The third largest tournament in terms of number of entrants at 2,715 took place this weekend at the 2009 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada. The prize pool was impressive at over three million dollars and first place was going to take home not only a WSOP bracelet but over 650K in cash. Among the notable players who decided to give this glorified lottery a shot were Dennis Phillips, Bryan Devonshire, Kevin Saul, Shannon Shorr, Roland DeWolfe, and Mark Seif. 270 players made the money and among the “I have more money than when I started” club were Grant Hinkle, Justin Bonomo, Matt Matros, Chris Bigler, Mark Newhouse, Adam Levy, Nam Le, Joe Bartholdi, and Raymond Davis. The final table still managed to have two notable names in Alex Jacob and Brandon Cantu.
The final nine, their seating assignment, and starting chip counts were as follows:
Seat 1: Chairud Vangchailued – 875,000
Seat 2: Tyler Spalding – 1,485,000
Seat 3: Patrick O'Connor – 580,000
Seat 4: Brandon Cantu – 880,000
Seat 5: Alex Jacob – 2,200,000
Seat 6: Ray Foley – 2,860,000
Seat 7: Richard Lutes – 1,555,000
Seat 8: Wei Mu – 1,370,000
Seat 9: Jonathan Markham – 400,000
The shortest stack at the table, Jonathan Markham, wasted no time in doubling up. He came over the top of Alex Jacob's 100K opener for 400K total and Jacob made the call with just K-9 of spades. Markham had A-10 and the flop kept him in the lead when it was J-6-6. The turn, however, was a great card for Jacob as it was a king. Markham needed an ace or a queen to stay alive and it was the queen that came on the river to keep him in contention.
First to act and with just over ½ a million in chips, Patrick O'Connor moved all in from the small blind. Brandon Cantu didn't have many more chips but decided to make the call with what he knew was likely a coin flip at best. Cantu had pocket 3's and was up against the A-4 suited of O'Connor, who had to be thrilled to see the hand Cantu turned over. The board came Q-8-2-9-7 and the 3's held to win the pot. Patrick O'Connor finished in 9th place winning $80,049.
Chairud Vangchailued doubled up in a battle of the blinds when he completed and called a raise from Tyler Spalding with A-8. The flop came nearly perfect for Chairud... A-A-5... and he checked. Spalding put Vangchailued to the test and moved all in. Chairud called and Spalding shook his head when he saw his opponent's hand and flipped over pocket kings. No king to save the day and Spalding was down to 600K after the hand while Chairud now had over 1.7 million.
Spalding got those chips back and more when he got it all pre-flop with pocket kings again, this time against the 8's of Ray Foley. After the cowboys held, Spalding moved up to nearly two million in chips while Foley fell just slightly behind him at 1.8 million. The action continued to be fast and furious and just as quick as Spalding acquired those chips he gave them away.
Spalding opened the action for 160K and Lutes made the call. Jonathan Markham moved all in for approximately 400K total and after getting a count, Spalding called. Lutes, much to Spalding's chagrin, then moved all in as well for an additional 350K on top. With nearly two million in the pot, Spalding made the crying call knowing he was probably in bad shape with K-Q suited. Markham had pocket kings and Lutes had pocket 4's. The flop came J-10-3 and the crowd murmured as Spalding flopped an open ended straight draw and had a good shot to knock out two players. The turn and river bricked out though and Markham tripled up while Lutes won the side pot to break even in the hand.
Lutes run did not last much longer as him and Brandon Cantu got it all in on a flop. Lutes had been caught bluffing as all he had was but believe it or not he was actually ahead as Cantu merely had for the flush draw. The turn was the and Cantu won the hand with his flush. Richard Lutes finished in 8th place winning $85,608.
Chairud Vangchailued would definitely not be described as a tight player and his loose play ended up costing him in the end. After opening for 120K from early position, Chairud called the all in re-raise from Alex Jacob. Chairud's hand that he risked his tournament life on? Q-J of spades which was far behind the pocket jacks Jacob held. Chairud flopped a queen but unfortunately for him he also flopped two pair which gave Jacob a set. No miracle queen and Chairud Vangchailued finished in 7th place winning $96,355.
