Two days ago, 766 players started the $1,000 NLHE rebuy tournament. These players put in a total of 2,257 rebuys and add ons, creating a prize pool of almost 2.9 million dollars. The final table was filled with a slew of young Internet professionals and one well known pro in Michael Binger. The seating assignments and chip counts for the final nine were as follows:
Seat 1: Michael Banducci (Traverse City, Michigan) 1,655,000
Seat 2: Jonathan Aguiar (Las Vegas, Nevada) 361,000
Seat 3: Michael Binger (Las Vegas, Nevada) 186,000
Seat 4: Steve Gross (Marlboro, New Jersey) 112,000
Seat 5: Jamie Rosen (Boca Raton, Florida) 475,000
Seat 6: Jeff Williams (Dunwoody, Georgia) 683,000
Seat 7: Alan Jaffray (Silver Springs, Nevada) 1,222,000
Seat 8: Peter Gould (London, United Kingdom) 702,000
Seat 9: Lyric Duveyoung (Fairfield, Iowa) 659,000
It only took five hands for the fireworks to kick off. Steve Gross came in as a short stack and when he looked down at he decided to go with it and pushed in his last 104K. Jamie Rosen moved all in over the top of Gross to isolate the short stack with . Jeff Williams asked for a count of Rosen's stack and after a moment of contemplation decided this wasn't the spot he wanted and folded.
Lyric Duveyoung, however, decided this was a spot he wanted and he moved all in as well. Duveyoung had pocket queens and had both the shorter stacks covered. The flop came 10-9-3 giving Gross a little more hope. The turn was a 9. Gross needed a king or 10 to stay alive, and Rosen could only win with an ace. None of those cards came and Duveyoung took out two players in one hand. Steve Gross finished in 9th place winning $57,881 and Jamie Rosen took 8th which paid him $79,587 for his work.
A few hands later, the short stacked Michael Binger moved all in first to act from the small blind for 156K. Jeff Williams in the big blind decided to make the call with K-8 off suit. Binger had A-J and was ahead, but not for long as a king came right off the deck on the flop. No cards arrived to save the day for Binger and he was our 7th place finisher. The former 3rd place finisher in the Main Event won $101,293 for his efforts.
Now the shortest stack belonged to young Jonathan Aguiar who was being rooted on by fellow Internet professionals Shaun Deeb and Vivek Rajkumar. In a blind versus blind confrontation with Michael Banducci, Aguiar bet 30K on a 9-7-2 flop and was called by Banducci. Both players checked the queen on the turn. The river was a jack and Banducci checked again. Aguiar bet 80K and Banducci decided to put Aguiar to the test and moved all in. Aguiar made the call and doubled up to 800K.Banducci showed 7-4 for flopped middle pair but he had let Aguiar catch up with him as his J-3 hit 2nd pair on the river.
The action for the next several hours consisted of raises and re-raises that usually took down the pot pre-flop. Alan Jaffray had come in 2nd in chips but had found himself whittled down to just over 300K when he decided to make a stand with A-9 of diamonds. He was called by Jeff Williams and his pocket fours. Jaffray hit a flush draw on the flop but it would be the ace on the turn that would double him up.
Ten hands later, Jaffray was at it again. This time he completed from the small blind and Peter Gould raised from the big blind. Jaffray moved all in with Q-J of clubs and Gould insta-called with A-K. The flop came 7-7-2 with two clubs giving Jaffray some additional outs. The turn was a red 6 and Jaffray needed either a club, queen, or jack on the river or he would be our 6th place finisher. The dealer gave him just what he needed with a club on the river and all of a sudden Jaffray had gone from 300K to 1.1 million.
Gould would get those chips back and then some when he moved all in over the top of Jonathan Aguiar's opening raise. It was a huge over bet and Aguiar wasted no time in calling with A-K. It was a classic race as Gould had pocket 5's. The flop came J-7-7 giving Aguiar additional outs to the victory. The 5 on the turn, however, left him drawing dead and put Gould up to 1.2 million in chips. Aguiar was down to 113K and moved all in the very next hand with A-7 of clubs and was called by Jeff Williams and Peter Gould. The two checked it down to the river when Williams bet 30K on the 10-8-5-8-J board. Gould folded, Williams showed K-J which was good enough to knock out Aguiar in 6th place. Aguiar won $130,234, not a bad return on an investment for a $1,000 rebuy tournament.
