This was far from the most-watched final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker, but it was no less important than any other. Put Phil Ivey at a table, and the stands and rails fill up with fans that seem to come out of the woodwork. But put six relative unknowns, most of whom do not have family or friends in Las Vegas, at a table, and the excitement level around the final table is not what it could or should be. Regardless, though, the tension and excitement at the table was none too diminished because of it, as the players were competing for the one-and-only WSOP bracelet.
The field began on Day 1 with 1,459 players, which thinned to only 105 by the end of that night’s play, which was well past the money bubble. Players were then dipping further into the $1,991,535 prize pool, though all were aiming for the $428,259 first place prize.
Day 2 wrapped at 3:00am but two players short of the actual final table. Eight players returned on Friday, June 5 to play it down, take their final tables seats, and crown a champion. Bryce Yockey was the initial chip leader going into Day 3 with 1,489,000, but no one was truly out of contention.
One of the shorter stacks decided to move right away, however, and Bryn Kenney made his push quite soon after the action restarted. His was met by the of Carman Cavella, and the two watched the board come , pushing Kenney out in eighth place with $42,320.
The seven finalists, though still one shy of the actual final table, were moved to the ESPN feature table to continue action, and it was eventually Praz Bansi who made the all-in reraise preflop with . Yockey called with , and the board ran out to end Bansi’s day pre-final table. The seventh place finish was worth $42,320.
Soon after the final six began play, Manny Minaya pushed immediately for his last 295K with pocket eights. Peter Gould was the caller holding the dominant pocket nines. The dealer gave them , and Minaya was sent away promptly in sixth place with $59,049.
Then came the lull in the action. There was very little post-flop play over the next hour or so as the money jumps increased and players suddenly put extreme caution into the mix. There was a point that Ken Aldridge pushed all-in and doubled through Cavella, which put Aldridge in the top spot on the leaderboard. Play slowed again until…
Charles Furey and Ken Aldridge got involved preflop, and Furey ended up all-in with pocket tens, and Aldridge called with pocket nines. The flop all but secured the pot for Aldridge when it came . The on the turn gave Furey more outs, but the river ended it for Furey in fifth place with $80,896.
Bryce Yockey never regained his original day’s status as chipleader, and he finally shipped all of his chips preflop with pocket tens. Cavella called with to see the board automatically run out in his favor with . That ended Yockey’s tournament in fourth place, which was worth $115,230.
A bit later, it was Aldridge and Peter Gould joining in a hand to see the flop come down . Gould pushed all-in for his last 385K with K-9 for king high, and Aldridge check-called after a great deal of thought with A-10. The ace high was good, especially when the came on the turn to send Gould packing in third place with $170,953.
Heads-up action then began after a short break with the following counts:
Carman Cavella 3,525,000
Ken Aldridge 3,040,000
Play again proceeded at a very slow pace without much betting or raising. Hands like pocket kings were played by checking them down on an ace-high board, and it seemed as if the match may never be decided.
Well over an hour into heads-up play, the all-in phrase was uttered by Cavella preflop, likely due to sheer exhaustion after three long days of play. Aldridge called with , and Cavella showed . The board ran out , and Cavella doubled through his opponent.
Moments later, Cavella pushed again after a flop. Aldridge made the all-in move post-flop, and Cavella put his tournament life on the line with a quick call holding . Aldridge showed -[c], and the turn and river blanked to allow Cavella to double up to 2.7 million. Aldridge still sat on about 3.8 million, though, so it would take another double-up to push Cavella into the lead.
Minutes turned into hours at the two-handed table, and not much had changed from the original chip counts. But over the next few levels, Aldridge extended his lead, putting Cavella in a position of near-desperation with rising blinds.
Finally, Cavella pushed all-in with , but Aldridge was there with and the call. The board ran out , and Aldridge’s kicker was good enough to win it. Carman Cavella was ultimately forced to accept second place, along with $264,814 for his efforts.
Ken Aldridge became the Event 9 WSOP champion, taking home $428,259 and the coveted gold bracelet for the victory.