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2012 43rd Annual World Series of Poker

Saturday, June 09, 2012 to Monday, June 11, 2012

Event #19: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em

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  • Buy-in: $1,500
  • Prizepool: $3,107,700
  • Entries: 2,302
  • Remaining: 0


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Monday, June 11, 2012 8:51 PM Local Time

Cliff Goldkind

On Saturday afternoon, a field of 2,302 players turned up for Event #19 of this 2012 World Series of Poker. The buy-in was a moderate $1,500, but the big field created a hefty prize pool of more than $3 million. More than a half-million dollars of that awaited the eventual champion, and that comes with the priceless gold bracelet.

This evening, we crowned our champion. Cliff Goldkind is a 24-year-old student from Potomac, Maryland. Tonight, he's a WSOP bracelet winner. After one of the quicker Day 3's of the Series, Goldkind knocked off the gregarious Kennii Nguyen in the final duel to get his first taste of live tournament glory.

When this day began, there were still 17 players in contention. Apart from our two finalists, notables such as Philippe Boucher, Jason Wheeler, Barry Shulman, and David Peters were in the hunt.

Boucher barely escaped the first level of the day before meeting his end. He three-bet shoved with his short stack and    . Adria Balaguer had opened with    , though, and a board full of blanks sent Boucher off in 15th place with $25,048 as a consolation prize. He won his first bracelet at the WSOPE in Cannes this past year, but his second will have to wait for now.

Wheeler chipped up to a million rather quickly in the early stages, but he soon found himself open-shoving into a pot with less than half that count in front of him. He showed down     when he was called, and Justin McGill's     were too much. Wheeler had plenty to sweat on the           board, but he could not find an out to stave off an 11th-place exit ($31,916).

The final table of nine was set up under the bright lights of the Pavilion's secondary featured table, and the rest of the day would hum along rather quickly.

Gary Burks came into the final table with the chip lead, but he was the first to depart. Within a few hands, Goldkind had overtaken him, and the two played a monster pot with nine players left. Burks got it in with    , but Goldkind found     and snap-called for the knockout. The dealer made things fantastically interesting, though. The       flop was a partial hit for Burks, and he caught lightning in a bottle when the turn brought the  . Now he was left to fade the remaining diamonds and the ace left in the deck, but that was too tall a task. The river   gave the monster pot back to Goldkind, and Burks was left pacing toward the exit doors with $41,145 for his final-table run.

From there on, the eliminations came at a torrid pace. Shulman was next to fall. He had gotten himself in push-fold territory, and his third shove did not go uncalled as the two prior had. The elder statesman of the table moved in with     in early position, and it was Goldkind who did the deed. He found aces again, and his     were too much for Shulman on the           board. Shulman left to a nice ovation in eighth place, good for more than $50,000.

Moments later, Peters got his chips in with     against Patrick Smith's    , and he could not catch up. The           board was the last of his day, and his third career WSOP final table appearance paid him out more than $70,000 for a seventh-place finish.

McGill brought a group of friends up from Phoenix, Arizona to sweat his final table, and he gave them a good performance before ducking out in sixth. He had about 20bb when he shoved in with    . Balaguer quickly called with    , though, and the       flop was about as good as he could hope for. McGill could not find the case eight or running aces, and his day ended right there. For his efforts, McGill and his friends were handed $94,815 to enjoy a night out in Las Vegas.

Gregg Wilkinson left in fifth place with the first six-figure payout of the event — $128,441. It was a flip of the coin with his     looking to outrun the     of Balaguer. They could not, though, as the           board gave Wilkinson his marching orders.

Just minutes later, Smith got the last of his stack in with     on a       flop. It's hard to fault him for that, but Goldkind had flopped better with his    . Smith could not find any help on the   turn and   river, and his fourth-place showing was good for more than $175,000.

Balaguer was getting short on chips by that point, but he did manage to double with     against Nguyen's    . Just one hand later, though, he was out in third place. Goldkind put him to the test with    , and Balaguer's     had him poised for a second double in as many hands. Once again, though, the poker gods were on Team Goldkind. The       flop put Balaguer under the axe in a big way. He couldn't catch back up on the   turn and   river, and his first WSOP cash was good for just shy of a quarter-million dollars. That's not a bad consolation prize, in our estimation.

Because of the way those last few hands went, Goldkind entered heads-up play with a massive chip lead. The two played just a couple pots before the dinner break, then returned to play for the bracelet. They decided to give us all an early night by getting it all in on the very first hand back. Goldkind's pocket sixes held against the two Broadway cards of Nguyen, and the latter was sent off with nearly $350,000 as the runner-up.

It was the moment of victory for Goldkind, and he spent it celebrating in the arms of his friends on the rail. As we soon found out, he wasn't even sure how much money he'd just made.

