The last preliminary tournament of the 2009 World Series of Poker was an opportunity. While many used the days before the $10K main event to rest and relax, others were anxious for the chance to cash in, make a final table of, and potentially win the no-limit hold’em short-handed event. This was their chance.
There were 928 players who took their $5K shot at it, and the combination of those numbers made for a $4,361,600 prize pool for the last 90 players standing to split according to their finishes. And the first place prize? A whopping $1,003,218.
Day 1 saw the field thin to only 160 players, so it was the second day of action that brought the field into the money. With the elimination of three players on the money bubble, it allowed the remainder of the survivors to be guaranteed $9,159 for their efforts. When the action concluded in the middle of the night (3:00am), there were still 16 players remaining, and they entered the final day of play as follows:
Seat 1: Peter Feldman 1,328,000
Seat 2: Aurelien Guiglini 549,000
Seat 3: Josh Brikis 294,000
Seat 4: Thorsten Schaefer 1,094,000
Seat 5: Matthew Waxman 1,132,000
Seat 6: Alex Venovski 684,000
Seat 1: James St Hilaire 876,000
Seat 2: John Conkright 749,000
Seat 4: Rory Mathews 1,358,000
Seat 5: Jonas Wexler 848,000
Seat 6: Eugene Katchalov 356,000
Seat 1: Robert Kay 1,213,000
Seat 3: Frank Calo 569,000
Seat 4: Sean Keeton 641,000
Seat 5: Matt Hawrilenko 1,327,000
Seat 6: Faraz Jaka 778,000
As tends to happen with quite a bit of money on the line and anxious players, action was slow to start at the three tables, and it took a short while to get to a flop.
When they did, there were several eliminations as follows:
16th place: Frank Calo ($37,379)
15th place: Eugene Katchalov ($37,379)
14th place: Peter Feldman ($37,379)
13th place: Aurelien Guiglini ($37,379)
Players redrew for the final two tables, after which the next eliminations were:
12th place: John Conkright ($52,296)
11th place: Rory Mathews ($52,296)
10th place: Alex Venovski ($72,446)
9th place: James St. Hilaire ($72,446)
8th place: Thorsten Schaefer ($100,230)
The last seven players were then seated at one table, though one more elimination would allow it to be the official final table. Seven-handed play found Josh Brikis in the chip lead with 3.8 million, followed by Faraz Jaka and his 3.1 million chips. Sean Keeton was the short stack with 825K.
But it was Robert Kay who got involved preflop by pushing all-in. Matt Hawrilenko was the original raiser and called, and Jaka escaped to let the two battle. Kay turned over , and Hawrilenko showed . The board then came , and that eliminated Kay in seventh place with $100,230.
Upon the players returning from a long dinner break, the chip counts were as follows:
Josh Brikis 4,650,000
Matt Hawrilenko 3,750,000
Sean Keeton 1,600,000
Jonas Wexler 1,550,000
Faraz Jaka 1,400,000
Matt Waxman 1,350,000
Action got off to its start by witnessing Waxman lost more than half his stack in the starting hands. With only 605K left, he made the all-in move preflop with . Brikis reraised all-in from the big blind to isolate, and original raiser Keeton folded so Brikis could turn over pocket kings. The board was useless to Waxman with , and Matthew Waxman accepted sixth place and the $138,394 that went with it.
Wexler lost ground from his starting stack as well, especially when Keeton doubled through and left him with only 700K. On the very next hand, Wexler pushed all-in from the small blind with , but it was Brikis willing to call again, this time with . The board produced , and Jonas Wexler was ousted in fifth place with $189,555.
Four-handed action saw Keeton as the short stack, and though he moved up over the 2-million mark, he still found it necessary to move all-in preflop with . Hawrilenko was the caller with pocket jacks, and the race was on. It ended when the dealer could only give them , and Sean Keeton was eliminated in fourth place with $269,983.
Faraz Jaka eventually pushed his stack with pocket queens against the of Hawrilenko, and the board started interestingly enough with to give Jaka the straight draw but Hawrilenko the dominating top pair. The turn was the and the river the , and Jaka was gone in third place with $400,526.
Heads-up action began with the following chip counts:
Matt Hawrilenko 9,025,000
Josh Brikis 4,975,000
And it only took four hands. That action began with Brikis coming in for an initial raise but Hawrilenko putting on the pressure and making it one million to go. Brikis came over the top all-in with , and Hawrilenko called immediately with pocket jacks. The board came , and the tournament was over. Josh Brikis took second place and a substantial consolation prize of $619,609.
Matt Hawrilenko was awarded his first WSOP bracelet for the victory and an amazing $1,003,163 for the accomplishment.