Wednesday, September 29, 2010 12:23 AM Local Time
346 players started this year's WSOPE Main Event, but when the smoke cleared and the dust settled, it was little known James Bord of England who rose above one of the calendar's best pound-for-pound fields to be crowned the Champion.
Some of the world's greatest poker players entered the event such as Tom 'durrrr' Dwan, Patrik Antonius, JC Tran, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, complete with a double-decker bus and 11 Lady Gagas. As the tournament progressed, all eyes fixed themselves on Viktor Blom and Phil Ivey, the two high rollers sending forums into a wild frenzy as they seemed destined for the final table. But as they fell just inches short, Victory Poker CEO Dan Felyshman flourished to take a chip lead into a tough final that included French pro Nicolas Levi and triple crown winner Roland De Wolfe.
Starting the final fifth in chips, Bord was perhaps overlooked as a potential winner, but he had one weapon that no other player could boast: the support of the rail. Heavily cheered throughout, Bord climbed the ladder rung by rung, surviving any all-in showdown he was involved in and battling his way to a heads-up encounter with Fabrizio Baldassari.
Despite his Italian foe boasting a comfortable chip lead, there was something in the air at the Empire, and it just felt as though there was only going to be one winner. On this night, that man was Bord, who after doubling through with Big Slick, finally sealed the deal with tens holding against pocket fives.
The rail exploded like Mount Vesuvius and after the bedlam ceased, a victorious Bord collected his bracelet and officially became the 2010 WSOPE Champion. In conclusion, Bord beamed with pride: "I've got all the boys to say thank you to, you are unbelievable. And I'd like to say a big thank you to Sam Trickett. It's just such a relief to get one!"
Obsrestad, Juanda, Shulman - it's a hellava list to be part of, but Bord's name is now etched into the record books.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:55 PM Local Time
Hand #231: Walk for Baldassari, no fuss.
Hand #232: Baldassari on the button now, raised to 225, instantly reraised to a big tower of 25k chips, which turns out to be 855k total. Baldassari assessed his stack, pulling forward lots of towers - 2 mil the bet now. "All in," announced Bord. Call.
Turn: ("ONE TIME!" predictably rings out)
Bord bounced up and down like someone put springs in his trainers, the rail actually collapsed, the hands were in the air like they just didn't care. Baldassari walked slowly to where his fans waited, happy and sad at the same time, and it looked like a riot might be about to kick off! Half a million pounds for second place, a really hard fought heads up to be proud of, and Baldassari will surely be seen again at the live felt soon...
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:46 PM Local Time
Hand #226: James Bord received a walk.
Hand #227: Bord raised to 180,000, only for Fabrizio Baldassari to three-bet. Before the chips had been counted, Bord's cards were in the muck.
Hand #228: Baldassari raised it up and Bord immediately released his hand.
Hand #229: The button was on Bord who bumped it up to 215,000. Baldassari seem to be considering a raise, but just flat called. The flop rolled out . Both players checked to an turn, and then a river, which triggered a bet of 225,000 from the Italian. Bord called with , which was more than enough to scoop.
Hand #230: Baldassari raised to 200,000 and Bord flat called.
Bord check allowing Baldassari to take it down with a continuation bet.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:40 PM Local Time
Hand #221: The rail are actually shouting themselves hoarse. A couple of their voices are sounding strained and wispy but they're still giving it a chant. Although god only knows what "Walking in a Bordy Wonderland!" means.
Limp on the button from James Bord, and Baldassari checked.
Flop: . Baldassari bet out 125k and Bord called.
Turn: . Again Baldassari led for 325k, and Bord called.
River: . One more street, one more bet from Baldassari - this time 630k. Bord thought for a while but eventually tapped the table and passed.
Hand #222: Limp-check preflop, and they saw . First to act Bord checked, and Baldassari bet 200k which won him the pot immediately.
Hand #223: Walk for Baldassari. Warning that the rail should, "Have fun respectfully."
