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Bubble Bursts At World Poker Tour Championship at Bellagio

Hafiz Khan Bursts On Bubble


Scott SeiverOne of the biggest bubbles of the tournament year occurs each season at the WPT Championship at Bellagio. This year is no different with at least $37,167 set aside for those fortunate enough to make their way to the final 27 players. Card Player caught up with a few players during the break before the bubble to get their thoughts on the tense situation.

For those who put up the $25,000 buy-in, busting on the bubble would amount to a $62,167 swing in variance. For a guy like Scott Seiver, who is on the hook for his entire buy-in, not cashing would mean three and a half days lost in the Fontana Lounge at Bellagio, when he could have easily been back at Ivey’s Room at Aria winning six-figure sums.

“It would be pretty brutal if I didn’t cash in this event,” said Seiver. “For the first 25 hours of this event, I really didn’t mind if I busted or not. I knew that the cash games were waiting for me if I was eliminated. But now that I’m so deep, it really would kind of hurt to bubble, having wasted almost four days of play.”

David BrownworthFortunately for Seiver, he easily made it through the bubble and emerged with an above average chip stack. On the other end of the spectrum was online qualifier David Brownworth, a casual player from Arizona who beat out 2,947 players to win his seat.

“This is tough,” explained Brownworth. “But in the end, the money doesn’t mean much to me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a lot of money, but I’m in this thing for $20. Frankly, it’s worth the $37,000 just to have this experience, playing with these excellent professionals. Heck, I probably would’ve paid $50,000 for the honor.”

Brownworth fought hard, but ultimately busted in 29th place, officially bubbling the bubble.

Last year’s WPT Championship winner David Williams picked up a free seat thanks to his victory, but with the bubble looming, he had his sights set on a much more ambitious goal.

David Williams“My mind is focused on just making it through the day,” said Williams. “That’s how you win these things. You just take it one day at a time, focusing on the eight other players at the table.”

When asked about the possibility of going back-to-back at the WPT Championship, Williams admitted that it was on his mind. “That’s the goal. It’s really tough to win back-to-back tournaments these days and if I were to accomplish that at one of the most prestigious events on tour, it would really be something.”

Williams was criticized by fellow player Kenny Tran for over-shoving pocket aces during the bubble, but Williams insisted he was doing it to disguise the strength of his hand. Nonetheless, he made it through to the final three tables with an average stack.

Will Failla has been traveling the tour for years and has nearly 2 million in tournament winnings, but found himself super short stacked entering the deciding level of play with about ten big blinds.

Will Failla“I’m feeling strong and confident, but I need my cards to feel the same way,” joked Failla. “Honestly, I’m one of these guys who plays more for the accomplishment than the money. No matter what happens, I can say that I beat out almost 90 percent of this elite field. The money is just a bonus and hopefully it will be a big bonus.”

With 28 players remaining, Failla moved all in holding pocket nines against the K-J of chip leader Sam El Sayed. The tournament staff paused the action so that the WPT cameras could get in place, causing Failla to endure about a minute of stress, awaiting the five board cards that would determine his fate.

When the dealer finally rolled out the flop, Failla called out for a nine. A king appeared in the window, but fortunately for the man they call “The Thrill,” the nine of diamonds was right behind it. Failla went on to win the hand and safely double through into the money.

The unfortunate bubble boy was Hafiz Khan, who woke up with pocket aces and jammed them in preflop only to get outdrawn by Justin Young’s pocket jacks.

Now that they are safely in the money, the final 27 players can focus on the next goal, making the televised final table of six and after that, perhaps claim the $1,618,344 first-place prize.