2012 WSOP: A Look at the Biggest Poker Hands From the Main Event

Posted at 20:30 2012-07-19 by Chad Holloway

The 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event has come to an end, at least until October. It took 10 days of intense play, but finally the field of 6,598 was reduced to the final table of nine. Tens of thousands of poker hands were players over that time, but some became more memorable than others. Here is a look at four hands we’d wager will be talked about for years.

Controversial Hand Between Baumann and Koroknai

One of the Main Event hands that has already been debated extensively and that will no doubt continue to be talked about for years to come, happened on Day 5 between Gaelle Baumann and Andras Koroknai. Here’s the hand in question as reported in our Live Blog:

Gaelle Baumann opened for a min-raise to 60,000 from under the gun, and the action folded to Andras Koroknai, who moved all in for what looked like 2 million from the small blind. Gavin Smith folded from the big blind, and thinking that the action was completed, Koroknai mucked his hand.

When he realized his mistake, he pulled back one of his cards, but the other was irretrievable. A floor person was called to the table, and the dealer explained what had happened. Tournament director Dennis Jones was called over to make the ruling, and upon hearing the story, stood silently for half a minute.

Smith, who was standing next to him, began laughing at the difficulty of the decision.

After a moment for thought, Jones informed the table that Koroknai would have to forfeit 60,000 chips to Baumann, but that he wouldn't be eliminated completely.

"Really?" Smith blurted.

Baumann was also confused with the ruling, so Jones pulled out his iPhone and called Vice President of the World Series of Poker Jack Effel. After a two-minute conversation, Jones hung up, and announced to the table that the original ruling would stand.

"You're not losing your tournament life," Jones told Koroknai.

In Jones' explanation to the table, he cited the "integrity of the tournament" as the major factor in the decision.

According to Smith, Baumann showed two kings.

The ruling in the hand has been both defended and criticized, with many pros saying Koroknai should have been eliminated on the hand. After all, poker is about exploiting your opponents’ mistakes. Koroknai may have gotten off easy, but it wasn’t without an ironic butterfly effect.

Kevin Pollak Eliminated After Losing Queens to Queens

Before the start of the 2012 WSOP Main Event, PokerNews interviewed actor Kevin Pollak, who you may recall from roles in Casino, Grumpy Old Men and The Usual Suspects. Having hosted the first season of Celebrity Poker Showdown, Pollak had some poker knowledge but had never tested it at the WSOP. As such, he decided to play in his first Main Event.

Other celebrities made early exits, but Pollak proceeded to make a deep run. As the days flew by, Pollak became more and more excited. Unfortunately, Pollak’s run came to a heartbreaking end when he lost with pocket queens to an opponent who was also holding pocket queens. Here’s the hand from the Main Event Live Blog:

Poker can truly be a cruel game, and Kevin Pollak knows that more than anybody right now. Kirill Rabtsov raised to 52,000 under the gun, and Omar Saeed called from the button. Kevin Pollak moved all in from the big blind for his last 369,000 and Rabtsov quickly moved all in over the top. Saeed folded, and the cards were tabled.

Rabtsov: {q-Hearts}{q-Spades}

Pollak: {q-Diamonds}{q-Clubs}

Most of the crowd got a chuckle when they saw the hands, as it looked destined for a chopped pot. However, the flop came down {K-Clubs}{9-Hearts}{k-Hearts}. Rabtsov was now freerolling, as he would win the pot with two more hearts. The {3-Hearts} hit the turn, and the crown started to groan. Pollak put his hands on his head and was hardly able to look at the river.

River: {2-Hearts}

The whole mother ship let out a disgusted sigh, and Pollak was left in shock. After a few moments, he let out a laugh, and said "It's so absurd you have to laugh." With that, Pollak is sent to the rail, and he left to a nice round of applause. After that hand, Rabtsov is up to 1.651 million.

Pollak had a great showing in his first WSOP Main Event, finishing in 134th place for $52,718. One thing’s for sure, he’ll make for some great TV when new episodes of the WSOP begin to air on ESPN.

A Live Misclick By Gee Costs DiVella Dearly

Every once in awhile a player will make a mistake at the poker table that is more akin to a misclick online, such as calling a bet you didn’t mean, too. On Day 6 of the Main Event, a live misclick occurred when Steven Gee failed to notice an all-in raise from Nick DiVella and tossed in an accidental call. It seemed like a gift for DiVella, but fate had something else in store. Here’s a look at Gee’s mistaken call as reported in our Main Event Live Blog:

Nick DiVella has been eliminated. Like all who are knocked out of the Main Event, he's probably wondering what might have been, although in his case the last hand in particular is likely foremost in his thoughts.

DiVella announced he was all-in from early position, setting out a stack of orange chips as he did, and the dealer repeated his declaration. It was folding around the table when one player asked how much DiVella was in for, and it was clarified he was all-in for 675,000 total.

It folded to Steven Gee on the button who tossed out 75,000. He'd missed the all-in declaration and had thought the raise was only for 75,000, and he was calling. The floor was called over, and it was determined that Gee had called the all-in raise. The blinds folded, then DiVella showed his {A-Clubs}{K-Spades}. Gee's hand was turned over to show he had {K-Hearts}{7-Hearts}.

The flop came {Q-Hearts}{J-Clubs}{9-Diamonds} and DiVella was still ahead, but the {7-Spades} landed on the turn to pair Gee. The river was the {8-Clubs}, and DiVella was eliminated.

DiVella ended up finishing in 73rd place for $88,070, and Gee went on to make the Main Event final table.

Koroknai Eliminates Baumann on the Final Table Bubble

Without a doubt, the big story in the final stretch of the 2012 WSOP Main Event was the emergence of Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle Baumann. The two women played superbly and for awhile it looked like poker history would be made as a woman, or perhaps two, would make the final table for the first time since Barbara Enright did in 1995.

The hopes of both making the final table were cut short with just 11 players left as Hille was dispatched, bringing about the unofficial final table of 10.

Baumann entered as the extreme short stack, and despite more than doubling up, she once again became involved in a hand against Andras Koroknai.

Gaelle Baumann moved all in for 5.2 million from the hijack seat, Andras Koroknai called in the small blind, and Michael Esposito folded from the big blind.

Baumann: {a-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}

Koroknai: {a-Hearts}{j-Spades}

Chants of "Nine! Nine! Nine!" filled the mothership before the flop fell {3-Hearts}{q-Clubs}{q-Hearts}. Baumann could now chop with a three or any running pair cards.

The crowd erupted at the sight of the {8-Spades} on the turn, even though it didn't pair Baumann. The last woman standing could only be saved by a nine (win), a three (chop) or an eight (chop).

The {k-Diamonds} completed the board, and the rail exploded. Those who made the official final table celebrated while Baumann's French contingent fell momentarily silent. Then, for one last time, the crowd serenaded her with chants of "Gaelle Baumann."

Hille and Baumann’s accomplishments were amazing, but less sweet for the poker masses as they barely missed out on the final table. What made it all the more bitter, at least for Baumann’s supporters, was the fact that she was eliminated by Koroknai, the man who many argue should have been eliminated when he moved all in on Baumann’s kings and accidentally mucked.

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Baumann is Eliminated! Baumann is Eliminated!

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