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World Series of Poker Live Blog: Duhamel and Racener will play for poker immortality

Duhamel has a major chip advantage headed into Monday’s heads-up session

November Nine 2010

Justin M. Bowen

The final table of nine players at the World Series of Poker Main Event play for the $9 million first place prize and the world championship bracelet at the Penn & Teller Theater in the Rio Saturday afternoon.

Updated Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.

2010 World Series of Poker-Final Table

The final table of nine players at the World Series of Poker Main Event play for the $9 million first place prize and the world championship bracelet at the Penn & Teller Theater in the Rio Saturday afternoon. Launch slideshow »

Chip Counts

Main Event Payouts

  • 1st — $8,944,138
  • 2nd — $5,545,855
  • Joseph Cheong (3rd) — $4,129,979
  • Filippo Candio (4th) — $3,092,497
  • Michael Mizrachi (5th) — $2,332,960
  • John Dolan (6th) — $1,772,939
  • Jason Senti (7th) — $1,356,708
  • Matthew Jarvis (8th) — $1,045,738
  • Soi Nguyen (9th) — $811,823

Cheong collapses at the end

Jonathan Duhamel and John Racener have gotten to know each other’s poker games pretty well over the last few months.

They fought together for a place at the Main Event final table in July and battled it out for 13 hours Saturday at the Rio to emerge as the final two standing out of starting field of 7,319 players.

Now, they’ll use all that information against each other to try to capture the world championship bracelet and the first place prize of $8.9 million. Duhamel and Racener will meet at 8 Monday night at the Penn & Teller Theater to determine the 2010 World Series of Poker champion.

Racener entered three-handed play behind both Joseph Cheong and Duhamel by about 70 million chips. But the biggest pot in World Series of Poker history transpired with Racener on the sideline.

Cheong raised Duhamel all-in with a fifth bet before the flop with only Ace-7 off-suit. Duhamel called with pocket Queens and they held on to award him with a pot of more than 180 million chips.

It goes down as one of the most memorable and most baffling hands in World Series of Poker history. Cheong lost all but 4 million chips. Duhamel finished Cheong off shortly after when his Ace-2 outlasted Cheong’s Queen-10.

Cheong received $4.1 million for his efforts, but looked understandably distraught when it was all over.

Because of the massive pot, Duhamel will have at least 150,000 more chips than Racener going into heads-up play. Duhamel is near the 200 million chip mark, while Racener has roughly 35 million.

Filippo Candio out in fourth

Another has fallen.

Right after play resumed following Michael Mizrachi's exit, a short-stacked Filippo Candio looked down at King-Queen of diamonds and put all his chips in the middle. Joseph Cheong wasted no time in calling with Ace-3 of clubs and was ahead in the hand.

His lead held after an Ace hit the flop. Candio graciously shook everyone's hand and embraced his friends and family. Candio takes home more than $3 million for his performance.

It's all down to John Racener, Joseph Cheong and Jonathan Duhamel for the $9 million and coveted Main Event bracelet. Racener faces quite the challenge, as he has around 25 million chips. Both Cheong and Duhamel have nearly four times that.

Cheong got to 97 million chips by knocking out Candio, while Duhamel is still sitting on 93 million after eliminating Mizrachi.

Michael Mizrachi's historic run ends

The most established player at the final table will not win the world championship for another year.

Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi had the chip lead for a large portion of the day, but was just knocked out in fifth place. The Grinder earns $2.3 million for his finish.

With his stack dwindling to 19 million chips, Mizrachi probably couldn't have gotten away from this hand. With Queen-8, he flopped top pair on a 5-4-Queen board and went all in after a bet by Jonathan Duhamel.

Duhamel called and showed pocket Aces. The turn and river were no help and Mizrachi and his large contingent of fans walked off the stage in disappointment. After winning that pot, Duhamel takes the chip lead back Joseph Cheong.

Mizrachi still had one of the most memorable summers in the history of the World Series of Poker. He won the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship for $1.4 million and his first bracelet and also made four other final tables including the Main Event.

