The smallest of the $1,500 No Limit Hold Em events at the World Series of Poker thus far with only 2,095 players got started on Tuesday with the first place prize of over half a million dollars and a WSOP bracelet on every one's mind. Allen Cunningham, Chris Ferguson, and Phil Hellmuth all added to their impressive WSOP cashing history but came up far short in their bid of making the final table. Other notables who ended up making the money but not the final table included Thor Hansen, Alex Kravchenko, Alex Jacob, Jared Hamby, and Praz Bansi.
The final ten, their seating assignments, and chip counts were as follows:
Seat 1 – Young Phan 353,000
Seat 2 – Jonas Klausen 2,350,000
Seat 3 – Andrew Youngblood 660,000
Seat 4 – Martin Jacobson 1,200,000
Seat 5 – James Taylor 480,000
Seat 6 – Eric Baldwin 1,720,000
Seat 7 – Eric DeFontes 490,000
Seat 8 – Benjamin Scholl 455,000
Seat 9 – Steven Bradbury 1,280,000
Seat 10 – Roland de Wolfe 495,000
James Taylor came in as one of the shorter stacks at the final table and when the action went raise to 109K from Steven Bradbury, call from Jonas Klausen, call from Martin Jacobsen and he looked down at ace king he decided it was now or never and moved the rest of his chips in. Only Jacobsen looked him up... with pocket 8's and the two were off to the races. The flop came 9-9-4 with two diamonds and Jacobsen held a comfortable lead over Taylor. The turn was the , keeping Jacobsen in the lead but now giving Taylor a flush draw. The flush is what Taylor hit on the river when the arrived and he doubled up to approximately 700K with Jacobsen falling to 800K.
Young Phan was the first player to hit the rail when he moved his short stack all in under the gun with and was called by Benjamin Scholl with pocket jacks. Phan flopped an open ended straight draw but was unable to improve. Young Phan finished in 10th place winning $42,895.
Jonas Klausen, the aggressive chip leader, opened the action for 80K and Eric DeFontes pushed all in from the big blind for 359K total. Klausen made the call with the which was up against the pocket 4's of DeFontes. The drama was over relatively quick as the flop came A-7-6 and DeFontes was unable to hit a 4 or running straight cards. Eric DeFontes finished in 9th place winning $60,335.
With nearly a 2:1 chip lead on his nearest opponent, Klausen kept up his aggressive ways, again opening the pot for 80K. The big blind, Steven Bradbury, decided to look him up and called. The flop came K-5-4 rainbow and Bradbury led out for 125K which Klausen quickly called. The turn was the putting two spades on the board and Bradbury again led out, this time for 150K. Again, Klausen wasted no time in calling. The river was a and now Bradbury moved all in for 550K. After deliberating and staring down his opponent, Klausen decided to make the call and when he was shown K-9 he quickly mucked his hand. After that hand, Bradbury had 1.75 million while Klausen was still the chip leader with 2.3 million.
James Taylor doubled up yet again, this time at the hands of Benjamin Scholl, when he was fortunate enough to get pocket kings when Scholl had 9's. This win took Taylor up to 1.2 million in chips and left Scholl as the short stack with a little over 300K. The double up party continued when Andrew Youngblood got it all in with pocket jacks against Jacobson's A-9 suited and the hooks would hold up to bring Youngblood's stack to 850K and making Jacobson the new short stack with just 200K behind. Not wanting to be left out of the mix, Scholl was the next player who would double up, this time courtesy of Eric Baldwin, when his A-10 bested Baldwin's K-7. Players were starting to wonder if anyone would ever lose a hand when they were all in.
Finally, a player would lose an all in and unfortunately for Martin Jacobson, it would be him. With only 125K left in his stack, Jacobson moved all in and Eric Baldwin re-raised to get him heads up. Jacobson had A-9 and was against the pocket queens of Baldwin. No help arrived for Jacobson and Baldwin raked in the pot. Martin Jacobson finished in 8th place winning $65,487.
Baldwin, like Klausen, is an aggressive player and he found himself in several spots where he open raised only to face an all in re-raise from a short stack. Usually in these situations, Baldwin was priced in and would make the call. This is precisely what happened against short stack Benjamin Scholl when Baldwin opened for 130K and Scholl moved all in for 170K more. Baldwin made the somewhat reluctant call, only having 8-7 off, and was unable to improve against the A-5 of Scholl. This hand brought Scholl up to 600K while Baldwin had slipped below one million for the first time at the final table.
