If ESPN got to pick after the fact what events they televised, the final table of the $5,000 WSOP Pot Limit Omaha event would have been high on their list. It had all the star power a poker fan could ask for including the #1 and #2 bracelet winners of all time in Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan. Throw in David Benyamine, John Juanda, Daniel Negreanu, Kirill Gerasimov, and internet sensation's Phil Galfond and Adam Hourani and you had all the makings of a thrilling final table. The seating assignments and chip counts heading into play were as follows:
Seat 1: John Juanda 694,000
Seat 2: Phil Hellmuth 119,000
Seat 3: David Benyamine 1,041,000
Seat 4: Kirill Gerasimov 558,000
Seat 5: Phil Galfond 1,393,000
Seat 6: Daniel Negreanu 460,000
Seat 7: Brian Rast 1,176,000
Seat 8: Adam Hourani 300,000
Seat 9: Johnny Chan 624,000
It didn't take long for the chips to start flying as Phil Hellmuth doubled up and Johnny Chan joined the club when he got it all in pre-flop with aces against Brian Rast's aces but hit trip two's with the tiny deuce in his hand to take a huge chunk of Rast's chips. Chan had Rast's number as he would take him out moments later. Rast flopped top pair, a flush draw, and a gutshot straight draw with his and had the lead over Chan who had on the J-4-3 two diamond flop. A diamond would give Chan the nut flush but it was the ace on the river that actually won the hand for him. Brian Rast finished in 9th place winning $84,863.
With Rast's elimination, Negreanu proclaimed, “I'm officially unstuck.” Negreanu had contributed $85,000 to the prize pool and was now guaranteed to make more than that.
Phil Hellmuth tried valiantly to battle back from a short stack and even hit a two outer with kings against aces to survive once. It was an uphill battle that he could not defeat though as he ran into the aces of David Benyamine and was unable to get lucky a 2nd time. Phil Hellmuth finished in 8th place winning $100,292.
The superstars kept falling when a short stacked Daniel Negreanu got the last of his chips in with K-K-J-5 against Phil Galfonds A-A-2-2. The flop was all hearts giving Galfond the nut flush but a king on the turn suddenly gave Negreanu a sliver of hope. The board didn't pair on the river though and Daniel Negreanu would be eliminated in 7th place. Another solid performance for the Las Vegas resident who won $123,437 for his play.
John Juanda decided to join his buddy on the rail when he got it all in with Johnny Chan on a 9-8-2 two spade flop. Chan had 10-9-8-2 for top two pair and Juanda had a monster draw with K-10-9-7 with two spades. The turn was a 7 giving Juanda additional outs. Any 6, 7, jack, king, or spade that didn't pair the board would give him the complete pot and he could split with a 10. The river would be a 2 though giving Chan a full house and knocking out Juanda in 6th place. For his three days of play, Juanda would receive $154,296.
With five players left, Chan and Galfond were each at two million apiece in chips and were distancing themselves from the rest of the field. In the span of two consecutive hands, Chan went from the penthouse to the outhouse. On the first hand, he doubled up David Benyamine when he got it all in with a straight against Benyamine's set and the board paired on the river to give Benyamine a full house. That knocked Chan down to 1.1 million. On the next hand, Chan placed a 525K bet on the river on a 10-9-7-J-5 rainbow board and folded when Galfond moved all in over the top of him despite the fact that Chan only had 300K left and there was over 1.5 million in chips in the middle. This hand vaulted Galfond over the 3 million mark in chips which was about half the chips in play.
After having his aces cracked by the K-10-9-3 of Adam Hourani, a short stacked Kirill Gerasimov was our next unlucky player to be knocked out. Galfond again did the honors and Kirill would finish in 5th place winning $192,870.
Johnny Chan came into the final table with high hopes of winning his 11th bracelet and tying his rival Phil Hellmuth for most bracelets won. At one point it looked like he was well on his way to doing that but two huge lost pots changed that and Chan was never able to recover. Ironically, it was David Benyamine, the player that had started Chan's downfall, that did the honors of knocking Chan out. Johnny Chan finished in 4th place winning $246,874.
As play began three handed, Phil Galfond had 3.1 million, Benyamine 2.2 million, and Hourani 1 million. Hourani would win a big pot against Benyamine to surge past him. Benyamine then picked up A-A-10-4 and raised pre-flop. Hourani called with A-Q-Q-10 and was delighted to see a flop of Q-J-9 and even more pleased to see Benyamine put the rest of his chips in the middle. Benyamine was unable to improve and he would finish in 3rd place winning $316,307.
When the final table started, it was six big name pro's and three not so well known (at least outside of the Internet poker community) Internet poker professionals. No one expected it would come down to two of the Internet kids but that is exactly what happened. Phil Galfond started the heads up match with a 3:2 chip advantage and over the course of over 100 hands would steadily grind down Hourani. Hourani would survive countless times but eventually his luck ran out and he would finish the tournament in 2nd place winning $493,748.
Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond came in as the chip leader and applied pressure from the moment the words “shuffle up and deal” were announced. Not intimidated by the big names that were staring him in the face, Galfond is a very deserving champion. For his superb win, Galfond will take home $817,791. Congratulations Phil on your win!