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Mike Gorodinsky took one of the most coveted prizes in poker on Thursday by winning the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship. Meanwhile, Eli Elezra won his third career bracelet after winning the $1,500 Seven Card Stud.

Two other bracelets were awarded Thursday. Upeshka Desilva defeated Dara O’Kearney to win Event #45, 1,500 NL Hold’em, while Vasili Firsau won the $3,000 PL Omaha Six-Max Event.

Mike Gorodinsky Wins $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship

If there is one event that pro players want to win outside the Main Event, it is the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship. Six players returned to the Rio on Thursday to etch their name on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy and earn $1.27 million.

David “ODB” Baker started the final table as chip leader but was faced with a stiff lineup between him and the bracelet. Below are the final table participants and their chip counts at the start of play:

Seat 1: Chris Klodnicki – 2,130,000
Seat 2: Mike Gorodinsky – 2,589,000
Seat 3: Jean-Robert Bellande – 2,188,000
Seat 4: Ben Sulsky – 1,462,000
Seat 5: David “ODB” Baker – 3,227,000
Seat 6: Dan Kelly – 1,003,000

Dan Kelly was the short stack heading into the final and was the first player eliminated. The last of his chips went into play before the last draw in a Badugi hand and Jean-Robert Bellande made the call. Both player stood pat and both players showed a Badugi. Kelly held Qh-6d-3c-As but Bellande was better with 10h-5c-3s-2d. Dan Kelly earned $184,222 for sixth.

Chris Klodnicki was next to fall and fell during a Badugi hand. Klodnicki was all-in prior to the last draw and Jean-Robert Bellande made the call. Both players stood pat and both showed a Badugi. Klodnicki showed 8h-4c-3d-2s which would be a fantastic hand in this game normally. However, Bellande held 6d-5h-3c-As and Klodnicki departed to collect $251,314.

Cash game pro Ben Sulsky was the surprise final tablist in this event and ultimately finished fourth. During NL Hold’em, Sulsky moved all-in for 480,000 and David Baker moved all-in. Sulsky held Qs-10h while Baker showed Ks-Qd. The flop 6d-5d-3c missed both players. The turn 4h made things interesting as a it opened the door for a chop. The river 9d missed both and Baker’s king sent Sulsky to the rail to collect $353,928.

David Baker played his heart out in this event but fell short of heads-up. During NL Hold’em, Baker moves all-in pre-flop for 1.2 million and Mike Gorodinsky made the call. Baker was in horrible shape with Ks-Jh against pocket kings. The flop gave Baker some hope when it produced a jack, but the turn and river came baby cards and Baker was out in third but $514,926 richer.

Mike Gorodinsky and Jean-Robert Bellande faced off heads-up for the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy. Gorodinsky had the chip lead and 7.55 million going into heads-up against the 5 million of Bellande.

This was a roller coaster heads-up match. First, Gorodinsky moved to nearly a 3:1 chip lead before Bellande came storming back to even things up and briefly take the lead. Gorodinsky came back and had a 2:1 chip lead before Bellande went on another rush. Bellande didn’t just make a comeback, but took the chip lead and grew it to 3:1.

However, Bellande’s lead did not last long. Starting with Badugi, Gorodinsky started taking pot after pot, continuing through Triple Draw and into Stud. By the time they reached Omaha Hi-Lo, Gorodinsky was back into the chip lead. He then started to pull away and by the conclusion of the Razz round, he was up 9.72 million to just 2.87 million.

The final hand was PL Omaha and Bellande raised to 300,000 pre-flop. Gorodinsky called to see a flop Qd-9d-8s. Gorodinsky checked and Bellande potted for 600,000. Gorodinsky then re-potted to 2.4 million, which put Bellande all-in.

Bellande called and showed Ac-Qs-10s-9c for top two and straight draw. Gorodinsky showed 10c-8c-8h-3h for a set and the same straight draw. The turn Kc missed both players and the river Kd gave Gorodinsky the hand and the title. Jean-Robert Bellande is the runner-up and earned $784,828.

Mike Gorodinsky has been on a remarkable run this summer. He finished runner-up to Phil Hellmuth in the $10k Razz, finished third in the $5,000 NL Six-Max and went deep in the Stud Championship. Now he has won the “True World Championship of Poker,” the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship. This victory gave him his second career bracelet, the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy and $1.27 million. Congratulations.

