Big brother Robert Mizrachi sits atop the poker world heading into the Main Event as he beat the very best players in poker to take down the $10k PLO World Championship. Doyle Brunson, shooting for his eleventh WSOP bracelet, finished in 6th place.
314 players put up $10k each for arguably the fourth most important poker tournament of the year after the WSOP Main Event, the WSOP $50k HORSE event, and the WPT $25k Championship. The biggest online games in poker are played at FullTilt Poker in PLO, where massive swings of $1,000,000 or more can go from one player to another over a month. It is a game played and dominated by top Europeans, a gut wrenching test of the macabre, where monster hands get sucked out with great regularity.
The cream definitely rose to the top. Even the last players eliminated were some of the greatest players in poker: Scotty Nguyen (15th $30,992), Andy Bloch (11th $33,943), and one of the hardest workers in all of poker, David Chiu (10th $33,943). The Final Table was a dream one for the WSOP:
1s Doyle Brunson (510k)
2s Patrik Antonius (650k)
3s Marco Traniello (420k)
4s René Mouritsen (775k)
5s Tommy Ly (1.90m)
6s Jonas Flug-Entin (445k)
7s Steve Sung (175k)
8s Stephen Ladowsky (360k)
9s Robert Mizrachi (1.09m)
It was Texas Dolly's party, make no mistake about it. To his left sat Patrik Antonius, as Robert Mizrachi described him after the event, "...one of the two best poker players alive today." Marco Traniello has more WSOP cashes over the last three years than any other player. Yet it was the elder statesmen of poker that was the center of attention, nestled next to the dealer in the 1s. This was no sentimental favorite like an aged Arnold Palmer waving farewell at the Masters. No, this was Jack Nicklaus at the '86 Masters, this time a lion waiting to pounce on his prey rather than a Golden Bear, with Doyle's mind and game as sharp as ever.
Steve Sung literally staggered to the final table. With blinds of 15k/30k, he had barely more than five times the big blind. He arrived on crutches,
hobbled by a badly sprained ankle in a basketball game. "We were ahead when he went down," said one of his friends. On the second hand, he wasn't ahead when he went down. He raised to 105k, and Traniello called from the small blind. came on the flop, Traniello bet 70k for all of Sung's chips, and he called with . Traniello showed for a set of queens, which held up to send Sung hobbling out in 9th ($50,177).
A seemingly inconsequential early hand showed how well some of these players knew each other. Mizrachi limped from the button, Brunson called in the small blind, Antonius then made it 120k from the big blind. Mizrachi called, but Brunson then potted to 480k. Mizrachi knew he was out, but he waited a minute until Antonius had mucked before shoving the pot to Brunson.
In a five-way pot that included Mouritsen, Mizrachi, Brunson, Antonius, and Flug-Entin, the flop came . Flug-Entin bet 135k from the big blind, and Mizrachi raised to 270k with everyone folding around him. Flug-Entin moved all-in with and was called by Mizrachi's . No flush draw for Flug-Entin, and he needed a lot of help with the weak kicker. ended his day in 8th ($69,363). As he was interviewed when he left, he said, "I think Robert Mizrachi is going to win. I've played with him for ten hours, and I think he's playing great. He'll be tough to beat."
Blinds moved up to 20k/40k, and play remained deliberate. Players preferred pot control, limping regularly instead of raising only to be put to the test if someone re-raised. Chipleader Tommy Ly played extremely tight, sitting on his chips and rarely entering pots except from the blinds. In another multi-limped pot that included Mouritsen, Mizrachi, Ly, and Ladowsky, the flop came . Ly and Ladowsky checked it to Mizrachi, who bet 95k. Mouritsen and Ly folded, then Ladowsky moved all-in. Mizrachi called quickly with for an overpair, and Ladowsky showed for an open-ended straight draw. It was the treys though that turned him into a leader when was dealt. The crowd erupted when came on the river, and Ladowsky was out in 7th ($92,975).
Chip counts six-handed:
Rene Mouritsen (1.6m)
Tommy Ly (1.4m)
Robert Mizrachi (1.4m)
Doyle Brunson (850k)
Marco Traniello (650k)
Patrik Antonius (350k)
Brunson had the chip lead in his grasp until a turn card against Antonius. Antonius raised UTG to 140k, and Brunson called from the big blind. came on the flop, and Brunson bet into it for 150k. Antonius thought for quite awhile before his all-in move, and Brunson called with for bottom two pair. It wasn't a monster, but it was the kind of hand that has made him literally millions over the years. Antonius showed for nothing other than a pair of nines and some wishful thinking. was a thunderbolt as Antonius jumped to the lead with his better two-pair. sent 830k to Antonius and with it survival.
Ly's chiplead had slipped to Mizrachi, and he sent another 650k over in a hand with Mizrachi. Ly potted the flop and turn with on the board, and Mizrachi stayed with him. came on the river, and he check/folded to Mizrachi's 500k value bet. He showed 8-6-5-4 for the full house as he stacked the 1.4m pot.
Chip counts after the pot:
Robert Mizrachi (2.51m)
Rene Mouritsen (1.35m)
Doyle Brunson (745k)
Tommy Ly (705k)
Patrik Antonius (580k)
Marco Traniello (435k)
Blinds moved to 30k/60k, and a one-two punch between Bobby's Room regulars sent one of them packing. Antonius raised to 210k UTG, and again Brunson called him from the big blind, almost as a matter of principle. brought a bet of 450k from Brunson, and Antonius raised the remaining 370k and was quickly called. The dealer took the cards and laid Brunson's to one side and the of Antonius to the other side. It was a very light shove by Brunson, but he's played a ton of hands with Antonius at the Bellagio. on the turn gave the flush and the chips to Antonius.
