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While some might say the 2011 World Series of Poker is winding down, others will contend it is just heating up. With another week left to play before the 2011 Main Event kicks off on July 7th there are still a handful of smaller events yet to run.  The biggest event in the near future is the $50,000 Player’s Championship on July 5th. This high-roller event will feature the likes of Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth, Patrik Antonius, and more of the world’s best.  For full coverage of the Player’s Championship and other big events at the WSOP be sure to stay tuned to the FlopTurnRiver News Section.

For most $50,000 is just way too large of a buy-in for their bankrolls. Fortunately this past week there have been plenty of $1,500-$2,500 events running making it easy for even the amateur player to take part in the 2011 World Series.  Players came out in droves for Event #43, a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout.  More than 2,800 players entered the $1,500 event creating a huge $3,856,950 prize pool. With more than a handful of spots paying out at least six-figures it was a mad dash to the finish line.  While a lot of these bigger events tend to be won by amateurs the final table of Event #43 did have some professionals on hand.  One of those, PokerStars professional Andre Akkari, was able to take down the title, a WSOP bracelet, and massive $675,117 payday. This was the first big score of his career, and his 2nd cash at the 2011 WSOP.  Fifth-place finisher Scott Sitron was no stranger to deep WSOP runs having finished in 32nd place in the Main Event two years ago for a quarter million dollar payday. He also finished 2nd in Event #52 back in 2008 for another large cash worth more than $385,000.

Akkari was able to take down heads-up opponent Nachman Berlin after a lengthy battle that lasted nearly four hours. Each player started with more than 100 Big Blinds apiece but it was Berlin who held nearly a 3:1 chip advantage once the match started. However, Akkari began to chip away, ultimately taking the chiplead on his way to the title. The final hand was a classic coinflip, but after a flop of KsQh3d Akkari’s King-Jack offsuit was way out in the lead.  Another King fell on the turn and by the time the Five of Spades hit the river Akkari was already celebrating in the gallery with his friends.  After a grueling match the Brazilian poker pro deserved some fun with his buddies.

Event #43 $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em
2,857 Entrants; $3,856,950 prize pool

1. Andre Akkari $675,117
2. Nachman Berlin $419,173
3. Metthew Carmody $295,635
4. Jacob Naquin $213,520
5. Scott Sitron $156,090
6. Nicolas Chouity $115,477
7. Zachary Hall $86,434
8. Philip Meulyzer $65,452
9. Ray Foley $50,140

One of the smaller, and more frustrating events of the 2011 WSOP, was the $2,500 Razz event taking place this week.  Only 363 players entered Event #44 but that did not stop it from having a star-studded final table. With more than $210,000 on the line for the winner players like Robert Williamson III and Rep Porter were looking to expand upon already impressive WSOP resumes.  Joining them were six other respectable players looking to make the worst hand possible to win all the money in the middle. For those unfamiliar with Razz it is one of a few poker games where the overall goal is to make the worst hand possible.  Known as the nut low, or wheel, anyone holding A-2-3-4-5 will have the best “worst” hand possible.  The game is played with a Seven Card Stud structure with the highest up-card bringing in the bet and then the action moves to their left.  There are five total betting rounds with the bet doubling after 5th street (3rd betting round) is dealt face-up.  Razz is quite an interesting game as players tend to have a lot of information about their competition’s hands by being able to see four up cards during the hand.  This leads to creative bluffs, value bets, and sometimes a little bit of both.

