It was a world championship event, and that title, along with the $10,000 buy-in, provided for an elite field and a winner that would have fought a brilliant battle and beat some of the best limit hold’em players in the world for the title.
When the tournament began on Monday, June 15, there were 185 registrants in their seats and a subsequent prize pool of $1,739,000. That chunk of change was reserved for the final 18 players standing in the tournament, though the ultimate winner would receive the largest portion of $460,841.
Day 1 found the field thinned to only 116 competitors, and the second day pushed on through the money bubble and found an interesting list of players, both on the list of eliminations and those pushing forward. The in-the-money finishers included Steve Kim in 18th place, then Howard Lederer, Phil Tom, Ralph Perry, Todd Brunson, and Mark Teltscher, at which point Day 2 concluded in the wee hours of the morning with 12 players remaining.
Though Jennifer Harman held the lead at the end of Day 1, she fell by the end of Day 2 and sat on a very short stack coming into the last day of play. She lost several significant pots before she finally put her last few chips at risk with against the of Greg Mueller. The board was okay with a flop and turn, but the on the river knocked Harman out in 12th place with $41,040.
Maria Ho had been taking some risks at the last two tables and finally went into battle with Kenny Hsiung. The two went to a flop, and more chips flew before the turn. But it wasn’t until after the river that Ho pushed all-in with for the pair of tens, but Hsiung called with and the pair of kings. That gave Ho an 11th place finish with $41,040.
The last ten players were seated at one table but needed to find one more elimination before the final table was official. It was soon after that Mark Klecan pushed all-in from the big blind with and was called by Daniel Alaei and his pocket fours. The board ran out , and Klecan was ousted in tenth place with $41,040.
With that, the final table was set as follows:
Daniel Alaei 1,001,000
Matt Glantz 856,000
Matt Hawrilenko 770,000
Pat Pezzin 662,000
Greg Mueller 598,000
Chad Brown 513,000
Michiel Brummelhuis 420,000
Kenny Hsiung 390,000
Soheil Shamseddin 386,000
As play got underway, Glantz hit two major pots and climbed into the chip lead with 1.08 million chips, but both chip leaders soon lost significant pots to Shamseddin, who was in the process of climbing. But several of the players were experiencing some major swings, so it was anyone’s game at that point.
Eventually, one of them had to go. And it was Kenny Hsiung who put his tournament life on the line with , and he was called by Daniel Alaei preflop with . The board ran out , which gave Alaei the full house and Hsiung $55,996 for the ninth place finish.
And then the roller coaster continued, rising to a new level in fact. Players were exchanging the chip lead and their stacks like they were chump change, and one moment of the action in the subsequent hours was the double-up of Shamseddin through Brummelhuis. Other than that, the chips on the table changed hands numerous times, and the tournament proceeded 8-handed for quite a few hours.
Finally, at approximately 7:30pm, the erratic play that belonged to Shamseddin came back to bite him. He and Glantz went to see a flop. More betting led to the turn, at which point Glantz bet and Shamseddin raised all-in with . Glantz called with pocket nines, which was the best hand. The on the river solidified the win for Glantz, and Soheil Shamseddin was eliminated in eighth place with $59,996.
As play continued to creep, it was quite another long while before Michiel Brummelhuis collided with Alaei and lost the majority of his chips. His last 115K went all-in on the next hand with . Pezzin came along for the ride with pocket nines, and Glantz did so as well with pocket sevens. The board came , and Brummelhuis had the worst of it. The seventh place finish was worth $67,647.
The last six players took a dinner break and came back to Pezzin in the chip lead, Alaei close behind, and Glantz on the short stack. The others were in the middle.
Glantz was the first to move, doing so after the flop with . His top pair looked good when Pezzin called with , and the didn’t change much. But it was the on the river that sent Matt Glantz out in sixth place with $80,342.
In an odd change of pace, another player busted soon after. Matt Hawrilenko lost most of his chips in a hand with Chad Brown and pushed his last 80K all-in on the next hand with . Pezzin called with , and the board ran out . Hawrilenko had to settle for $100,688 and fifth place.
Daniel Alaei was the next to lose momentum. He was down to 550K after losing a substantial pot to Mueller, and the two got involved again to send Alaei to an even shorter stack. Finally, the two tangled again on a flop, at which point Mueller pushed Alaei all-in. Mueller turned over for middle pair, and Alaei showed for not much of anything. The turn brought a and the river a , and Alaei was denied his second bracelet of the 2009 WSOP and instead given $134,773 for fourth place.
Pezzin began having a rough time during three-handed play, and as he slipped under the 500K mark, he pushed all-in against Chad Brown and doubled up to stay alive. He was still the short stack, but Brown was sitting at 1.3 million and Mueller hovered above with 3 million chips.
Hours passed before the next all-in, one that happened after Chad Brown watched his opponents chip away at him rather quickly in the end. He finally pushed all-in with against the of Mueller, and the board brought more than enough for Mueller with . The straight knocked Brown straight to the rail in third place with $188,855.
Heads-up action began with the following chip counts:
Greg Mueller 3,800,000
Pat Pezzin 1,750,000
Mueller started in aggressively and did not stop. Only a few hands into the match, he had Pezzin down to 900K. As Pezzin sank, he was able to double up but never even reached his starting heads-up stack. Ultimately, he took the risk after seeing a flop by pushing all-in with for absolute air. Mueller called with pocket fives, which remained the best hand through the turn and river. Pat Pezzin had to settle for second place and the $285,196 that went with it.
Greg Mueller won the 2009 WSOP World Championship of Limit Hold’em, which came with $460,836 and a shiny gold bracelet.