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2010 World Series of Poker Europe

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 to Thursday, September 16, 2010

Event #1: £2,650 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed

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  • Buy-in: £2,650
  • Prizepool: £610,000
  • Entries: 244
  • Remaining: 34


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Thursday, September 16, 2010 7:15 PM Local Time

Well it's all over but the shouting and the celebrating and the crashing of the ATVs. Okay, Phil Laak's already taken care of that last bit, but now he's got plenty of reason to do the other two as well. After three full days of poker, Laak has overcome the field of 244 runners to capture the winner's crown in Event #1 of the WSOPE, officially blinging out his plaster arm cast. His victory in this £2,650 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max event comes alongside more than £170,000 in cash, and that's not even the good part. Right now, Laak is across the room conducting interviews, and he's clutching in his hand his brand new, shiny gold bracelet, the first of The Unabomber's career.

For such an early preliminary event, the field was impressively stacked for this Series opener. A veritable who's-who of British poker turned up for this contest, alongside a healthy smattering of international All Stars. The final table was stacked with nearly $10 million worth of tournament cashes, including the WSOPE's all-time leading casher, Chris Bjorin.

Laak began the day in the middle of the pack, and he found his chip stack moving steadily in the right direction right from the starting gun. He was more or less sitting patient for the balance of the day, however, and he watched patiently as Willie Tann, Ilan Rouah, and David Peters fell by the wayside as the first three casualties of the final table.

In the cooler of the day, Laak KO'd Bjorin out of three-handed play when the latter ran his pocket queens smack into Laak's two kings. A third king right on the flop sealed the deal for Laak and sealed the fate of Bjorin, relegated to the rail two spots shy of earning his third gold bracelet.

That left Andrew Pantling and Laak heads up for their first bracelet, and the duel was a mighty one. Back and forth they went for nearly three hours, trading small jabs and little sneaky body punches back and forth for a good long while. In the last few minutes of the fight, the pots suddenly began to grow larger, and the activity picked up noticeably, and it was all coming to a head rather quickly. You actually need look no further than this page to find all the important details of the heads-up battle, the biggest pot coming just a couple hands ago when Laak was all in with two pair. He faded elimination there on the river, and he snagged the remainder of Pantling's small stack just a few hands later to seal the deal.

Despite being a conspicuously pink-haired American here in England, Laak was one of the crowd favorites, and a large crowd of spectators (or as he calls them, witnesses) turned up to root for Laak today. As usual, he played the part of the center of attention rather well, his antics providing some good ammunition both for our blog and for the interest of the spectators gathered around the perimeter of the table.

So then, drinks are on the Unabomber in Leicester Square tonight, and our sincerest congratulations go out to Laak, one of the good guys in poker, on his impressive victory here this evening!

That's a wrap for Event #1, but we've got [URL=""+]plenty more action[/URL] lined up for the next two weeks, so stick with us for the duration of this fourth annual WSOPE.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:58 PM Local Time

Andrew Pantling raised on the button to 33,000 and Phil Laak moved all in. Pantling called off for his last 350,000 or so and the crowd was on their feet the instant the cards hit their backs to see Laak's    up against the   .

The flop came down     and Pantling stayed in front. He even picked up a flush draw to help eliminate some outs from Laak.

The turn card brought the   and the crowd roared as Laak took the lead, hitting one of the few cards in the deck that could have helped him.

There was some pause before the river card was dealt. After a burn card was placed on the felt, the   was turned over and that was it! The crowd erupted with cheers and applause for Laak as he won the hand and more importantly the tournament, claiming his first gold bracelet and £170,802. Pantling earned £105,506 for his runner-up finish.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:48 PM Local Time

On the very next hand...

We join the pot as the dealer is putting the turn card down on a board of        . Pantling was first to act, and he checked it over. There was only about 50,000 in the pot, but Laak went ahead and made a big overbet of 180,000. Not to be outdone, Pantling shoved it in there, and Laak made the call to put himself at risk for his entire stack.




It was the leading two pair for Laak, but Pantling was drawing very live with a chance to potentially win the bracelet. Ah, but no! The river was a very safe  , though, and that was just what Laak needed. In the biggest pot of the tournament, Laak has doubled up to finally take a commanding chip lead. He's right at 1.4 million now, while Pantling has just 430,000 left.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:43 PM Local Time

Andrew Pantling raised to 33,000 from the button, and Phil Laak matched it to see a flop. It came      , and Laak check-called a follow-up bet of 42,000.

