- Andrew Feldman, ESPN.com
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This event will be broadcast in early 2010 on ESPN.
The World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker Europe main event may share the same "main event" title, but they are extremely different tournaments. Vegas brings out the masses year after year, with 6,494 players competing on poker's biggest stage. In contrast, Europe offers a quieter and much smaller environment (334 players in 2009) but a tougher field. Gone are the thousands of amateurs in Europe. In their place, pro after pro after pro. It's a tournament filled with the best, and for the second year in a row, the final table featured six WSOP bracelet winners and some very familiar faces.
Two of these faces just emerged onto the poker scene in July. James Akenhead and Antoine Saout made the WSOP final table in Las Vegas and followed in the footsteps of Ivan Demidov (a November Niner in 2008), by making both main event final tables in the same year. The duo will hope for a better result in Las Vegas as both failed to break through, finishing in ninth and seventh, respectively. In any case, most members of the 2009 November Nine have had success since they left the Rio, and the additional final-table experience is sure to help Akenhead and Saout in November.
Joining this duo is Jeff Shulman, who now has more motivation to win a title in November since his father, Barry, defeated Daniel Negreanu in unbelievable fashion to win the WSOP Europe main event title after a marathon final table of 16 hours and 32 minutes. The 63-year-old CEO of Card Player magazine captured his second bracelet and earned 801,603 pounds for first place.
"It's a lot of fun for me to be here right now," Barry Shulman said. "It's been great. When I moved to Vegas, I took up poker. I tried to prove that I could beat the best in the world. I got pretty good for a while, but then I started to focus more on my business at Card Player. Since then, I have not been playing as hard. Now, I'm back on the winning trail and feeling very good about it."
However, reaching that winning moment didn't come without drama and a hand that will be remembered perhaps for many years to come.
With Negreanu holding the chip lead, he held Q-J against Shulman's pocket aces. The flop came 5d-8d-Jc and with top pair, Shulman led out, Negreanu raised and Shulman moved all-in. After some contemplation Negreanu made the call and realized he was in some major trouble. The turn was another jack, putting Negreanu in the lead and needing to dodge only the two remaining aces in the deck for him to become world champion.
And then there was the ace of diamonds on the river to silence the crowd, make Negreanu hate poker and give Shulman all he needed to finish off "Kid Poker" for the title.
"The truth is, because it was on television and we were heads-up, I knew I got in with the best hand [holding pocket aces]," said Shulman. "When the jack came on the turn, I had pretty much given up. I said to myself, 'Well, at least I am not going to be embarrassed here. What are you going to do? That's poker.' When the ace came [on the river], I just about passed out."
Negreanu came into heads-up play having eliminated six of the seven players (Markus Ristola, Chris Bjorin, Saout, Akenhead, Jason Mercier and Praz Bansi) and holding a 3-to-2 chip lead. For Negreanu, the pressure was there, but Shulman didn't feel the same way.
"This is exactly what I was hoping for," Shulman said during a break. "To be playing heads-up for the gold bracelet, especially with Daniel. It's perfect. I'm on a complete free roll. I'm having a lot of fun."
Shulman first took the chip lead by moving all-in postflop and turning a flush with Ah-5h against Negreanu's Ac-As. Negreanu battled back, but only to fall short in the end. This was Negreanu's second consecutive appearance at the WSOP Europe main event final table; he finished fifth last year. He started as the short stack at the final table, and while no player was eliminated during the first five hours, Negreanu built his stack and put himself back in contention. With his second-place finish, Negreanu earned 495,589 pounds and became the all-time tournament money winner.
Despite the accomplishment, and with good reason, Negreanu had only one thing to say on his typically very busy Twitter feed: "Those two key hands will make you hate poker."
Although Jason Mercier finished fourth, 2009 has been his year. Prior to the main event, Mercier sat in eighth place in the Bluff Player of the Year race, and he'll be moving up after finishing in third place. The 2009 bracelet winner entered the final table with the chip lead, but finally fell to Negreanu when his pocket 7-7 couldn't outdraw Negreanu's 9-9.
Third-place finisher Praz Bansi won the $1,000 limit hold 'em event at the 2006 WSOP and has already made six final tables in 2009. The pro from London has over $1 million in career earnings and at one point, overtook the chip lead
Last year's champion, John Juanda, was eliminated on Day 3.
Other notable finishers included Tony Cousineau (13th), Doyle Brunson (17th) and Yevgeniy Timoshenko (25th).
Below are the complete results of WSOPE Event 4:
Event 4: No-limit hold 'em main event
Buy-in: 10,000 pounds
Prize pool: 3,340,000 pounds
Players in the money: 36
1. Barry Shulman (801,603 pounds)
2. Daniel Negreanu (495,589)
3. Praz Bansi (360,887)
4. Jason Mercier (267,267)
5. Markus Ristola (200,367)
6. Chris Bjorin (150,267)
7. Antoine Saout (114,228)
8. Matt Hawrilenko (87,074)
9. James Akenhead (66,533)
10. Eric Liu (51,536)
11. Keith Hawkins (51,536)
12. Thomas Bichon (51,536)
13. Tony Cousineau (40,481)
14. Teddy Sheringham (40,481)
15. Ram Vaswani (40,481)
16. Saar Wilf 32,198)
17. Doyle Brunson (32,198)
18. Sandor Demjan (32,198)
19. Craig Burgess (25,918)
20. Steven Fung (25,918)
21. Konstantin Bucherl (25,918)
22. Liz Lieu (25,918)
23. Arnaud Mattern (25,918)
24. Peter Gould (25,918)
25. Yevgeniy Timoshenko (25,918)
26. Men Nguyen (25,918)
27. Andre Akkari (25,918)
28. John Kabbaj (21,142)
29. Christian Harder (21,142)
30. Christian Kruel (21,142)
31. Tommy Pavlicek (21,142)
32. Steve Zolotow (21,142)
33. Michael Fosco (21,142)
34. Oyvind Riisem (21,142)
35. David Ulliott (21,142)
36. David Docherty (21,142)
47mChris Broussard and Marc Stein
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