Players typically turn out in force for short-handed tournaments, and the six-handed NLHE tournaments have gained much popularity in recent years. Toss one of those on to the schedule early in the World Series of Poker with a minimum $1,500 buy-in, and players will not hesitate to play. Six-handed events allow players more action, the implementation of a different strategy than nine- or ten-handed tables, and the obvious benefit of more room in their seats.
Event 16 brought a total of 1,663 players to the tables in 2010, which filled the Pavilion ballroom and spilled over into a good portion of the Amazon room as well. When the $1,500 buy-ins were calculated, the prize pool came to $2,245,050, which made for a higher number than last year and allowed the last 162 players in the current event to be paid.
Day 1 actually took the players directly into the money, leaving only 146 players standing. And by the end of Day 2, only 16 were left to bag up their chips, with Carter Phillips in the chip lead but all competitors gunning for seats at the final table.
Day 3 began with those 16 players but soon whittled the field down to the final table. On the way, the following players exited:
|16th place: ||Jesse Martin ($17,488) |
|15th place: ||Michael Meyers ($17,488) |
|14th place: ||Conrad Monica ($17,488)|
|13th place: ||Matt Zoorob ($17,488) |
|12th place: ||Kevin Iacofano ($22,787) |
|11th place: ||Matthew Ezrol ($22,787) |
|10th place: ||Mark Flowers ($30,420) |
|9th place: ||Alexander Wilson ($30,420) |
|8th place: ||Mikhail Lakhitov ($41,645) |
The last seven players were seated at one table with Carter Phillips in a dominating chip lead. But on the short stack was Thong Tran, who put his last chips at risk from the button with . Original raiser Bergeron made the easy call holding . The board came , and Tran was eliminated in seventh place, with $41,645 but on the final table bubble.
The official table was then set and moved to the ESPN staging area. It wasn’t being filmed, but more room was available there for an audience. Starting chip counts were as follows:
|Carter Phillips ||3,175,000 |
|Craig Bergeron ||1,214,000|
|Russell Thomas ||1,075,000 |
|Samuel Gerber ||1,057,000 |
|David Diaz ||490,000 |
|Hugo Perez ||485,000 |
It was noted at the beginning of action that the average age of the players at the final table was 22.8, making it a strong contender for the youngest cumulative final table in WSOP history. With three players at 21-years old and the oldest player - Perez - coming in at 26, the youth versus maturity or experience argument was pretty much thrown out the window.
As play got underway, Diaz was the first to move with his short stack. From the big blind, he pushed all of his chips into the middle with , and original raiser Bergeron was able to make the call with . The flop only helped Bergeron when it came to give him the set. The turn and river cards only ended the action quickly for David Diaz, who departed in sixth place with $58,483.
Thomas soon found himself in a preflop battle with Gerber, and when the latter pushed all-in, Thomas called for his tournament life holding . Gerber turned over the , and it was looking grim for Thomas. The dealer slowly gave them a board, which sent Russell Thomas out in fifth place with $84,256.
Perez did everything he could to chip up, doubling through Gerber and picking spots carefully. But at the same time, Gerber chipped up through Bergeron, and Bergeron doubled through Phillips and Gerber. Four-handed play saw some changes in the chip counts.
But Perez finally had to make another move. With 385K left, he pushed with , and Bergeron called with . The flop of gave a pair to each player but the better one was the jacks of Bergeron. The turn and river ended the hand, and Hugo Perez headed to the cashier cage to collect $124,690 for the fourth place finish.
Though Bergeron was making significant progress against his two opponents, it was a clash with Phillips that stopped him in his tracks. The preflop raising got into the millions, and Bergeron ended up all-in preflop with . Carter had but picked up his jack on the flop. The on the turn brought chop possibilities, but the on the river ended the hand. Craig Bergeron left in third place with $189,661.
Heads-up play started without official chip counts but a report that Phillips had more than a 3-to-1 chip lead over Gerber.
It didn’t take long for Gerber to make an attempt. Gerber was all-in preflop with , but Phillips just happened to have with which to make the call. The flop of gave Phillips an even bigger advantage, and the turn and river let it be. Samuel Gerber finished the tournament in second place with $298,726.
Carter Phillips won Event 16 and became one of the few players to ever capture an EPT title and a WSOP bracelet. For the accomplishment, the 21-year old walked away with $482,774.