It was an opportunity for everyone who believes they have mixed game skills to buy in to the lowest H.O.R.S.E. offering of the World Series of Poker. Event 31 offered a $1,500 buy-in, and there were 770 players looking to get in on the action. When all of the monies were tabulated, the prize pool was $1,051,050, and the last 72 players standing were set to take pieces of it.
Day 2 saw the bubble burst, but the subsequent playdown was slow. When the tournament staff finally called the event at 3:00am, there were still 23 players remaining with Fabrice Soulier in the lead.
The third and final day began with John Racener finishing in 23rd place, which was worth $5,906. Paul Darden followed in 22nd, Torstein Iversen in 21st, Kathy Raymond in 20th, Vanessa Rousso in 19th, Alan Myerson in 18th, and Joe Serock in 17th. The last 16 players were reseated at two tables, after which Chris Bjorin busted in 16th, Dustin Bryan left in 15th, Paul Evans was eliminated in 14th, and Peter Gelenscer and Phillip Marmorstein were taken out in the same hand by Mitch Schock. With the elimination of Sebastien Sabic in 11th place at the hands of Soulier, the tables needed one more to go before placing the final nine at one table.
That moment came after Lana Maier started her day with an amazing run toward the top of the leaderboard, but she began to lose her momentum as the afternoon grew later. Down to only 50K after several tough hands, she pushed preflop with against the pocket threes of Shannon Shorr. The flop was perfect for Maier as it came , and the did nothing for either player. But the on the river sent Maier packing in tenth place with $19,265. The fellow poker blogger and media row resident did her colleagues very proud.
The final nine players redrew for seats at the final table and went to dinner, only to return as follows:
Seat 1: Ron Schiffman 313,000
Seat 2: Tad Jurgens 391,000
Seat 3: Bryan Micon 354,000
Seat 4: Fabrice Soulier 380,000
Seat 5: Brian Malcolm 436,000
Seat 6: Shannon Shorr 565,000
Seat 7: Mitch Schock 693,000
Seat 8: James Van Alstyne 202,000
Seat 9: Farzad Rouhani 136,000
In keeping up with the day’s somewhat fast pace, it only took a few hands for the final table to find its first casualty, and it came when Rouhani called all-in on fourth street in a stud hi-low hand for the remainder of his chips. Van Alstyne was the aggressor in the hand, and his hand ran out (), while Rouhani only had (). That left Farzad Rouhani out in ninth place with $19,265.
In an Omaha/hi-low round, it was Ron Schiffman who got involved with his short stack versus Brian Malcolm. After the flop of , additional betting led to the on the turn. A bet and a raise led to the on the river, at which point Malcolm bet and Schiffman check-called all-in. Malcolm turned over for the winning hand, and Schiffman simply mucked to accept eighth place and the $26,780 that went with it.
Fabrice Soulier lost much of his momentum during the final table, and he finally tangled with Schock and Malcolm, the latter of whom backed out on fourth street. Soulier was all-in at that point, and Schock called. Soulier had 5-7/3-A-9-5 with one last unknown card, and Schock had A-5/3-6-2-Q/9 to win the pot. Soulier had to settle for $31,657 and seventh place.
Six-handed action saw Schock as the dominant chip leader and Tad Jurgens and Brian Malcolm on the short stacks. In a stud hand, Malcolm ended up all-in by sixth street versus Schock. Malcolm showed //, and Schock bested him with //. Brian Malcolm left the tournament in sixth place with $39,183.
Players were chipping away at Shannon Shorr, and he lost a good deal of his chips on a stud hi-low hand, courtesy of James Van Alstyne. He soon pushed in razz on third street, and his cards fell //. He was up against the // of Schock and lost, which left him with $51,881 for the fifth place finish.
The last four players were very close in chips, with the exception of Micon, who began slipping away from the pack as his chips went to the other three players. But in the end, it was Van Alstyne who took the majority of them in razz and stud hands. Finally with less than 100K chips remaining, he moved in a stud hi-low hand on third street, and his hand played out with // against the // of Van Alstyne. That left Bryan Micon out in fourth place with $69,505.
Van Alstyne then had a lock on the chip leader position, and it was Schock who began to lose the rest of his. Ultimately, it was a stud hand that found Schock all-in after sixth street and Van Alstyne putting him in that position with // against the // of Mitch Schock, which eliminated him in third place for $100,165.
The heads-up match began with chip counts as follows:
James Van Alstyne 2,485,000
Tad Jurgens 980,000
Van Alstyne put the pressure on his opponent immediately, pushing every hand with bets and raises that allowed Jurgens no room to move without a reasonable hand. After having chipped away at him for not even one-half hour, the final hand came down in a stud round.
The betting began and found Jurgens committed on fifth street, and he ended up with //, while Van Alstyne had //. Jurgens never improved and had to settle for a second place finish, which was worth $152,654.
James Van Alstyne won Event 31, after just having finished second in Event 21 - the $3K H.O.R.S.E. tournament - less than a week prior. For the victory, he claimed his first ever World Series of Poker bracelet and the $247,033 that went with it.