"You wanna know payouts now, Cliff?" one of his friends asked.

"Sure," Goldkind answered.

"Five-fifty-nine," came the reply.

Goldkind's eyes rolled back in his head. "Oh," he said with an impenetrable grin.

"You're halfway to One Drop!" another said.

He's already made his own little slice of WSOP history here tonight, and Goldkind's focus on the bracelet paid off in gold. From all of us at PokerNews, we send our big congratulations to the WSOP's newest champion, Cliff Goldkind!

Monday, June 11, 2012 8:28 PM Local Time

Kennii Nguyen - 2nd place

It took exactly one shuffle to end the match.

On the first hand back, Kennii Nguyen was dealt    , and Cliff Goldkind woke up with a pair —    . All in and a call, and the cards were on their backs.

The two men stood together in front of their stacks, and Nguyen was yelling instructions at the dealer. "Picture! Picture! Monkey!" But his pleas fell on deaf ears. The board ran          , and the last of Nguyen's chips were slid across to his neighbor.

Kennii Nguyen put on a great show here today, and his energy was contagious both at the table and here at our desks. For his work this week, he'll win $347,036. You can buy all sorts of crazy hats with that money.

Cliff Goldkind10,359,0001,145,000
Kennii Nguyen0-1,145,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 8:21 PM Local Time

Kennii Nguyen

Our two men are back in their seats, and the heads-up match has recommenced.

Despite his short stack, Nguyen is brimming with joy and confidence.

Monday, June 11, 2012 8:20 PM Local Time
Level: 28
Blinds: 30000/60000
Ante: 10000
Monday, June 11, 2012 7:28 PM Local Time

Our final two players have reached their one-hour dinner break. Play will resume at about 9:20 PM local time, and the gents will stack up like so:

Cliff Goldkind9,214,0004,014,000
Kennii Nguyen1,145,000-830,000
Gorilla Gaming
Monday, June 11, 2012 7:27 PM Local Time

Adria Balaguer - 3rd Place

One hand after after doubling with    against Kennii Nguyen's   , Adria Balaguer raised to 100,00 in the small blind and Cliff Goldkind three-bet to 300,000 from the big blind. Balaguer fired back with a four-bet to 635,000, Goldkind pushed all in, and Balaguer called off for around 2,600,000.


Balaguer was in fantastic shape to take the chip lead. But poker can be a cruel, cruel game. The dealer tabled a flop of     and Goldkind's rail exploded when they saw his flopped full house. The   turn and   river were no help to a dejected Balaguer, who will take $245,197 back to his home in Malta. We'll have the official heads-up chip counts for you momentarily!

Adria Balaguer0-1,600,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 7:07 PM Local Time

Patrick Smith - 4th Place

And then there were three. Patrick Smith was first to act preflop and he raised to 160,000. Cliff Goldkind called on the button and the two blinds got out of the way.

The flop brought an action-inducing     and the chips started flying. Smith checked, Goldkind fired 200,000, and Smith check-raised all-in for 1,220,000. After hearing Smith's total, Goldkind pushed in a call, and the cards were revealed.


Cliff had the lead with two pair but it was far from over. Smith flopped a gutshot draw, and he picked up even more out when the   fell on the turn to give him a flush draw. But it wasn't meant to be for Smith as the   came on the river and he exited in fourth place for more than $176,000.

Goldkind is running over this final table and is now sitting behind a mountain of chips.

Cliff Goldkind5,200,0001,250,000
Patrick Smith0-1,650,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 6:51 PM Local Time
Cliff Goldkind3,950,000350,000
Kennii Nguyen1,975,000-125,000
Patrick Smith1,650,00050,000
Adria Balaguer1,600,000-100,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 6:46 PM Local Time

Gregg Wilkinson - 5th place

Adria Balaguer opened the action with an under-the-gun raise to 100,000. Around in the big blind, Gregg Wilkinson three-bet shoved for just less than 800,000. Balaguer had just bluffed off a big chunk of his stack, so he barely had the shover covered by that point. He paused for just a bit to make sure, then called with a chance at the knockout.


The       flop kept things interesting for the next two streets as Wilkinson flopped an open-ender. The turn was the blank  , and he had one card to find an out. He could not, though. The   was the last card off the deck, and Balaguer ends with trip jacks and the rest of Wilkinson's chips.

That's the end of Wilkinson's day, and he'll take home $128,441 for his work this weekend. That's not too bad for a $1,500 investment.

Adria Balaguer1,700,000-300,000
Gregg Wilkinson0-1,025,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 6:22 PM Local Time

The blinds have been increased to 25,000/50,000 with a 5,000 ante. We're an hour away from the dinner break.

