Among the myriad hold’em events at this years world series was Event 44, the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em w/Rebuys. 879 potential champions turned out and, in a practically unprecedented occurrence, the victor was not an established pro. In fact there wasn’t a recognizable face at the final table, a statistic that won’t be worrying Max Greenwood – the Toronto native who emerged victorious once all was said and done.
Those of you familiar with rebuy tournaments will no doubt be well aware of the ability they have to throw normal poker logic out the window. Tempted by the chance to recover from losing all your chips, even the tightest player can be encouraged to push it all in with the worst hand.
Surely not, you might think, at the World Series – pokers highest point. Here, if anywhere, we will see restrained, sensible play from the participants. Not so. Hands such as 8-3 calling an all-in against A-3 and a four way all-in pot characterized the kind of crazy play prevalent during the rebuy period. When all the rebuys and add-ons had been counted the prize pool had been pushed north of $3 million.
After the smoke had cleared from Day 1, three of the eventual final tablers could be seen among the chip leaders. Curtis Kohlberg was sitting pretty in 2nd place, while Rene Mouristen and Albert Ivensen occupied 5th and 10th respectively. Despite some ups and downs on Day 2 all three entered the final table with respectable stacks, although Kohlberg was looking a little light.
The tournament bubble came when JC Tran got himself all-in, behind to Ken Hennum, and one bad beat latter Ken became the unfortunate bubble boy. By way of recompense Tran graciously offered him 1% of his final prize money.
Tran was just one of a number of pros who competed in the tournament but were unable to reach the final table. In a series that has been dominated by the recognizable names it was a novelty to not see at least one well-known player at the final table.
Although the number of bracelets shared between player at the final table was a nice round zero, between them they had amassed an impressive amount of WSOP experience. Alex “Diesel” Bolotin was making his 3rd WSOP final table and his 10th cash, Curtis Kohlberg his 2nd final table and 15th cash and Aliaksandr Dzianisau, despite this being being his first series, already had two cashes. That the numbers were rounded out by engineer and amateur player Phung Ngo only serves to show how high you can fly in poker, whatever your level.
The final table chip counts were:
Seat 1: Scott Freeman (Los Angeles, California) — 675,000
Seat 2: Max Greenwood (Toronto, Canada) — 728,000
Seat 3: Curtis Kohlberg (Weston, Massachusetts) — 209,000
Seat 4: Rene Mouritsen (Aarhus, Denmark) — 1,007,000
Seat 5: Alex Bolotin (Brooklyn, New York) — 308,000
Seat 6: Albert Iversen (Aarhus, Denmark) — 921,000
Seat 7: Aliaksandr Dzianisau (Vitebsk, Belarus) — 186,000
Seat 8: Phung Ngo (Commerce , Michigan) — 556,000
Seat 9: Jesse Chinni (Ellicott City, MD) — 2,160,000
Alex Bolotin was the first to make his way to the rail, A-K failing to hold up against Albert Ivensen’s A-10 – which made two-pair on the flop. A Dane of a different variety engineered the next elimination, Phung Ngo losing in a coin flip to Rene Mouristen.
The most experienced member of the final table, Curtis Kohlberg was only able to nurse his short stack for so long, eventually running into a slight suck-out by Max Greenwood. Kohlberg’s A-7 a slight favorite verses Greenwood’s K-8, but far out behind once a King and an 8 had hit the flop.
Aliaksandr Dzianisau will also be cursing lady luck after his pocket queens suffered a bat beat at the hands of Iversen’s J-7. No less that two flopped Jacks putting Iversen in the driving seat and sending Dzianisau on his way. What is remarkable about these eliminations is that they all occurred within the first 22 hands. The whole final table was taken at a sprint and fans on the rail wouldn’t be up all night waiting to find out who was going to take down the top prize.
Jesse Chinni had entered the final table with a massive chip lead but after losing a few pots early on he got involved with fellow big-stack Rene Mouritsen. After some furious betting Chinni pushed all-in, for over one million chips, with A-K. Mouritson didn’t have to think long, quickly making the call with Pocket Aces. A board of blanks sealed Chinni’s fate and he was eliminated in 5th place.
By this point the players should, perhaps, have learnt to stay away from Rene Mouriston but Scott Freeman clearly chose not to heed that advice. Both players were all-in, with Mouritson holding A-K to outkick his opponent’s A-7. The board brought no help for either player and Freeman became he latest player to fall at the Dane’s hands.
Two of the final three players, Rene Mouritson and Albert Ivensen, hailed from Denmark – a positive display from the European nation. It was even more impressive, however, for the town of Aarhus, where both Mouritson and Ivensen reside. Not only did the odds look good for a Danish bracelet in terms of the bodies at the table, Canadian Max Greenwood was also the short stack.
However things weren’t to go to plan as Greenwood proceeded to double up through Mouritson no less that 3 times in quick succession. In one hand the two got themselves all-in on a coin flip, Greenwood with 5-5 and Mouritson with A-J. A Jack on the flop spelled disaster for Greenwood but a rivered 5 made him his set and took him one step closer to the ultimate prize.
It seems that Mouritson was unable to curb his streak of eliminations for his fellow countryman, sending Iversen to the rail in 3rd place. On a flop of 2-5-8 all spades, Mouritson asked for a count of his opponents chips. After some thought he pushed all in, instantly receiving a call from Albert Iversen. Iversen tabled 5-5 to put him ahead with middle set, but Mouritson’s A of spades and 3 of clubs had both flush and straight outs in its favor. A 10 of spades on the turn left Iverson needing the board to pair on the river. When no pair came he left the table in 3rd place, to collect $267,314 in winnings.
The crowd surrounding the final table for event #44 must have set some sort of decibel record throughout the night, and heads up play only got them more excited. The cheering sections for Mouritson and Greenwood traded insults and cash, in multitudinous prop bets, for all 23 hands of heads up play.
The final hand came when both players saw a relatively cheap flop, which came J-4-5 all spades. Greenwood checked and Mouritson led out. Greenwood moved over the top with a sizable bet, forcing Mouritson into the tank for the last time. He eventually made the move all in and Greenwood rapidly followed suit. Mouritson tabled K-J for top pair with the second best kicker but was downtrodden to see Greenwood flip A-J for top pair, top kicker. With no flush outs Mouritson was looking thin and sure enough he finished the tournament in second place, taking home $445,523 for his troubles. Greenwood claimed the coveted bracelet and $693,444.
Final table payouts were:
1. Maxwell Greenwood $693,392
2. Rene Mouritsen $445,523
3. Albert Iverson $267,314
4. Scott Freeman $223,572
5. Jesse Chinni $183,069
6. Aleksandr Dzianisau $144,187
7. Curt Kohlberg $111,786
8. Phung Ngo $87,484
9. Alex Bolotin $63,183