It was more than an exciting tournament. Reputations, bracelet bets, and the WSOP gold were on the line. And in the end, Phil Ivey won them all by collecting his seventh World Series of Poker bracelet - the second of the 2009 Series - and silencing all doubters.
What began with 376 players in an Omaha/stud-8 tournament became a somewhat elite field with a rather modest $864,800 prize pool, and only 153 players moved on to Day 2. The final 14 pushed forward to the last day of action. A total of 40 players were paid, but it wasn’t until the lead-up to the final table that certain names emerged as players to watch. Jon “Pearljammer” Turner was the chip leader going into Day 3, and Carlos Mortensen and Blair Rodman were coming in behind.
Day 3 started with short-stacked Chad Brown taking a quick exit. His 23K went into the pot right away but lost out to Ming Lee in a three-way pot. His 14th place finish was good for $10,481. Mark Scott followed in 13th place, Frank Debus in 12th, Blair Rodman in 11th, and Matt Kelly in tenth. The final nine then took their seats at the same table, though there was one elimination to go before the final table was official at eight players. With Turner still in a commanding lead and Tom Koral on the extreme short stack, play resumed.
Koral was able to gather chips through several moves, most notably a hand with Steve Wong that left Wong with only 193K. Soon after, Wong got involved with Mortensen and Dutch Boyd that put Wong all-in on the river. Wong had face up, but Boyd took the high with a flush and Mortensen took the low with 8-6-5-3-2. Wong was ousted in ninth place with $16,517 to help ease the pain.
The final table was then set to begin with Stud-8 and the following chip counts:
Jon Turner 607,000
Carlos Mortensen 482,000
Ming Lee 466,000
Dutch Boyd 419,000
Eric Buchman 236,000
Peter Gelenscer 219,000
Phil Ivey 217,000
Tom Koral 155,000
Gelenscer didn’t start off well, as he lost a substantial pot to Mortensen and became the short stack at the table. He then took to a hand with Boyd that began with a flop. Gelenscer was all-in before the turn with , and Boyd called with . When the turn was a and the river a , Boyd won the pot and eliminated Peter Gelenscer in eighth place with $23,600.
Soon after, Koral finally went into battle with Mortensen and Lee to see a flop of . After multiple raises, Koral was all-in, and his opponents both came along for the ride to see a hit the turn and the on the river. Mortensen showed for the winning flush, Lee simply folded, and Koral turned over for the losing hand. The seventh place finish for Tom Koral garnered him $27,993 for seventh place.
Again without much delay, it was Eric Buchman at risk in a stud-8 pot with (-unknown) versus the () of Boyd. That left Buchman with $34,747 for the sixth place finish.
The five players remaining in the tournament took a dinner break and came back for what was to be a long evening. The action kicked up when Mortensen took a big pot from Turner, and the latter soon moved all-in in an Omaha-8 hand on an board. Turner showed , and Boyd flipped over the . The river brought the to give Boyd the flush, and Jon Turner was ousted in fifth place with $45,237.
Boyd was doing well for some time, that was until he tangled with Ivey and came out on the wrong side of a hand. Ivey put himself up to 1.48 million chips and a monster lead, while Boyd was hurting with a much shorter stack. Boyd finally moved on a stud-8 hand after third street, and Mortensen was there with the call. When all of the cards were out, Boyd had ()(), and Mortensen had him dominated with the full house holding ()(). Dutch Boyd left the tournament in fourth place with $61,919.
Ivey went on a roller coaster ride with his chips, first losing several key hands to Mortensen and Lee but gaining some back in subsequent pots. Within nearly two hours, Ivey had worked himself back into a dominating lead, finally coming close to the two million-chip mark. Mortensen was short-stacked but was able to chop a pot with Ivey to stay alive a bit longer.
Finally, in an Omaha-8 hand, Mortensen pushed all-in preflop with against the of Lee. The board came -K[c-, and Lee’s full house took the pot and eliminated Carlos Mortensen in third place. The Matador took $89,342 for the finish.
Heads-up started with the following chip counts:
Phil Ivey 1,785,000
Ming Lee 1,035,000
Lee came out firing and took an early pot. Several more brought him ever closer to tying Ivey, and Lee eventually took over the chip lead for a brief time. Ivey finally took a very sizable pot from Lee, though, when his stud-8 flush put him back near the two million chip range and Lee under one million. Ivey pushed him further down, though at a near-breaking point, Lee was able to double up on an Omaha-8 hand to stay alive with 650K.
Again, Ivey applied the pressure and crippled his opponent. After several chopped pots, Lee went all-in on third street of a stud-8 hand, and Ivey called. Lee ended up with , and Ivey had the winning hand with . The three queens did it, and Ming Lee was finally eliminated in second place with a $136,292 consolation prize.
Phil Ivey won his seventh WSOP bracelet and the $220,538 that went along with it. It was the second bracelet of the 2009 World Series, which makes him the second player to do so of the year. And reportedly, he will be collecting a sizable sum of money from his friends and fellow bettors as prop bets had been raging over the bracelet race this year.
Ivey takes his place among an elite group of poker players in WSOP history. Billy Baxter is the only other player to own seven gold bracelets. Erik Seidel has eight, Johnny Moss had nine, Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson own ten, and Phil Hellmuth sits atop the mount with eleven. Ivey has always been recognized as somewhat of a super-player, with skills that cannot be measured and an intensity that brings other players to their knees. And when he applies those qualities, there is no stopping the long-time pro.
Congratulations to Phil Ivey on his grand accomplishment!