The $10k Stud Championship may have gathered only 102 players, but many of those who entered undoubtedly belong to a group of elite poker players. The likes of Barry Greenstein, Jesse Martin, George Danzer, Matthew Ashton, Phil Hellmuth and Todd Brunson all participated.
The day started with nine players looking to seize the bracelet, and those nine included both Hellmuth and Brunson. Also among the finalists was hole card cam inventor and Poker Hall of Famer, Henry Orenstein. Orenstein was after his second bracelet, the first one coming in a 1996 $5k Stud event. Brunson was chasing his #2 as well, while Hellmuth was looking to capture his fourteenth and once again widen the gap between him and Phil Ivey, who won his 10th just a few days ago.
The only one not to make the official final table of eight was Jesse Martin, but his finish pushed him over $2 million in tournament winnings. Orenstein was the next casualty, as he couldn’t make it past 8th place. It was still a great run from the 90-year-old who’s been around poker for a long time and has not only seen but also helped poker grow and become what it is today.
Henrick Heklen committed his chips against Todd Brunson and his timing proved to be off. By seventh street, Brunson was raking in his chips while Heklen finished seventh.
Hellmuth really had high hopes that this event would bring him a bracelet, as there are no more events to look for the gold. The very last event before the Main Event started tonight, and if the Poker Brat was going to get #14, it was going to be tonight. It didn’t happen, though, as he was stopped by James Obst who took the last of his chips and sent him to the rail in 6th place.
Steve Landfish actually finished as runner-up in this event in 2011 and was looking to go one better this time, but was denied the opportunity as Matt Grapenthien first severly crippled his stack and then proceeded to take the little Landfish had left, eliminating him in 5th place.
Another tough opponent in the mix was Ben Yu. Although Yu does not have any bracelets to his name, this was his third career WSOP final table and he was certainly a tough opponent. The threat was eliminated when Yu, who started the final table in strong fashion but had troubles holding on to his chips as the tournament progressed, had a run-in with Grapenthien. All of his chips went in on fourth street and despite announcing his intention to double up, Grapenthien caught two pair on seventh street to send him to the rail with earnings of $75,227.
For Obst, this was his very first WSOP final table and he was looking to turn it into his first bracelet. It wouldn’t happen for him this time, though, as he was stopped in third place. In Obst’s very last hand of the tournament, Grapenthien ended up with quads to send him home with $103,895.
It was time for the bracelet winner to be determined and Todd Brunson held about a 2:1 lead over Grapenthien. It turned into a long battle but despite starting ahead, the cards wouldn’t fall Brunson’s way. A hand that cost Todd most of his chips came when Grapenthien made trip Kings and got Brunson to call several barrels. Some hands later, it was all over as Grapenthien’s pair of Eights held over Brunson’s pair of Fives. Todd had to be satisfied with second place, which earned him $165,891.
With this victory Grapenthien booked his 11th WSOP cash and improved on his previous best cash, which was 7th place in 2010. This was an emotional moment for Grapenthien as the bracelet was on his mind for the better part of the final table, especially during heads-up play. After last night, he gets to enjoy looking at it whenever he feels like it!