Jonathan Duhamel Wins World Series of Poker Main Event
When Jonathan Duhamel and John Racener returned for heads-up play on Monday evening, it took less than two hours for the Canadian pro to emerge victorious and be crowned world champion.
In the final hand of the day, Duhamel put Racener all-in holding ace-jack to the Floridian’s king-eight, and the better hand held up to end the contest and crown Canada’s first ever main event winner.
On Saturday the November Nine had played down to two, and a huge pot against Joseph Cheong – the largest in main event history, in fact, at 117.6 million chips – left Duhamel with a 6-to-1 chip lead going into the heads-up battle.
Player of the Year and Hall of Fame Awards: Recognition for Kassela, Harrington and Seidel
Before Monday’s play began, organisers made a couple of special presentations. First it was the Player of the Year award, which honoured not only this year’s winner but also the inaugural recipient of the award.
WSOP executive called for a round of applause fof Jeff Madsen, who was named player of the year in 2006 but perhaps did not get the recognition he deserved.
Then came the 2010 award, which was not settled until Michael Mizrachi’s elimination in 5th place on Saturday. A win for Mizrachi would have seen him tie Frank Kassela at the top, but instead it was Kassela receiving the award on his own. Two bracelets, a third-place finish in a $25,000 buy-in event, and three further cashes make Tennessee pro Kassela a worthy Player of the Year.
After Kassela’s presentation the audience rose to their feet again to congratulate the newest two inductees into the Poker Hall of Fame, and the two men who followed last year’s inductee Mike Sexton have certainly earned their place there.
Despite only considering himself a part-time player, Dan Harrington has a World Series Main Event title (from 1995) but – perhaps more significantly – is the only player to have made final tables in the Main Event in three separate decades. When you add to this the fact that he managed to negotiate fields of 839 and 2,576 to reach back-to-back final tables in 2003 and 2004, one wonders why his Hall of Fame recognition did not come sooner.
Harrington was joined in the Hall of Fame by Erik Seidel, holder of eight bracelets and one of the best players never to win the Main Event. At the age of 50, Seidel has continued to defy suggestions that poker is a young man’s game by reaching three final tables at this year’s World Series.
Duhamel and Racener Play for the World Series of Poker Bracelet
When the presentations were over and done with, fans of Duhamel and Racener finally got to see some poker – but not that much, as it turned out.
That is not to say the support for the final two was not vocal throughout their duel, with the Canadian camp’s chants of DU-HA-MEL! DU-HA-MEL! being met by U-S-A! U-S-A! from Racener’s side of the Penn and Teller Theater.
The American support was almost silenced early on, as Racener found himself all-in and at risk just 11 hands into the day’s play. But luckily for him, his pocket queens held up against Duhamel’s king-four for a much-needed double-up.
Racener was on a bit of a roll after that, grinding his stack up to over 43 million (albeit still worse than a 4-to-1 disadvantage), but that was as good as it got for the man from Port Richey.
The players went on a break after 36 hands, and when they returned it looked as though Duhamel had a very simple game plan.
After picking up the first two pots after the restart, Duhamel began to really force the action. He moved all-in three times in a row with no resistance from his opponent, but on the fourth occasion a suited king was sufficient for Racener to call and put his tournament life on the line.
The board was no help, and Duhamel was lifted to his feet by a sea of fans keen to share in his glory. Racener was comforted by his friends, and a cheque for more than $5.5 million should provide sufficient consolation for the man who was short-stacked for the majority of the final table.
As for Duhamel, it is onwards and upwards as he looks to build on his success like fellow recent world champions Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem and reach more final tables at the World Series of Poker.