While the poker community waits for the WSOP main event final table participants to reconvene in Las Vegas in November, the second annual World Series of Poker Europe has arrived and launched its series of four tournaments in London. The Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square is the sole setting for all events this year, though other London Club International locations are hosting cash games and satellites.
Prior to the start of the first event, WSOP officials noted that pre-registration was ahead of last year’s numbers and the increase to four events seemed to have attracted more players. WSOP Director of Marketing Ty Stewart noted an “electric buzz” to the start of the WSOPE. And many of the world’s best players, including the 2007 WSOPE champion, Annette Obrestad , were in London and ready to begin the competition.
With that, Event #1, the £1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, got underway with the first of two starting days on September 19th. Day 1A saw 191 players from around the world descend upon the Casino at the Empire in London. In the beginning hours, several names were eliminated early, such as Max Pescatori, Phil Ivey, Mike McDonald, Thor Hansen, Layne Flack, Roland de Wolfe, and Chris Ferguson. In fact, eliminations were so fast in the making that the tournament staff agreed to stop play after only eight levels instead of the originally-planned ten.
When the cards and chips settled, only 42 of the original 191 remained, and none other than Daniel Negreanu was in the lead. With 74,900 chips, he sat atop the leaderboard with Jason Gray in a close second. The third spot was held by David La Ronde with 57,000, and Brandon Cantu, Willie Tann, and Yevgeniy Timoshenko were the immediate followers.
The second starting day found a slightly larger crowd of 219, bringing the grand total for Event #1 to 410 players. As is typical for an event with multiple starting days, many more notables were in the field on Day 1B, including Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, Howard Lederer, Allen Cunningham, Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, David Williams, David Ulliott, Jean-Robert Bellande, John Phan, and Annette Obrestad.
Early exits included Michael Craig and Jeff Madsen, both of whom brought their pocket queens into aces and were eliminated as such. Tilly also left early, along with Scott Montgomery and Erica Schoenberg. Obrestad joined them when her 9-8 of spades prompted her to move all-in on a K-Q-7-10 board with two spades showing against two opponents. The winner of the pot took it all with 10-7 when a blank hit on the river, and Obrestad was sent to the rail.
When it was said and done, only 46 players survived with young pro Adam Junglen in the lead with 84,200 chips. Daniel Nutt was nearly 10,000 chips behind in second, with Remy Biechel, James Akenhead, and Costas Artemi rounding out the top five. Notably, Phil Laak was in seventh place on the leaderboard when the day ended.
A total of 88 players returned to play Day 2, and of those, only nine would survive it to play the final table on the following day. Not long after the action began, names like Shaun Deeb, Marc Goodwin, and Isaac Haxton lost their battles. Michael Binger was eliminated when his pocket aces were cracked in four pieces by his opponent’s quad threes, and Phil Laak’s K-J couldn’t compete with the Aces of Sid Harris, which did hold up. Others who left the tournament before the money bubble were John Juanda and Erik Seidel.
Speaking of that money bubble, it was Pete Linton who went to the rail in 46th place with no ticket to the cashier window. Ben Grundy was the first money finisher in 45th place, which was good for £3,075, and Surinder Sunar followed. James Akenhead finished in 39th place, and Brandon Cantu was eliminated in 27th place.
In 24th place, Daniel Negreanu was the name next to the £4,305 payout amount when his pocket nines lost the race with the A-K of Christoph Bommes. The Day1A chipleader had fallen. And as the field thinned further, Michael Bepper was ousted in 19th place to make way for the remaining 18 players to be seated at two tables.
Willie Tann was first to go from that group, courtesy of Yevgeniy Timoshenko and his pocket queens. Tann could produce nothing better than Q-J, and the board didn’t produce the cards he needed. He was eliminated in 18th place with £5,535.
Matt Novak was the next to be at risk with only 12,000 in his stack. His K-5 was no good against the pocket threes of Jesper Hougaard on the Q-10-Q-8-A board, and Novak was gone in 17th place. Warren Woodall was also short, so his last 40,000 went into the pot next with J-7 in the small blind, and Linda Lee called with A-7. The board brought K-6-5-6-2, and 16th place belonged to Woodall. Both eliminations paid £5,535.
Jesper Hougaard was slowly but surely climbing the leaderboard when Andy Bloch attempted to interfere with an all-in reraise from the big blind. Hougaard called immediately with pocket queens, and Bloch showed . The brought hope in the form of a possible straight, and the on the turn gave Bloch flush possibilities, but the on the river sealed the deal and sent Bloch packing in 15th place with £7,072.
The 14th place finisher turned out to be John Kabbaj, when his K-9 couldn’t win the race against the pocket fours of Fuad Serhan. And Tim Pennington went up against the ultra-aggressive Adam Junglen. Pennington’s jacks lost the race against Junglen’s A-Q when an ace hit on the flop, and Pennington was relegated to the rail in 13th place. Both finishers received £7,072 for their finishes.
Joseph El-Shater was the next to leave the tournament area when his A-K met with the pocket queens of John Dwyer. With no improvement on the board, El-Shater was out in 12th place. Costas Artemi then pushed his short stack in from the small blind with K-9, only to be called by Junglen and his A-Q. The board brought a king on the flop for Artemi but it was followed by an ace for Junglen. The rest of the board bricked, and Artemi took 11th place. The two most recent finishers were awarded £8,610 for their deep runs.
It was down to the wire. One more player needed to be eliminated in order to get a glimpse of the final nine who would play for the £144,218 first prize. That tenth place finisher was finally found in Christoph Bommes, whose pocket Jacks looked good, but the race was on when Yevgeniy Timoshenko showed A-K. The board brought A-7-5-3-2, and the shorter stacked player lost the race. Bommes was eliminated in 10th place with £8,610 for the performance.
With that, the final table was set as follows:
Seat 1: Fuad Serhan 61,000
Seat 2: Daniel Nutt 207,000
Seat 3: Yevgeniy Timoshenko 345,000
Seat 4: John Dwyer 511,000
Seat 5: Ian Woodley 153,000
Seat 6: Jesper Hougaard 89,000
Seat 7: Linda Lee 121,000
Seat 8: Neil Channing 199,000
Seat 9: Adam Junglen 795,000
Junglen would enter Day 3 with a comfortable chip lead, but on the other end of the spectrum, Serhan and Hougaard would need some immediate action in order to play very long at the final table. But as is always the case in no-limit hold’em, anything could happen.
The final table would play down to the winner on Monday, September 22nd.
(Thanks to PokerNews for its detailed hand recounts and tournament action updates.)