Ram Vaswani survived the limit hold-em ultra-marathon to take the $1.5k LH Shootout title. The SNG format meant Vaswani won three single-table tournaments to turn his $1,500 into $217,438.
Player have complained about the limit structures from the beginning, but this SNG tourney actually turned into an extremely time consuming endeavor. Mark Kolk was the last player to win his Round 1 Table at 8:55PM, then had to rush over to a new table as play started at 9:00PM. Blinds dropped from 1.0k/1.5k back down to 400k, and play again ground to a halt. By 1:30AM, top pros like Terrence Chan, Isabelle Mercier, and Bill Chen were reaching delirium as the fatigue of both time and the limit play had drained most players of their energy reserves. In fact, Harrah's decided to end play at 2:00AM with forty-seven players remaining.
Players came back to Day 2 refreshed, and many top names went to the very end before falling short of the Final Table. David Mosca bested Isabelle Mercier to make the Final Table, dashing the hopes of many to see her with another shot at a bracelet. On Table 5, Team PokerStars members Noah Boeken and William Chen came up short as Andy Ward made it through a late three-way battle to reach the Final Table. Ishak Noyan knocked out Victor Ramdin after a long heads-up battle to become the last player to reach the last eight. Those at the Final Table:
Anh Van Nguyen
Each player started with 300k.
Blinds started at 2k/4k with 4k/8k bets. With players so deep, it would be a long journey to lose even the first player. David Mosca was the first player to drop under 200k, but the first big hand that sent players heading in different directions came between Rayvenia Puckett and Ram Vaswani. With blinds up to 3k/6k, Puckett raised to 12k, Vaswani called, Sagstuen three-bet, Puckett made it 24k, and both players called. brought 6k from Puckett, and both players called. came on the turn, and Vaswani hung around as Sagstuen folded. brought a bet from Puckett but a raise from Vaswani. Puckett called and showed for a flopped set of kings. No good, and Vaswani turned over for the flush. The joys of limit were in full effect, where it is virtually impossible to protect big hands.
As the blinds moved to 4k/8k with 8k/16k bets, Baker had dropped to 130k and Vaswani was up to 505k with Mosca now up to 429k in second place. Puckett went from a comfortable 330k down to 110k in a blink of an eye, with her kings no good to Noyan's aces the big hand that sent 100k from her stack. Baker got down to the felt but tripled up to stay alive. He then lost a most of those chips as Vaswani again rivered a flush. That left Baker with just 15k, but it was enough to move up a spot.
Puckett got all her chips in against Anh Van Nguyen and Baker's last 15k. She came in third as Nguyen had a pair of jacks and Baker a pair of aces on the . Coming in third is no good when you're all-in, and Rayvenia Puckett was out in 8th ($9,582). Baker doubled up twice through Vaswani with a rivered straight and Mosca with a set of kings. He was up to 155k, but Sagstuen rivered a four-flush with . Andy Ward finished him off when Ward's bettered Baker's on the board. David Baker finished 7th ($12,776).
Blinds moved to 10k/15k with Vaswani holding the lead:
Ram Vaswani (580k)
David Mosca (495k)
Anh Van Nguyen (450k)
Sondre Sagstuen (310k)
Ishak Noyan (310k)
Andy Ward (255k)
As players became short-stacked, it was as if targets became visible on a player's chest. And sometimes, they became a bit light-headed as well.
Sondre Sagstuen lost a big pot to Andy Ward's pocket aces to get down to 165k, then he made a big move where he accidentally was in great shape to double up. He raised in the cutoff to 30k, and Ward called him in the big blind. flopped, and Ward check-raised Sagstuen 30k. He raised his last 5k and was called by Ward's . Sagstuen flipped over , suddenly a hand in very good shape. came on the turn, but hit on the river to send Sondre Sagstuen out in 6th ($19,656).
Ishak Noyan ran big slick into the J-8o of Ram Vaswani on a jack-high pot to lose half his stack. As the blinds moved to 10k/20k with 20k/40k bets, Vaswani took the rest of his chips. Noyan raised Vaswani's big blind, and again he called. flopped, and Vaswani check-raised Noyan. He went ahead and put another 15k into the pot, and Vaswani called with with top pair. Noyan showed for not much. He didn't catch anything and was out in 5th ($31,450).
With the chip lead, Vaswani was relentless, three-bet pre-flop at will. Aggression combined with catching big hands is a deadly combination, and David Mosca found that out. He raised UTG to 40k, and Vaswani three-bet from the button. The flop came , and Mosca check-called Vaswani's 20k bet. came on the turn, and again he check-called another 40k. came on the river, and Mosca looked him up. Vaswani showed two little red cards: for four four's. That's a good hand in a four-handed game. Vaswani finished him off a few hands later, and David Mosca was toast, out in 4th ($83,538).
Andy Ward had won some big, timely pots to have the chip lead at 1.35m, but Vaswani was closing in at 845k. Van Nguyen was now the shortie at 200k. Vaswani got tricky when Van Nguyen was down to 100k, limping from the small blind with pocket kings. Van Nguyen was only too happy to see a flop with from the big blind, flopped a five and turned a ten to double up. It was a short-lived reprieve. After the blinds moved to 15k/30k with 30k/60k bets, Vaswani again rivered a flush to knock out Anh Van Nguyen (3rd $83,538).
Andy Ward (above, courtesy of PokerNews) was at 1.42m, ahead of Ram Vaswani (975k) but well within his reach. Vaswani showed he would be ultra-aggressive heads-up. He raised twice on the button with 6-3, once turning trip three's then winning one of those gut-wrenching hands that can bring an opponent to his knees. Vaswani raised with , and Ward called. came on the flop, and Ward check-raised to 60k. Vaswani called, and came on the turn. Ward bet 60k, and Vaswani called. came on the river, and Ward bet
60k. Vaswani raised to 120k, and somehow Ward only called as he turned over for a flopped straight flush draw that became a straight on the river. Vaswani's seven-high straight was good, and he now held the chip lead.
Vaswani became even more aggressive, and Ward just couldn't do anything to slow him down. He kept folding on the river, which is a good way to go broke in heads-up limit hold-em. In fitting fashion, Ward three-bet pre-flop and Vaswani called. flopped, and Ward bet. Vaswani called, then brought another bet from Ward. Vaswani raised to 120k to put him all-in. Ward called with , but Vaswani showed for the nuts and the title.
It was the first WSOP cash for Andy Ward (2nd $124,816), and the Londoner had hit the big-time.Ram Vaswani is part of the Hendon Mob, honing his poker skills all over the world as well as on FullTilt Poker. He became the rage of the online world as he recounted the big six-figure losses to Phil Ivey in Australia. His $217,438 was the top cash since his 2004 runner-up finish to Harry Demetriou in the Victor Poker Cup in London. The other members of the Hendon Mob, Joe Beevers, Barney Boatman, and Ross Boatman, now need to win a bracelet to become part of the new Hendon Bracelet Mob. Ram Vaswani is the charter member of the new club.