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Duhamel Closes in on WSOP Main Event Championship

Posted at 21:37 2010-11-07

It took 110 days to get from the final nine to the final table, but just 14 hours to set the heads up battle that will decide who will be crowned the 2010 world champion of poker. After play concluded today just Jonathan Duhamel and John Racener would be standing, their other seven fellow November Niners hitting the rail throughout the hard fought day.

The seat assignments and chip counts prior to the final table beginning were:

Seat 1: Jason Senti (7,625,000)
Seat 2: Joseph Cheong (23,525,000)
Seat 3: John Dolan (46,250,000)
Seat 4: Jonathan Duhamel (65,975,000)
Seat 5: Michael Mizrachi (14,450,000)
Seat 6: Matthew Jarvis (16,700,000)
Seat 7: John Racener (19,050,000)
Seat 8: Filippo Candio (16,400,000)
Seat 9: Soi Nguyen (9,650,000)

After all of the players were introduced with their own theme music, the voice of UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer did the honour of getting the final table under-way.

Soi Nguyen would be the man going home with nothing extra than a smile and a tale to tell his buddies. After play was suspended in July, with the November Nine set, all players were paid out the ninth place prize money meaning when Nguyen was eliminated in ninth place by Jason Senti, he had already received his $811,823 payout. Senti had started the table as the shortest stack grinding his way ahead of Nguyen before they clashed in a pretty standard {Ad}{Kc} against {qd}{qs} preflop hand for the two short stacks at the table. The {Qh} on the turn gave Senti a set and took the race out of the hand. He didn’t look back chipping up to around 17,500,000 and guaranteeing himself at least some extra cash in the pocket.

The next elimination hand was made for the TV coverage. In a massive hand Michael Mizrachi and Matthew Jarvis got it all in preflop racing for around 30 million chips. Jarvis had his tournament life on the line with {9c}{9h} against Mizrachi’s {Ad}{qd}. The {qs}{qc}{8d} flop was great for pro and had the sizeable crowd roaring with approval. They were in for more than a few shocks though with the turn spiking the {9s} to put Jarvis back in the commanding position in the hand. But in a scene resembling a prototypical televised MTT hand , the {As} from space arrived on the river to save Mizrachi from the short stack and send Jarvis to the rail in sickening fashion. Jarvis pocketed $1,045,743 for his eight place finish, the first of eight millionaires to be crowned on the final table of the 2010 World Series.  

The players settled into some deep stack comfort poker for a good period of time after the first two eliminations. Jonathan Duhamel was reeled into the pack by newly chipped up Michael Mizrachi and Joseph Cheong to make it a three-way tie out in front. This was much to the delight of the casual poker fans who made their way to the Penn and Teller Theatre to cheer on the big name pro at the table. Probably the biggest action over that dry stretch came from Mike Matusow who was in the crowd shouting support for his buddy Mizrachi, while also injecting his typical Matusowisms into the day.

A dizzying period of almost five hours went by where the players jostled for position with no eliminations. Finally Jason Senti’s tournament came to an end at the hands of Joseph Cheong. Senti shoved {ad}{ks} and was called by Cheong with {tc}{ts}. The Tens held and Senti had to settle for $1,356,720 in prize money for seventh.

With six left Mizrachi started to put distance between himself and the field, but Cheong would try to stay hot on his heels. One man who failed to keep pace was John Dolan who had started the day in second place, but would bow out in sixth place from the short stack. Dolan just failed to adjust to the play of the table and wasn’t able to advance his big stack early on. His last hand saw him all in with {Qd}{5d} against Jonathan Duhamel’s {4c}{4d}. Again the pocket pair held, sending Dolan home with $1,772,959.

The main theme of Cheong, Mizrachi and Duhamel making up the top three continued, with John Racener sinking to the bottom of the pile and being forced to play from the shortest stack. The next elimination would set the tone for the remainder of the night’s play. Mizrachi had been able to get the best of Jonathan Duhamel via his positioning directly to Duhamel’s left. It would be Duhamel who would get the last laugh against his adversary though, when they took a {Qc}{5d}{4s} flop and Duhamel check-raised Mizrachi, before the Grinder moved all in and Duhamel snap called tabling {Ad}{Ac}. Mizrachi rolled over his top pair {qd}{8h} hoping to bail out as he did in the Jarvis hand. It didn’t happen the board blanked off sending Mizrachi out with $2,332,992 in cash and crowning Frank Kassela the 2010 World Series of Poker Player of the Year award.

While John Racener was still the short stack he would be able to survive Filippo Candio who finally made his move with {kd}{qd} only to run into Joseph Cheong’s {ac}{3c}. The {Ah} on the flop was kind to Cheong, but not so for the Italian who was eliminated fourth for $3,092,545.

That left three with Duhamel and Cheong way out in front of John Racener. Still Racener was in cockroach mode and in no mood to go home short of the heads up battle. Three handed Joseph Cheong was most active, with Duhamel picking his spots and Racener playing tight. Heads up would be set via a momentary brain explosion from Cheong.

On the decisive hand, Cheong six-bet all in with {As}{7h} and was called by Duhamel’s {Qc}{qd} in what became an almost 200 million chip pot preflop. The board ran out {9h}{3d}{2c}{6s}{8s} and when they counted down the stacks Cheong just had Duhamel covered, meaning Duhamel would double through and Cheong would go onto tournament life support.

Fifteen minutes later the day would end with Cheong being eliminated in third place for $4,130,049. Duhamel would be the recipient of his Cheong’s chips after all the money went in with Duhamel’s {As}{2c} getting the advantage against Cheong’s {Qs}{tc}. The board missed everyone to leave Jonathan Duhamel just one opponent shy of the world title.

The man standing in his way has done it tough, seemingly without cards all day and yet has survived to be the other member of the final two. Playing an uncharacteristically tight style John Racener enters heads up at a 6:1 chip disadvantage. Still if he has proven anything so far during the World Series and throughout his established poker career, it’s that he can’t be counted out until the final river card.

Play resumes tomorrow with the heads up battle to conclude the 2010 World Series of Poker.  

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Jonathan Duhamel celebrates after his pivotal double up through Joseph Cheong Jonathan Duhamel celebrates after his pivotal double up through Joseph Cheong

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