While many people give much discussion to and highly anticipate WSOP events like the $50K H.O.R.S.E. and the $10K NLHE Main Event, the $10K Heads-Up World Championship is another that is high on the list of exciting tournaments at the World Series. The high buy-in event is the only one of its kind during the 57-event series, and with a capped field of 256 players, only the dedicated and prepared get seats and the chance to compete.
Those 256 players in this year’s event brought the prize pool to $2,406,400, with the winner looking to receive more than $625K of it. Only the final 32 players would make the money, which would happen for anyone making it through Round 3.
Day 2 saw the final 64 players get through that third round, then play on through subsequent rounds as players like Brock Parker and Jason Mercier were denied their chances at another 2009 WSOP bracelet, and well-known faces like Steve Zolotow, Mike Caro, and Yevgeniy Timoshenko were eliminated from the event.
It was the third day of action that found eight finalists playing Round 6 and looking to become this year’s world champion. Those matches in the Elite Eight were set as follows:
Leo Wolpert v. Dustin Woolf
Jamin Stokes v. Johnny Chan
Nathan Doudney v. Bryan Pellegrino
John Duthie v. Steve O’Dwyer
Though none of the matches were over quickly, it was the Doudney v. Pellgrino game that ended first, as Doudney’s went up against the of Pellgrino. The split looked inevitable until the flop and turn. An irrelevant came on the river to give Bryan Pellegrino $90,000 for his finish and send Nathan Doudney to the next round.
The Duthie v. O’Dywer match was the next one to see a resolution, and it happened with the two got involved to see a flop. More betting led to the on the river, at which point Duthie made an all-in move with and O’Dwyer called all-in for his tournament life with . Duthie’s straight held up when the came on the river, giving Steve O’Dwyer $90,000 for the effort and John Duthie a ticket to the next level.
Dustin Woolf was put to the test preflop for his short stack when Leo Wolpert reraised a significant amount. Woolf called all-in with pocket sixes, but Wolpert showed pocket sevens. The two watched the board come to give Wolpert the straight that trumped Woolf’s set of sixes. Woolf had to accept the $90K payout, while Wolpert prepared for the next round.
Finally, Stokes made a large raise preflop, and Chan called all-in with . Stokes turned over the dominant , and the dealer gave them to end Johnny Chan’s run for an 11th WSOP bracelet with a $90K consolation prize. Jamin Stokes was the last to make it to Round 7.
The final four was then set as follows:
Nathan Doudney v. John Duthie
Leo Wolpert v. Jamin Stokes
As the two matches got underway, Duthie jumped out to a chip lead over Doudney, and Stokes did the same with Wolpert. But the shorter stacks put up a fight that lasted hours, with too much money on the line to give up without putting all of their skills into play.
In the Duthie/Doudney game, Duthie had his opponent down to below one million chips and continued to put him to the test. When Doudney raised, Duthie pushed all-in, and Doudney called for his tournament life with . Duthie showed pocket queens, and the board came , which did nothing to improve Doudney’s hand. Nathan Doudney was awarded $214,289 for his fourth place finish.
Meanwhile, Stokes began to lose his hold on Wolpert, as the latter chipped up consistently to take over the chip lead in the match. Finally, the two came to the last hand that began with a flop of . After some betting and raising action, Stokes pushed all-in with for the flush draw, but Wolpert called with and the nut flush draw. But when the came on the turn and the on the river, no flush came, and the ace-high hand knocked Jamin Stokes out in third place, for which he received $214,289.
Considering the late hour, the tournament staff decided that the final best-of-three round should not begin until the following day. While most tournaments do not hit Day 4, it was too important and there was too much money on the line to make them play an exhausting day-to-night-to-morning session.
Thus, John Duthie and Leo Wolpert returned on Tuesday, June 16, to play for the win. Each match was set to begin with 3,840,000 chips and 15K/30K blinds.
Duthie took the first pot of the match but Wolpert grabbed the lead on the fourth hand when he bet Duthie out of a large pot. That put Wolpert up to 5,760 and Duthie under the 2-million mark. Slow but steady was the pace for the next 28 hands, but Duthie finally made his move with pocket tens preflop, and Wolpert called with . The board ran out , and Duthie doubled to take a 60K chip lead.
Play continued as Duthie lost the lead but ground away to take it back. Finally, when Duthie doubled up again with a flush over Wolpert’s flopped set of kings, Wolpert was left with less than 1 million chips.
Five hands later, Wolpert made his all-in move for his last 920K with , and Duthie called quickly with . The board ran out , and John Duthie won the first of the matches.
Whereas the last match took 94 hands, the next one only took nine. Wolpert took an early lead in the first few hands, and the ninth hand developed slowly. It started with a flop. Wolpert made the initial bet, and Duthie check-raised. Wolpert called, and the two watched the come on the turn. Wolpert bet out again, and Duthie check-raised all-in with for top pair, and Wolpert called immediately with pocket sixes and the flopped set. The irrelevant came on the river, and Leo Wolpert claimed a win in the second match, tying it up and leaving it to be determined by the last and final game.
The deciding match began slowly but found Wolpert sitting with a significant lead by the 18th hand. As Wolpert neared the 5-million chip mark, Duthie struggled to stay about 2.5 million. And over time, he fell to just over 1.5 million while Wolpert soared over 6 million.
Finally, on the 96th hand of the late afternoon, the two see a flop, at which point, Wolpert pushed it. Duthie called all-in with for the draw, and Wolpert showed for top pair. The board did it for Duthie with , and Duthie doubled to 3,180,000. And the match was far from over.
The match had its turns, but Duthie struggled for the majority of the last match and never gave up. And it went on for a total of 192 hands. It was on the 192nd hand that the duo went to see a cheap flop of . Wolpert bet out first, and Duthie check-raised all-in. Wolpert called with , and Duthie showed . The on the turn changed nothing, and the on the river allowed Wolpert’s two pair to hold. John Duthie took a respectful second place with $386,636 in prize money.
Leo Wolpert won Event 29 and took home $625,682 for the hard-fought match win and the well-earned victory.