Hand #224: 200k on the button is enough to make Bord fold his big blind immediately.
Hand #225: Bord limped the button and got to a flop with no raise. Baldassari checked, and Bord bet 125k; Baldassari called. Both players checked the turn, and Baldassari bet the river to the tune of 350k. Call.
for two pair was turned over by Baldassari to take down a medium-sized pot while a Jack made its way into the muck from Bord's losing hand.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:29 PM Local Time
Hand #219: James Bord was still stacking his chips when the next hand was dealt, but he found space to limp his small blind. A wounded Fabrizio Baldassari meant business though; he increased the price of poker from the big blind to pick up the pot.
Hand #220: Baldassari continued his aggressive streak with a raise to 200,000 from the button. With chips to play with, Bord made the call and we saw a flop. Bord took control of the pot with a bet of 225,000, but Baldassari was in no mood to lay down. He flat called.
On the turn, Bord decided to check, which provoked a bet of 500,000 from Baldassari. Bord instantly waved his hand forward to signify an all-in and returned to his stoic posture.
The Italian sat back in his chair with his arms folded before rubbing his chin pensively. He seemed tortured by the decision and it was obvious he was in somewhat of a quandary. After sizing up his options and offering his foe a piercing stare, he took one last look at his cards (nope, they hadn't changed) and flicked them into the muck.
Cue the local choir:
"Theeeeeeeere's only ooooooooone James Bordy... We're walking along, and singing a song, walking in a Bordy Wonderland!"
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:22 PM Local Time
Hand #216: Fabrizio Baldassari raised from the button to 215,000. James Bord quickly reraised to 630,000 from the big blind. Baldassari reached for chips, but then paused and took his hand away before thinking for a minute. He then reached back and slid out a big reraise to 2.215 million. Bord folded and Baldassari flashed his cards back at the hole card camera and then slid them face down into the middle, scooping the pot right after.
Hand #217: Baldassari got a walk in the big blind from Bord.
Hand #218: Baldassari limped in from the button before Bord raised from the big blind to 330,000. Baldassari looked at the dealer and then announce, "I'm all in," motioning with his hands. Bord snapped him off.
Despite having the worst of it right now, Baldassari was plenty live going to the flop. There was a long pause and then the dealer was allowed to go ahead. The flop came down , keeping Bord ahead, but giving the Italian a gutshot to go along with his live cards.
The turn brought the and didn't do much. It did allow for a chop if a deuce fell off. The river then completed the board with the and Bord's hand held. He doubled up to 6.41 million and is now in the lead.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:13 PM Local Time
Hand #210: Baldassari on the button gave Bord a rare walk.
Hand #211: Bord responded by raising his button to 250k. Baldassari let his big blind go too.
Hand #212: No two walks in a row; Baldassari raised to 240k and picked up a Bord blind in return.
Hand #213: Bord's button - he raised to 225k. Baldassari reraised to 755k. A headshake later and Bord's raise was forfeited as he threw his hand away.
Hand #214: Baldassari made up the 80k on the button; check. the flop, which both of them checked. On the turn Bord bet out 115k and got a call. The river was the . Check-check: lost to  as it turned out, the King high in Baldassari's hand winning this modest pot.
Hand #215: Bord raised to 160k on the button, which took another small pot.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:04 PM Local Time
Hand #205: To the chants of "Bordy Bordy Bordy!", the next hand was dealt and Baldassari received a walk.
Hand #206: Baldassari returned the favour on the next hand and James Bord took the pot.
Hand #207: Our two remaining players reach a cheap flop of where Bord bet and Baldassari called. On the turn, it was the Italian who became the aggressor, leading for 250,000, and then 500,000 on the river. Bord called the turn, but fled on the river.
Hand #208: Another cheap flop of went check, check, as did the turn, and the river. was more than enough for Bord to scoop the pot.