Duhamel and Cheong now have about 70 percent of the chips in play. Filippo Candio and John Racener will need to catch fire to make it to Monday as one of the final two.

Play still intense despite smaller crowd

After yet another break, the five remaining players in the Main Event returned to a subdued Penn & Teller Theater.

Unlike earlier in the day, there are plenty of empty seats and not a lot of enthusiasm from the fans still left in attendance. Play has now hit the 12-hour mark, not including breaks, but that doesn't seem to have affected the play on the felt.

Everyone is still playing tight. Joseph Cheong has taken two of the first five pots, which is also par for the course. Cheong has built a stack of 69 million, the biggest by about 13 million, by playing more hands than anyone else at the table.

Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi has recovered from his recent slip nicely. He's back in third with around 35 million chips. The man sandwiched between Cheong and Mizrachi is Jonathan Duhamel with 56 million. Filippo Candio and John Racener are the two players needing some good fortune, so expect the next big confrontation to involve at least one of them.

Duhamel back near the top

The Grinder has fallen on some rough times.

After holding the chip lead for most of the night, he's now the shortest stack at the table following a couple of careless plays. The latest came when he doubled up Jonathan Duhamel.

The Grinder shoved all-in with a pair of 3s and was up against Duhamel's Ace-9. The board ran out two 9s to give Duhamel new life less than five minutes after he lost most of his chips to John Racener.

Duhamel is only a few thousand behind the chip leader, Joseph Cheong, now at 63 million. The Grinder has 28 million and will have to show his skills in working with a smaller stack once again.

Racener doubles up again

Even in the most important tournament of the year, the best hand doesn't always win.

It's a lesson that comes up every year in a key moment of the Main Event final table. It's a lesson Jonathan Duhamel would have rather not learned moments ago.

John Racener went all-in with Ace-Queen and was up against a much-superior Ace-King of Duhamel. But Racener collected solidly on the flop of Queen-8-4, while Duhamel whiffed.

The Jack and 3 to complete the board did little to change things for Duhamel, who now must play with a short stack for the first time in months. Duhamel has around 30 million chips, while Racener is closer to 40 million.

In less than 10 minutes, Racener has won two big hands to put him in third place. It's the first time since the beginning of today's action that Racener has been in prime position to compete with the leaders.

Racener takes a load of chips off of The Grinder

Michael Mizrachi is no longer the chip leader. John Racener is no longer the short stack.

It all changed in one hand. Racener shoved all-in after a raise from The Grinder. Mizrachi spent nearly five minutes before he made his decision. He called.

Racener had Mizrachi in a dominating position, with Ace-King off-suit against Mizrachi's Ace-8 suited. A King on the turn sealed it for Racener and doubled him up to around 30 million chips. Mizrachi falls to third, behind Joseph Cheong and Jonathan Duhamel, with around 40 million.

Filippo Candio is now on the short stack with 25 million chips. Mizrachi is getting plenty of encouragement from his cheering section to shake off the bad decision.

Duhamel takes out Dolan with pocket 4s

Only five players remain in the Main Event at the Penn & Teller Theater.

After a small break following Jason Senti's exit, one of the first hands prompted all-in action for a short-stacked John Dolan. Jonathan Duhamel quickly called and showed pocket 4s. Dolan had Queen-5 of diamonds, making the outcome close to 50/50.

But Duhamel's pair was never in danger, as no Queen or 5 hit the board. Dolan came into the final table second in chips, but takes sixth place. He will collect $1.7 million for his finish.

There is now a $600,000 pay jump. Mizrachi has the chip lead, with Duhamel and Joseph Cheong lurking close behind. John Racener and Filippo Candio will be the next players needing to make a move to stay alive in the race for the gold bracelet and $9 million.

Jason Senti finishes in seventh for $1.3 million

Sooner or later, the time had to come for Jason Senti.

Senti did a great job working his short stack all day and night, but recently met his demise against his friend Joseph Cheong. It came in demoralizing fashion.

