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2012 43rd Annual World Series of Poker

Saturday, June 30, 2012 to Monday, July 02, 2012

Event #53: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em

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  • Buy-in: $1,500
  • Prizepool: $4,274,100
  • Entries: 3,166
  • Remaining: 0


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Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:56 PM Local Time

Neil Willerson

After 33 levels of play Event 53: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em has officially come to a close. Neil Willerson was able to conquer the largest open field of the 2012 World Series of Poker so far to earn the $737,248 first place prize and the shiny gold WSOP bracelet.

Day 1 of this event saw an incredibly large sized field as 3,166 people put up $1,500 each to participate. Professionals and amateurs alike hit the felt with the dreams of earning a new piece of jewelry in the form of a WSOP championship bracelet. With the large field that turned out for this event it was an obvious reality that this dream would end for many. Among those who were unable to make anything materialize on Day 1 of play were David Benyamine, Lauren Kling, Kyle Cartwright, David Vamplew, Bill Chen, Ana Marquez, Bryan Devonshire, James Woods, and Lex Veldhuis.

The second day of this event saw 348 players return and we were only 24 eliminations away from the money. After six people shared the bubble together, the field burst into a thunderous applause that echoed through the cerulean-lit Amazon room. From there on out the bustouts came fast and furious as names like Ali Eslami, Matt Affleck, Steve Dannenmann, Cherish Andrews, Martin Staszko, Athanasios Polychronopoulos, Christina Lindley, and Rupert Elder hit the rail and added another WSOP cash to their name.

Day 2 finished with 28 players after adding an extra level to play at the end of the night. Notable names such as Victoria Coren and Lee Childs were able to move on to Day 3 but found their way to the rail before the final table was set. After a little more than three levels, 28 became the final 9 and our final table was set.

Final Table Seating Draw

1Hai Chu1,565,000
2Ryan Hughes1,490,000
3Bryan Piccioli645,000
4Vladimir Mefodichev2,520,000
5Neil Willerson3,775,000
6Randy Ashe925,000
7Zachary Humphrey1,910,000
8Matthew Graham565,000
9Hugh Henderson870,000

Action at the final table started off fairly slow as the players were relatively deep. The first elimination came in dramatic fashion, however, when Ryan Hughes got it all in with    against Vladimir Mefodichev's   . Hughes took the lead on the flop when it fell    . Hughes' two pair was quickly defeated though when the   turned and gave Mefodichev the nut straight. Hughes was unable to improve on the river and was sent packing as the first casualty.

Randy Ashe was the next to go when he got it all in with top pair and a flush draw against Hugh Henderson's flopped set of sevens. Ashe could not improve on the subsequent streets and was eliminated in eighth place. Bryan Piccioli was the next on the chopping block when he ran his    into Matthew Graham's    during a preflop all in. This hand crippled Piccioli and he busted soon after.

After the dinner break a short-stacked Hai Chu moved all in holding   . Vladimir Mefodichev three-bet his entire stack all in from the button and the rest of the table folded. Mefodichev grabbed hold of a pair of aces on the flop and that was all she wrote for Chu. Chu will take home $126,770 for his sixth place finish in this event.

Matthew Graham was the next to go. Graham opened preflop only to be three-bet by Mefodichev who was running the table at this time. Graham called and the two saw a monotone flop of    . Mefodichev continued for 300,000 and Graham quickly moved all in.



Mefodichev was way in the lead with a flopped flush and Graham was in dire need of help. He did not receive help, however, when the   turned and was drawing dead to the  . Graham left the featured table stage as the fifth place finisher.

Zachary Humphrey was the next to go. Humphrey was engaged in a hand with Neil Willerson where the flop read    . Willerson check-called a bet from Humphrey and the   paired the board on fourth street. All of the money went in and Humphrey tabled    but was behind Willerson's trip fives with   . Humphrey did not improve on the river and he went home with a fourth place finish.

The players seemed to hit a wall during three-handed play with Henderson and Willerson trading chips back and forth through three all in pots and three double ups with each other. Eventually we found our third place finisher in Hugh Henderson. Henderson's    failed to improve against Willerson's pocket eights and he was forced to settle for a $322,866 payday.