Brunson knew that only one of them could survive the hand, so he got all his chips in with Antonius on the next hand. His was ahead before the flop as Antonius flipped over . brought two pair to Antonius, and sent Texas Dolly to find his crutch to leave the Amazon Room. He was out in 6th ($123,967), and every player and railbird beamed and applauded as he left the room.
Rene Mouritsen stopped Robert Mizrachi's momentum finally as he got all of his 1.3m into the middle with . Mizrachi showed , and both knew the flop would be crucial. This wasn't NLH where two players with aces rarely do anything but chop the pot; this was PLO, where anything could happen.
Anything did as led to Mouritsen screaming as he saw his flopped straight but then grabbed his head as he saw Mizrachi's nut flush draw. brought the 2.69m to Mouritsen and the chip lead, and Mouritsen stared down Mizrachi as he stood over the mountain of chips.
Rene Mouritsen (2.69m)
Patrik Antonius (1.36m)
Robert Mizrachi (1.17m)
Tommy Ly (705k)
Marco Traniello (435k)
Traniello dropped down under 200k before doubling through Mizrachi. He then chopped a pot with Mouritsen.
Traniello got his last 120k after calling Mouritsen's 200k pre-flop raise on a , and his trip jacks looked good to double him up to close to a million in chips. came on the turn, then Ly yelled "Eight!" after hit the felt to chop the pot. Traniello flipped off Ly as he cursed him, and Ly double barreled him in return.
Mizrachi also slipped under 500k with Traniello and Ly, but doubled through Antonius in a hand that Patrik surely would like to replay. Antonius raised pre-flop, and Mizrachi called from the big blind to see . Mizrachi checked/called all-in as Antonius bet the pot with . Mizrachi showed for the flopped flush and bottom two pair that stayed good until the end.
As Ly tried to wait out Traniello, Traniello got involved in a three-way limped pot with Antonius and Mizrachi from the big blind. The flop came , and Mizrachi bet 85k as the other two called from their blinds. led to a 435k pot bet that Traniello called all-in after he checked. He showed for bottom set, and Mizrachi held the Broadway straight with . He needed the board to pair for the full house, but finished off Marco Traniello in 5th ($156,435). His wife Jennifer Harman wasn't there to see it as she played in another event.
Chip counts with four players:
Rene Mouritsen (2.5m)
Robert Mizrachi (1.85m)
Patrik Antonius (1.2m)
Tommy Ly (450k)
Ly had made a final table in a $1.5k PLO event won by Scott Clements. "He made a final table three weeks ago and came in third," said his wife. "We only play no-limit hold-em at hom, but he just saw the lights here and wanted to play again." They have two boys and a girl in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth near TPC Sugarloaf golf club. He hung in on a short stack for awhile but Mouritsen ended his day in 4th ($209,564).
Mouritsen was up to 2.77m with Mizrachi (2.2m) and Antonius (1.17m) in pursuit. Antonius doubled through Mizrachi on a sick hand. He raised to 280k and Mizrachi called from the big blind. The flop came , and both player checked as neither moved a muscle. brought a 200k bet from Antonius after Mizrachi checked. Mizrachi called, and came on the river. Mizrachi checked again, and Antonius sat for thirty seconds before moving all-in for his last 660k. Mizrachi looked at him, looked at his , and called. Antonius turned over was all he needed to show, and everyone gazed at the flopped royal flush that was paid off.
The key hand of three-handed play was a battle of the blinds between Antonius and Mizrachi. With Mizrachi at around 2.7m and Antonius at 1.9m, it was heads-up on the limped pot. The flop came . Mizrachi checked, Antonius bet 150k, and Mizrachi called. came on the river, and Antonius bet 400k after Mizrachi checked. Again, he called. paired the board, and Mizrachi potted for 1.3m. Antonius went into the tank, and he had a lot to think about. He had for the nut flush on the flop, but here was Mizrachi betting into him on the paired board. He went through all of the possible scenarios, everything he'd seen of Mizrachi, and he folded with his 970k in chips. Mizrachi showed for the worse flush as he stacked the pot.
"Patrik and I go back many years," Mizrachi said after the event was over. "He's truly one of the nicest guys in poker, and he is one of the two best players in the world. He's played much more PLO than I have, and I showed him the bluff to get him emotional. I never show cards and never show bluffs, but I wanted to get him to think about this hand while he played more hands."
Antonius hardly monkey-tilted as the three played twenty-seven more hands together, but Mizrachi kept both players down in chips. Mizrachi finished him off with to his of Antonius. Mizrachi rivered an unnecessary flush, and Patrik Antonius was out in 3rd ($311,394). Mizrachi was up to 4.69m, and Mouritsen had 1.71m.
Mizrachi got Mouritsen to the felt four times in the dozen hands they played heads-up. Three times Mouritsen took pots to survive, but the fourth time was a charm for Mizrachi. Mouritsen raised to 480k, and Mizrachi called. The flop came , and Mizrachi check-raised him all-in. He called with , a baby flush draw and top pair behind Mizrachi's set with . shipped the pot and the title to Robert Mizrachi (1st $768,889).
Rene Mouritsen's runner-up finish for $464,877 showed everyone that there just might be a new Great Dane in town. It was his second near miss in as many weeks, as he lost to Fred Goldberg in the $1.5k NLH/LH event.
The entire Mizrachi clan was ecstatic for Robert Mizrachi. "Michael is so good at NLH, so I figured I needed to learn other games," said the big brother. "I finished well in the HORSE events, but the Europeans are so strong in PLO. I wanted to represent America against these guys."
His victory in his third Final Table this year was truly against the very best poker had to offer. Tonight, Robert Mizrachi held his own and is the biggest story heading into the Main Event.