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James Bord Wins World Series of Poker Europe Main Event

Intense Battle Between Opposites Brings Toughest Tournament of the Year to a Conclusion

by Ryan Lucchesi |  Published: Nov 26, 2010


The World Series of Poker Europe no-limit hold’em main event has become everything that the main event in Las Vegas was once upon a time. Back then, the greatest poker players in the world bought into a world championship event that only the most talented players in the world would dare to enter. Looking around the Empire Casino, located on Leicester Square in central London, during the 2010 WSOP Europe main event, one was reminded of what the biggest poker tournament of the year in Las Vegas once looked like.

The tables tucked into every nook and cranny of the casino were filled with the top professionals in the game. The pedigree of past champions spoke to the prestige of winning this title. Former champions Annette Obrestad, John Juanda, and Barry Shulman are all well-respected professionals who have helped build the reputation of this event during its infancy, and each of them had returned to make a run at a second title.

That prestige was felt throughout the tournament, and you could tell that every player was focused right from the start of play.

Days 1-4: The Professionals Flock to London, and Inevitably Fall
The allure of the WSOP Europe main event has never been about the numbers (record-breaking field sizes are saved for the Las Vegas version in the summer). So, it came as no surprise that a modest field of 346 players would compete in 2010. This represented small growth, but thanks to the healthy buy-in, a large payday would be enjoyed by the eventual champion. The total prize pool was £3,460,000, and the champion would take home £830,401.

Other than an over-the-top entrance by Phil Hellmuth, inspired by Lady Gaga’s hit song Poker Face, the players were all business on the felt. There were 195 players who survived the two starting days, and by the end of day 2, that number had shrunk to 66.

This was when the true picture of the tournament emerged and the major contenders established themselves. The two contenders who were the most closely watched were Phil Ivey and Viktor Blom (the player who is allegedly “Isildur1”), who both stormed to the front of the field during different intervals, and their fortunes created a stir all over the casino. The money bubble burst on day 3, with Freddy Deeb, Bryn Kenney, Michael Benvenuti, Alex Keating, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, and Barry Greenstein all securing small scores by making the top 36, and when play ended for the night, just 22 players were left in the hunt.

Both Ivey and Blom eventually fell, but not until day 4. Ivey cashed in 19th place, and Blom scored a 17th-place finish on the penultimate day of the tournament. Other notables who made a deep run but just missed the final table on a day that proved to be the kiss of death for most big-name professionals remaining in the event included Greg Mueller, Jani Sointula, Thomas Bichon, Hoyt Corkins, Barny Boatman, and Arnaud Mattern.

The late eliminations of some of the top players in the game paved the way for a new international cast of professionals to get their introduction to the poker world at the final table. Hometown Londoner Roland De Wolfe was the most well-known professional heading to the final day, but as you will see, it is sometimes the players you don’t know much about who provide the greatest amount of entertainment on their way to victory.

Final Table: A Battle of Opposites

The final heads-up battle was between dissimilar individuals, and it provided all of the drama that one would hope for in such a prestigious tournament. The departure of Ronald Lee in third place set up a final confrontation between Italian professional Fabrizio Baldassari and English professional James Bord.

Baldassari played the part of the classic tall, dark, and handsome Italian professional with a beautiful wife and a Monte Carlo address. He was also gracious and talkative at the poker table. Bord, a former banker who left his job to play poker professionally, was the small, jolly Englishman with a large group of friends in his corner, cheering every pot that was pushed his way. The energy created by the two players at the table filled the rest of the room, making it an exciting atmosphere.

The two battled for two memorable hours, as Bord’s horde provided an audio guide to his fortunes, while Baldassari’s wife blew kisses when the chips went his way. Bord overcame his initial chip disadvantage with a timely double-up, and the second time the two players got all of their chips into the middle, Baldassari was eliminated, and pandemonium broke out in the stands as Bord celebrated with his friends. He was the newest WSOP Europe main-event champion.

Here is a look at how all of the major action played out at the final table:

Final-Table Seating (With Chip Counts)

Seat 1 Roland De Wolfe 1,377,000
Seat 2 Marc Inizan 349,000
Seat 3 Nicolas Levi 428,000
Seat 4 Fabrizio Baldassari 697,000
Seat 5 Brian Powell 842,000
Seat 6 Daniel Steinberg 1,520,000
Seat 7 James Bord 1,331,000
Seat 8 Ronald Lee 1,899,000
Seat 9 Dan Fleyshman 1,946,000

The final-table eliminations started with a double knockout punch when Lee established himself as the chip leader by taking down both Marc Inizan and Brian Powell. Inizan moved all in preflop for 313,000, and Powell moved all in over the top of him before Lee made the call and had both opponents covered.