Heads up play went back and forth with each player being at risk and somehow being able to weather the fight to stay alive. Play lasted an entire level before tournament staff enforced a hard stop ruling after 10 full levels. The two remaining players were forced to come back for a Day 4 to finish the battle.

On Day 4 the two sat at a new location in the Amazon room to finish their fight. Mefodichev and Willerson continued to trade chips for almost two full levels before Willerson was able to pull ahead. Mefodichev was able to double up his short stack once when his    out-flopped Willerson's   . However, a mere few minutes later Mefodichev called all in on a {4g}   flop with    for a spade flush draw. Willerson held    for a worse flush draw but was able to spike the   on fourth street to jump ahead with a pair. The board finished with a   and Mefodichev was forced to settle for a second place paycheck of $456,217 while Neil Willerson became the next WSOP champion.

Final Table Payouts

1Neil Willerson$737,248
2Vladimir Mefodichev$456,217
3Hugh Henderson$322,866
4Zachary Humphrey$233,708
5Matthew Graham$171,135
6Hai Chu$126,770
7Bryan Piccioli$94,971
8Randy Ashe$71,933
9Ryan Hughes$55,093

Here at PokerNews we send our most sincere congratulations to Neil Willerson for being able to best the numbers and earn his first piece of WSOP jewelry.

That does it for our coverage of Event 53: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em. Be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews for our coverage of the remaining events at the World Series of Poker. And if you haven't already check out our coverage on the final table of Event 55: $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop which is currently happening live on the ESPN Main Stage in the Amazon Room.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:53 PM Local Time

Vladimir Mefodichev - 2nd Place

Neil Willerson had the button. He completed Vladimir Mefodichev checked. The flop came     and Mefodichev checked. Willerson bet 300,000 and Mefodichev raised to 800,000.

Willerson announced that he was all in and Mefodichev called for his tournament life.


Both players had flush draws but Mefodichev was ahead with his king-high. The turn was the  , pairing Willerson, however, and he jumped into the lead. Mefodichev needed a king or a spade on the river to clinch a double up. The   did not help him and he was forced to settle for a second place finish and a payday of $456,217.

Neil Willerson14,200,0003,100,000
Vladimir Mefodichev0-3,100,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:37 PM Local Time

There have been a few small pots but nothing substantial since Mefodichev's last double up.

Neil Willerson11,100,000900,000
Vladimir Mefodichev3,100,000-900,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:26 PM Local Time

Neil Willerson had the button. He completed and Vladimir Mefodichev moved all in. Willerson called and the hands were shown.


Mefodichev was crushed and looking for a jack. Fortunately for him that's exactly what he found on the     flop. The   turned and the   rivered, giving him a double up.

Neil Willerson10,200,000-1,900,000
Vladimir Mefodichev4,000,0001,900,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:24 PM Local Time

With Neil Willerson's massive chip lead Vladimir Mefodichev seems to be tightening up and looking for a spot to put all of his money in the middle. Mefodichev has been folding more than we've seen him fold this whole final table.

Neil Willerson12,100,000900,000
Vladimir Mefodichev2,100,000-900,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:15 PM Local Time

Vladimir Mefodichev had the button and raised to 450,000 before the flop. Neil Willerson called and the flop came    . Willerson check-called a 525,000 bet and the   fell on fourth street.

Willerson checked for a second time and Mefodichev bet 1,300,000. Once again Willerson called.

The river brought the   and both players checked. Willerson showed    for two pair and Mefodichev mucked his hand.

Willerson is now up over eleven million in chips.

Neil Willerson11,200,0003,000,000
Vladimir Mefodichev3,000,000-3,000,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:12 PM Local Time

Neil Willerson had the button.

The two saw a flop of     and Vladimir Mefodichev checked to Willerson who fired 200,000. Mefodichev called.

