In the previous two World Series of Poker (WSOP) Europe Main Events, a huge name took down the title of champion. In the inaugural event in 2007, internet sensation Annette “Annette_15” Obrestad bested the field and won her first WSOP bracelet. One year later, well-known pro and Full Tilt Poker spokesperson John Juanda won the event after a fierce heads-up battle. With two notable pros winning the event in two consecutive years, players headed back to London to participate in the 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event at the Casino at the Empire.
Not one, but two members of the 2009 November Nine made it to this year’s WSOP Europe Main Event final table, a feat accomplished last year by one player, Russian pro Ivan Demidov. This year, Antoine Saout and James Akenhead sought to make poker history.
The chip leader to start the final table was Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier, who at one point had 3.7 million in chips. After some feeling out, the eliminations came fast and furious. Akenhead pushed all-in preflop with A-Q offsuit and was given action by Daniel Negreanu‘s pocket Kings. With the kings holding, Akenhead left in ninth place and took home £66,533.
It didn’t take long for Saout to move all-in, as he shoved his pocket fives. Once again, Negreanu was there to call, showing A-Q of spades. At the turn, Negreanu needed any ace, queen or spade and wound up hitting the nut flush on the river. Saout, a pro from France, was eliminated in seventh place for £114,228.
Two hands after Saout was eliminated, it was time for yet another player to leave, as Chris Bjorin shoved his A-J offsuit and had Negreanu act as final table executioner with A-Q offsuit. Negreanu held the chip lead with an estimated 3.1 million in chips.
Markus Ristola moved all-in with K-T suited from the big blind. Negreanu called with A-5 suited and Ristola took a huge lead in the hand on the turn, when he hit a king. Alas, Negreanu was running well and hit his three-outer on the river, eliminating Ristola in fifth place for £200,367.
After some play, the chips seemed to distribute themselves evenly around the table. At the dinner break, Praz Bansi was the chip leader with 2.9 million, with Negreanu in second for 2.8 million, Mercier holding 2.3 million, and Barry Shulman in last place with 1.9 million. After an hour-and-a-half break, Mercier went on a hot streak and took a brief stint as the chip leader before suffering a few key losses. Mercier then forced the issue and shoved his pocket sevens pre-flop against Negreanu’s pocket nines. The Team PokerStars Pro member did not receive a miracle seven and was eliminated in fourth place for £267,267.
With three players remaining, Shulman crippled Bansi and, once again, Negreanu was there to give action against an all-in bet, as Bansi shoved Q-2 suited and Negreanu called with A-Q offsuit. No deuce came and Bansi finished in third place for £360,887, leaving only Negreanu and Shulman at the final table.
Negreanu found himself with a 6.18 to 3.85 million chip lead against Shulman. The match was almost over when the flop came 6-8-K with two hearts and the chips found their way into the middle, with Shulman’s tournament life on the line. Negreanu showed A-A, while Shulman showed A-5 of hearts for a flush draw. At this point in the hand, Negreanu was a 62% to 38% favorite. The deuce of hearts came on the turn, giving Shulman the winning hand and chip lead.
After hours of heads-up play, the two found themselves in a hand with a board of 5-8-J with two diamonds. Shulman bet 300,000 and Negreanu raised to 900,000. Shulman moved all-in and Negreanu tanked. After calling the bet, Negreanu showed Q-J offsuit for top pair, while Shulman did the happy dance with A-A. Negreanu would need to hit a jack or queen (six outs) or runner-runner straight cards to win. Amazingly on the turn, Negreanu hit a jack to send the crowd into pure bedlam. With one card to go and only two outs in the deck against him, Negreanu was closing in on the WSOP Europe Main Event title. With the crowd cheering, the final card of the hand was laid on the board, the ace of diamonds. With his sick two-outer, Shulman took a huge chip lead.
Only a few hands later, Negreanu shoved his pocket fours and was stood up by Shulman’s pocket tens. A ten on the flop gave Shulman the winning set and the WSOP Europe Main Event victory. Shulman won his second WSOP bracelet and the £801,603 first place prize.