When the first event of the World Series of Poker Europe began on September 19th, there was much fanfare surrounding the second annual tournament series. But when the excitement subsided, there was poker to be played, and it was time to get down to business in the first of four bracelet events.
The Casino at the Empire in London’s Leicester Square was home to the tournament, as a total of 410 players entered the £1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event. After three days of play, and with the elimination of Christoph Bommes in 10th place, the final nine were set to return on September 22nd to play for the victory and the WSOPE bracelet.
The final nine players were seated with their respective chip counts as follows:
Seat 1: Fuad Serhan
61,000Seat 2: Daniel Nutt
207,000Seat 3: Yevgeniy Timoshenko 345,000Seat 4: John Dwyer
511,000Seat 5: Ian Woodley
153,000Seat 6: Jesper Hougaard
89,000Seat 7: Linda Lee
121,000Seat 8: Neil Channing
199,000Seat 9: Adam Junglen
With Jack Effel as the tournament director, the first final table of the 2008 WSOPE was prepared to begin, and none other than Doyle Brunson gave the “shuffle up and deal” command to commence play.
Though the action began with some trepidation, it didn’t take long for the chips to fly. As it happened, the players were not afraid to get all their chips in the middle and let the cards fall where they may. Jesper Hougaard took the first opportunity with pocket nines against the A-K of Adam Junglen, and the pair held up to allow Hougaard to double through the chipleader. Fuad Serhan was the next to double-up with pocket tens, courtesy of Yevgeniy Timoshenko and his pocket nines.
On the thirteenth hand of the day, one of those attempts didn’t work out so well. After an initial raise by Hougaard, Serhan and Daniel Nutt called, but Timoshenko reraised from the big blind. Hougaard and Serhan got out of the way, but Nutt shoved all-in with , and Timoshenko called with . The board came out , and Nutt’s hand did not improve, sending the Englishman away in 9th place with £13,222.
The next to go was Ian Woodley, who hadn’t had many opportunities to gather momentum at the table. With less than 75,000 left, he pushed with , and Hougaard made the call with . The dealer gave them , and with Hougaard’s full house on the turn, it was clearly over for Woodley, the second Englishman in a row, in 8th place for a £17,835 payday.
Linda Lee was the lone woman at the table and made a stand when she looked down at pocket eights in the small blind. John Dwyer called with J-7 of diamonds, and though a jack came on the flop, so did an eight, giving Lee the double-up. However, the excess chips would not be beneficial for long, as time and blinds deteriorated that stack. Down to only 40K, she moved all-in with , and Serhan called with . The board ran out , and Lee left in 7th place with £22,448.
The chipleader coming into the final table hit some roadblocks as the hands were dealt. Players were consistently doubling through Junglen, as did Hougaard, Serhan, and Neil Channing. Even Timoshenko took a significant pot from him when the A-K of hearts flushed on the board to crush Junglen’s pocket jacks. By the time the chips had been redistributed to other players, Junglen was left with only 74K and moved all-in with . But it was Dwyer who called with pocket fives, and the board came a dramatic . The ace on the flop looked good for Junglen to be on the receiving end of a double-up, but the five on the turn gave Dwyer trips and crushed those hopes. Junglen was eliminated in 6th place with £28,598.
More double-ups ensued. Serhan did it through Channing and Timoshenko, then Hougaard doubled through Timoshenko. But despite the number of times it went well for the short stacks, the odds dictated that those results would not always pan out.
So it was for John Dwyer, who pushed under the gun with pocket fives. Timoshenko had taken some hits recently but called this all-in with his pocket kings. The board was innocent enough with , and Dwyer was gone that quickly in 5th place with £36,285 for the trouble.
Channing hadn’t been able to recover sufficiently from his loss to Serhan a time ago, so when Hougaard moved all-in from the small blind, Channing called all-in - and covered - from the big blind with pocket eights. Hougaard tabled , and the board brought . The two pair on the board played, and Hougaard’s ace kicker won it. Channing was gone in 4th place with £44,588.
With three players remaining, the all-ins were frequent: Timoshenko doubled through Hougaard, Serhan through Hougaard, Hougaard through Timoshenko, Timoshenko through Hougaard, and Serhan through Timoshenko. It was no less than exciting for the audience to watch, as it continually changed the face of the final table and the arrangements of the chip stacks.
Finally, however, more than 150 hands into the final table action, when Timoshenko had been relegated to a 335,000 stack, one of those all-ins failed to work. Hougaard pushed with , and Timoshenko called all-in with pocket fours. The board gave Hougaard an ace on the flop as the board ran out , and Hougaard was guaranteed a spot in the heads-up match. Yevgeniy Timoshenko was eliminated in 3rd place with £55,350 for his efforts.
Heads-up play began with the following chip counts:
Jesper Hougaard 2,020,000Fuad Serhan
Five hands into the duel, it was decided. Serhan had been unable to find an opportunity to double-up until he looked down at A-K suited. He raised with that , Hougaard moved all-in with , and Serhan called. The board came down heavily in favor of Hougaard with . The flop in and of itself gave Hougaard the nut flush, and Serhan had to watch the turn and river come down, though they couldn’t help in any way.
Fuan Serhan, the local London retiree, was forced to settle for 2nd place, which was worth £89,175 as a consolation prize.
Jesper Hougaard won the first event of the 2008 World Series of Poker Europe (also known as Event #56 of the 2008 WSOP) and the £144,218 prize. The bracelet was awarded to him, and it wasn’t his first, as he won one at the 2008 WSOP in Las Vegas over the summer in a $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event along with more than $600,000. The 24-year old Danish poker pro became the first player to win a gold bracelet in the WSOP and the WSOPE in the same year, which will be a tough feat for anyone to beat.
(Thanks to PokerNews for its detailed hand recounts and tournament action updates.)