The turn was the   and both players checked. The   completed the board and Mefodichev checked for a third time. Willerson bet 450,000 only to find Mefodichev come over the top for 1,350,000 total. Willerson folded and the Russian took down the pot.

Neil Willerson8,200,000-1,800,000
Vladimir Mefodichev6,000,0001,800,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:09 PM Local Time
Level: 33
Blinds: 100000/200000
Ante: 30000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:05 PM Local Time
Neil Willerson10,000,000800,000
Vladimir Mefodichev4,200,000-800,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:55 PM Local Time

Neil Willerson had the button and the two limped preflop. The flop was    . Vladimir Mefodichev bet out 550,000 and Willerson called.

The   turned and Mefodichev shoved 1,400,000 into the center. Willerson thought for a moment before calling and the   rivered. Mefodichev checked and Willerson bet out 2,000,000. Mefodichev quickly mucked and Willerson dragged the pot.

Neil Willerson9,200,0003,500,000
Vladimir Mefodichev5,000,000-3,500,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:48 PM Local Time

In a limped pot Vladimir Mefodichev had the button. Neil Willerson check-called a 225,000 bet on the flop of    . Both checked the   turn and Willerson fired 475,000 on the   river.

Mefodichev tank-called and showed    for a pair of eights. Willerson mucked and Mefodichev took the pot.

Vladimir Mefodichev8,500,0001,000,000
Neil Willerson5,700,000-1,000,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:30 PM Local Time

Neil Willerson had the button.

The pot was limped and checked preflop and the flop came    . Vladimir Mefodichev bet 200,000 and Willerson called. The   turned and Mefodichev check-called a bet of 525,000. The   completed the board and both players checked.

Mefodichev tabled    and scooped up the pot.

Vladimir Mefodichev7,500,0001,200,000
Neil Willerson6,700,000-1,200,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:25 PM Local Time
Neil Willerson7,900,000585,000
Vladimir Mefodichev6,300,000-585,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:23 PM Local Time

Vladimir Mefodichev had the button. He raised to 350,000.

Neil Willerson replied by three-betting to 850,000. Back on Mefodichev, he opted to four-bet to 1,850,000. Willerson replied by moving all in and Mefodichev quickly folded, awarding Willerson the pot.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:19 PM Local Time

In a limped pot preflop, the flop came down    . Vladimir Mefodichev checked and Neil Willerson fired 250,000. Mefodichev called and the   turned. Mefodichev checked for a second time and Willerson bet 475,000. Mefodichev made it 1,300,000 to go and Willerson looked reluctant but called.

The   rivered and Mefodichev fired 1,500,000. Willerson folded and Mefodichev took the pot.

Neil Willerson7,315,000-1,605,000
Vladimir Mefodichev6,885,0001,550,000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:09 PM Local Time
Level: 32
Blinds: 80000/160000
Ante: 20000
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:09 PM Local Time

Cards are in the air for this heads up battle.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 12:59 PM Local Time

Vladimir Mefodichev and Neil Willerson Heads Up on Day 3

After a full ten levels of play during Day 3, the event reached its climactic heads up battle. Neil Willerson and Vladimir Mefodichev were able to rise above the competition in the largest open field so far at the 2012 World Series of Poker. Twenty-eight players returned for Day 3 of play and a final table was quickly reached. That grueling final table, however, had much room for play with over 14,000,000 chips in play.

After seven eliminations at the final table we have come down to the final two. Willerson and Mefodichev played heads up for about an hour last night and although we came close to crowning a victor twice, neither player was able to seal the deal. Today the two will play until the next WSOP champion is crowned.

Willerson has a slight chip lead with 8,920,000 to Mefodichev's 5,335,000 but these players have traded spots several times and anything can happen in this heads up battle. Cards are about to hit the air in the Amazon room. Stay tuned to PokerNews for the results of the exciting conclusion to this bracelet event.

Final Results So Far

3Hugh Henderson$322,866
4Zachary Humphrey$233,708
5Matthew Graham$171,135
6Hai Chu$126,770
7Bryan Piccioli$94,971
8Randy Ashe$71,933
9Ryan Hughes$55,093