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With the end of WSOP 2011 drawing near, Event 54 attracted a very impressive field of 4,576 people. This meant a $4,118,400 prize pool for the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event, with an impressive $648,880 for 1st place.

468 people made the money, including a number of well known pros. Greg Raymer, the 2004 Main Event winner, placed 253rd for $2,676. Vitaly Lunkin, a Full Tilt pro from Russia, finished 86th for $5,024.

Greg Raymer checks out his hole cards. Photo courtesy of PokerNews.

In total five PokerStars sponsored players cashed, including Angel Guillen, Fatima Moreira De Melo, Shane Schleger, Pierre Neuville and, of course, Maxim Lykov.

Lykov is from Russia and started drawing attention back in 2009 after some big scores. He took down a tournament at the Red Sea Poker Cup for almost $70k, had a 3rd place finish in a WSOP event, and then won an EPT event in Kiev for $468,504. Since then he has had several other 6-figure scores, and he came into WSOP 2011 looking for his first bracelet.

He was a heavy favorite to win the event when it was down to 9 players as he had 3,875,000 chips, which was close to a third of the total chips in play. Dror Michaelo trailed behind him as the distant 2nd place stack with 1,980,000 chips.

Lykov helped his cause even further around an hour into Day 4 by causing the first elimination of the final table. He raised KQs and quickly called against Sebastein Roy who shoved with 88. Lykov spoiled Roy’s bid to double up as he hit the nut straight on the river, and Roy was busted in 9th place for $53,333.

The 8th place elimination came quickly afterward. Joshua Evans decided to push UTG with J9s but was called by Michaelo and KK. Evans was fortunate enough to flop a flush draw for a sweat, but he couldn’t hit and was sent home with $69,230.

Lykov quickly got back to his job of eliminating short stacks, calling DJ MacKinnnon’s shove in middle position with 77. MacKinnon was in bad shape with Q7 and was unable to hit any miracle cards, so he left the table in 7th place and $90,604.

The 6th place finisher was Stanislav Alekhin, who elected to shove over a late position raise with AQ. Ren Ho Zhang, who was faced with the decision of calling all-in, decided to take the plunge with 22. Alekhin couldn’t win the race and was left with just a few chips after the hand. He soon busted for $119,598 in prize money.

Harald Olsen was riding the short stack once it was 5-handed, and he made his move blind versus blind with Q9. Unfortunately for him Warren Wooldridge woke up with a monster in the big blind, calling with AJ. No one paired their hole cards which meant that Olsen had to settle for a consolation prize of $159,134 for 5th.

The hand immediately afterward brought yet another elimination. Ren Ho Zhang tried to rep a made flush by going all-in on the river in a hand with Lykov, but unfortunately for him, his opponent actually had the flush. Lykov’s stack got even larger, and Zhang left the table in 4th place for $213,539.

It was down to three players at this point: Lykov, Wooldridge, and Dror Michaelo. With the eliminations fast and furious previously, it was a change of pace to play 3-handed for a while. Michaelo had a healthy stack and tried to build on it by mixing it up with Lykov, but he was largely unsuccessful and lost chips in the process.

Lykov continued his aggressive play and put constant pressure on the shorter stacks. At one point he was raising almost every hand and winning almost all of them.

Michaelo finally caught a break against Lykov and was able to double up to what he started 3-handed play with. He got it all-in with A7s against Lykov’s KJ and won the hand, which meant that all eyes were now on Wooldridge as the short stack.

Wooldridge tried to mount his comeback with AJ, getting it in very good against the chip leader’s A9s. It just wasn’t meant to be, however, for the flop brought a 9 and there were no cards to save him on the turn or river. He busted in 3rd place and received a very healthy consolation prize of $288,946.

Lykov started heads-up play with an almost 2-1 chip lead, and with blinds quite high, it’s not surprising that heads-up didn’t last very long. In the last hand Michaelo decided to 4-bet all-in with K5, and he was dominated by Lykov’s AK. Michaelo was unable to find a 3-outer and he was eliminated in 2nd place for a very handsome $401,296.

Congratulations to Lykov for defeating a huge field to win his first bracelet! As mentioned earlier, he also won $648,880, an absolutely enormous first prize.

Maxim Lykov celebrates his win with a crowd of admirers. Photo courtesy of PokerNews.

Final table payouts:

1 – Maxim Lykov – $648,880
2 – Dror Michaelo – $401,296
3 – Warren Wooldridge – $288,946
4 – Ren Ho Zhang – $213,539
5 – Harald Olsen – $159,134
6 – Stanislav Alehkin – $119,598
7 – Douglas Mackinnon – $90,604
8 – Joshua Evans – $69,230
9 – Sebastien Roy – $53,333