The name Phil Hellmuth is synonymous with the WSOP. He’s made the most final tables. He’s won the most bracelets. He’s posted the most cashes. The $2,200 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em at the 2014 WSOP APAC was a chance for Hellmuth’s legend to grow even further as just five players stood between Hellmuth and his ground-breaking 14th WSOP gold bracelet.
It started well for Hellmuth. He sent November Niner Bruno Politano home in sixth place and found himself as the chip leader. Then everything went downhill as Hellmuth would soon sit as the short stack.
Hellmuth hung onto his tournament life into four-handed play, but that’s where his story ends and the story became Alexander “AJ” Antonios’s to tell as he ultimately took home the $128,784 top prize and his first WSOP gold bracelet.
“It’s obviously tough to win a bracelet,” Antonios said following his victory. “People like Phil have been around for 25 years and have only won 13.”
“I really lucked out on this one and it may never happen again, but I would definitely like another shot at a bracelet.”
Antonios, a 25-year old cash game grinder from Sydney, was almost as chatty as Hellmuth at the final table. He was having a great time and was even giving plenty back to the man himself.
“Phil is one of those people you can bounce off really well. I always pick the person at the table I can bounce off and he was that person. We have been bantering for three days, it was a lot of fun.”
Watch final table in its entirety.
Playing poker against an imposing figure like Hellmuth clearly didn’t faze Antonios.
“It was definitely not intimidating playing against Phil. I had position on him so that worked against him. Maybe our bantering lightened the mood because I didn’t feel any pressure from him.”
That’s the sort of confidence that helped Antonios secure his WSOP gold bracelet.
The $2,200 buy-in Six-Max No Limit Hold’em ran as a three-day tournament. The Crown Poker Room in Melbourne, Australia was jam-packed on Day 1 of the event, playing host to 243 entrants.
The event featured a $486,000 prize pool, with the top 27 players set to finish in the money. After ten levels on the opening day, there were 31 remaining, meaning four would go home empty handed on Day 2.
The chip leader at this point was eventual final tablist Alexander Antonios with 138,200. However, the big story that was building was that Phil Hellmuth had finished Day 1 with a top five stack and was looking poised to make a run at a historic his 14th gold bracelet
There were exactly four players who returned on Day 2 and were left disappointed as they missed the money. None more disappointed, however, than bubble boy Sang Lee who had his pocket kings cracked by pocket eights to be sent home in a disappointing 28th place.
Once the bubble burst the action was fast and furious as players like November Niner Jesse Sylvia (22nd), prominent New Zealand pro Jackson Zheng (15th), the UK’s Ash Mason (13th) and reigning Aussie Millions champ Ami Barer (11th) all fell short of the final table.
When Kris Nestorovic was eliminated in seventh place late on Day 2, the final table was set with Sydney-based Macau regular Steven Zhou the chip leader, while Hellmuth had made it through with the fourth largest stack overall.
Hellmuth wasn’t the only prominent player at the final table. Brazil’s Bruno Politano was also there. Politano is, of course, one of the members of the upcoming November Nine who will fight it out for the WSOP Main Event title and the ten-figure top prize.
Politano began the final table as the short stack, which was arguably going to be good practice for the November Nine where he is also the final table shorty. Politano will, however, be hoping to fare better at the November Nine as he was the first player eliminated on the final day of the WSOP APAC six-max event.
Politano’s chips actually went to none other than Hellmuth. It was an all in preflop race situation with Hellmuth catching a pair with his big slick against Politano’s pocket queens. Following Politano’s elimination, Hellmuth was the chip leader, but only briefly before he lost a big pot to Alexander Antonios.
Hellmuth was in vintage form, chastising his opponents and pacing around the table pep-talking himself all while his stack was see-sawing between the chip lead and the short stack.
Hellmuth wasn’t able to secure another bracelet though, instead falling in fourth place and clearing the way for Alexander Antonios to claim the title, the six-figure score and the latest WSOP gold bracelet.
Here are the final table results from the $2,200 Six Max No Limit Hold’em:
1st: Alexander Antonios - $128,784
2nd: Michael Tran - $79,646
3rd: Steven Zhou - $55,365
4th: Phil Hellmuth - $38,909
5th: Yu Kurita - $27,624
6th: Bruno Politano - $19,809