Lee: A♣ K♥
Inizan: 8♦ 8♠
Powell: 8♥ 8♣

Board: J♦ 10♦ 6♠ K♠ 4♦

Unfortunately for the two all-in players, their eights got beat when Lee caught a king to win the hand and take a dominating chip lead with more than 3 million in chips. Inizan finished ninth (£54,114), and Powell took home eighth-place money (£69,754).

Dan Fleyshman was able to hold on for a while after that before Lee scored his third elimination by taking him out in seventh place. Lee raised to 85,000 preflop, and Fleyshman reraised all in for 250,000. Lee made the call with the K♠ 5♦. Fleyshman rested his hopes on the J♦ 10♦, but the board ran out K♥ 7♥ 3♣ 8♦ A♠ to eliminate him. Fleyshman won £118,643 in prize money, while Lee continued to build his chip lead.

The battle to avoid sixth place was a lengthy one, but it was settled in the same way as the previous three eliminations.

Lee took out Daniel Steinberg to move past 4 million in chips, when his next-closest competitor held half that. Lee raised to 110,000 preflop, and Steinberg reraised to 285,000 total from the big blind. Lee then moved all in, and Steinberg went into the tank. He had about 900,000 behind, and after contemplating his decision intensely, he decided to call. Steinberg revealed the A♣ J♣, while Lee showed the 4♠ 4♥. The board came Q♥ 9♣ 6♦ 3♥ 8♣, and Lee’s pocket fours held up. Steinberg hit the rail in sixth place, £156,530 richer.

A few hands later, Lee was at it again, as he busted Nicolas Levi in fifth place. At this point, Lee looked unstoppable, as he was dictating the flow of play with preflop raises in what felt like every other pot. Levi took the initiative in his final hand and raised to 135,000 from the cutoff to get things rolling. Lee reraised enough from the big blind to put the Frenchman all in. After some thought, Levi called and showed the 9♦ 9♣. Lee flipped over the K♠ Q♥. The board ran out 8♥ 5♥ 4♥ K♣ 10♠, and with that, Lee had destroyed another finalist. Levi was awarded £208,119.

Another player finally got on the scoreboard with an elimination to his credit when Baldassari took out the most well-known professional remaining, Roland De Wolfe, in fourth place. De Wolfe moved all in from the small blind with his short stack, and Baldassari made the call with the A♦ 8♠. De Wolfe held the K♣ Q♠ for his final stand, but the board came in Baldassari’s favor, A♠ 8♣ 3♣ 2♦ 9♥, and one of two poker Triple Crown winners (holding WSOP, World Poker Tour, and European Poker Tour titles) hit the rail just before the dinner break. De Wolfe took home £278,945.

Lee held a dominant lead when the final three players returned from dinner. He had twice the chips of either of his opponents, but the story changed completely after dinner. Lee’s fall from grace began when Bord doubled up through him for 1,190,000. Within an hour, Baldassari doubled up through Lee, as well. Baldassari moved into the chip lead a few minutes later, and the shocking turn of events was completed when Bord eliminated Lee.

Bord raised to 175,000 from the button, and Lee reraised all in from the small blind. Bord made the call and turned over the A♣ K♥, while Lee had the 5♥ 5♦. The board delivered the K♣ J♠ 8♠ 2♠ K♦, and Lee was eliminated in third place, for £376,829.
Next up was the memorable battle that took place between the two mismatched characters for one of the most coveted titles in poker. In contrast to how exciting their final match was during two hours of heads-up play, the final hand provided a silent period rather than an exclamation point. Baldassari raised to 225,000 preflop from the button, and Bord reraised to 855,000. Baldassari reraised 2 million, and Bord reraised all in. Baldassari made the all-in call, and they flipped over their hands:

Baldassari: 5♠ 5♥
Bord: 10♦ 10♥

Board: 9♠ 9♦ 8♦ J♠ A♦

Bord was crowned the champion, and Baldassari was the runner-up. Baldassari took home £513,049, and Bord captured the gold bracelet and £830,401.

Final-Table Results:
1 James Bord £830,401
2 Fabrizio Baldassari £513,049
3 Ronald Lee £376,829
4 Roland De Wolfe £278,945
5 Nicolas Levi £208,119
6 Daniel Steinberg £156,530
7 Dan Fleyshman £118,643
8 Brian Powell £69,754
9 Marc Inizan £54,114

Gus Hansen Wins First World Series of Poker Bracelet

By Rebecca McAdam

Gus Hansen has more than $7 million in career tournament earnings and numerous major international titles under his belt. Only one thing had really eluded him, but that one thing happened to be the most prestigious poker trophy that a player could hope to receive — a World Series of Poker bracelet.