Our next elimination took place when the two chip leaders at the beginning of the day went to war with one another. Michael Banducci opened for 80K and Alan Jaffray re-raised from the small blind to 220K. Banducci didn't think too long before moving all in and Jaffray was even quicker in his call. Jaffray had but when Banducci turned over his hand he found he was drawing thin as Banducci had pocket queens. A queen on the flop meant Jaffray's only hope was running spades but the board paired on the turn giving Banducci an unbeatable hand and returning him to a commanding chip lead. Jaffray finished in 5th place winning $164,963.
Lyric Duveyoung started the final table off by knocking out two players and vaulting himself onto the top of the leaderboard. He could never get anything going after that and found himself down to 600K when Peter Gould raised to 155K from the button. Probably thinking Gould was on a steal, Lyric moved all in with Q-J. Gould contemplated folding but in the end decided to call with K-10. The flop came 10 high, giving Gould a firm grip on the hand that was only strengthened when a king came on the turn. However, Lyric now had an open ended straight draw and any ace or 9 would keep him alive. No such luck for Lyric and he finished in 4th place winning $201,139.
Gould continued his momentum a few hands later doubling up through Jeff Williams when he decided to gamble with his new favorite hand K-10. Williams made the tough call with A-Q but once again a 10 flopped for Gould and he dealt a devastating blow to the former EPT event winner. What the Gould man taketh, the Gould man giveth back as four hands later the two decided to race. Gould had A-J, Williams pocket 3's. The 3's held and Williams doubled up to 1.5 million, Gould dropped to 1.7 million, and Banducci retained the chip lead with 2.6 million.
Jeff Williams refused to die and once again his victim was Gould. This time the two put all their chips in pre-flop with Gould having the upper hand with A-10 against Williams' A-9. A nine on the flop gave Williams the improbable double up and the two players switched chip positions with Gould now becoming the short stack.
Even though Michael Banducci had been avoiding the big pots, he continued to pick up small pot after small pot. At one time Banducci won 7 out of 13 hands and had built his chip stack to over 3.5 million. Then it was Gould's turn as he would win 5 of the next 6 hands. Williams in the meantime hadn't won a hand in eternity and had now fallen behind Gould. But hey, if you can win a million chips in one hand it doesn't matter how many small pots you lose. That is exactly what Williams did again, crippling Gould to the verge of elimination when the two raced yet again. This time Williams had A-9 and Gould had 5's and this time it was Williams who would hit his card... in fact two of them... as two 9's hit the board.
You're probably thinking that Williams and Banducci started their heads up match soon after this hand. You would be wrong as yet again Gould and Williams tangled (I can only imagine that Banducci was sitting there thinking to himself “man these guys like to battle” and probably thinking at the same time “would one of you guys go out”). This time Williams had K-4 of spades and Gould again had 5's. The small pair was better for Gould this time and he doubled up to nearly one million in chips and it was for about the tenth time tonight, a whole new ballgame.
It takes a little... sometimes a lot... of luck to win a poker tournament. Michael Banducci had his when he came over the top of Gould's re-raise and found himself dominated. Gould had pocket 10's while Banducci had 7's. A seven on the flop sent Banducci's cheering section into a frenzy and left Gould wondering what could have been. Peter Gould finished in 3rd place winning $245,993.
Heads up play started with Banducci having a crushing lead on Williams, 5.2 to 1.3 million. No limit can change things in a hurry though and Williams would only need two double ups to reverse the situation.
After exchanging blows for 10-15 hands, Jeff Williams opened the pot to 130K. Banducci made it 400 total to go. Williams moved all in and Banducci made the call with A-J and found he was way ahead of Williams' A-5. The board came J-2-K-10-3 and the tournament was over. Jeff Williams finished in 2nd place winning $406,330.
Michael Banducci had cashed numerous times in the past two years at the World Series and had come as close as 5th place. These opportunities don't come every day and Banducci made the most of his chance today. Coming in as the chipleader, Banducci overcame a tough start to persevere and win his first bracelet and $636,736. Congratulation Michael!