Hand #209: More walks than Crufts in this heads-up! Baldassari lapped up the treat this time.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:57 PM Local Time
Hand #204: Fabrizio Baldassari raised to 200,000 and James Bord made the call from the big blind. The flop came down and Bord led with a bet of 250,000. Baldassari made the call.
The turn brought the and Bord checked. Baldassari reached for chips and bet out 350,000. Bord made the call.
The river completed the board with the and Bord checked. Baldassari bet out 425,000 and Bord called. Bord tabled the and Baldassari mucked.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:53 PM Local Time
Hand #202: Baldassari, back on the button, limped in. James Bord, undaunted, raised to 355k and took it down.
Hand #203: Bord on the button made it 160k to go, and Baldassari calmly reraised to 420k. No further interest in this preflop pot for Bord.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:52 PM Local Time
Hand #199: Bord raised to 175k on the button, called by Baldassari. On the no bet, but on the Baldassari bet out 250k. This was immediately raised by Bord to 500k, and with the ball back in his court, Baldassari didn't return it.
Hand #200: Baldassari's button raise wins the next one instantly. If there were a live hands per hour prize, these guys would be in the running.
Hand #201: 125k to go on the button from Bord again. Another call by Baldassari. The flop, , brought a bet of 125k from Bord, check-called. The turn was the - no further action. The river saw Baldassari now betting out - 150k - and Bord making a raise. The 500k total bet waited for a call, and eventually got one, Bord showing down the unwinnable-with and could only shake his head and admit his bluff had been called as Baldassari's took the pot down.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:42 PM Local Time
The atmosphere is so electric in here at the moment that if Phil Hellmuth walked in with 11 Lady Gagas, I don't think anyone would notice.
Prior to kick-off, there was a pre-match hug followed by intros from Jack Effel, both players receiving a rapturous reception. James Bord may be the fan favourtie, but Fabrizio Baldassari has warmed himself to the homegrown rail too.
Hand #196: On the first hand of heads-up, Baldassari raised it up to 130,000 and Bord made the fold.
Hand #197: James limped the small blind leading to a flop. The Italian checked triggering a bet of 100,000 from Bord. Baldassari called. On the turn, both players checked, before Baldassari fired out 300,000 on the river. Bord scratched his head in confusion and riffled his chips intently. Then came the fold.
Hand #198: Baldassari raised his button to 135,000 and Bord let it go.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:27 PM Local Time
This is what they're playing for now - 50% of these guys will win a WSOP bracelet and £830,410 (even more if you change it to $). The lighting has been changed to better illuminate the heads-up players and the Cash Mountain has been given pride of place at the front of the area within grabbing distance, worryingly, of the super-excited railers.
So who will have to content themselves with a simple half million pounds? We will know some time tonight. Stay tuned while they set up for heads-up dealing which should start in a few minutes.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:19 PM Local Time
Hand #192: Ronald Lee raised it up and won the pot.
Hand #193: Fabrizio Baldassari called from the small blind and James Bord checked in the big blind. The flop came down and both checked to see the on the turn. Baldassari checked and Bord bet out. Baldassari folded and Bord won the pot.
Hand #194: Baldassari raised to 120,000 on the button and won the pot.
Hand #195: Bord raised to 175,000 from the button and Lee moved all in from the small blind. After Baldassari folded, Bord snap-called and the cards were on their backs.
Bord's rail cheered hard for an ace or a king and then the flop was spread... and Bord took the lead. Lee stood up and started to put his jacked on as the hit the turn to push him further out the door.
The river completed the board and the crowd erupted. The final card on board was the and the cheer was coming from Bord's section. Bord was jumping up and down with them while they crowded the rail, going nuts for their mate. Lee looked like he had lost everything, but congratulated his opponents and shook their hands, wishing them luck. The kid from Brooklyn, New York took home £376,829 for his finish and we're off to heads-up play.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:07 PM Local Time
Hand #189: Button James Bord made it125k, called by Baldassari. The flop came and a continuation bet from Bord immediately picked up the smallish pot, to rapturous chanting from the rail.