Eli Elezra Wins $1,500 Seven Card Stud

The final table of the $1,500 Seven Card Stud featured a stacked final table with multiple players looking to add to their bracelet totals. Eli Elezra started the final table as chip leader but still had to defeat a final that included Allen Cunningham, Matt Grapenthien and Jean Gaspard.

Here are the chip counts for the final table at the start of play:

Seat 1: Kenn Wittock – 282,500
Seat 2: Gylbert Drolet – 355,500
Seat 3: Byron Ziebell – 273,500
Seat 4: Benjamin Lazer – 120,500
Seat 5: Matt Grapenthien – 51,500
Seat 6: Eli Elezra – 617,000
Seat 7: Allen Cunningham – 414,500
Seat 8: Jean Gaspard – 263,500

Bracelet winner Matt Grapenthien was the first player knocked out of the final. Only having three big bets left, he put them at risk with Jd-9d-8s against Kenn Whittock who called with Js-Qd-9s. By Fifth Street, Grapenthien had improved to a gutshot straight but Wittock had caught running nines for trip nines. Grapenthien caught his gin card on sixth to take the lead with a straight but Wittock paired his jack on the river to fill his full house.

Allen Cunningham went deep in this event but fell short of his sixth bracelet, finishing in third. He had been on a cold deck for a while and that was evident in the final hand. Cunningham put the last of his chips at risk on Fourth Street against Eli Elezra. Cunningham held Jc-Js/6d-Ac against Ac-10s/Qs-Kd for Elezra. By Sixth Street, Cunningham improved to two pair while Elezra was still looking for a jack. Cunningham failed to improve on the river but Elezra got his jack to fill his straight and we were heads-up.

At the start of heads-up play, Benjamin Lazer held a sizable chip lead over Eli Elezra. He held 1.83 million versus just 610,000. No stranger to final tables, Elezra knew that fortunes can turn on a dime late in limit tournaments and that is what happened here.

In less than 30 minutes, Elezra went from almost a 3:1 deficit to 2:1 chip lead over Lazer. Once he took the chip lead, he never let up and proceeded to grind Lazer down to just three big bet before the final hand.

The last of Lazer’s chips went in on Fifth Street with Elezra calling. Lazer was ahead with a pair of buried queens and Elezra had a pair of sixes with three cards to a straight. Sixth Street improved Elezra to an open-ended draw while Lazer failed to improve. The river saw Elezra fill his straight to eliminate Lazer and take his third career bracelet.

Upsehka Desilva Wins Event #45 for $424,577

Upeshka Desilva and Dara O’Kearney returned on Thursday to battle heads-up for the bracelet in Event #45, $1,500 NL Hold’em. Desilva returned with 10.25 million versus 2.18 million for O’Kearney.

This match lasted just nine hands as O’Kearney could not mount a comeback. In the final hand, O’Kearney shoved with pocket deuces and Desilva called with As-Kh. The flop 6c-10d-6s missed both players but the turn 10c changed everything as O’Kearney’s pair was now counterfeited and Desilva’s ace played. The river 9s missed both players and this event was over.

Two years ago, Desilva finished seventh in the inaugural Millionaire Maker. On Thursday, he went one step further and took Event #45 in dominating fashion. After eliminating seven of his eight opponents at the final table, Desilva wins the gold bracelet and $424,577. Congratulations.

Vasili Firsau Wins $3,000 PLO Six-Max

An additional day was also needed in the $3,000 PL Omaha Six-Max Event. Nipun Java came into Thursday’s leading the final four. With blinds at 60k/120k, there was still plenty of play available so it was still anyone’s tournament.

Here is how the final four started play on Thursday:

  • Nipun Java – 3.26 million
  • Andreas Freund – 2.9 million
  • Vasili Firsau – 2.59 million
  • Numit Agrawal – 1.6 million

Numit Agrawal was the first player eliminated. After a bit of a pre-flop raising war, he moved all-in with Ah-Qc-6h-6d and was called by Nipun Java holding As-Js-Jd-d. The flop 10h-9s-3s gave Java a flush draw and open-ended straight draw to go with his pair. When the turn 4s fell, Java completed his flush and Agrawal was drawing dead and eliminated in fourth place.