Senti pushed all-in and Cheong quickly called before the flop. Senti flipped over Ace-King and Cheong showed pocket 10s. The flop came King-King-Queen, giving Senti three of a kind and a great chance to double up.

The turn came the ominous Jack, improving Cheong's hand to an open-ended straight draw. The 9 on the river sealed it, improving Cheong's hand to a straight and taking Senti out in seventh.

Senti collects $1.3 million for his finish, an amount he'll gladly take after coming into the final table with the fewest chips. Cheong is back alive with 40 million chips. He now trails only Michael Mizrachi and Jonathan Duhamel.

With Senti's exit, John Dolan is now the short stack. The 24-year old Floridian, who came into the final table in second, is down to around 15 million chips.

Candio's re-raise pays off

The Penn & Teller Theater went dead silent for the first time in the hour since dinner break.

Three players saw a flop that came down Queen-5-Queen with two spades. Jonathan Duhamel, first to act in the hand, bet out. John Racener called and Filippo Candio raised all-in.

After both players weighed their options for a while, they folded to give Candio a sizable pot. The crowd sat back down, denied seeing someone's tournament life on the line once again.

It's been more than six hours since Matthew Jarvis went out in eighth place. Michael Mizrachi and Duhamel are dictating most of the play at the moment, as they have about 50 percent of the chips in play.

Candio is steadily in third after taking the last pot and has a stack somewhere around 35 million.

Duhamel, Candio increase stacks slightly after dinner

Everyone is back from dinner and picking up right where they left off — not playing many hands and not seeing many flops.

Jonathan Duhamel has been the most aggressive, scooping a number of pots with pre-flop raises. Filippo Candio has also pushed all-in once, only to see Joseph Cheong fold.

Candio has stayed steady all day and probably played the last amount of hands out of everyone. He won one all-in encounter with pocket Aces when Duhamel called with Ace-King. Candio has gone all-in twice since, but received no callers.

Both times he has flashed a 7, meaning his big bet was nothing more than a bluff. Those actions could frustrate someone at the table, so look for Candio to induce some action here once dinner starts to digest and the players get to gambling.

Dinner break begins

It's shaping up to be another long night at the Rio as the Main Event plays down from seven to two players.

After nearly seven hours of play, only two players have busted before the 6:45 dinner break. Soi Nguyen exited in ninth when his Ace-King fell to Jason Senti's pocket Queens. Matthew Jarvis was the next to go, in eighth, in a memorable hand that saw Michael Mizrachi's Ace-Queen beat his pocket 9s on the river.

Mizrachi has since stormed his way up to the chip lead with nearly 55 million chips. Jonathan Duhamel is within five million and Joseph Cheong trails by about 20 million.

Everyone appears to be playing as cautious as possible, which makes sense given the money on the line. The next person out receives $1.3 million, while sixth place accounts for around a $450,000 pay jump.

Stay tuned to and expect updates when the players reconvene around 8:15.

Mizrachi four-bets Duhamel before the flop to take a pot

Michael Mizrachi just snapped away the chip lead from Jonathan Duhamel in the most pre-flop action all day at the Penn & Teller Theater.

In one of the first hands back after break, Duhamel put in a big re-raise to 4.75 million with Mizrachi still to act behind. Mizrachi put in a fourth bet before the flop, to 10 million, which made both Duhamel and John Dolan fold.

The Grinder came back and won the next hand, pushing his chip stack to around 50 million. Duhamel is still hovering around 46 million, so the margin can be changed with as little as one hand.

Senti heads to break with a smile

Jason Senti's reaction said it all.

When Senti saw the 10 of diamonds hit the river a moment ago, he leaned his head back and said "whoa." The card was the fourth diamond on the board and gave Senti a flush to stay alive in the Main Event.

The short-stacked Senti went all-in before the flop with King of diamonds, 7 of spades against Joseph Cheong's Ace of clubs, 9 of clubs. Two diamonds hit the flop and the Ace of diamonds landed on the turn, giving Cheong a pair of Aces but Senti the flush draw.

