In the beginning of November, players travel from many miles through the woods of Connecticut to arrive at Foxwoods for the World Poker Finals. The series of tournaments culminates in a main event that includes the World Poker Tour name, and there is never a shortage of action in this East Coast poker event. In 2008, it was Jonathan Little who survived the field of 412 and took the victory and $1.2 million. And while it looked like the crowd would be smaller in 2009, there would be no less excitement.
November 5 brought Day 1 of the tournament and the sole opportunity for players to buy-in. When registration was complete, there were 353 entrants, which made for a prize pool of $3,321,377 for the last 36 players standing and a first place prize of $910,058 for the winner. Among the names in the field were Mike Matusow, David Pham, Kathy Liebert, Gavin Griffin, Greg Mueller, Jason Mercier, Chad Brown, Gavin Smith, Terrence Chan, Tommy Vedes, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Billy Kopp, Adam Levy, Michael Mizrachi, Noah Schwartz, Nick Schulman, Steve Sung, Erik Cajelais, and Christina Lindley. But when play stopped for the day, only 206 of them survived, and Todd Terry was the chip leader with 165,700. Danny Shiff sat in second place with 159,525, and the rest of the top five included Adam Lippert, Jack Schanbacher, and Soheil Shamseddin.
Day 2 was set up to play another five levels, and the 206 players saw a number of players hit the rail, such as the previous day’s third place leader Adam Lippert. But the fight for the chip lead on the second day of play saw Terrence Chan, Soheil Shamseddin, and Christian Harder fighting for it as the hours went by. But when play stopped, it was Steven Merrifield who grabbed that lead with 465,100 chips, and Shamseddin was in the second spot with 401,000. Todd Terry, Terrence Chan, and Curt Kohlberg rounded out the top five, and the 71 remaining players were set to return the following day.
Day 3 was the one that would find 36 players in the money and more than that dealing with the disappointment of finishing before that point. Jonathan Jaffe was one of those players, as he went out in 39th, followed by Robert McLaughlin in 38th. And it was Michael Farris who finally moved his very short stack all-in with against the of Cornel Cimpan, but Cimpan made a straight on the board to eliminate Farris in 37th place on the money bubble. The rest of the players were set to receive at least $21,588 for their efforts, and Aaron Ruppert was the first to do it when he finished in 36th place. Others who left subsequently included Adam Gerber in 35th place, Eric Haber in 34th, and Nenad Medic in 33rd. Ultimately, after Steven Merrifield left in 28th place, play was stopped for the day with 27 players remaining. Soheil Shamseddin led the pack with 945K, and Lee Markholt was second with 812K. The rest of the top five included Terrence Chan, Matt Stout, and Steve Brecher.
The play for Day 4 was to play down to ten players, and it didn’t take as long as expected to do so. Tam Ly started the action with a 27th place finish, and other notables along the way included Joe Serock in 25th place, Jason Mercier in 21st, Terrence Chan in 18th, Christian Harder in 17th, and Todd Terry in 12th. And to end the day, Michael Mizrachi and Adam Levy got involved in a pot that started with a flop of . Mizrachi immediately moved all-in with and the straight draw, but Levy called with . The turn and river left Mizrachi unable to make the straight and eliminated in 11th place with $46,499.
The final ten were set to return on Day 5 to play to the final six, and it was Matt Stout holding the massive lead with 2,101,000 chips. Cornel Cimpan was second with 1,554,000, but other notables still in contention included Levy, Lee Markholt, Kenna James, Steve Brecher, Cornel Cimpan, and Eric Froehlich.
Day 5 started with the elimination of Tom Dobrilovic in tenth place ($46,499), and Adam Levy followed awhile later in ninth place ($66,427). Steve Brecher eventually took eighth place ($99,641), and one more eliminated loomed to end the day. Finally, it was Kenna James with 125K left, and he moved all-in with pocket sixes. Soheil Shamseddin called with , and the board came , which gave him the straight to beat his opponent’s two pair. James was forced to accept seventh place and the $132,855 that went with it.