Cantu, in what could only be described as a classic Cantu moment, doubled up Alex Jacob when he check called Jacob's all in bet on the river and was shown pocket aces. Cantu mucked his hand but not before he whispered loudly “Shit, why'd I do that?”
Cantu was still in good shape though with over two million in chips but his foe Jacob now had the chip lead with over 3.5 million.
Jonathan Markham opened the pot from early position and was called by Wei Mu in the big blind. The flop came A-K-J and Mu check raised Markhams 265K bet all in and was quickly called by Markham who had flopped a set of kings. It was a cooler of a hand for Jonathan though as Mu had flopped the nuts with Q-10. The board did not pair and Jonathan Markham finished in 6th place winning $114,514.
Tyler Spalding was down to his last 600K and decided to move all in against Alex Jacob's 200K opener. Jacob made the easy call with pocket 9's and was well ahead of the J-2 suited Spalding held. No jack or other miracle came and Tyler Spalding finished in 5th place winning $143,421.
Alex Jacob decided to make a stand against the frequent opening raises of Brandon Cantu and moved all in from the small blind after Cantu opened from the button. Unfortunately for Jacob he picked a terrible time to do it as Ray Foley in the big blind woke up with a big hand in pocket jacks. Cantu got out of the way and Jacob meekly showed his meager hand, A-3 off suit. No ace came and Foley doubled up to over five million while Jacob fell down to 2.2 million.
Jacob made another stand against Cantu, moving all in again after Cantu opened from the small blind on Jacob's big blind. Again Jacob's timing was bad as Cantu had a legitimate hand in pocket 10's and was way ahead of the 8-6 off that he held. The flop came K-8-5 to give Jacob a few outs to the win and the 9 on the turn added four 7's as outs. Cantu was displeased and dropped a F-bomb while asking for a 10. The river wasn't a 10 but it was just as good for Cantu as it was a jack. Cantu moved to over 4 million on the hand and Jacob was down to only 320K. Jacob shipped those chips in the next hand with J-9 and Ray Foley called with A-4. The ace high held up and Alex Jacob finished in 4th place winning $190,857.
Wei Mu was next to fall when he flopped top pair with K-9 and moved all in but was called by Brandon Cantu who had K-10. The 10 kicker ended up playing and Wei Mu finished in 3rd place winning $269,609.
Heads up play started with Cantu holding a slight 7 million to 5 million chip advantage over Foley. It looked as if Cantu was going to win his 2nd bracelet when Cantu raised a limp from Foley and snap called Foley's limp shove with A-Q. Foley merely had A-7 and was going to need a miracle to stave off elimination. The flop came 8-8-5 keeping Cantu firmly in the lead. The turn card was a 6, prompting Cantu to not want to look at the river since Foley now had an open ender. The river wasn't a straight card but it might as well have been for Cantu as it was another 5 and the two ended up chopping the pot.
The tournament again appeared it was going to be over when Cantu shipped it from the big blind over the top of Foley's raise and was called. Foley had pocket 10's which were ahead of the K-9 of Cantu, but a king on the flop meant Cantu only had to dodge two remaining 10's to win. The turn was a devastating 10 though and now the chip positions were reversed with Foley holding a 2:1 chip lead.
Cantu raised from the small blind and was called by Foley. The flop came J-9-3 and Foley checked. Cantu led out for a bet of 450K and Foley quickly check raised all in. After a minute of deliberation Cantu announced that he was calling and turned over J-7. Foley, however, was way ahead with Q-J and the turn and river would not save the day for Brandon and Foley jumped into the arms of his friends. Brandon Cantu finished in 2nd place winning $403,951.
No one gave Ray Foley much of a chance with players like Alex Jacob and Brandon Cantu at the final table. Even though he got lucky several times heads up to survive, there was no doubting, or denying, Foley's abilities at the poker table. He emerged from a 2,700+ player field as the newest bracelet winner at the WSOP. Ray Foley finished in 1st place winning $657,969. Congratulations Ray!