Weekends at the World Series of Poker are always a fun time. Usually one of the “big-dollar” buy-in tournaments reaches its conclusion while a “made for the WSOP” event also runs (this weekend it was the “Monster Stack,” which we’ll have details on once the 6,000-plus player field is down to a reasonable level). On Saturday, however, it was the “big-dollar” tournament’s time in the sun, featuring a rematch of two men who faced off in 2017 in another WSOP bracelet contest. This time, the outcome was different than it was a year earlier.
Event #42 - $25,000 Eight-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller
Play was so rapid in the $25,000 Eight-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller tournament that only six of the official eight men came back on Saturday to take part in the finale of this event. While the legendary Scotty Nguyen was leading the way with his 7.01 million chips, two players – defending champion James Calderaro (6.445 million) and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Shaun Deeb (6.305 million) – were right on his heels. With the addition of 2017 WSOP bracelet winner Ben Yu (4.775 million), veteran pro Jason Koon (2.905 million) and tough player Ryan Tosoc (1.3 million), the final table seemed primed to provide some fireworks.
Those fireworks started only four hands into the day’s action. Tosoc would pot-bet pre-flop and Yu pushed the stakes up with a pot bet of his own. Tosoc surprisingly just called with only three big blinds left to see an Ad, Qd, 9c flop. Tosoc moved all-in immediately and, just as quickly, Yu responded with the call. Tosoc’s double-suited Qh, 6d, 5d, 4h had flopped second pair but, more importantly, had a redraw to a flush as a backup. Yu, meanwhile, had caught top pair with his A-K-8-6 and was looking to hold for the knockout. A trey on the turn gave Tosoc more outs with the wheel draw, but a second nine missed them all, sending Tosoc out in sixth and pushing Yu into contention.
Deeb went on the attack at this point, beating Koon and Yu out of two pots that pushed him into the lead. Deeb would then knock off Koon in fifth place while on his way to amassing over 12 million in chips at one point. Even after Nguyen, who had a difficult time getting anything going through the day, doubled up through him, Deeb still had a chip lead of more than five million over the Poker Hall of Famer as four-handed play continued.
Calderaro was the next to go, sending his chips to Deeb after both flopped two pair and Deeb rivered a wheel to take the pot away. While Deeb sat comfortably in the lead, however, Yu made his move. He would double up through Nguyen to reach 12.7 million in chips and, on the very next hand, take the rest of the 1998 world champion’s chips to seize the lead from Deeb. Those two hands would send the match to heads-up with Yu holding a 16 million/12.75 million lead in a rematch of the 2017 WSOP $10,000 Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball Triple Draw Championship, which was won by Yu.
Within 15 minutes of the start of heads-up, Deeb had regained his chip lead and, in another 15, seized the title. On the final hand, Yu potted pre-flop only to see Deeb three-bet him to 2.7 million. Yu made the call and, after a 5-4-2 two-heart flop hit the felt, called all-in after Deeb potted. Yu’s Jh, 6h 6-5 was in excellent shape (pair of fives, straight and flush redraws) against Deeb’s A-A-9-8, but it wasn’t to be; another deuce on the turn and an eight on the river missed everything that Yu was looking for as Deeb captured his third WSOP bracelet.
*Eliminated on Friday
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