And the final table was set for November 10, and the chip counts and seating assignments were as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Lee Markholt ||264,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Curt Kohlberg ||1,086,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Eric Froehlich ||1,014,000 |
|Seat 4: ||Cornel Andrew Cimpan ||3,691,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Soheil Shamseddin ||2,954,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Matt Stout ||1,579,000 |
It only took two hands before short-stacked Markholt was prepared to risk it all in the hopes of a double-up. He pushed from the button with , and Stout called with . The flop of gave Stout the flush draw, though the on the turn was innocent. But the dropped on the river, giving Stout the flush and eliminating Lee Markholt in sixth place with $166,069.
Everyone else seemed content to start the action slowly in order to carefully pick spots, but several big pots developed in the first few rounds, one that found Shamseddin taking a pot of nearly 1.5 million chips from Cimpan and Stout taking a similarly significant pot from Shamseddin.
Kohlberg decided to move next, having been chipped down to 690K. He pushed from the small blind with , but Shamseddin defended his original raise with pocket deuces. The flop was solid for Kohlberg when it came . The on the turn changed nothing, but the river card brought the , giving Shamseddin the set. Curt Kohlberg was knocked out in brutal fashion in fifth place with $199,283.
It was quite awhile later that Froehlich chose his spot, and with less than 1 million chips remaining, he moved all-in from the small blind holding . Shamseddin considered the call for quite some time before finally making it with pocket fours. The board brought nothing for either player when it produced , and Shamseddin’s pocket pair held up. Eric Froehlich was ousted in fourth place with $232,496.
The three remaining players sat with Stout holding more than 5.3 million, Shamseddin with just under 3 million, and Cimpan with less than 2.4 million. Over the course of the next 40 hands, chips were exchanged that lessened Stout’s lead but left him in the number one spot, while Cimpan took over second place from Shamseddin. And the subsequent 80 hands saw quite a bit of action, but most notably Stout took the worst beats. Cimpan and Shamseddin both doubled through Stout, and though the latter came back with a double through Cimpan, Stout was in deep trouble when Cimpan doubled back through Stout on the 144th hand of the night, leaving Stout with only 280K.
The very next hand saw Stout push all-in from the big blind with , but both other players came along to see the flop of . Shamseddin bet, and when Cimpan folded, Shamseddin showed for trips. The came on the river to end Stout’s chances, and the irrelevant on the river officially ended the hand. Matt Stout left the tournament in third place with $265,710.
The two remaining players started heads-up action with the following chip counts:
|Cornel Andrew Cimpan ||2,570,000 |
|Soheil Shamseddin ||8,020,000 |
It took only nine hands for Cimpan to make his move, and he did it with pocket queens. Shamseddin called with , and the board blanked with . Cimpan’s pocket pair held up and allowed him to double and close the gap on his opponent’s lead.
Cimpan then went on a tear and took the chip lead only four hands later. Shamseddin came back to take a 3.6 million-chip pot and regain the lead, but a key hand came five hands after.
Shamseddin put his opponent to the test with an all-in move holding , but Cimpan woke up with pocket aces. The board came , and Cimpan used that set to double up and take a solid lead with close to 7 million chips. Shamseddin had less than 3.7 million.
On the 187th hand of the night and only six hands after Cimpan took the lead, he got aggressive with an all-in move holding . Shamseddin wasted no time calling with but was not happy to see that he was the underdog in the hand. The board came , and Soheil Shamseddin was forced to accept a second place finish, which came with a prize of $463,332.
Cornel Andrew Cimpan won the WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals, which came with a Foxwoods trophy, WPT bracelet, and $910,058 in cash. It also stood for Cimpan’s second win in less than a year, as he won the WPT L.A. Poker Classic in February.