieddine called from the big blind. The flop came , and Safieddine check-raised all-in for his 385k in chips. Phan mucked, and the 900k pot went to Safieddine. These four battled hard, with all-in's, check-raises, three-bets. Chips were flying, and they played forty hands four handed, everyone grabbing the button ten times. By the end of this carousel, one-time chipleader Porter was all-in as Safieddine called with pocket sevens. He was ahead of Porter's , then a third seven hit the board. Devin Porter was gone (4th $139,794).
Safieddine held half the chips in play (2.5m) to Phan (1.36m) and Obser (1.2m). After twenty hands that brought them to the same place, Obser called from 60k from the small blind. Safieddine raised to 400k, and Obser decided to make a stand. The flop came , and Obser moved all-in for his last 750k. Safieddine called quickly with , and Obser showed . He hoped the ace missed his opponent, but it held up to take out Marcus Obser (3rd $212,021).
He now had 3.6m to Phan's 1.45m, and most people would still give Phan even money to take this heads-up battle down. It looked like he would as he chipped up early to even their stacks. Phan then raised to 300k, and Safieddine called. The flop came . Safieddine moved all-in, and Phan deliberated for several minutes. Safieddine called for the clock, and Phan folded just as time ran out. Safieddine showed 4-2 for middle pair and a gutshot.
"I wanted to put Phan off of his game," he said after they were done. "That's why I called the clock, to make him uncomfortable."
It seemed to work. He moved up to 3.9m vs. Phan's 1.15m. Safieddine felt he had Phan figured out, but it was the sickest of hands that shipped all the chips his way. He moved all-in from the button, and Phan looked at and called. Safieddine showed is , and it looked like they would be all square. brought the dealer down to the river. Just as Phan was ready to start stacking the pot, the hit the river. The two-outer sent John Phan out in 2nd ($330,846). It will be tough to put this one behind him.
Francois Safieddine is no flash in the pan (1st $521,785). This is his fourth six-figure cash in his career, and he's always been fearless in both poker and business. He is the owner and inspirational leader of Lotus Entertainment Group and has launched some of the hippest clubs in Denver. "Safieddine's first club, now closed, was the Purple Martini. Successful elements of the space - like a custom color palette and long, narrow spaces encouraging natural mingling - exist in many of his successive projects. Lotus/Karma (2005 Club World Award nominee for Best New Club) is the one-two punch of big nightclub, and bottle service lounge nestled snugly within. Blue 67 is a jazzy martini lounge, and Mynt recently underwent a remix to become a mojito bar, the feminine next door neighbor to the Group's newest: Monarck, another bold step forward in the Lotus Entertainment Group portfolio." (source: Club Systems International)
Tonight, he's the hippest player at the Rio as he took down Phan to take the WSOP bracelet.