The 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table kicked off after a 190-day break. The Rio’s Penn and Teller Theater in Las Vegas was filled with cheering fans, media, and family and friends of the final nine on Monday night. After almost nine-and-a-half hours the final nine players of a 6,598-player field became the final three. Greg Merson, Jacob Balsiger and Jesse Sylvia are coming back on Tuesday to play for the $8,527,982 first-place prize, the championship, the gold bracelet, and a new page in poker history.
The start of the final table:
The first elimination occurred about two hours into play, and it happened on Hand #30. Steve Gee opened to 900,000 under the gun, Merson called, and Russell Thomas called from the button. The flop of found Gee leading out for 1.6 million. Merson folded and Thomas called. The turn brought the . Gee fired 3.25 million and Thomas called.
The hit the river and Gee moved all in for 11.35 million. It took over five minutes in the tank before Thomas called. Gee stood up and turned over ; Thomas turned over and Gee was eliminated in ninth place for $754,798.
The next bust out hit on Hand #65 when action folded to Sylvia in the small blind and he raised all-in and put the pressure on short-stacked Robert Salaburu in the big blind who quickly called. Putting himself at risk with , he was ahead of Sylvia’s .
The flop and on the turn kept Salaburu ahead but the hit the river to sound the end of the tournament for Salaburu; he took home $971,360 for his eight place finish and the Penn & Teller Theatre went ballistic.
It was only five hands later that Merson opened to 1 million under the gun, and short-stacked Michael Esposito moved all in for 10.7 million. Action folded back to Merson and he snap-called.
The flop brought the and the turn gave Esposito an ace-high flush draw. The rivered was a blank and he was gone in seventh place for $1,258,040. Merson took over the chip lead.
Merson used the chip lead well. On Hand #109 the action folded to him on the button; he raised to one million. Sylvia reraised to 2.6 million from the small blind, and Andras Koroknai four-bet to 5.3 million from the big blind. Merson sent out a five-bet to 9.2 million, Sylvia folded, and Koroknai moved all-in. Merson quickly called.
The board ran out . Merson's cheering section was out of control as their hero shot ahead with 80 million in chips while Koroknai left the table in sixth place for $1,640,902.
Jeremy Ausmus was next to go. He opened to 1.2 million on the button and Sylvia defended his big blind. The flop hit and both players checked. Sylvia checked the on the turn, opening the door for Ausmus to bet 1.5 million. Sylvia check-raised to 3.6 million and then called when Ausmus moved all in for 14.5 million.
Sylvia was in the lead with a pair or nines, but Ausmus was drawing; he had an open-ended straight possible. The on the river ended it for Ausmus who was on his way to the cashier in fifth place for $2,155,313.
]Hand #136 started with Sylvia on the button and action folding to Thomas, who raised to 1.5 million from the small blind. Balsiger moved all-in from the big blind for 15.825 million and Thomas tank-called.
Balsiger's rail could be heard on Mars when they saw his hand; they became even louder after the flop of . Thomas could double with a nine or running straight or flush cards. The left Thomas with fewer outs but he could chop with any queen or eight. The river was the and Thomas left with a fourth place finish for $2,851,537.
The final three were set: Merson (88,350,000), Sylvia (62,750,000) and Balsiger (46,875,000).
Tuesday will crown the 2012 WSOP Main Event Champion when action resumes at 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN; check your local listings. Follow hand-for-hand coverage on PokerNews.com.
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