One of the larger buy-in World Series of Poker no-limit hold’em tournaments began on Saturday, June 6, and there was no better time than the weekend to draw a crowd of 655 players to the $500 buy-in event. With a solid mix of recognizable pros and new faces to the scene, it was an interesting tournament to watch and a hard-fought one in the end. And the winner, Brian Lemke, came back from a serious chip deficit to win the event in the name of his cousin, recently deceased poker media member Justin Shronk.
The prize pool that was determined after registration was complete on Day 1 was an impressive $3,078,500, reserved for the final 63 players standing. That mark was hit on Day 2 when Shawn Farmer burst the money bubble and Dan Heimiller became the first to cash in the event for $10,159. Only 17 survived that day, and when they came back it was Isaac Baron holding the largest chip stack, but as anyone in this game knows, things could - and would - change.
The day began with Tom Braband taking 17th place in the tournament, which was worth $27,029. Nicholas Grippo followed, as did Lars Bonding, David Benefield, Matthias Neu, and Olivier Bousquet. David Inselberg exited in 11th place, at which point they sought one more elimination before moving to the feature table. As time progressed and it didn’t happen, they moved the final ten to the big table anyway.
Action stayed slow for some time, until a great deal of hoopla came down in one hand. David Pham pushed all-in preflop with , and Isaac Baron came over the top with the same move holding pocket tens. Christian Iacobellis called all-in with , and the three watched the board come . The tens were good, and Pham was eliminated in tenth place, giving Iacobellis ninth place.
With eight players remaining, the chip counts were as follows:
Fabian Quoss 2,620,000
Isaac Baron 2,229,000
Mike Sowers 1,690,000
Danny Illingworth 934,000
Billy Kopp 676,000
Brian Lemke 644,000
Lika Gerasimova 506,000
Thomas Keller 464,000
Soon after the action began, Lemke was able to double through Kopp, but it crippled the latter who had only 2K left after the hand. Kopp was able to double up twice to and accumulate a few chips to stay alive, but eventually, with only 75K, he had to move again.
When Kopp made his move, Quoss and Keller both called. After the flop hit , Quoss bet and Keller folded. Quoss then showed pocket jacks, and Kopp turned over his . The came on the turn and on the river to end Billy Kopp’s rough final table ride in eighth place, which was worth $75,115.
Going forward, Baron took some hits, first when Gerasimova doubled through him, next when Quoss took a sizable pot from him, and again when Keller doubled through. But it was a pot with Lemke, in which Lemke doubled through him with A-Q versus the A-J of Baron to leave Baron with very few chips behind.
With 210K left, Baron moved all-in but was called by three players who checked down the board. When Quoss showed for top pair, the other players mucked, including Isaac Baron who accepted $88,784 for the seventh place finish.
Next to be at risk was Illingworth, who made his move with , but unluckily for him, Keller woke up with . The board came , and Danny Illingworth walked away with $109,871 for sixth place.
Five-handed play lasted quite some time, as Sowers lost chips but doubled to stay alive. Gerasimova was able to double up through Sowers after the dinner break but was still very short-stacked. She soon pushed with , but Quoss was able to call with a dominating pocket pair of tens. The dealer gave them to eliminate Lika Gerasimova in fifth place with $142,688.
Sowers also felt the need to push, though he sat on 1.55 million chips when he did it. Quoss called with pocket eights, and Sowers showed . The board fell , but no one owned a spade and the set of eights for Quoss were good for the win. Mike Sowers was eliminated in fourth place with $194,931.
The next significant hand began with Keller going for a simple call to get into the pot, but when Quoss raised, Keller made the all-in reraise with . Quoss turned over pocket aces, and the two watched the dealer give them , which left Thomas Keller out in third place with $280,852.
Heads-up action began with the following counts:
Fabian Quoss 7,666,000
Brian Lemke 2,150,000
Lemke came into the match aggressively and chipped up from the start, though Quoss continued to stave him off and keep the lead throughout the majority of the hours of play between the two. Lemke found himself at a 3-to-1 or greater deficit for much of the match but continued to look for spots to move.
Lemke was able to take a very significant pot from Quoss at one point in order to jump into the lead, but he fell back soon after. It wasn’t until Lemke went into battle with against the of Quoss and doubled up that Lemke gained some serious momentum. Lemke went on to double again, this time with versus the of Quoss, and soared into the chip lead.
Finally, Quoss was the one to push all-in with , and Lemke called with . The flop came to give both players the straight draws, but when the came on the turn, Lemke made his. The inconsequential jack on the river ended the tournament, and Fabian Quoss was forced to accept second place and the $427,912 that went with it.
Brian Lemke claimed a hard-fought victory in Event 15 and did it with emotion and heart. In the memory of his recently deceased cousin Justin Shronk, he happily accepted the WSOP gold bracelet and $692,658 that went with it.