The fourth $1,500 NLHE event of the 2008 WSOP began on a Thursday afternoon with an impressive 2,447 players. As is typical for this type of low buy-in event, the field mainly consisted of amateur and semi-pro players, with some recognizable pros thrown in for good measure.
By the end of Day 1, there were only 187 players remaining in the field. Yes, only 187. And as the second day turned into the second night and the next morning, the final nine players who would compete at the final table were determined. Their chip counts were as follows:
The first action of the final table made some think that this was going to be a fast and exciting day of play. Aaron Kanter took his short stack into the mix on the very first hand of the day against Cody Slaubaugh and doubled through.
A little more than a dozen hands later, John Shipley discovered that he would have to attempt a double-up as well. After an initial raise by Slaubaugh, Shipley shipped his chips all-in with , and Slaubaugh called with . The board brought , and Shipley was let go in 9th place with a prize of $56,782.
Owen Crowe hadn’t been able to get anything going in the first few rounds, so he started hand #20 by raising, which received a call from Danny Wong. After the flop of , Crowe bet, and Wong check-called. The turn of an brought another check from Wong, a sizable bet from Crowe, and an all-in push from Wong. Crowe called with for trips, and Wong showed for the flush draw. And Wong was not wrong, as a came on the river to give it to him. Crowe was beat down and out in 8th place for $81,833.
Rick Solis had been falling as well, and it was in a hand with Jesper Hougaard that he took a stand. Hougaard raised pre-flop, and Solis called to see a flop of . Both players checked, and the turn brought a that prompted Hougaard to bet. Solis kicked it up and raised all-in with , and Hougaard called with for the nut flush. A came on the river, and Solis was gone in 7th place with $106,884.
Justin Wald had experienced some tough beats at the final table. Earlier in the action, Doug Middleton doubled through Wald, and it happened again on hand #59. On the very next hand, Wald became involved in a limped pot with Hougaard and Wong. After the flop of , Wald bet out, and his two opponents called. The on the turn received nothing but checks, but the on the river prompted an all-in move from Wald that was called only by Wong. Wong showed two diamond cards for the flush, and Wald’s Q-J wasn’t good enough to beat it. He finished in 6th place with $140,286.
Only three hands later, Middleton was in trouble and moved all-in from the small blind for his last 412K in response to a Hougaard raise. After some deliberations, Hougaard called with , and Middleton showed . The board brought , and Middleton was out in 5th place for $177,028.
Play then slowed. And it slowed some more. There were a few double-ups, such as when Kanter doubled through Hougaard and again through Slaubaugh. Wong doubled through Hougaard, but Jesper wasn’t hurt badly by these actions. He continued to rake in the chips and take a dominant lead over the other players.
A total of 124 hands into play, Kanter raised pre-flop, and Wong moved all-in. Hougaard countered with his own all-in move, prompting Kanter to get out of the way. Wong showed , and Hougaard turned over . The flop came an unbelievable , and the inconsequential turn and river were . Wong was out in 4th place with $217,110.
A short time later, after another Hougaard raise, Kanter was the one who moved all-in for his last 755K. Hougaard called with , and Kanter showed . The board came , and Kanter took 3rd place and $258,862 in prize money.
Upon entering heads-up play, exact chip counts were not available, but reports showed that Hougaard held a nearly 7-1 chip lead over Slaubaugh. Though Slaubaugh made a running attempt at a comeback, Hougaard took the bigger pots.
On hand #166, Slaubaugh raised, Hougaard reraised, and it went back and forth until Hougaard pushed everything in. Slaubaugh was the short stack and called all-in with , and Hougaard showed . The board came , and it was over. Cody Slaubaugh took second place and $389,128 to ease the pain. Jesper Hougaard won the WSOP title, bracelet, and $610,304 in prize money. Congrats!