World Series of Poker history is full of stories of proverbial underdogs who managed to capture the gold. Last night, another such a story was added to the WSOP fairytale book. Pierre Milan started the final day of Event #29, $1,500 NLHE, as one of the shorter stacks with only $3,000 in WSOP earnings and without previous final table experience. If you were to bet on him, your bookie would no doubt give you great odds.
But many poker players have defied odds in the past and last night it happened again. When it was all said and done, it was Milan who saw all the other players walking the walk of shame as they left the final table. His stack continued to grow until it eventually held all the chips in play.
The day started with twenty players still standing, but that number quickly dwindled down. David Benefield was sent to the rail in tenth and the official final table and bracelet hunt was on. Busts did not come fast on this one, but the only lady at the table, Sam Cohen, lost a flip for her last 350,000 and went out earning $38,244. Following her shortly was Daniel Laming ($48,920), whose pocket Kings failed to hold up against the #ac#qh of Matt Salsberg.
During this time, Milan was near the bottom of the chip counts and was waiting for his opportunity, while Jamie Armstrong had a significant lead over the field and a more than 2:1 advantage on the second biggest stack. But then things started turning around as Milan’s stack grew while Armstrong’s was decreasing. Then Barry Hutter eliminated Andy Phan in seventh place and while Phan earned $63,502 for his efforts, Hutter became the new chip leader.
Once again play slowed down with six players still left and it would take a while before the next bust. It finally came, however, as Armstrong moved his last million in the middle with #ac#jh against Justin Oliver’s #ad#10c and, despite hitting a Jack on the flop, Oliver backed into a straight to send Armstrong out in 6th with $83,486 and likely a bad feeling in his stomach.
One time chip leaders were just not meant to be in this tournament as Hutter was the next player to go out. He ran into #ad#ks of Thad Mcnulty with his #qh#6h and that was it for him as he banked $111,368. Mcnulty would go next, falling at the hands of Oliver and scoring a $150,859 payday.
It wasn’t long before the heads-up started as Salsberg, whose catch-phrase for the series is #IamDangerous, finished in third spot. He got his #kc#js in the middle against the #ah#ks of Milan and by the river his tournament was done. Salsberg earned $207,842 for his efforts.
This left Milan and Oliver to battle it out for the title and they were basically dead even in chips. It didn’t take long as a couple hands into the match a cooler-type situation played out when the two saw a flop of #ks#6h#3d in a three-bet pot and after a bet from Milan and call from Oliver, #qh came on the turn. All the chips went into the middle and Oliver was in trouble with his #kc#jh against Milan’s #kh#6s. The river was #9d and Milan raked in a huge pot, leaving Justin with only about 200,000. On the next hand, they flipped for it with Milan’s #10d#8d beating the pocket Sixes of Oliver, who received $332,198 for his second place finish.
Pierre Milan seized his very first WSOP bracelet and $536,768 in cash to add to his previous $3,000. He is also player #14 from France to win a bracelet and the very first to do so during this series. In the end, Milan said his rail was of great help, as it felt like he was home.