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Brandon Cantu Wins the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event

The Pot-Limit Hold'em Event Reaches the Final Table While the Limit Event Kicks Off


Day 3: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Final Table

Poker players once again filled the Rio Hotel and Casino's vast Amazon Room as the $1,500 no-limit and pot-limit hold'em tournaments resumed and the limit event got underway. The three tournaments in progress accounted for more than 1,200 players - plus sidegame and satellite action - and the din of chairs shuffling, chips clinking and voices murmuring was deafening.

The remaining nine players in the $1,500 no-limit hold'em event took their seats at 2 pm PDT today to vie for the $757,839 first prize payout and the famous World Series of Poker bracelet that goes with it.

Here were the chip counts upon entering the final table:

1 & 2 (tied) - Lee Padilla: $753,000; Brandon Cantu: $753,000
3 - Drew Rubin: $573,000
4 - Mark Ly: $516,000
5 - Mark Swartz: $359,000
6 - Don Zewin: $340,000
7 - Juan Carlos Mortensen: $337,000
8 - Ron Stanley: $283,000
9 - Brent Roberts: $260,000

The blinds started at $8,000-$16,000 with $2,000 antes, which allowed for relatively tight play. As the cards hit the felt it soon became apparent that the table would take advantage of these accommodating blinds, lasting two and a half hours before the first elimination.

Juan Carlos "The Matador" Mortensen, the most recognizable player at the table, was also the first player to bust, finishing in ninth place ($71,617). Mortensen arrived at this table down from the huge chip lead he'd had throughout most of the tournament's final stages (you can click here to chart this trend using our chip count graph feature). He had run into trouble holding A-Q in two major hands and sat at the final table severely wounded. Mortensen moved all-in preflop for his last few chips and was called by Mark Ly in the big blind. Ly shows Q-9 and Mortensen turned over pocket fours. The board came Kspade10heart5diamondQdiamond7heart and Mortensen's pair was overtaken by the queen on the turn.

Mark Swartz was next on the hit-list when his offsuit KJ met Brandon Cantu's pocket tens. Swartz earned $88,668 for his eighth place finish.

The next hand was huge, vacating two seats at the final table in one shot. Ron Stanley moved all-in preflop for his last few chips and Don Zewin reraised all-in as well. Lee Padilla had both players covered and made the call. Stanley showed Aclub9club, Zewin turned over 8spade8club and Padilla flipped over the AspadeJspade. Zewin was ahead and the flop of Qspade6spade2diamond was no help to the other players. But when Padilla spiked a jack on the turn, the crowd roared and he raised his arms in jubilation. He made a needless flush when the 7spade fell on the river and he knocked out both players. Stanley ended in seventh place ($107,614) while Zewin placed sixth ($126,940).

Players hunkered down and it was almost three more hours before the next player was eliminated. Brandon Cantu called when Brent Roberts moved all-in. Roberts turned over pair of sevens and Cantu flipped up AheartQclub. The A-Q worked for Cantu here, contrary to Mortensen's luck with the hand earlier, as a queen hit on the flop and the turn and river gave no solace for Roberts. He busted in fifth place ($151,570).

Fourth place, and the $176,579 prize that came with it, went to Lee Padilla when his Adiamond3diamond was dominated by Mark Ly's Aclub10spade. The board didn't improve Padilla's hand (no surprise flushes or elusive threes) and the table was left with three players.

Barely over an hour later, Drew Rubin called Brandon Cantu's all in with A-6 offsuit and faced pocket eights. The board didn't pair Rubin's ace and he was sent home in third with a $226,597 paycheck.

Soon thereafter, Brandon Cantu's voice sounded hoarse as he cheered and clapped upon seeing Ly's holdings in what would be the defining hand of the tournament. With a board showing AclubJclub6diamond, the turn came 7diamond and Ly checked. When Cantu came out betting, Ly moved all-in and Cantu called. Cantu fliped over AdiamondKspade and Ly showed Jheart4heart, giving Cantu the lead with a pair of aces over Ly's pair of jacks. Cantu put his hat over his face as the gravity of the situation overwhelmed him and he started pacing. Ly gave a sheepish smile. When the river hit a blank, 8diamond, Cantu ran and jumped into the crowd where his friends had been cheering him on. It was only a matter of hands before Cantu took Ly's few remaining chips ($10,000), when his Qspade5heart hit two pair against Ly's 10club2heart with a board of Adiamond5diamond4diamondQclub8diamond, and eliminated Ly in second place ($416,816).

After plowing through a record 2,776 no-limit hold'em players, Brandon Cantu won the second bracelet event at the 2006 World Series of Poker and took home the $757,839 prize.

Day 2: $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em Reaches Its Final Table

Play for the pot-limit event continued at 2 pm PDT today in a flurry of cards as the 71 remaining players were dealt their first hands of day two.

The second day of this event was also the last day for some notable poker professionals including Tim Phan, Michael Davis, Dewey Tomko, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi and Chris Ferguson.

The final table is sure to be a clash of the titans as the likes of Rafe Furst, John Juanda, Burt Boutin, Can Kin Hua and Eric Lynch have all made the cut. Lynch enters as the chip leader with $455,000 while Furst sits in third ($222,000) and Juanda is a little further behind with $147,000, which places him in fifth.

Play in the pot-limit event will continue tomorrow with the final nine players meeting at 2 pm PDT for the final table showdown.

Day 1: $1,500 Limit Hold'em Players Pack the House

Like the events before it, the $1,500 limit hold'em event broke a record for entrants as 1,068 players hit the tables with the hope of taking a piece of the $1,457,820 prize pool. The winner of this event will bring home a $335,289 payday and the enviable World Series of Poker bracelet.

Some recognizable players who busted out in day one of this event include Allen Cunningham, Todd Brunson, Joe Sebok, Andrew Black and Minh Ly.

The bubble burst at 11:50 pm PDT, and the 98 remaining players could proudly say they'd made the money (at least $2,187 from that point forward). Players grinded it out for about another hour before play ended for the night with a mere 69 players left. The limit hold'em event will resume tomorrow at 2 pm PDT.

Stay tuned to for live updates, chip counts, photos, videos, a new episode of "The Circuit" radio show and new videos from "The Series," with Scott Huff and Rich Belsky.

- By Shawn Patrick Green