Saturday, June 28, 2014

Phil Ivey Wins Historic 10th WSOP Bracelet in $1,500 Eight Game Mix

The $1,500 Eight Game Mix features the unflappable Phil Ivey as chip leader in a tournament that he really needs to win––not only for the glory of his 10th bracelet––but for a prop bet that reportedly well exceeds the $167,332 first place prize. He and Daniel Negreanu took all comers in a wager that one of them would achieve a victory during the course of the 2014 WSOP’s 65 bracelet events. Estimates place the prop bet totals at anywhere from the $200,000 Negreanu tweeted to $1 million and upwards. Apparently Ivey took most of the action, with Negreanu participating to help out a friend. Naturally, it's all relative––the entry for Sunday’s One Drop alone is a cool million. 

Chairman of the Board - Phil Ivey commands respect from Chidwick, Steury, Heimiller, Yamron

With Alex Rocha and Daniel Negreanu having been felted in eight and ninth, a stellar lineup remains as we head into the home stretch. Chip leader Phil Ivey has 600,000 in chips and dour Indiana pro Aaron Steury, a 2011 WSOP bracelet winner and “part-time degenerate” sits on 480,000. Close behind is the feared UK tournament threat Stephen Chidwick, who has taken a page from Mike McDonald’s “stare down opponents and make them feel very uncomfortable” playbook. Veteran poker player Bruce Yamron and 2014 Seniors Event winner Dan Heimiller sit on around 250,000 chips, while Brooklyn-based Yuebin Guo (122,000) and the German Christoph Haller (75,000) are short stacked. 

Second to Guo

As expected, Haller is the first to go and Guo departs soon thereafter, felted by local favorite Heimiller when he is unable to complete his low in stud eight-or-better. Heimiller chips up to 330,000, enough to make a serious run at the bracelet. Stephen Chidwick, playing a wide range of hands, experiences volatile swings and is next to go in 2-7 Triple Draw when Ivey makes an eight-perfect 8-5-4-3-2. Moving up to over a million chips on this hand, Ivey takes a decisive tournament lead that he will relinquish only once more before the night is through. Ivey from here on out picks his spots, choosing hands when he has a good chance of scooping significant pots at minimal risk. Yesterday’s hero, $25,000 Poker Players Championship winner John Hennigan stops by to support his good friend Ivey, while Yamron hollers “congratulations, buddy.”

Chidwick, of the “stare down opponents and make them feel very uncomfortable” school

the long walk

I notice that Yamron and Ivey have been chatting frequently the last level. During the dinner break, I talk briefly with Yamron, a friendly older gentleman who has known Ivey since 2000 and tells me “I used to put Ivey into 75-150 games in back in the day in Atlantic City. A funny story... my daughter is a PokerStars reporter in London and knowing how Ivey loves wine I invited him to The Ivy, a famous West End place known for its wine. When the sommelier comes around, Ivey cuts to the chase––’I’d like to see your reserve list’.” Yabron raises his eyebrows with a chuckle, “These vintages start at around £8,000 per bottle.” 

Cracks in the cool demeanor - Ivey clearly enjoying the game

got a few chips

I also talk with Mike “Shoes” Gambony, a Las Vegas grinder and good friend of Dan Heimiller, who calls him “the nicest guy in poker,” someone who will gladly stake Las Vegas players who are down-and-out. Heimiller lives to play in marathon tournaments and has had a stellar 2014 WSOP thus far. He began his winning streak on June 4th, placing 17th in the $1,500 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo event for $10,400. According to Gambony, the timing of his 10:30pm bust out proved very fortuitous-–it gave him a 30 minute window in which to late-reg for the $1,000 NLHE Seniors Championship, which he took first place in for $627,000. 

Heimiller -  “nicest guy in poker”

Down to his last 150,000 chips, Aaron Steury risks his tournament life in limit hold’em preflop on A-Q and is called down by Heimiller’s A-J. Unfortunately, a jack on the flop seals his fate and he takes the walk from the tournament floor without a handshake or any acknowledgement of the other players.

Steury vs. Heimiller

Steury gets it in good A-Q vs. A-J

Steury reads the bad news –– jack on the flop

Steury - no handshakes

Wearing his signature “winner, winner, chicken dinner” t-shirt, Heimiller has been flirting with disaster all evening, getting critical double ups when he is extremely short stacked––finally, even his good karma cannot save him. Shipping his last 164,000 chips in NLHE with K-4, he is called by Ivey’s A-6 and an ace on the flop sends him to the rail. 

 It's past bedtime..

and time to go.


Ivey stomps off after felting Heimiller

and plots victory..

With Ivey and Yamron starting with nearly identical stacks heads up, the end is surprisingly quick. A swelling rail that includes the likes of Chino Rheem, Joe Hachem,Mike Matusow, and Erik Lindgren watches as Ivey makes short work of the overly cautious Yamron. On the first hand, Yamron calls down to the river in seven-card stud for 215,000 chips, before mucking to a river bet. I notice that Ivey gives a slight smile and does a boxer-like head bob thing when he has what he considers a strong hand––a sign to his opponent to steer clear, perhaps. 

Yamron - soon to go

Ivey - not this hand

The truncated match ends in Omaha 8, with Yamron’s two pair losing to Ivey’s higher two pair and the crowd going wild. Despite the sense of jubilation among the fans on the rail, there must be a good few railers with crushed dreams, as they lose significant propositions that Ivey will not take home a bracelet this WSOP series. Speaking with reporters after the historic win, Ivey notes that he tempered his aggression on the final table, choosing to chip his opponents down rather than “spew off chips and give up the lead.” 

 this hand

old friends

the Champ

After the tournament, there is some speculation on the 2+2 forums that Ivey could have shipped his good friend Yamron the first prize money (or more) to lose, as his prop bets well exceeded the first-second place prize differential. Beyond the logistical difficulties in trying to arrange such a deal during a break when many eyes are on you, I find it improbable simply because, (as people who know mixed-game poker far better than me have noted), Yamron was playing less-than-optimal poker during the final table––failing to raise pots and capitalize on premium hands, and limp folding to late street bets with some frequency. His performance heads up was a continuation of that style and he simply did not hit the right cards. With the pride in beating Ivey heads up for a bracelet also on the line, I say let’s give Ivey full props, as he ties Doyle Brunson with his 10th bracelet win and moves just three shy of Phil Helmuth’s record 13 WSOP victories.

 Ivey back into the light

Chipped opponents down, rather than “spew off chips and give up the lead.” 

No comments:

Post a Comment