Playtika - Jason Alexander
Monday, June 11, 2012 6:20 PM Local Time
Level: 27
Blinds: 25000/50000
Ante: 5000
Monday, June 11, 2012 6:16 PM Local Time

Cliff Goldkind raised to 80,000 from early position and Kennii Nguyen called directly behind. Gregg Wilkinson then moved all in for more than 800,000, and Goldkind quickly got out of the way. Nguyen tried to get some information out of Wilkinson, but his attempt failed and he tossed his cards into the muck.

Gregg Wilkinson1,025,000125,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 6:07 PM Local Time

Justin McGill - 6th place

First into the pot, Justin McGill shoved the last of his ~800,000 into the middle. The bet folded all the way to Adria Balaguer's big blind, but he liked what he saw. Taking a quick peek, he dumped the calling chips into the pot without delay, and McGill was at risk.


The flop was a disaster for McGill as it came       to leave him dead to the one-out eights. Or running aces, on the longshot. But the turn   and river   were blanks, and McGill has been forced to the exit. He'll take home the last five-figure payday of this final table, and it will put nearly $95,000 in his pockets.

Adria Balaguer2,000,000620,000
Justin McGill0-855,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 6:03 PM Local Time

Kennii Nguyen

Gregg Wilkinson opened with a preflop raise, to which Kennii Nguyen responded with a three-bet worth 355,000. Wilkinson moved all in and Nguyen took no time in making the call:


Nguyen was trailing, but his rail exploded when the dealer revealed the     flop. Wilkinson picked up flush outs when the   hit the turn, but the   on the river sealed the double up for Nguyen. Kennii immediately ran off to give high-fives to his rail. He's now second in chips behind Cliff Goldkind.

Kennii Nguyen2,100,0001,797,000
Gregg Wilkinson900,000-327,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 5:59 PM Local Time

David Peters - 7th Place

David Peters was on the button, and he came in with a raise to 80,000. Patrick Smith defended his big blind, and off they went to the flop.

It came      , and Peters continued out with another 80,000. Smith check-raised big, making it 325,000 straight. Peters responded with an all-in reraise, and Smith quickly called to put him to the test. Peters was at risk, and he was in trouble.


Smith had flopped bottom two, and Peters had some work to do to catch up. The turn   and river   were blanks, though, and he's been sent on his way in 7th place. That's good for more than $70,000, and the soft-spoken Peters paced quietly off the stage with his head down.

Patrick Smith1,600,000695,000
David Peters0-845,000
Playtika - Jason Alexander
Monday, June 11, 2012 5:54 PM Local Time

Barry Shulman - 8th Place

A short-stacked Barry Shulman moved all-in preflop three times in the past orbit. The first two attempts were successful; the third was not.

Shulman shoved for 635,000 from early position and Cliff Goldkind called from middle position. Action folded around, and Schulman's tournament life was at risk.


Goldkind found aces again, but there was far less excitement this time around. The board ran out      , giving Goldkind a turned full house, and Shulman exited a few spots shy of his third WSOP bracelet.

Cliff Goldkind3,600,000700,000
Barry Shulman0-465,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 5:47 PM Local Time
Cliff Goldkind2,900,000235,000
Gregg Wilkinson1,950,000500,000
Adria Balaguer1,380,000-130,000
Kennii Nguyen1,000,000135,000
Patrick Smith905,00015,000
Justin McGill855,00055,000
David Peters845,000-15,000
Barry Shulman465,000-565,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 5:43 PM Local Time

Adria Balaguer

Action folded around to David Peters in the small blind, and the online superstar moved all in for more than 1.5 million. Adria Balaguer was sitting in the big blind with around 735,000 in chips and he peeked down at his hole cards. Snap call.


Peters was behind but drawing live to a king or an eight. However, the     flop left him drawing thin. The   on the turn secured the double for Balaguer, and Peters was left with less than 900,000.

Adria Balaguer1,510,000805,000
David Peters860,000-585,000
Monday, June 11, 2012 5:36 PM Local Time

Adria Balaguer raised to 80,000 to open the action, and he found calls from both Barry Shulman and Gregg Wilkinson. The latter came along from his big blind to the three-way flop.

The dealer gave them      , and it checked to the raiser. Balaguer continued out with 135,000, and Shulman called that amount as well. Wilkinson wanted to play for more, though. He check-raised all in. Fold-fold, and that's another decent pot to Wilkinson's corner.

Monday, June 11, 2012 5:34 PM Local Time

Kennii Nguyen

This final table arena in the Pavilion isn't new to Kennii Nguyen. Less than two weeks ago, Nguyen was among the last 10 players left in Event 2, a $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event. Unfortunately for the animated, fast-talking Nguyen, he bubbled the official final table after losing a preflop confrontation to eventual champion Brent Hanks.

Nguyen is back, and this time he's armed with a bigger stack and more room to maneuver. We'll see if he can muscle his way to his first WSOP gold bracelet tonight.

Gorilla Gaming