Senti now has about 22 million chips, putting him ahead of John Racener and in sixth. He has battled to get to this point after starting with the fewest chips on the table. His double-up hand was the last dealt before a 20-minute break.

Cheong now slides behind Duhamel on the leaderboard.

Duhamel loses chip lead, falls to third

It's tough to diagnose exactly what style most of the players on the final table are employing. Joseph Cheong is another story.

Cheong has pushed the action more than anyone at the table and just won one of the tournament's biggest pots to take the chip lead from Jonathan Duhamel. Cheong called a re-raise from Duhamel pre-flop. After a series of bets by Duhamel and calls by Cheong, the board ran out Ace-10-4-6-Jack.

Cheong put out a bet of more than 8 million on the river. Duhamel tanked for a few minutes before making the call. Cheong flipped over a hand Duhamel definitely didn't expect, 6-4 of diamonds, for a turned two pair.

Duhamel threw his cards away and Cheong took the pot. The pot puts Cheong around 60 million and drops Duhamel to around 35 million and behind Michael Mizrachi.

The Grinder knocks out Matthew Jarvis in unbelievable hand

The rest of the table is looking on in fear.

Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, the most heralded player at the final table, now has nearly 40 million chips. Mizrachi just took out Matthew Jarvis in eighth place with a hand that will be discussed for a long time.

Jarvis re-raised all-in with pocker 9s before the flop. After some deliberation, Mizrachi made the call with Ace-Queen of diamonds. The flop looked kind to the Grinder, falling Queen-8-Queen, to give him three of a kind. He looked devastated when the turn fell a 9, giving Jarvis a full house to likely double up.

But the improbable Ace landed on the river, giving Mizrachi a better full house. Mizrachi now has the third most chips and is only 10,000 behind chip leader Jonathan Duhamel. Jarvis walked off the stage having to accept his sudden turn of fortune with the river card.

He collects just more than $1 million for his eighth place finish.

Filippo Candio's pocket Aces hold up

Filippo Candio has reason to celebrate.

Candio just more than doubled his chip stack to 38 million after getting all his chips in with pocket Aces. Chip leader Jonathan Duhamel, who still has a healthy stack of 50 million chips, called with Ace-King.

The board was uneventful and Candio's huge advantage held up. The always-emotional Candio ran into his cheering section to celebrate and grabbed a shirt that said "Italia" on it. He then held it up for the ESPN cameras to see. Candio is practically tied with John Dolan behind Duhamel's 50 million chips now.

Soi Nguyen takes ninth place

The Main Event final table is now a battle between eight poker pros.

Click to enlarge photo

Soi Nguyen reacts after a Queen hits the flop at the World Series of Poker Main Event final table. The queen gave Jason Senti three of a kind and sent Nguyen home in ninth place.

The event's last standing amateur, Soi Nguyen, just exited in ninth place when his Ace-King failed to improve against Jason Senti's pocket Queens. All the chips got in before the flop.

The dealer spread out a ridiculous flop of Q-3-10 to give Senti a larger lead with a flopped set, but making Nguyen's hand a Jack away from a straight. The turn was a 9 and the river brought a King.

After starting the day as the short stack, Senti is now in prime position to compete. He's currently sixth in chips with somewhere around 16 million. Nguyen takes home more than $811,000. Matthew Jarvis takes over his role as the desperate short stack with around 10 million chips.

Senti moves up the chip leaderboard

Jason Senti has starred at the final table through its first hour.

Senti, who started as the short stack with only enough to pay 15 big blinds, has shoved all-in four times and increased his chip stack from 7.6 million to 9.3 million. In the process, he passed Matthew Jarvis and Soi Nguyen to put himself in seventh place.

His early play could be awarded, as the pay jump between seventh and ninth is about $500,000. Jarvis is now the short stack with less than 7 million. Not much else has changed through almost 20 hands.

