Monday, June 9, 2014

Moving Toward a Divkovic and Hennigan Final Table WSOP Confrontation in $515,000 First Prize NLHE Event #19

We are down to the final table of WSOP Event #19: No-Limit Hold'em, a $1,500 buy-in tournament that started on Saturday and attracted more than 2,000 runners. The first prize of $515,000 is double the purse for the featured Survivor event, which is running simultaneously on the ESPN stage. With Phil Galfond the “name” player remaining in that tournament, this tourney seems to feature more active, in your face poker––thanks in no part to  the aggressive John Gillis. Entering the final table, Mustapha Kanit has a commanding chip lead of 2.5 million, nearly a million more than his nearest competitor John Hennigan, who sits on 1.6 million. 

All this is about to change, as Dylan Thomassie, the lowest stack, shoves his last 300,000 with 10 9 hearts. Edison Shields, sitting on 765,000, raises all in with pocket aces. Dejan Divkovic, with just under a million chips, finds an easy call with pocket kings. Bucking the odds, Divkovic spikes trips with his kings and Thomassie hits a flush draw on a K-6-Q flop––giving Shields a “worst possible” situation for his aces. The turn brings a king, giving Divkovic quads, with Thomassie still alive with a jack of hearts draw for the straight flush. Instead, the river brings a two of hearts, which completes Thomassie’s flush but still sends him and Shield heading for the door with $37,834 and $49,267 respectively. 

Thomassie & Shield shake hands In the agony of defeat, while Divkovic (in hoodie) focuses on next hand. Las Vegas player Jaime Kaplan (glasses) is the next small stack on the chopping block.

Divkovic is now back in the chip lead, setting up a potentially very interesting confrontation between him and John Hennigan. A Philadelphia native, Hennigan has been singled out by no less than Daniel Negreanu as the best he has ever faced. He achieved 19th in the 1999 WSOP main event and earned bracelets in the 2002 $2,000 H.O.R.S.E. and the 2004 $5,000 Limit Hold'em event. Hennigan’s biggest cash was for $1.6 million in the 2007 $10,000 WPT Borgata Championship Event and in 2013 he returned to WSOP prominence by placing third in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship––for a second-best cash of nearly $700,000. He was also a complete asshole  (belying his true nature as a gentle giant) in the 2007 poker movie Lucky You, starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore. 

Divkovic, on the other hand, is a live tournament upstart who has rocketed to first place among Bosnia & Herzegovina players in the past two years. He achieved first in the 2013 ANZPT A$ 2,200 NLH Main Event for nearly A$118,000  and second in the 2013 ANZPT Sydney NHL Main Event for nearly A$148,000. Interviewed after besting a field of 204 following his Perth victory, looking improbably young and speaking in broken English , Divkovic credited his heads up online experience with helping him overcome the final hurdle and take home a convincing victory. 

On the hand prior to break, Mustapha Kanit and Ted Gillis get into a leveling war, with Kanit raise countered by a reraise, three bet, and finally an all in by Gillis––folded by Kanit after a three minute tank. Gillis chipped up significantly through this well-timed preflop aggression. He is becoming a feared presence on the table by showing that he is not afraid to go all-in with a flip, despite the significant ladder between places.

                                                                    Kanit-Gillis Leveling War 

Coming back from break, Sonny Patel was the next to go when his pocket sixes were called by Divkovic’s A-Q suited hearts. The chip leader picked up a flush draw on the flop and hit his J of hearts on the river, sending Patel home with a very respectable $64,911. Now ICM considerations came to the forefront, with mid-stacked players waiting for Jaime Kaplan, sitting tight on 300,000, to bust. This happened surprisingly quickly, with Kaplan shoving pocket threes and getting called by Bronx-native Jacobo Fernandez in the big blind with A-J. The board ran out with a runner runner straight for Fernandez, sending Kaplan to the rail in 6th with $86,000. Having quickly weeded through the shorter stacks, the hoped for confrontation between Divkovic and Hennigan takes form, with dark horse Ted Gillis on the horizon. A retired marine sergeant, Gillis is an avid Texas player who primarily plays in bar leagues and has never broke through in the big leagues before tonight.

Another flop all-in confrontation ended in a much needed double up for Jacobo Fernandez against Ted Gillis. Needing to hit his flush draw to stay alive against Fernandez’ aces, his QK of hearts connected with a seven of he arts on the river. Five minutes later, Kanit pushed all in in the big blind over Divkovic’s raise with A-10 and turned over A-3. His hand, dominated, failed to improve and he was sent packing in 5th for a six figure score of $117,000.

      The elation of near certain victory. Divkovic hopes his A-10 holds up while Kanit prays for a 3.

                                                                             Sorry, bra.

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