Many would say it was just another $1,500 NLHE tournament, but many of those who save their money, work hard on their bankrolls, and plan for the event all year would disagree. For most people $1,500 is not an easy amount of money to come by, and the trip to Las Vegas can also be costly. But it is all worth it to have the experience of playing in a World Series of Poker tournament, not to mention take the chance at life-changing money.
Players in Event 30 registered with the $1,500 to play some no-limit holdem, and the final numbers showed 2,394 players in the field and a total prize pool of $3,231,900. That meant a total of 243 players would split pieces of that, with the ultimate winner taking home $581,851. Sadly but inevitably, most players did not complete the first day, as only 288 survived through the end of Day 1. Day 2 found that number thinned further as some players made it into the money but only 21 finished the day, and it was Christopher Gonzalez heading into Day 3 with 1,315,000 and the chip lead.
Action resumed on Friday, June 18, to move through Day 3 with the goal of reaching the final table and playing on through to the win. But of course, some of those 21 players wouldn’t make it that far, and the ones who busted early in the afternoon were:
21st place: Kevin O’Brien ($16,644)
20th place: Spencer Hudson ($16,644)
19th place: Kenneth Whelan ($16,644)
18th place: David Sands ($20,716)
17th place: Steven Goosen ($20,716)
16th place: Andrew Ferris ($20,716)
15th place: Kent Vanho ($26,049)
14th place: Allen Stern ($26,049)
13th place: Markus Lehmann ($26,049)
12th place: Jean Gaspard ($33,191)
11th place: Neil Channing ($33,191)
It was after the dinner break that the tournament was seeking its final bustout before the last nine were declared as the final table participants. And it happened when Alexander Queen pushed all-in preflop with . Christopher Gonzales called instantly with , and though both players caught part of the flop, Gonzales had the better pair. the on the turn and on the river ended it for Queen, who departed in tenth place with $33,191.
The final table was then set with counts and seat assignments as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Christopher Gonzales ||2,705,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Jason Hallee ||1,075,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Jeff Cohen || 330,000 |
|Seat 4: ||David Wilkinson ||1,345,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Billy Griner ||525,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Martin Jacobson ||1,185,000 |
|Seat 7: ||Christopher Kastler ||1,810,000 |
|Seat 8: ||William Kakon ||1,150,000 |
|Seat 9: ||Mike Ellis ||560,000 |
Though the action got off to a slow start, short-stacked Cohen was ready to move. He pushed all-in, and Wilkinson moved all-in over the top. Kakon thought about it but finally folded, at which point Cohen showed and Wilkinson the . The race was on until the flop came to give Wilkinson the set of nines. The on the turn gave Cohen a straight draw, but the on the river was too little, too late. Jeff Cohen left in ninth place with $42,790.
During eight-handed play, Ellis doubled through Kakon to stay alive. But Gonzales took a chunk from Kastler to put him in short-stacked position.
Kastler then pushed all-in from the button with , and original raiser Gonzales made the call for 675K more with . The board started with a flop, again making a set of nines. The on the river changed nothing, nor did the on the river. Chris Kastler was eliminated in eighth place with $55,814.
Hallee was the next to make the move, doing it from the button with . Again, it was Gonzales making the call, but this time he had . The board of brought absolutely nothing for Jason Hallee, who was sent away from the table in seventh place with $73,719.
The next at risk was Kakon, though he wasn’t all-in until after the flop. Griner made the all-in move, and Kakon called all-in for the remainder of his chips holding . Griner, however, showed for the trip aces. The on the turn and on the river ended the hand and sent William Kakon packing in sixth place, for which he was awarded $98,605.
Five-handed play started with Gonzales holding a massive chip lead with nearly 4.4 million, and Wilkinson sat in second with 2.2 million. Jacobson was the short stack with only 980K, though he did double through Gonzales once and take another pot from him to climb a bit. Ellis doubled through Wilkinson, and the latter did the same through Jacobson.
But it was Griner who moved next, committing his 500K from the big blind with . Wilkinson had a dominating that only improved on the flop. The on the turn and on the river took care of Billy Griner, who was sent to the cashier cage to pick up $133,574 for the fifth place finish.
Jacobson was back on a fairly short stack and moved all-in from the button with . Wilkinson called this all-in as well, this time with , and again hit the flop with for the pair of tens. The on the turn brought no help, and the only served to end the hand. Martin Jacobson departed in fourth place with $183,345.
Three-handed play began with Wilkinson holding 5,550,000 and a massive lead, while Gonzales sat with 2.9 million and Ellis with 2,350,000 chips. As Ellis and Gonzales doubled through each other, the latter getting the best of it, Wilkinson lost chips in the process.
Wilkinson was the next one at risk and moved all-in preflop with , and Gonzales called with . The flop gave Wilkinson hopes of that flush, but the on the turn simply gave Gonzales the pair. The on the river was no club and served to eliminate David Wilkinson in third place with $254,996.
Heads-up action then got underway with the following counts:
|Christopher Gonzales ||7,850,000 |
|Mike Ellis ||2,875,000 |
The two battled for more than two and a half hours, during which time Ellis doubled up and chipped up to even the counts. Though Gonzales took his lead back temporarily, another double by Ellis eventually led him to a massive chip lead.
Ultimately, Gonzales and Ellis raised and reraised to see a flop of . Gonzales put out a bet of over 1.2 million, and Ellis called to see the on the turn. Gonzales then moved all-in. Ellis called with for the nut flush, and Gonzales showed . The on the river ended the tournament for Christopher Gonzales, who took home $360,906 for the second place finish.
Mike Ellis claimed his first ever WSOP bracelet for the Event 30 win, and collected $581,851 for the accomplishment.