The inaugural World Series of Poker Europe in 2007 found impressive turnouts for the small series of events, but there was no significant increase in attendance at the 2008 WSOPE. But beginning with the first of four events at the 2009 WSOPE, players were out in force, putting a registration increase on the books for Event 1 and going after history-making numbers for the third annual series.
Event 1 was the £1,060 No-Limit Hold’em tournament with a buy-in reduced by £500 from the year before. In order to allow more players to enter and to accommodate for the global recession being experienced by even those in the poker community, the reduction seemed to work as Day 1A alone found itself with a full house of 295 entrants. They played ten-handed until space was made for the players to compete nine-handed.
The first of two starting days consisted of a number of recognizable faces, including Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Barry Greenstein, John Duthie, Roland de Wolfe, Andy Bloch, Brandon Cantu, David Ulliott, Jeff Madsen, Jean-Robert Bellande, Raymond Rahme, and Neil Channing. When the day was finally done with only 40 players left standing, midway through Level 9, it was J.P. Kelly in the chip lead.
The second starting day found another 313 players seated at the tables, bringing the grand total to 608 for the event and bringing the prize pool to £608,000 to be split among the top 63 finishers. In the crowd could be found Chris Ferguson, John Juanda, Annette Obrestad, Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Antonio Esfandiari, Arnaud Mattern, Men Nguyen, Jeff Lisandro, and Allen Cunningham. When chips were bagged for the evening, there were only 49 players left with Stephane Hansen in the lead.
There were 89 players returning on Day 2 to play down to the final table, and a long day awaited them. In the process, the money bubble approached and hand-for-hand was set into motion with 64 players left. It was then that Ray Rahme and Robert Lim took a look at a flop of , and when Rahme pushed all-in, Lim called for his tournament life. Lim showed pocket aces, but Rahme flipped over pocket nines for the set, and the turn and river allowed that to stand. Lim was eliminated on the bubble in 64th place.
As the day and night progressed, Goran Gratte started the payout list with a 63rd place finish (£2,006), and notables who followed included Nicolas Levi in 60th place (£2,006), Markus Golser in 49th (£2,359), John Juanda in 43rd (£2,803), Ray Rahme in 25th (£4,153), and Chris Ferguson in 15th (£6,980). After Toni Huynh left in 11th place (£9,381), the last ten players were reseated together on one table and played on to find one more elimination. It happened when Ganesh Bathmanathan made the all-in move holding and Richard Allen called with . The board came , and Bathmanathan was out in tenth place with £9,381.
The final table was then set for the next day as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Fabien Dunlop || 538,000 |
|Seat 2: ||James Tomlin ||49,000 |
|Seat 3: ||William Martin ||122,500 |
|Seat 4:||Richard Allen ||332,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Anthony Roux ||88,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Adnan Alshamah ||121,000 |
|Seat 7: ||JP Kelly ||317,500 |
|Seat 8: ||Thor Drexel ||77,000 |
|Seat 9: ||Neil Suarez ||217,500 |
Action began right away with only a hand or two before Tomlin pushed all-in preflop with . Martin reraised all-in with , and Drexel called all-in with . When the board came , Martin and Drexel were allowed to split the pot, but James Tomlin was eliminated in ninth place with £13,115.
A short time later, Drexel got involved with Roux in which Roux took quad queens over Drexel’s full house to double through. That left Drexel short with only 25K left. Those chips then went all-in preflop with pocket queens, one of the best hands available for a double-up. But Alshamah and Roux played along to see a flop. Alshamah pushed all-in, prompting a fold from Roux. Alshamah showed for top pair. The on the turn was slightly helpful, but the on the river was not, and Thor Drexel was eliminated in eighth place with £14,835.
The next to move was Martin, who had been relegated to a 100K stack. The push was made with , and Dunlop called with pocket sevens. The board brought no outs for Martin when it produced , and William Martin was ousted in seventh place with £17,535.
Suarez soon decided it was his turn to risk his tournament life and did so preflop with pocket fours. But unfortunately for him, Dunlop was there in the small blind with pocket kings. The board of changed nothing, Neil Suarez took home £21,700 for the sixth place finish.
Dunlop was running away with the chips, as he neared the 1 million mark but none of his opponents had more than 350K.
The shortest stack of the bunch was Roux, who finally took his chances with pocket tens, but this time is was Kelly with pocket kings and the call. When the board came , that was the end of the final table experience for Anthony Roux, who walked away with £28,181 for fifth place.
By this time, Dunlop eclipsed the 1.2 million mark, while Alshamah brought up the other end with the short stack, though he was able to double through Dunlop for a bit of time added to his tournament life.
Allen was next to attempt a double-up, pushing the rest of his chips forward with . Kelly called with pocket nines, and the dealer brought them . The small pair of fours wasn’t enough, and Richard Allen walked away with a fourth place finish and £38,499 to go with it.
Kelly was slowly climbing, but Alshamah had no such luck. Alshamah finally decided to get involved preflop by putting in a raise, and though Kelly folded, Dunlop reraised from the big blind all-in. Alshamah called all-in with , and Dunlop showed . The flop helped Alshamah, but an on the turn gave the advantage back to Dunlop. A on the river ended it for Adnan Alshamah, who exited in third place with £55,468.
Heads-up play began with the following counts:
|Fabien Dunlop ||1,365,000 |
|JP Kelly ||498,000 |
Kelly came out of the gate with a double-up with A-10 over the A-5 of Dunlop, and that combined with a few other pots made the stacks of the opponents nearly even. But Dunlop came back with a double-up of his own when his 7-3 hit a 3 on the flop and another on the turn to crack Kelly’s pocket aces.
But Kelly forged ahead, slowly chipping up. With chip stacks nearly even but Dunlop with the slight advantage, it was then that the two saw a flop of , at which point Kelly bet, Dunlop raised, and Kelly came over the top all-in. Dunlop called quickly with and the flush draw, but Kelly showed for the better draw and king high. The on the turn changed nothing, but the on the river gave Kelly that winning flush draw. Dunlop was left with 19K in chips.
Dunlop doubled up once, then attempted it again with . Kelly called with , and the two watched the board come . Kelly won the hand with trip queens, and Fabien Dunlop was forced to accept second place and the £84,512 that went with it.
John-Paul Kelly (JP) claimed his second World Series of Poker bracelet, after winning his first at the 2009 WSOP in Event 20 this summer. The young Brit won his second bracelet in the first WSOP Europe event of 2009, picking up another gold bracelet and £136,803 for the victory.