Cheong, Jarvis start things off with a big pot

That didn't take long.

There was no slow start for the November Nine at the Penn & Teller Theater. On the third hand, Matthew Jarvis raised and Joseph Cheong re-raised from the button.

Big bets continued through a board of 2-5-10-8-7. Jarvis bet 4 million on the river, creating a nearly 20 million chip pot. Cheong thought for a moment before shoving all-in, which prompted a quick fold from Jarvis.

Action is usually sparse early with this much money on the line, but Cheong is apparently not changing his agressive style. Jason Senti has also pushed his short stack all-in twice before the flop and won both pots.


The cards, chips and felt have returned to the Penn & Teller Theater in the Rio for another year of action.

The third group of players to make the November Nine, the name given to the members of the final table at the World Series of Poker Main Event, are about to play for a world championship and nearly $9 million.

Cards are set to get in the air at Noon and play will resume all day, and possibly night, until two players emerge to come back Monday and play for the bracelet.

The players will take their seats shortly accompanied by background music of their choice. Before that happens, here are five questions to watch for today.

1. Will fate continue to work in favor of Jonathan Duhamel? All nine of these guys had to encounter their fair share of luck to get to this point, but it’s not a stretch to say Duhamel got it at the most crucial times. The 22-year old chip leader from Montreal has 30 percent of the chips in play after winning the biggest pot of the tournament on the last day of play in July. He cracked poker pro Matt Affleck’s pocket Aces with pocket Jacks despite being a 4-to-1 underdog when both players went all-in. It will be interesting to see if Duhamel’s pockets are seemingly stuffed full of four leaf clovers again at the final table.

2. Can “The Grinder” grind out the biggest win of his life? Michael Mizrachi is easily the most accomplished player at the table and won the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship bracelet at the beginning of the summer. But The Grinder is seventh in chips and Duhamel has more than four times the chips. Mizrachi says that’s no problem and that he got his nickname for perseverance and playing a short stack well.

3. What role will position play? Any poker professional will tell you position is the most important factor in the game. With that in mind, Mizrachi has a distinct advantage. He is directly to the left of Duhamel, meaning he will act behind the chip leader all afternoon. Position is not kind to John Dolan, who is second in chips. Dolan acts before Duhamel, meaning the 24-year old Floridian should have to exercise caution.

4. Who will take the massive, customary bad beat? Someone will lose life-changing money in a pot they win 80 percent of the time or better. It happens every year at this event. Heck, it happens at every poker tournament. The 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event final table was full of horrific beats. For instance, Eric Buchman knocked out Kevin Schaffel when his pocket Kings made quads to take down Schaffel’s pocket Aces.

5. How long will this take? Last year, it took 17 hours to get down to two players from nine. The prevailing thought around here is it wont take as long this time. But who really knows? Blinds are higher than last year at 250,000-500,000 with a 50,000 ante because the players competed in a longer session to end the summer in July.

With that out of the way. It’s prediction time. Instead of simply picking a winner, let’s run down the finish one through nine.

9. Soi Nguyen-No memorable run for an amateur this year. Nguyen does not have enough chips to work with.

8. Matthew Jarvis-Remember the bad beat mentioned above? As a total guess, Jarvis is the unlucky recipient this year.

7. John Racener-Get the feeling he wants to win this more than anyone, but it’s not meant to be.

6. Jason Senti-The short stack doubles a couple times and moves three spots up the pay ladder.

5. Filippo Candio-The real question is what will the emotional Candio do when he is eliminated?

4. Jonathan Duhamel-Chip leaders have not fared well at the Main Event in recent memory.

3. Michael Mizrachi-Have a strong feeling the Grinder makes a run at this, but falls short of heads-up play.

2. John Dolan-He came from 25th out of 27 to second out of nine in one day. Expect his rise to continue.

Champion: Joseph Cheong- From watching these guys in July, Cheong was playing the best and uses aggression like no one else at the table. No guarantee that will continue, but he’s the pick to win it all.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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