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One of the biggest non-championship events, the $5,000 NL Hold’em, ended last night.  With a stellar final table and a $692,658 first-place check there was quite a buzz circling around the Rio in Las Vegas last night.

Before reaching the final table a large amount of big name poker players fell by the wayside including David Pham in 10th, David “Raptor” Benefield in 14th, Kathy Liebert in 21st, Erik Seidel in 22nd, Nenad Medic in 29th, and Hasan Habib in 31st.

The final table ended up only being 8 players deep when both David Pham and Christian Iacobellis were busted by Isaac “Menlo” Baron on the bubble. Here were the stacks entering the final table:

Thomas Keller – 464,000
Lika Gerasimova – 506,000
Danny Illingworth – 934,000
Billy Kopp – 676,000
Fabian Quoss – 2,620,000
Isaac Baron – 2,229,000
Brian Lemke – 644,000
Mike Sowers – 1,690,000

The three biggest names were the aforementioned Baron, Mike “SowersUNCC” Sowers, and Thomas “Thunder” Keller.  For those watching, Thomas Keller has quite a different look than in past years after dropping what has to be 50+ pounds.  He is a tough tournament player who won beat Allen Cunningham in the Five Diamond World Poker Classic for over $281,000.  However, his biggest score was a victory in the $5k NL Hold’em event in the 2004 WSOP for just over $382,000.  Unfortunately Keller did not win his 2nd bracelet as he busted in 3rd place for $280,852.

The first of the big 3 to fall was Baron. While he held the chip lead for a lot of the 3rd day and was 2nd in chips entering the final table he ran into a few tough spots where he held top pair only to be beaten by a better kicker.  Baron is widely considered one of the best online tournament players of all-time.  He won a SCOOP tournament this past April and finished 2nd in a WCOOP PLO Event last September.  Overall he has six $30,000+ scores to his name.

Sowers is known both for his live and online prowess.  This past February he finished 3rd in the 2009 L.A. Poker Classic Main Event for $654,797.  He also won the 2008 WPT Borgata Winter Open Event 12, a $5,000 buy-in NL tournament for $399,000.  Online, where he plays as “SowersUNCC”, he finished second this past February in a $1,060 buy-in event on FullTilt for $221,680.  Needless to say, Sowers was one of the big favorites entering the final table. However, just like Baron and Keller, his day ended too early as he busted in 4th place for $194,931.

Heads-up play came down to Brian Lemke and Fabian Quoss, two players without much big tournament experience.  Neither player has had much success, however once heads-up play started they were guaranteed a payday of at least $427,912.  The final hand dealt Quoss a pretty tough beat.  The players got all-in pre-flop with Quoss’ AQo dominating Lemke’s A8o.  The flop fell JT9 giving both players an open-ended straight draw, with Quoss still in a commanding position.  Unfortunately for him the Queen of clubs fell on the turn, giving Lemke a straight and the victory.

2009 WSOP Event #15 $5,000 NL Hold’em
655 Entrants; 3,078,500 prize pool

1. Brian Lemke $692,658
2. Fabian Quoss $427,912
3. Thomas Keller $280,852
4. Mike Sowers $194,931
5. Lika Gerasimova $142,688
6. Danny Illingworth $109,872
7. Isaac Baron $88,784
8. Billy Kopp $75,115
9. Christian Iacobellis $66,403