Andreas Freund was chip leader during three handed play but a couple of hand sent him from the penthouse to the outhouse. After having his stack cut in half by Nipun Java, he was all-in pre-flop against Vasili Firsau with Kc-Ks-Qh-8s. Firsau made the call with Qc-Jc-3s-2s. The flop fell As-6h-4c to give Firsau a straight draw. The turn 7h missed both players but the river 5c brought a brutal beat to Freund, ending his day in third place.

Nipun Java faced Vasili Firsau heads-up for the bracelet. Java led 5.49 million to 4.7 million at the start of heads-up action. Firsau jumped into a huge lead in the third hand of heads-up play after flopping a set and rivering a full house against what was a likely straight.

Vasili Firsau

Firsau began to grind down Java and eventually had nearly a 4:1 chip lead prior to the final hand of the night. Java raised to 600,000 pre-flop and Firsau potted to put Java all-in. Java called and turned over Kc-Js-9c-7h. Firsau was in better shape with Jc-Jh-9d-8c. The flop fell 6d-6c-6h to give Firsau a full house and Java was drawing dead. The turn 4d and river 7s completed the board to give Firsau his first bracelet victory.

Back in 2013, Firsau missed out on a pair of major poker titles after finishing runner-up in both the WPT Grand Prix De Paris and WPT Prague. This time around, he sealed the deal to win his first major poker title and $437,575. Congratulations.

Margolin Leads Final Five in $2,500 NL Final

They will need another day to finish Event #47, $2,500 NL Hold’em. The final table was reached but play was halted after ten levels with five players remaining. At the start of the third day, all eyes were on Phil Hellmuth. He came into Day 3 seventh in chips but was unable to capitalize. He finished in 16h place.

Simon Deadman was the final table bubble boy, busting in 10th and Raghav Bansal, Andre Akkari, Rick Alvarado and Jeff Gross were all sent packing before play was halted for the night.

Timur Margolin will return as chip leader with five player left in the $2,500 NL Final. The most notable player at this final table is Andy Black. He is third in chips with 2 million. Action will resume at 1 p.m. Friday and continue until the bracelet is awarded.

Below are the chip counts for the final five:

  • Timur Margolin – 5.85 million
  • Matt O’Donnell – 4.36 million
  • Andy Black – 2.01 million
  • Andrew Dean – 1.86 million
  • Brandon Wittmeyer – 1.47 million

Hall Leads $1,500 PL Omaha Hi-Lo

Just 21 players remain in the $1,500 PL Omaha Hi-Lo Event. Galen Hall will return on Friday as the chip leader with 776,000. Some of the notables remaining in the field are George Danzer, Erik Seidel, Bryce Yockey, Vanessa Selbst and the Prince of Docness.

Just 11 players remain in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship. Justin Bonomo will return with 910,000 and the chip lead. Other notables looking to make the final table are Jesse Martin, Anthony Zinno, Marco Johnson, Terrence Chan, Ben Yu and Aleksandr Denisov.

Two new events also started on Thursday. The $3,000 NL Hold’em Event drew 1,043 players, an increase from 2014. Just 285 players remain at the end of the day with Ismael Bojang finishing as chip leader.

The evening event was the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice Event. A field of 357 players took to the felt for this one and Scott Blackman finished the day as chip leader. Only 75 players remain after Day 1. Some of the notables advancing were Scott Clements, Todd Brunson, Brian Hastings, David Bach, Frankie O’Dell and Jeff Lisandro.

Ladies Invade the Rio on Friday

The annual Ladies World Championship is the Noon event today at the Rio. Last year’s event drew 793 lovely ladies to battle for the bracelet and officials hope that number grows in 2015.

The evening even is the $10,000 PL Omaha Championship. This event will be played eight-handed this year and will feature a large field of pros and PLO specialists. It should also be well attended compared to other $10k preliminary events.

Time is running out to take your seat in PokerUpdate’s $10 Satellite to WSOP Event #64. Click the banner below to make a run at history:


The event kicks off this Sunday on in Nevada and awards one seat to the first-ever online bracelet event.

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.