Hand #190: Small blind Baldassari raised Bord but faced an instant reraise to around 350k, passing instantly. That's two in a row.
Hand #191: Baldassari raised the button to 130k, and Lee called in the small blind. On the flop both players checked, and on the turn Lee bet out 150k. Immediately Baldassari counted out a raise to 410k, and again Lee faced a flop raise out of position against the now out-chipping Italian. Lee reraised however, to 825k total, and Baldassari sat back, arms crossed, for a minute or so before deciding to check out Lee's stack a bit more closely. He inched forward another raise, setting Lee all in, and was rewarded with his own instant fold (and another kiss from the pretty lady).
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:58 PM Local Time
Hand #184: Ronald Lee raised it up to 125,000 from the button and James Bord defended the big blind. Lee then took it down on the flop with a bet of 165,000.
Hand #185: Fabrizio Baldassari took it down preflop with a raise to 130,000.
Hand #186: Bord raised it up to 125,000 and Lee called. Baldassari three-bet from the big blind and both players chucked their hands.
Hand #187: Lee raised the button to 125,000 and received one call in Baldassari in the small blind. On the flop, both players checked, leading to a turn of . Baldassari led for 175,000 and Lee called. The river came the , and Baldassari fired again, this time to the tune of 250,000. Lee released his hand.
Hand #188: Baldassari mixed it up with a rare limp from the button, bringing us to an flop with Lee in the big blind. Baldassari bet and Lee gave it up.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:47 PM Local Time
Hand #178: Ronald Lee raise to 125,000 from the button and won the pot.
Hand #179: Lee got a walk in the big blind.
Hand #180: James Bord raised to 125,000 from the button. Fabrizio Baldassari called from the big blind and the flop came down . Baldassari bet out 180,000 and won the pot.
Hand #181: Baldassari raised and then Bord reraised to take down the pot preflop.
Hand #182: Lee got another walk.
Hand #183: Unknown action.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:41 PM Local Time
Hand #177: Small blind Lee made it 155k preflop, and big blind Baldassari immediately upped it to 410k. Possibly smarting from the encounter which just doubled up his dominated opponent, he hesitated, but made the call eventually.
Flop: . Check to Baldassari who cupped his nose and mouth in his hands momentarily before betting 275k and returning nose to hands. Lee paused for a while, then raised a further 525k. Baldassari made the call (although his pushing forward a big stack of 25ks was initially mistaken for a shove).
River: Check one final time to Baldassari, who bet 620k. Back went 70% of Baldassari's face into his hands, as Lee deliberated making the call but ultimately called
Baldassari showed for a flopped set of Fives which handed him one of the bigger non all-in pots of the night so far. A mini fist pump and a girl-shriek from the rail greeted his leap into the lead.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:33 PM Local Time
Hand #176: Baldassari raised again, this time to 130,000, but Bord opted to call. Ronald Lee, however, squeezed from the big blind, making it a total of 400,000 to go.
Quicker than a cheetah on Concord, Baldassari announced all-in, Bord folded, and Lee called.
In the blink of an eye, we had a showdown, the Italian in water hotter than the sun with versus Lee's superior .
The Poker Gods were clearly in a devilish mood as they lay a flop on the felt, followed by a harmless turn and river.
Baldassari was grabbed by an attractive woman on the rail who threw a barrage of kisses the Italian's way. Lee must have been gutted he didn't win, for the sexual assault alone.
"No woman has ever kissed me like that," wept a member of the Harrah's staff who I am unable to name.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:31 PM Local Time
Hand #174: James Bord made it 125,000 from the button, only for Fabrizio Baldassari to reraise to 560,000 from the big blind, leaving himself around 635,000 behind. Bord folded despite requesting a count.
Hand #175: Baldassari raised it up from the small blind and Bord made the fold.