Any tournament with a $10,000 price tag for entry and the “world championship” name attached is bound to be a favorite of seasoned pro players, not to mention poker fans everywhere. And the field was an elite one of 164 players when it began, only to eventually dwindle down to a final table full of interesting names and one legendary player looking to tie the record for lifetime WSOP bracelets. In the end, it was a well-known player by the name of Jeffrey Lisandro who claimed his second 2009 WSOP bracelet and became the ultimate stud champion.
The 164-player field that took to the tables on Thursday, June 18, created a prize pool of $1,541,600 to be distributed among the top 16 finishers, with $431,656 going to the ultimate winner. The first day saw the field thin to only 110 players, and it was the second day that moved through at a slow but steady pace into the night to finally find its way into the money. Joe Tehan became the bubble player, and Claudio Rinaldi was the first to cash, taking home $24,650 for his 16th place finish. Dan Heimiller left soon after, Richard Anthony followed, and Yuval Bronshtein took 13th place.
Day 3 found the 12 finalists returning with Abe Mosseri in the chip lead, Jeff Lisandro in second looking for his second 2009 bracelet, and Doyle Brunson in third seeking to tie the all-time record for most bracelets by winning his 11th.
Action got underway with a few eliminations to be found before putting the final eight at the “final” table. Lyle Berman was the first to suffer a hit at the hands of Brunson and Mike Wattel, and with only 152K remaining in his stack, Berman was ready to take his chances soon after. Berman got involved with Anthony Rivera and Yan Chen on a board that led him to fold a hand that showed 8-K-10-7 after seventh street. With only 60K left, he pushed that on the next hand and left the tournament in 12th place, which was worth $33,668.
Scotty Nguyen was the next to get pummeled by a series of hands. After tangling with Mosseri and losing a big pot, he took his 210K into battle on a subsequent hand with Farzad Rouhani. His two pair were not good enough to beat the two pair of Rouhani, and Nguyen was down to 127K. His last hand found him all-in against Lisandro, and when Lisandro showed trip eights on sixth street, Nguyen couldn’t compete and accepted 11th place and the $33,668 that went with it.
Perry Friedman had a rough time on Day 3 as well, being crippled twice, the last time after tangling with Rouhani and missing both draws. After posting his ante on a subsequent hand and being left with 5K, he was all-in on third street with against Lisandro and Justin Smith. Lisandro ultimately folded after seventh street when Smith bet with trip threes. Friedman’s ended up with a pair of queens and no low, which pushed him out in tenth place with $41,885.
The last nine players were seated at one table but still sought one more elimination before finding the official final eight. Lisandro had jumped into the chip lead with Rouhani and Mosseri close behind.
Rivera was one of the shorter stacks and tried to move against Mosseri, but he lost the pot and was crippled to a 75K stack. He then moved all-in against Yan Chen for his tournament life. Rivera ended up with ()(), but Chen had ()() for the flush and the low, which gave Anthony Rivera $41,885 and a ninth place finish.
The official final table was then set as follows:
Seat 1: Yen Chen 775,000
Seat 2: Frank Mariani 449,000
Seat 3: Abe Mosseri 1,167,000
Seat 4: Justin Smith 261,000
Seat 5: Doyle Brunson 284,000
Seat 6: Mike Wattel 154,000
Seat 7: Farzad Rouhani 859,000
Seat 8: Jeff Lisandro 983,000
In the first hour and a half, there was clearly action at the table, but the vast majority of serious hands ended in chops, as is often the case in hi-low games. Mike Wattel came close to elimination several times but chopped and doubled to stay alive. While he continued to struggle, he would not be the next to leave.
The other player to lack momentum was Justin Smith, who had been struggling to find energy to even make it through the day. Finally, he got involved with Yan Chen and the last of his chips went in after seventh street. Smith’s pair of aces and no low was no good against the diamond flush of Chen, and Smith was gone in eighth place, which was worth $54,896.
With the stands packed to the gills with fans and media looking for Brunson to make a run and take down his 11th bracelet, the legend began losing ground. Brunson was pushed to below the 200K mark by Mosseri, then got involved with Wattel and Rouhani and left the hand with only the 68K side pot to stay alive. He messed around with Mosseri again and lost more chips, at which point he had only 19K.
Brunson then pushed all-in right off the bat against Rouhani and Chen. After fourth street, Chen got out of the way, and Brunson’s 2-4-9-7 had only K-Q and an irrelevant last card to go with it, while Rouhani showed a full house - fours full of tens - on sixth street. A disappointed crowd bid ado to the also-disappointed Doyle Brunson in seventh place, as he left to cash out for $62,234.
Then it was Mosseri who lost ground. He lost a significant amount of chips to Rouhani, and then he chose to play a little ball with Mariani. Mosseri was leading on all streets and was finally all-in after sixth street. When all the cards were out, Mariani showed that he made nines full of sevens on sixth street, and Mosseri couldn’t compete with his (7-Q)Q-5-2-8 hand that came up with another 8 on the river. Abe Mosseri left in sixth place with $74,258.
Yan Chen was the next short stack, and his last 19K went all-in right away against Rouhani. Chen showed ()() in the end, but it wasn’t goo enough to beat the pair of sixes that Rouhani showed. Chen was eliminated in fifth place with $93,513.
Wattel was suffering but came back to double and slowly accumulate chips to stay alive. On the other hand, Mariani was cut down quickly, primarily at the hands of Rouhani. Once below the 250K mark, he doubled twice to stay alive, but that was before Lisandro took a big portion of those chips.
Mariani and Lisandro went to war again, and Lisandro took all but 10K of Mariani’s chips with two pair versus the singular pair of Kings of Mariani. The next hand found Mariani all-in with the ante of the next hand, and Wattel, Rouhani, and Lisandro all came along for the ride. Wattel got out on sixth street, and after all of the cards were dealt, Lisandro took the 7-5 low and Rouhani took the two-pair high, leaving Mariani’s single pair as the worst hand. Frank Mariani was ousted in fourth place with $124,684.
Three-handed action lasted over an hour and a half, and Rouhani seemed to be running away with the lead as he eclipsed the 3-million chip mark. Lisandro was climbing, and Wattel was struggling to stay alive.
Wattel’s fight finally came to an end when he went into a hand with his two opponents, though Rouhani folded quickly. Wattel was all-in on fourth street with (), and Lisandro called with (). Wattel never improved, though Lisandro ended up with two pair - fives and fours - to end Mike Wattel’s run in third place, which was worth $176,605.
Heads-up action began at approximately 12:30am with the following chip counts:
Farzad Rouhani 2,860,000
Jeff Lisandro 2,150,000
The first hour into the match consisted of Rouhani extending his lead and working Lisandro down to a very low stack, but eventually, Lisandro began a comeback that would be epic. The small pots he won began adding up, and with trip queens, he took a pot of about 1.4 million chips and the chip lead, changing the entire feel of the match.
Lisandro never stopped. He continued to wear Rouhani down, finally pushing Rouhani to a spot below 500K, and Lisandro didn’t look back.
The last hand of the night came more than three hours into two-handed play, and it started with quite a bit of raising on third street, checking on fourth street, and Rouhani calling all-in on fifth. The entire hands showed Rouhani with ()() and Lisandro with ()(), and the latter’s two pair were good enough for the final victory. That left Farzad Rouhani with $266,804 and a second place finish.
Jeff Lisandro claimed the stud hi-low world championship and the $431,656 that went with it. This was his second bracelet of the 2009 WSOP and his third in two years. Congratulations!