Pot-Limit Texas Hold' emLocation:
Rio, Las VegasBuy-in:
$1,500Number of Entries:
1,071Total Prize Money:
Thom Werthman, a 35-year-old owner of a high-tech telecommunications company in Detroit, MI, staged a memorable comeback and won a stunning upset victory over one of poker's most enigmatic personalities. When play became heads-up, Wertherman overcame a 3 to 1 chip deficit versus the always-unpredictable Layne Flack, who was shooting for his 6th WSOP gold bracelet.
But after a two-day, 26-hour poker marathon, it was the newcomer Werthmann who earned his first major tournament victory. The $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold'em championship started with 1,071 players, making it the largest pot-limit hold'em event in WSOP history. In fact, it was the third largest field ever to play in a WSOP event - a statistic expected to be short-lived since this year's tournament is smashing records daily.
When the final ten players assembled around the final table, Layne Flack had an impressive chip lead. Other than Englishman Martin Green - no one seemed to pose a threat to the freewheeling poker enigma originally from Missoula, Montana -- who has drawn comparisons to the late Stu Ungar. No one could possibly foresee that the mild-mannered, self-admitted recreational poker player in Seat 7 would be the last man sitting at the final table at 1:55 am. The final nine players assembled around the final table and were eliminated as follows:
9th Place: Ernest Patrick, $29,560
Tony Ma plays a short-stack as well as anyone in poker. He came in desperately hoping to double up, and did better than that. He tripled up. Twenty minutes into the finale, Ma moved all-in with K-K. Arash Ghaneian had A-Q and a third player, Ernest Patrick, had 8-8. The flop came K=J=J - good for a full-house -- which catapulted Ma back into the game. Meanwhile, Patrick was down to the felt and exited in 9th place.
8th Place: Arash Ghaneian, $44,340
Ghaneian took a blow on the previous hand losing to Ma, then tried to steal from the button with 7-6 suited. When Mario Valenzuela -- sitting in the small blind with K-J -- re-raised, Ghaneian was pot-committed. A jack flopped and Ghaneian was forced to take the walk of shame.
7th Place: Pierre Nasr, $59,120
Nasr became short-stacked and was delighted to look down and see pocket queens. David "Gunslinger" Bach lived up to his name and called a 30,000 raise with K-2 suited. The flop came 9-5-4, with one diamond. The queen of diamonds fell on the turn, which gave Nasr a set (three queens). Then, a third diamond fell on the river, giving the Gunslinger a flush.
6th Place: Mario Valenzuela, $73,900
Layne Flack was right on schedule to win another gold bracelet. With all due respect to the other players, it seemed Flack might run away with the title when he crushed Valenzuela, thus eliminating another player and taking nearly a 3-to-1 chip lead. Flack was dealt 10-10 and hit a ten on the flop. Valenzuela had pocket queens and was all-in and drawing to two outs. He missed. After the hand, Flack had 740,000 in chips.
5th Place: David Bach, $88,680
It was the Gunslinger's time to get shot down. He went up to nearly 300,000 in chips at one point, but had a tough run in his final half hour at the table. He made his last stand with A-K and was covered by Thom Werthmann, holding pocket 2s. With 350,000 in the pot, the Gunslinger needed to catch an ace or king, but missed. Bach, a former pro bowler who has turned to poker playing for a living, ended up with poker's equivalent of a spare. With that pot, Werthmann rocketed up close to 500,000 in chips and suddenly Flack had competition.
4th Place: Martin Green, $103,460
England has produced a long line of great pot-limit players. Green hoped to add his name to the Brit legacy, but fell three spots short of the top prize. Green was getting short on chips and pushed in under the gun with A-J. Flack, with a mountain of chips, called with K-4 and spiked a 4 on the river.
3rd Place: Tony Ma, $118,240
Ma survived three hours with a short stack before finally succumbing to defeat. Ma looked down, saw an ace, and moved in. Wethermann couldn't get his chips in fast enough with A-J, and when a jack flopped, Ma was essentially bounced to the rail.
Runner up: Layne Flack, $185,855
1st Place: Thom Werthmann, $369,535
When heads-up play began, Flack enjoyed a substantial chip lead over Werthmann - 1,150,000 to 480,000. Twenty minutes later, Flack was up 3-to-1. Then, the winds of fate shifted. Arguably the most decisive hand of the tournament took place when Werthmann made a pot-sized bet holding 8-6 after the flop came 6-3-2. Flack re-raised the pot with two overcards and a spade flush draw. Werthmann moved the rest of his chips in, and it was essentially a coin flip situation with two cards to come. Flack failed to catch the spade or overcard which would have given him his 6th gold bracelet, and Werthmann had new life. The chips counts were now close to equal.
Werthmann seized the chip lead when he took a 300,000 pot on non-showdown hand, then Flack won most of those chips back when he made two pair and Werthmann missed a straight draw.
With the championship hanging in the balance, the final hand of the night was dealt on Sunday night at 2 am, with throngs of spectators jammed around the table observing the two finalists. Flack was dealt 5-5 and was the clear favorite over Werthmann's A-2. Werthmann desperately needed to catch and ace. He caught not one ace, but two. The final board showed A=K=Q=A=J, which gave Werthmann trip aces and his first WSOP title.
View final results.
Tournament reporting by Nolan Dalla / worldseriesofpoker.com