The month of September had been filled with tournaments in London, but many players descended upon the English city specifically for the World Series of Poker Europe. The fourth year of the extension of the WSOP was prepared to offer five events in 2010, and the first was a £2,500 + £150 buy-in six-handed no-limit holdem tournament. It kicked off the action on September 14 at the Casino at the Empire in London’s Leicester Square, and the staff would soon find the poker tournament area filled to capacity with players anxious to get in on the WSOPE action.
Event 1 filled the tables with 244 players, some of the latter registrants having to wait to enter as alternates, though all were seated by the middle of Level 2. Prior to the start of play, tournament director Jack Effel announced the start of the action and UK poker player JP Kelly gave the “shuffle up and deal” command. When the prize pool was eventually announced, it was known that the prize pool was £610,000, the top 24 finishers would be paid, and the winner would walk away with £170,802. Early eliminations on Day 1 included Tom Dwan, Men Nguyen, Huck Seed, David Ulliott, Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, John Juanda, Scott Montgomery, Annette Obrestad, James Dempsey, Sorel Mizzi, and Mike Matusow. And by the end of the night, others having been sent to the rail included Phil Ivey, Michael Mizrachi, Erik Seidel, and Allen Cunningham. The day ended after ten levels with only 31 players to bag up their chips, and it was Andrew Pantling as the chip leader with 106,100 chips, followed by Chris Bjorin with 103,800. The rest of the top five included Tai Tran, Javed Abrahams, and Chris Moorman.
Day 2 began with those 31 players, but with quick eliminations of the likes of Andrew Lichtenberger, the money bubble approached. After having lost chips quickly in the first few rounds of the day, Javed Abrahams put all of his chips at risk on a board. Abrahams proudly showed for the nut diamond flush, but Ilan Rouah was there with for the winning straight flush. Abrahams was out in 25th place.
Thorston Schafer was the first to cash in the event, taking home £5,624 for the 24th place finish, and some of the notables who followed throughout the day included Liv Boeree in 19th place, Chris Moorman in 12th, and Praz Bansi in 11th. At the point that only seven players remained, they were seated together at one table, and eventually, a big hand developed. Chris Bjorin started it with a raise, Andrew Pantling called, but John Tabatabai raised. Bjorin responded with an all-in move, Pantling got out of the way, and Tabatabai called for his tournament life with . Bjorin showed the , and the rockets held up on the board. Tabatabai exited in seventh place with £17,318.
The final table was set for the following day with these chip counts:
Seat 1: Willie Tann 72,000
Seat 2: Chris Bjorin 368,500
Seat 3: Phil Laak 317,000
Seat 4: Andrew Pantling 627,000
Seat 5: Ilan Rouah 200,000
Seat 6: David Peters 251,500
The action began on September 16 with Laak and Pantling continually getting involved, sometimes heads-up against each other. Laak climbed a bit at the beginning of the day, but Pantling climbed as well and took some from Laak.
Short-stacked Tann decided to make a move and successfully doubled through Bjorin to stay alive. But he was still struggling and pushed again soon. This hand, however, started slowly between Tann and Pantling, and they saw a flop. Tann bet, and Pantling raised it up. Tann moved all-in, and Pantling quickly called with , which topped the of Tann. The on the turn and on the river ended it, and Willie Tann departed in sixth place with £23,900.
Five-handed play saw Pantling with a distinctive lead over the others, and Rouah and Peters were at the low end of the leaderboard.
Rouah was chipped down to a very short stack, and he soon moved all-in for 56,500 with . Original raiser Laak called with . The flop of gave Laak the lead with the jacks, and nothing about the turn or river changed that. Ilan Rouah headed off to the cashier cage to pick up £33,617 for the fifth place finish.
It wasn’t surprising when Peters decided to move, though the hand started innocently enough with Peters and Pantling going to see a flop. They both checked to receive a on the turn, at which point Pantling bet and Peters called. Upon the showing of a on the river, Pantling moved all-in, and Peters called for his last 111K chips with , which was no good against the of Pantling. David Peters was eliminated in fourth place with £48,202.
Bjorin was the short stack during three-handed play but did double through Pantling to stay in the game. But soon enough, Bjorin moved again and did it with . Laak pushed all-in over the top to prompt a fold from Pantling, which worked, and Laak showed a dominating . The board came , and the set of kings was more than enough to take the pot. Chris Bjorin was gone in third place with £70,473.
Heads-up play started with the following chip counts:
Andrew Pantling 1,078,000
Phil Laak 759,000
Laak was diligent about chipping up and did just that, eventually making the chip counts even and moving into the lead. But the two players then exchanged the lead back and forth with stacks nearly even.
One hand saw Pantling take a significant lead over Laak, but Laak then doubled through with on a board against the of Pantling. The on the river gave Laak the double-up and well over a 2-to-1 lead over his opponent.
It didn’t take long for another big hand to develop. After Pantling led out with a raise, Laak moved all-in. Pantling called for his last 350K chips with . Laak showed and would need to improve. The flop of brought no help, but the on the turn gave Laak the pair. And the on the river allowed that to stand, eliminating Andrew Pantling in second place with £105,506.
Phil Laak won Event 1 at the 2010 World Series of Poker Europe, and he walked away with £170,802 and his first gold bracelet.