Once four-handed play began the final table headliner, Robert Williamson III, was still alive. Unfortunately for the rail his time from there would be short-lived as he busted in 4th for a solid $60,788 payday.  The well-respected PLO specialist and televised poker commentator fell when he was only able to make a ten-low against his opponent’s nine-low.  Next to bust was Tommy Chen who earned $83,895 for three day’s work. Heads-up play began on Tuesday with Stephen Su holding a 2:1 chiplead over Porter.  Ultimately the tournament failed to come to a conclusion Tuesday forcing the players back Wednesday to put an end to event #44.  Heads-up play lasted another three hours on Wednesday and saw Porter overtake the chiplead and go on to win. The final table saw Su start with a huge hand, 3-2-A, well ahead of Porter’s 6-9-8. However, as often happens in Razz the deck did not cooperate even after a perfect four on 4th street for Su.  Unfortunately Su’s hand ran out with a T, K, and Queen to give him just a ten-low against his opponent’s nine-low.  The back luck busted him in 2nd place for $130,075.  Porter, who already had one WSOP bracelet to his name, earned a second. His previous title came in Event #9 back in 2008 for more than $372,000. In that tournament he took down a massive field to win the $1,500 buy-in event. While he did not have to go through thousands in Event #44 he still outlasted some of the best mixed-game players in the world and certainly earned his $210,615 first-place prize.

Event #44 $2,500 Seven Card Razz
363 Entrants; $825,825 prize pool

1. Rep Porter $210,615
2. Stephen Su $130,075
3. Tommy Chen $83,895
4. Robert Williamson III $60,788
5. Andreas Krause $44,693
6. Chris Jnorin $33,338
7. Matthews Smith $25,228
8. Scott Epstein $19,365

Wrapping up a few days of smaller buy-in events was Event #47, $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo Split.  This is an interesting Limit mixed game that rotates Omaha Hi/Lo and Stud Hi/Lo throughout the tournament.  Being two of the more obscure games spread at the WSOP this tournament does not get a lot of traffic but those who do attend are some of the best mixed game players in the world.  The final table of Event #47 was a great representation of that, as Scotty Nguyen, Abe Mosseri, and Michael Mizrachi were all on hand looking to improve upon already impressive WSOP resumes.  First to bust from the vaunted trio was Nguyen who fell in 5th place for a $53,091 payday. Scotty is best known for winning the WSOP Main Event back in 1998 and then winning the $50,000 HORSE Championship just three years ago. Unfortunately Nguyen came under fire during the Chip Reese HORSE Event for having a few too many cocktails at the table and acting unbecoming of a high-stakes poker professional.

Mosseri and Mizrachi made it down to three-handed play along with Owai Ahmed. Mosseri is a high-stakes Limit specialist who has made appearances on poker shows in the past including the PokerStars.net Big Game.  Coming into the final table he already owned one WSOP bracelet for a win in the $2,500 2-7 Lowball tournament back in 2009.  Unfortunately for Abe he busted in 3rd place for $100,532 during a Omaha Hi/Lo round when Ahmed made a flush on the river and there was no qualifying low hand.  Heads-up play began with Mizarchi holding a substantial chiplead with more than 2,500,000 in chips compared to his opponent’s 840,000 chips.  In a match that lasted nearly two and a half hours, it was Ahmed who was slowing grinding down The Grinder, eventually taking the chiplead and winning the tournament.  The final hand came during an Omaha 8b hand where once again Ahmed was able to make a flush on the river to beat his opponent’s two pair. The $255,959 first place prize was the biggest of his WSOP career.

For Mizrachi, the second place was disappointing for a player with such a great tournament resume. The winner of last year’s $50,000 Player’s Championship, Mizrachi has also won a WPT Main Event and over 20 other live poker tournaments. Known as “The Grinder” is the poker world, he has put in a lot of hours playing live events over the years and has cashed for over $11,000,000 during that time. He currently ranks 9th on the all-time poker tournament money list alongside the likes of Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and John Juanda who are also in the top-10.

Event #47 $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card-Stud 8-or-Better Mix
450 Entrants; $1,023,750 prize pool

1. Owais Ahmed $255,959
2. Michael Mizrachi $158,148
3. Abe Mosseri $100,532
4. Scott Bohlman $72,491
5. Scotty Nguyen $53,091
6. Gerard Rechnitzer $39,475
7. Gregory Jamison $29,791
8. Thomas Whitehair $22,819