The first pot-limit Omaha tournament of the series had addicted players all over the world chomping at the bit to get in on the action-packed game. When the tournament began on Monday, June 1, it attracted 809 players to the $1,500 buy-in event, which created a sizable $1,104,285 prize pool. Though there will be more PLO events as the 2009 World Series of Poker continues, those 809 players were anxious to get in on the first one.
Only 81 players received any portion of that prize pool, but the majority of it, especially the $237,415 first prize, was reserved for the one who could outlast the rest of the final table. As Day 2 progressed and that table was in sight, it was Alex Michaels who became the bubble player to the final table, courtesy of Chris Biondino. And with that, the final table was set to take place on Wednesday, June 3, as follows:
Seat 1: An Tran 445,000
Seat 2: Jason Mercier 384,400
Seat 3: Chris Biondino 182,000
Seat 4: Matt Giannetti 311,000
Seat 5: Kevin Iacofano 770,000
Seat 6: Jonathan Tare 639,000
Seat 7: Dario Alioto 315,000
Seat 8: Vic Park 341,000
Seat 9: Steven Burkholder 263,000
Play started with caution, but nearly 30 minutes into the action, Chris Biondino was able to double through An Tran to liven things up. Then Matt Giannetti went on a tear, taking a big pot from Dario Alioto and then getting involved with Vic Park.
Giannetti and Park went to see a flop, at which point Giannetti bet enough to put Park all-in, and Park called with -2 (unknown suit for the deuce). Giannetti showed , and the two watched the come on the turn and the on the river, which eliminated Park in ninth place, which was worth $22,053.
An Tran had taken some hits early and finally got involved with Mercier, Giondino, and Burkholder to see a flop. Mercier made the initial post-flop bet, which prompted Biondino to fold, but Burkholder check-raised. Tran reraised all-in, which brought a fold from Mercier and a call from Burkholder with . Tran showed -6[d-, and the set of deuces was no match for Burkholder’s set of fives. The on the turn and on the river ended An Tran’s run in eighth place with $25,122.
With Burkholder in the chip lead, it was Mercier chasing that lead while Biondino and Alioto lost chips. Finally, Alioto decided to put his tournament on the line preflop with , and it was Kevin Iacofano who called with . The board ran out , and Dario Alioto accepted $29,882 for the seventh place finish.
Biondino proceeded to double through Mercier, which put the latter in third place on the leaderboard. But Biondino could not seem to keep up the momentum and continued to find himself on the short stack.
It was Jonathan Tare, though, who would be the next player at risk of elimination. Though four players were in before the flop, only Mercier and Tare stayed in after. Tare was all-in with , and Mercier was along for the ride with . The on the turn and on the river put Mercier in the chip lead and finished off Tare in sixth place with $37,192.
Then came Biondino’s turn, and he was all-in preflop with . Mercier was again there for the challenge with . The dealer gave them a board of 9-8-8-K-10 (suits unknown), and the two pair was good enough for Mercier. Chris Biondino accepted fifth place and $48,533 in prize money.
Matt Giannetti had been chipped down to 80K and pushed preflop with , and none other than Mercier called with . The board produced to eliminate Giannetti in fourth place with $66,544.
With the bustouts coming at a much quicker pace than earlier in the day, another player decided to make a move. It wasn’t until after the flop, but Iacofano and Burkholder got into a betting war that resulted in Iacofano all-in holding . Burkholder showed , and Burkholder’s set dominated. The turn and river ended the tournament for Kevin Iacofano, who took home $96,128 for third place.
Heads-up action began with the following counts:
Steven Burkholder 1,992,000
Jason Mercier 1,650,000
Both players wanted to win this coveted bracelet, but it was Mercier who led the charge to even up the chip counts. Soon into the match, Mercier won a significant pot from Burkholder when a full house, which gave Mercier the lead with close to 2.3 million chips to the 1.35 million of Burkholder.
Finally, the two tangled after a flop. Burkholder made the initial bet, but Mercier raised. Burkholder took it up another notch, at which point Mercier pushed all-in with . Burkholder called with and had the lead. The came on the turn, though, and produced a full house for Mercier. The was a non-issue, and Steven Burkholder was ousted in second place, which was good for $146,748.
Jason Mercier claimed his first WSOP victory after having dominated tournaments in Europe for quite some time. The win for Mercier is a feather in an already impressive cap, and he won a WSOP gold bracelet and $237,415 to go with it.
(Thanks to PokerNews for live tournament reporting information used to compile this recap.)