On the   turn, Laak checked again, and Pantling fired a second bullet of 103,000 chips. Laak called it again, and the   was the last card off the deck. Laak checked the river too, and Pantling took a long pause before announcing a bet of 240,000. Laak's call came quickly... and incorrectly.

Pantling turned over     for the trip nines, and that was the winner-winner. That's the biggest pot we can remember during this heads-up duel, and it goes to Pantling. He's pretty much turned the tides here as Laak is now the one down to 730,000. That give Pantling 1.1 million and a sizable lead.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:39 PM Local Time

From the button, Andrew Pantling raised to 33,000, and Phil Laak reraised to 128,000. Pantling made the call, and there was already a quarter million in the pot heading to the flop.

It came      , and both players checked. That action repeated itself on the   turn, and the   landed on fifth street. Laak finally fired, shoving out a healthy bet of 245,000. Pantling thought it over long and hard for several minutes before surrendering, and Laak's edge has grown once again.

Laak - 1.13 million

Pantling - 700,000

Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:32 PM Local Time

The excitement came on the turn in this pot, so we'll pick up the action there. The board read         by now, and there was a little more than 50,000 in the pot. Andrew Pantling was first to go, and he made a bet of 42,000 before Phil Laak promptly raised it up to 162,000. For the second time in this heads-up battle, the entire spectator gallery rose to their feet and pressed in toward the table in anticipation of fireworks.

But that was the end of the drama right there. Pantling conceded defeat, and Laak's lead is secure for now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:13 PM Local Time

We were distracted by a rather attractive looking cocktail waitress while the preflop action was unfolding, but we picked up the action just as the dealer was spreading out a flop of      . Andrew Pantling was first to act, and he made a bet of 42,000. That drew a raise to 143,000 from Laak, and Pantling put in the calling chips.

The   on fourth street drew a check to Laak, and he made a healthy 310,000-chip bet. Pantling let his hand go, and Laak opted to flash his airball     for a little free advertising.

Laak - 1.09 million

Pantling - 740,000

Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:11 PM Local Time

It's been a very evenly matched, back-and-forth heads-up battle to this point with the two men essentially trading jabs back and forth.

Phil Laak opened to 26,000 from the button, and Pantling called to see a flop. Both men checked the       flop, and Pantling bet 43,000 on the   turn. Laak folded, and Pantling earned that little pot.

On the next hand, Pantling raised to 33,000 from the button, and Laak put in the call to continue on. A check apiece on the       turn led them to the   river. Laak check-called a bet of 38,000 there, and both men check-checked the   river. Pantling mucked when Laak showed    , and the two men trade pots again. Laak gets slightly the better of that exchange though, and it may well be the man who wins the slightly bigger pots more often that ends up winning this bracelet.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:02 PM Local Time

From the button, Andrew Pantling opened to 26,000. In response, Phil Laak stacked out a reraise and made it 86,000 total. But wait, there's more! Pantling promptly four-bet to 186,000 straight, and that was good enough to take it down right there. Pantling appeared to flash a big-paint pocket pair as the dealer pushed him the pot.

Pantling - 993,000

Laak - 837,000

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:52 PM Local Time

Phil Laak and Andrew Pantling were just prompted about a possible break at the upcoming level by tournament director Jack Effel. Pantling wanted to take a short break to stretch his legs and use the restroom. Laak on the other hand, didn't want to take a break. He wanted to play it straight through with no breaks at all. Laak recently played the longest session of poker at 115 hours straight so no wonder he wants to keep playing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:48 PM Local Time

Andrew Pantling raised to 31,000 on the button and Phil Laak called. Laak then check-called a bet of 35,000 from Pantling on the flop of     before the   fell on the turn. Both players checked and the   paired the board on the river.

Laak bet out 50,000 and Pantling made the call. Laak held the    for a busted draw and lost to Pantling's   .

After a quick count, it looks like things are back to just about even again.

Laak - 950,000

Pantling - 880,000

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:46 PM Local Time

Andrew Pantling made it 31,000 to go on the button before Phil Laak reraised from the big blind to 112,000. Pantling made the call.

