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Hairabedian Steals Storylines in Event #5 at WSOPE; Seidel Comes Up Short

Going into the final day of the World Series of Poker Europe Event #5, featuring a €2,200 buy-in and 9-handed No-Limit Hold’em, all eyes were on Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel. As the overwhelming chip leader, Seidel was looking to capture his 9th WSOP bracelet and pull within four of leader Phil Helmuth’s 13. But Roger Hairabedian had other ideas. Hairabedian mounted a comeback as the tournament played down from the last 7 players and managed to pull out a victory. For his efforts, Hairabedian took home €148,820 and the bracelet, while Seidel remains an eight-time WSOP champ, but €92,003 richer as runner-up. This tournament attracted 337 runners for the largest field of the series this year.

The win still had significant historic significance, as this was Hairabedian’s 2nd WSOPE bracelet. He is the first player to win multiple events in the history of the WSOPE, but he is also the first French player to capture 2 WSOP bracelets. This win also does a lot to solidify Hairabedian’s opinion of himself that he thinks others should share. After his first WSOP title, Hairabedian felt many people thought very little of his game and that he was lucky for getting the win. He thinks that defeating Seidel and capturing another bracelet should be enough to prove to everyone that he is a good player and that his first WSOP victory was not a fluke. While these perceived slights might be a bit more overplayed in his mind than what they are in reality, the win is still impressive nonetheless.

The day started out a little stranger than normal final table days as they actually played down to 7 players the previous night. Normally, tournaments will play as close to the final table as possible, or down to the final table, and then break for the night. The WSOPE has been doing things a bit differently and it was really seen in this tournament as they played to a specified number of levels and not according to the number of players remaining. With that odd backdrop, the 7 players remaining returned for the final day of play in hopes of capturing the elusive bracelet.

In the final 7 players, there was a fair amount of star power for a preliminary large field event. Finishing in 6th place was Mike “SirWatts” Watson, who is a very well-known player both live and online. Anytime he is at the final table he is someone that has a chance of winning. Finishing in 3rd place was Kevin Song of South Korea. His name might not sound very familiar to a lot of players, but his resume is rather impressive. Song cashed at this year’s $50k Player’s Championship, which is seen as one of the hardest tournaments of the year. The Korean pro also won a WSOP bracelet in 1997. All of these players were eliminated in just 70 hands as the final table action until only two players remained was fast and furious.

Once heads-up play began, Seidel had a 2:1 chip lead. Since Hairabedian had to overcome that disadvantage, the battle would not be a quick victory. Over the course of the next 80 hands, Hairabedian was able to slowly wear down his opponent, taking the lead and eventually the title. The loss is a bit of a disappointment for Seidel, who would very much like to catch up to Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Hellmuth as the most decorated WSOP players in history.

The World Series of Poker Europe from Paris continues to provide more storylines as things continue. Event #5 provided an interesting tidbit and piece of history as Hairabedian outlasted Seidel and won his second gold bracelet. With the Main Event getting underway currently and the High Roller shortly following, more interesting stories are sure to crop up.

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Andrew Schupick