Baldwin won some blinds and antes and then picked up pocket kings at the perfect time... when another player had a big pocket pair that wasn't aces at the same time. Facing a large opening raise from Steven Bradbury of 305K, Baldwin saw the kings and moved all in from the big blind. Bradbury hesitated for no time at all and made the call with pocket queens. The kings held and Baldwin was now back in comfortable chip position with over two million in chips while Bradbury joined the short stack legions with approximately a quarter million.
Bradbury returned from the dinner break and moved the rest of his chips in with A-6 after Taylor opened for a raise. It was a good move as Taylor only had but a 9 came on the flop to end Bradbury's tournament. Steven Bradbury finished in 7th place winning $74,352.
In a blind versus blind confrontation with a flop of 9-8-6 with two hearts, Jonas Klausen and Andrew Youngblood wasted no time in getting their chips in the middle with a series of raises. Youngblood had pocket 6's for a flopped set but was disheartened when he saw that Klausen had 7-5 for a flopped straight. Youngblood needed the board to pair and it did not. Klausen moved to over four million in chips and Andrew Youngblood finished in 6th place winning $89,222.
Roland de Wolfe, fresh off winning his first WSOP bracelet, had come into the final table as a short stack and had fought admirably to survive. His day came to an end though when he moved all in from the small blind for approximately 600K with the blinds at 25K/50K and Klausen in the big blind made the call. DeWolfe had which was way behind the A-6 that Klausen held. An ace on the flop pretty much sealed the deal and DeWolfe came up short in his bid to win his 2nd bracelet this series. Roland de Wolfe finished in 5th place winning $112,957.
Down to his last 230K, Benjamin Scholl moved all in from the button and was called by James Taylor in the big blind. Scholl had a good hand, K-J, but was still behind the A-8 that Taylor held. The flop came K-3-2 with two spades putting Scholl in the lead. The was an even better card for Scholl as he was the only player holding a spade, meaning only one of two aces could lose the hand for him. It was one of those two aces, the ace of clubs, that was flipped over on the river and a disheartened Scholl was off to collect his pay. Benjamin Scholl finished in 4th place winning $150,133.
Baldwin started to take control of the table with a series of raises and re-raises, most of them against Klausen, to move him to the top of the leader board. The two tangled yet again in a blind versus blind battle and with a board of 10-5-3-9 with three clubs, Baldwin bet 540K, Klausen moved all in, and Baldwin called. Baldwin had turned a flush with the while Klausen had slow played kings. Klausen, however, did have the so he was not drawing completely dead. It would be a cruel, cruel club on the river for Baldwin and a glorious one for Klausen that would ship the pot Klausen's way. Baldwin was down but not out with nearly 2 million in chips, but he was now far behind the 5 million or so that Klausen had.
James Taylor opened the pot for 180K from the small blind and Baldwin called out of the big blind. The flop came 7-5-3 and Taylor led out for 175K. After a minute of quiet contemplation, Baldwin announced that he was all in. A visibly frustrated Taylor decided to make the call for his tournament life with just two over cards, K-Q. Baldwin was ahead with . The turn was a 10 and the river was a 3 and they were now heads up. James Taylor finished in 3rd place winning $213,046.
Heads up play began with the two players nearly even in chips. The biggest pot of the tournament, and the one that would ultimately decide it, came when Baldwin raised to 190K and was called by Klausen. The flop came Q-10-4 and Klausen checked. Baldwin bet 255K. Klausen check raised to 805K and Baldwin quickly stated that he was all in. Almost as quickly, Klausen called. It was the cooler of coolers for Klausen as he had flopped top two pair with Q-10 only to find out he was behind the set of 4's that Baldwin had flopped. Klausen still had outs to any queen or 10, but none of them arrived and Baldwin had crippled Klausen and now had an 8 million to 1.35 million chip advantage.
It did not take long for the match to be settled when the two moved all their chips in the middle with big hands. 10's for Baldwin and A-Q for Klausen. The flop came K-J-6 giving Klausen 2 additional outs and having Baldwin hoping to not hit a set. The turn was a 2nd 6 meaning a 10 would no longer win the hand for Klausen. The river was a meaningless 5 and the tournament was over. Martin Klausen finished in 2nd place winning 322,371.
Eric Baldwin, at only the age of 26, might not seem like a poker veteran, but he's been battling at the WSOP for over three years now. Baldwin has been a successful online and live pro for several years but this win cements his status as one of the game's best. Eric Baldwin, 1st place finisher winning $521,932 and his first WSOP bracelet. Congratulations basebaldy!