The flop came down     and Laak checked. Pantling fired 148,000. Laak made the call.

The turn brought the   and both players checked. The river was the   and Laak shot out a bet of 320,000. Pantling couldn't make the call and folded, dropping back below 700,000.

Laak - 1,140,000

Pantling - 690,000

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:37 PM Local Time

Phil Laak limped in from the button and then called a raise to 32,000 from Andrew Pantling. The flop came down     and both players checked. They also checked when the   paired the board on the turn.

The river was the   and a tiny bit of money went in. Laak bet 30,000 after Pantling checked and was called. Laak showed the    and won the pot to take back the chip lead.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:33 PM Local Time

Allen Kessler tweeted last night that he was on his way to London and he is now in the building. Upon seeing him up on the balcony of the upper level across the room, tournament director Jack Effel announced, "Alert, alert, alert! Complainsaw is in the house!" He then waved to Kessler and said, "Don't worry, Allen, you can still get in the [URL=""]PLO[/URL], the structure's good."

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:28 PM Local Time

With the flop of     laid out in the middle, Phil Laak check-called a bet of 16,000 from his opponent Andrew Pantling. The turn brought the   and Laak check-called again, this time for 41,000.

The river completed the board with the   and Laak check-called a bigger bet of 117,000 this time, saying "I'm so strong, but I can only beat a bluff," just before making the call. Pantling then showed the    and Laak mucked.

That pot pulled the two players just about even, with Laak maintaining a slight lead. After that hand, Pantling was able to pick up a couple of pots preflop and now has the chip lead again.

Pantling - 925,000

Laak - 905,000

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:26 PM Local Time

The last time Phil Laak was this close to a bracelet was back in 2005 over in Las Vegas. He was heads up with living poker legend Johnny Chan in the $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em after Richard Osborne went out in third. Late into the night Laak and Chan battled, until the final hand came up that saw Laak fall in second place while Chan claimed his tenth gold bracelet.

Laak and Chan got all the money in on a flop of    . Laak held    and Chan    -- pretty much a cooler situation in heads-up play. After two blanks fell on the turn and river, it was all over and Chan was the winner.

Although that was the closest Laak has ever come to a bracelet, he's had some other extremely deep runs that has left him just several spots short of a WSOP bracelet.

In 2007, Laak finished in 11th place in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em at the WSOP, just failing short of the final table. In 2008, Laak final tabled the $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Hold'em, but went out in ninth place. First, his [URL=""]jacks ran into the kings of Patrik Antonius[/URL] to crush him on the first hand of the final table and then he [URL=""]ran pocket jacks into pocket aces[/URL] of eventual winner Nenad Medic.

Laak is ever so close again and it's not often that players can get this opportunity more than once in their poker career. Will he be able to do it? Stick with us and find out!

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:11 PM Local Time

Andrew Pantling raised to 31,000 and was called by his opponent Phil Laak. The flop of     was checked by both players to see the   fall on the turn. Laak bet out 30,000 on fourth street and was called by Pantling. The river card was the   and Laak bet 73,000. Pantling mucked his hand and Laak stretched out his lead a bit more.

Laak - 1,150,000

Pantling - 680,000

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:06 PM Local Time

Phil Laak was on the button and limped in. Andrew Pantling raised from the big blind to 35,000 and Laak came along.

The flop was     and both players checked to see the   fall on the turn. Both players checked again before the   hit the river.

Pantling fired out 47,000. Laak calculated a raise and then fired back with 149,000. Pantling made the call.

Laak tabled two pair coming on the turn and river with the   . Pantling mucked and Laak was pushed the pot. He now has 1.1 million to Pantling's 730,000.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:01 PM Local Time

Andrew Pantling raised the button again and made it 24,000 to go. Phil Laak called once again from the big blind and the two saw the flop come down    . Laak check-raised the 28,000-chip bet from Pantling to 64,000 and won the pot. The two are now dead even.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:01 PM Local Time

On the button, Andrew Pantling made it 24,000 to go and Phil Laak called. The flop came down     and Laak check-called a bet of 31,000 from Pantling.

The turn brought the   and both players checked. The river was the   and both players checked again.

Laak tabled the    for kings and fours and won the pot. He inched closer and now has 900,000 in chips.