It was the start of a week of several $1500 NLE events to add to the two that already took place earlier in the 2008 WSOP, and 2,304 players showed up on a Tuesday to partake in the madness. Day 1 was exactly that when only 166 players survived the first nine levels to make Day 2.
The second day wasn’t particularly excruciating or long – less then the 12-hour standard, and with the last elimination of Ken Hughes in 10th place, the final table was set as follows:
Jose Luis Velador
Play at the final table began slowly, as all of the players seemed to be a bit in awe of the ESPN360 lights and cameras. But things sped up after a certain level of comfort set in, and the action got moving a bit.
Dean Bui started using the no-limit part of the NLHE game by pushing all-in with his short stack against Dany Georges. Bui’s pocket Jacks held up against his opponent’s A-8, and he doubled through to stay alive.
A few hands later, Justin Hoffman had slipped down below 100K and pushed for the last of them. Dean Bui called with , and Hoffman showed . The board came A-10-7-4-5 with only one heart, and it was all over for Hoffman, who exited in 9th place with $53,464.
The next elimination came rather quickly. Luis Velador raised, Utsab Saha reraised from the big blind, and Velador came over the top. Saha finally took the hint and moved all-in, and Velador called. Velador shoed , and Saha had . The dealer put out , and the pocket pair held up. Saha was forced to settle for 8th place and $77,051.
After 40 hands, Velador was the massive chip leader with nearly 3.5 million chips. The closest on the leader board was Dardon with 858K, and everyone else fell short of that. It was going to be difficult for anyone to catch up, but the name of the game is no-limit, so anything was possible.
Finally, it was struggling Dany Georges who moved all-in pre-flop for 488K, and Dean Bui called with pocket 6’s. Georges showed A-J of hearts. The flop was K-10-3-Q-3 with only one heart, and the pocket pair held up again. Georges left in 7th place with $100,638.
Even with Dean Bui’s victory on the last hand, it wasn’t long before he was in the hot seat. He began by limping in the small blind, but Velador raised it up, and Bui called. Upon seeing K-10-7 on the flop, Velador bet, and Bui check-called. The turn of a 4 prompted both to check, but the river of a 9 brought a strong bet from Bui, an all-in raise from Velador, and the all-in call from Bui. Velador turned over pocket Kings for top set, and Bui showed the losing pocket 10’s. Bui was then gone in 6th place for $132,088.
Shane Stacey was another shorter stack who started a hand with a raise, and Osmin Dardon merely called from the big blind. The flop of brought a bet from Stacey. Dardon moved all-in with , and Stacey called with and was covered. The turn and river were and , and Dardon ended up with the straight. Stacey was eliminated in 5th place with $166,682.
Jae Chung took a rough hit when Anthony Signore doubled through him. Less than ten hands later, he committed himself. After Dardon opened for a raise and Velador called, Chung moved all-in for his last 280K. Both other players called and checked down the board as it came K-J-2-J-4. Velador and Dardon both showed K-10 to chop, and Chung mucked. He was gone in 4th place with $204,422.
Three-handed action began with Velador still the clear leader, and Dardon and Signore very close together with a little over 1 million each. On the 103rd hand of the night, Velador began with a raise, Dardon continued with a reraise, and Velador raised all-in. Dardon immediately called all-in with , and Velador showed . The cards were dealt , and the Queens held up. Dardon took a third place cash of $243,734.
At the start of heads-up, the chip counts were as follows:
Only a few hands in, Signore managed a double-up with A-9 versus the pocket 7’s of Velador when the board brought three Kings on the flop and an Ace on the turn. But Velador soon took a 2.6 million pot from Signore to regain his dominance in the match.
Finally, on the 148th hand of the night, Signore moved all-in with , and Velador called with . The board came , and Signore finished in 2nd place for $366,387.
Luis Velador won the tournament and gladly accepted the WSOP gold bracelet and the $573,374 first prize money. Congratulations, Luis!