A rather small field of 446 players took part in the $2,000 Limit Hold Em event at the 2009 World Series of Poker creating a prize pool of just under one million dollars. Among those who took part but were unable to make it into the money were Gavin Smith, Erick Lindgren, Greg Mueller, and John Phan. Diego Cordovez, Alexander Kravchenko, Daniel Negreanu, and Rafe Furst all cashed and Phil Hellmuth was this close to making yet another WSOP final table but was eliminated in 17th place when his top set was run down by a flush.
The final nine, their seating assignments, and starting chip counts were as follows:
Seat 1: Jared O'Dell – 189,000
Seat 2: Danny Qutami – 323,000
Seat 3: Ian Johns – 113,000
Seat 4: Marc Naalden – 755,000
Seat 5: Tommy Hang – 202,000
Seat 6: Steven Cowley – 322,000
Seat 7: Rep Porter – 287,000
Seat 8: Jameson Painter – 205,000
Seat 9: Alex Keating – 284,000
Rep Porter had a terrible run including hitting two pair on the flop only to get run down by a bigger two pair to cripple him. Down to his last few chips, Porter put them in on a K-8-7 two club flop with A-7 but was well behind the aces of Jameson Painter. Rep Porter finished in 9th place winning $19,594.
Marc Naalden was relentless with his big stack and when he looked down and saw 10-8 off suit in early position he raised it up. A short stacked Jameson Painter three bet it and Naalden made the call. The flop came 10-7-6 rainbow and the rest of Painter's chips went in. Painter had two overs with but Naalden hit a straight on the river to send Painter to the rail. Jameson Painter finished in 8th place winning $21,819.
Naalden continued his surge, winning what seemed like every pot to more than double his starting stack to over 1.5 million, which was more than ½ of the chips in play. Jared O'Dell was having the exact opposite problem as he found his stack down to 45K and moved those chips in pre-flop. Tommy Hang called with A-Q which was way ahead of O'Dell's A-10. An ace and a queen on the flop was all Hang needed and Jared O'Dell finished in 7th place winning $25,439.
Naalden took out yet another player when he three bet Danny Qutami and received a call. The flop came J-5-4 rainbow and Qutami check called Naalden's bet. The turn was a queen and Qutami check raised all in and was called by Naalden who had K-J. Qutami only had A-10 and needed an ace or a queen to stay alive. The river was an 8 and Danny Qutami finished in 6th place winning $31,088.
Naalden showed absolutely no signs of slowing down as he continued taking pots from every player at the table. Their stacks grew smaller as his jumped near the two million mark. Alex Keating was the next player to be eliminated when he moved all in over the top of a raise from, you guessed it, Naalden and was called. Naalden's pocket 5's would stand up against Keating's A-K and the Dutch contingent on the rail started chanting “Needle King” as Naalden added even more chips to his stack. Alex Keating finished in 5th place winning $39,977.
Naalden had ¾ of the chips at the table and it seemed that the tournament would be over in no time the way he was knocking players out left and right. He showed no signs of relenting, even after doubling up a couple players, and raised from the cutoff and called the three bet from Hang. Naalden check called Hang on a K-3-3 flop and then led out on the 5 turn, enough to set in Hang. Naalden had pocket 10's and Hang merely had A-5 and would need another 5 or ace to stay alive. The river was an 8 and Tommy Hang finished in 4th place winning $54,182.
Much to the delight of the ever growing Dutch rail, Naalden continued his one man show when he hit a flush on the river to eliminate a short stacked Ian Johns, who mucked his hand and headed off to collect his winnings. Ian Johns finished in 3rd place winning $77,576.
Heads up play commenced with Naalden having 2.3 million in chips to Steven Cowley's 325K. Cowley won three sizable pots right off the bat to narrow the gap to 1.5 million to 1.1 million and for the first time in a while it looked as if Naalden's good run was coming to an end. In fact, Cowley actually took the chip lead at one point but Naalden was not one to give up easily and as quickly as he gave up the chip lead he regained control and delivered knockout blow after knockout blow to Cowley until he was running on fumes.
The final hand saw all of Cowley's chips go in pre-flop with A-5 with Naalden holding Q-8. A queen on the flop gave Naalden the lead and it was one he would retain. Steven Cowley put up a valiant effort heads up but finished in 2nd place winning $117,902.
Marc Naalden came into the final table with the chip lead and while he relinquished it momentarily once play was heads up there was no mistaking who controlled the action as Naalden knocked out player after player on his way to winning his first bracelet. Marc Naalden finished in 1st place winning $190,770.