Earlier this summer, John Hennigan was denied a third bracelet in a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event, instead settling for second place while Ted Gillis took home his first bracelet. Last year, Hennigan was denied a third bracelet and his name on the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, instead taking third place.
Tonight though, John Hennigan would not be denied. The third time proved to be the charm for the longtime poker pro from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who bested one of the toughest fields of the summer in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship to claim that third bracelet and over $1.5 million. One might say that Hennigan is living up to his nickname--Johnny World, for he just beat the best players in the game for one of the most coveted titles of the year.
The fight for the win was a long one, especially during a lengthy stretch of three-handed play during which Hennigan battled with the seemingly unstoppable Brandon Shack-Harris and bracelet winner Jesse Martin. After beginning five hours of three-handed play with the chip lead, Hennigan fell to the short stack for much of the action, then battled back to the chip lead, which he took into heads-up play. Even with a sizeable chip advantage, Hennigan and Shack-Harris still battled for over an hour before Hennigan prevailed.
Three-handed play wasn't just mentally tough. It was an emotional grind, too, according to Hennigan. "I thought everybody was playing really well, three-handed," he said following his win. "It is such an intense, emotional tournament. Every bet, people are fighting so hard. It's not like a cash game, you're emotionally involved."Hennigan's first bracelet came in a $1,500 Stud Hi-Lo event in 2002. He followed that up with bracelet number two in a $2,000 Limit Hold'em event two years later. Now, ten years later, he adds a third one to the collection along with a career-best WSOP payday.
For Hennigan, the second chance at the PPC title is a blessing, for he admits he did not realize how much this event meant when he as at the final table just one year ago. Today though, he realizes what a big deal adding your name to the Chip Resse Trophy is, especially for a longtime regular in the biggest cash games on the East and West coasts.
"I didn't even realize the magnitude of the situation last year when I got third, and to come back this year and win it, it's amazing," said Hennigan. "It's a very fulfilling moment to win this tournament."
Even though he realizes what an accomplishment winning this bracelet may be, this wasn't enough of a day's work for Johnny World. Rather than bask in the limelight, conduct some interviews, and celebrate until dawn, he has a different plan in mind: bracelet number four. Hennigan stayed around only long enough to take his winner photo before literally running from the final table to take his seat in the $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship.
It may have been Hennigan's turn to stand in the limelight, but it is worth noting that this is Shack-Harris' fourth top four finish of the summer and his largest career payday. He earned $937,975, pushing his earnings for the summer into seven-figure territory. It also puts him within ten points of catching two-time bracelet winner George Danzer in the WSOP Player of the Year race.
Shack-Harris was not the only breakout star of 2014 at this final table. Melissa Burr made her third final table of the summer, not to mention poker history with her seventh place finish. Burr was not only the first woman to cash the PPC in its nine-year history, she was the first to make the final table as well. As is always the case in the Poker Players Championship, this final table was stacked with five bracelet winners with a combined seven bracelets. The group featured 2010 Player of the Year Frank Kassela (6th), bracelet winner Abe Mosseri (4th), and bracelet winner Jesse Martin (3rd).This year’s $50,000 Poker Players Championship drew 102 players, producing a $4,896,000 prize pool. Unlike previous years, this year’s event was played seven-handed instead of eight-handed. As has been tradition since 2010, this game featured the standard rotation known as Eight-Game. The top 14 finishers made the money. Some of the notables who cashed, but missed out on the final table include two-time bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi (14th), 2010 WSOP Main Event Champ Jonathan Duhamel (13th), Matt Glantz (12th), Scott Seiver (9th), and Allen Kessler, who bubbled the final table in eighth place.Here are the final table results from the $50,000 Poker Players Championship:1st: John Hennigan - $1,517,7672nd: Brandon Shack-Harris - $937,9753rd: Jesse Martin - $594,5704th: Abe Mosseri - $402,6965th: Chun Lei Zhou - $286,1226th: Frank Kassela - $212,8297th: Melissa Burr - $165,435