This all changed in the £10,350 high-roller heads-up no-limit hold’em event at the WSOP Europe, where he battled several well-known opponents in his hunt for gold. Jim Collopy was his final obstacle, and after two games of their match, the score was 1-1. A few days later, they returned to center stage for the ultimate battle, and it was Hansen who walked away with the bracelet and £288,409. Collopy left with £178,211 and deflated dreams of what might have been.

Card Player caught up with Hansen moments after his win.

Rebecca McAdam: It has been said that you are one of the best players never to have won a bracelet. How do you feel now that you finally have one?

Gus Hansen: I’ve been trying for a while, so it’s very nice to have accomplished that, and, obviously, I’m happy that people thought that I was one of the better players who didn’t have a bracelet. Now that I’ve got one, I’m moving up the ladder, and who knows, maybe next year I’ll add a couple more.

RM: You fell behind a little bit at the start of the final game. What was the turning point for you?

GH: I had been limping the entire match, pretty much. I limped with a pair of deuces, a very decent starting hand, but that was the way I had been playing. He raised, and I decided to call, obviously hoping to hit a deuce. The flop comes J-J-8, not the worst flop for a pair. I’m still hoping for a deuce, but there’s a good chance that I’m ahead against various hands like A-K, K-Q, A-10, and so on. He leads out, and I call. I’m in position, which is always very nice in a long heads-up match. A 5 comes on the turn, he checks, and now it looks like I am ahead. I mean, if he has some random A-10, A-Q, K-10, or whatever, he’s checking. I’m going to make a mini-bet here, maybe half the pot, and hopefully take it down.

So, I bet half the pot. He thinks, and calls, and now I’m thinking it doesn’t look too good. I feel pretty confident that I’m beat here, and I don’t think I’m going to try to pull some crazy river bluff. I mean, you never know, but that was kind of my initial feeling. Then, he checks the river, and I look over and see a deuce, so I suddenly have a full house; now, I’m starting to like my hand again.

Now it’s basically time to make a big value-bet. Obviously, I thought he was slow-playing some kind of hand, so I could potentially be beat by a bigger full house, but if I’m beat, I’m beat, and that’s the end of this story. So, I decide that if he has a full house and I bet like 400,000, he’s going to raise me all in, and I’m not going to be good enough to fold a full house in this kind of spot. But if he’s trapping me with a pair of aces, A-J, or something like that, I’m going to try to get full value; so, I actually thought about it for a long time, and decided that this was the right time to make a little crazy all-in move. He called pretty quickly. He had a very good hand, three jacks with a queen kicker, so he had no reason to believe that the deuce hit me on the river.

It turned out to be a reasonable line of play from my point of view, and I obviously was very lucky to hit the deuce. I will give myself a little bit of credit, because I think it was good bet-sizing on my part on the river, kind of getting a read of what he had and then taking full advantage.

RM: You were limping from the button a lot throughout the match. Did you think about changing your play at all, because there was a break before the final game?

GH: I thought about it. Basically, the third game started out really, really bad, with me making a big payoff on the river when he had aces. I guess I was a little shocked; right off the bat, I had lost half of my stack. So, I had raised a couple of hands, but I decided to revert to my bread and butter — at least what had worked in this tournament. So, I started limping again, and then when the blinds got higher, I decided to see how he’d respond if I started raising almost every button. So, I changed it up a little bit, but the limping worked out well for me.

RM: Your thoughts about the final hand? [Hansen opened for 91,000 from the button, and Collopy pushed for around 1.2 million.]

GH: Well, basically, a pair of fours is not really a powerhouse. I mean, if he is bluffing, semibluffing, or whatever, and has the 10♣ 9♣, it’s not like my two fours are looking that good. I kind of went over different scenarios, and said to myself that if I had two eights, I was going to call every time; if I had two sevens, I was going to call every time; two sixes or two fives, now it starts to be more questionable, but I thought that he had a fairly big range for shoving in that spot, and definitely could have two deuces or two threes, at least giving a little credit to my two fours. It had been a long game, and I just felt like it was probably good enough to go with. It might have been a little bit light, but when he turned over K-4 suited, I obviously was very happy I made that decision. I thought he also could have a hand like A-2 suited or A-3 suited, again giving my two fours a lot of strength, so I thought about it for a long time, and decided that it probably was the right call. But just because it turned out good here, I’m still not convinced it was right; but, yeah, I’m happy about it now. ♠