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Jason Lester Wins 2006 WSOP $5K PLHE Bracelet

Jason Lester Takes First in $5K Pot-Limit Hold'em, $1K No-Limit/Rebuy Reaches Final Table, $1.5K Limit Shootout and $1K Stud 8/OB Begin

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Today marked another exciting day in the Rio Hotel and Casino's Amazon Room as cheers frequently erupted from the pot-limit hold'em final table, Phil Hellmuth put himself in a very good position to secure his world record-tying 10th WSOP bracelet and the limit shootout and stud eight-or-better tournaments kicked off. The Rio continues to harbor a mesh of emotion as resentment, anticipation, elation and frustration all waft through the air once more.

$5,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Final Table (Day 3 of 3)

WSOP Event #32

Cards were in the air at 2:15 p.m. PDT for the $5,000 pot-limit hold'em event, and the remaining nine players each had a very decent shot at nabbing the $550,746 first prize and the gold bracelet that goes with it. Unlike the $2,000 no-limit final table yesterday, there was no outrageous front-runner today and no clear-cut guess as to who might take home the title.

The chip counts going into the final table were:

Alan Sass: $431,000
Michael Tedesco: $278,000
Tommy Smith: $238,000
Jason Lester: $222,000
Stuart Fox: $214,000
Tony Hartmann: $163,000
Kirill Gerasimov: $124,000
Gregg Turk: $122,000
Emad Tahtouh: $97,000

Action was fast, as the first elimination was just five hands into the final table. Emad Tahtouh raised from middle position and Kirill Gerasimov reraised from late position. Tommy Smith reraised again from the button. Tahtouh folded and Gerasimov called all in, turning over Aspade Kclub. Smith flipped up QheartQspade for the lead and the board came Qdiamond 3heart 2club 2spade 4spade. The board didn't give Gerasimov any false hope and Smith won the pot with a full house, eliminating Gerasimov in ninth ($35,532).

It would be just under a half hour before the next player busted. Alan Sass raised from early position and was faced with a reraise from Tommy Smith in the cutoff seat. Sass just called and the flop came Qclub 6heart 2diamond. Both players checked this flop and the turn put the Aheart on the board. This ace sent both players into a frenzy as Sass bet out, Smith raised, Sass moved all in and Smith called all in. Smith turned over 6diamond6spade for a flopped set. Sass one-upped him when he turned over Qheart Qspade for a better set, both players having slow-played their monsters on the flop. The river was a blank, the Jheart, and Smith was eliminated in eighth, earning him $53,298.

By this point, Sass had a commanding chip lead over the field with over a 3-to-1 advantage over his next-closest rival, Michael Tedesco. The next elimination served to narrow this gap. Emad Tahtouh called all in preflop against Tedesco and turned over Kdiamond5 diamond. He would need to catch up when he saw Tedesco's Aspade Jheart. Things didn't look good when Tedesco spiked an ace on the flop and it was all over when a jack hit on the river, giving Tedesco two pair to bust Tahtouh in seventh. Tahtouh made $71,064 for his efforts. With this win, Tedesco cut Sass's chip advantage ratio in half.

Gregg Turk was next to go when he got all in preflop against Jason Lester. Turk turned over Adiamond Qheart and was in a virtual coin-flip situation against Lester's pocket eights. However, Lester's eights held up and Turk busted in sixth, getting an $88,830 payday for his finish.

The next elimination was 45 minutes later when Stuart Fox raised on the button and Michael Tedesco reraised all in from the big blind. Fox called and turned over Adiamond 8heart and found he was dominated when Tedesco showed Aclub Qspade for the lead. The flop was fantastic for Fox when it came 8club 7spade 4diamond to give him the lead with a pair of eights, and the turn and river did not help Tedesco catch up when they came 2diamond and Kheart. Fox raked in the pot and eliminated Tedesco in fifth ($106,596).

The next elimination was a little more complicated, requiring a floor manager's intervention. Tony Hartmann raised from the button and Alan Sass reraised from the big blind. Hartmann reraised again and Sass called. Sass then mistakenly turned up his hand, thinking Hartmann was all in, and showed 9diamond 9spade. The floor gave Sass a choice: (a) muck his hand or (b) take a two-round penalty after the hand. Sass chose option (b) and the hand continued. The flop came 10spade 7heart 2heart and Sass bet out. Hartmann called all in, turning up AspadeKdiamond and Sass again flipped up his nines. The turn and river were no help to Hartmann, who was eliminated in fourth for $124,362.

Going into the next elimination, Alan Sass was way ahead of the competition with $1,290,000 compared to Stuart Fox's $365,000 and Jason Lester's $245,000. The lead was even evident to those sitting in the surrounding tournaments, as Sass's huge group of supporters cheered madly every time chips were pushed his way.

The chip gap between Lester and Sass narrowed slightly over the next few hands until Lester pushed all in preflop and was called by Sass. Sass turned over Aclub Jdiamond and found he would need to improve against Lester's pocket sevens. He did just that when the flop came Jdiamond 6heart 3diamond, giving him top pair, top kicker. Lester needed a 7 on the turn or river to catch up and survive. A miracle 7 hit on the turn, putting Lester back in the lead and leaving Sass drawing dead. Sass's supporters conveyed their disappointment throughout the Amazon Room. Lester doubled up to put him $100,000 above Sass for the chip lead.

An hour later, Stuart Fox pushed all in preflop against Jason Lester and showed Kclub 3club. Lester flipped up Adiamond 9heart for the lead. The board improved neither player and Fox was eliminated in third, taking home $142,128. This put Lester and Alan Sass heads-up. Lester chipped away at Sass for the next hour until the final hand.

On a flop of 9spade 3diamond 2heart, Sass bet and Lester raised. Sass moved all in and Lester made the call. Sass showed 6heart 4heart for a gutshot straight draw and Lester turned over 9club 7diamond for top pair. The turn was the Qclub and the river was the Kheart. Lester won the pot and eliminated Sass. Sass finished the tournament in second place and earns $284,256.

Jason Lester won his first WSOP bracelet and $550,746 for his first-place finish in the $5,000 pot-limit hold'em event.

$1,000 No-Limit Hold'em with Rebuys (Day 2 of 3)

Sixty-one players returned today to duke it out for seats at the final table of WSOP event No. 34, the $1,000 no-limit hold'em with rebuys tournament. The pace was set early as the first hand was also the first elimination of the day.

Some notable eliminations throughout the day's play included Joe Sebok, Champie Douglas, Theo Tran, Humberto Brenes, and Joe Bartholdi.

Nine players were locked into the final table by 11:20 p.m. PDT. This final table could prove to be historic, as it marks Phil Hellmuth's third final table appearance during the 2006 WSOP and his third stab at tying Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson's 10-bracelet records. Hellmuth is in prime position to take the bracelet as he will enter the final table with a decent chip lead.

The chip counts entering the final table are as follows:

1: Phil Hellmuth - $768,000
2: Daryn Firicano - $450,000
3: Juha Helppi - $436,000
4: Ralph Perry - $235,000
5: Terris Preston - $164,000
6: John Spadavecchia - $122,000
7: David Plastik - $121,000
8: Elio Cabrera - $95,000
9: Antanas "Tony" Guoga - $77,000

The final table will be at 2 p.m. PDT tomorrow.

$1,500 Limit Hold'em Shootout (Day 1 of 3)

At 2 p.m. PDT, the room began to fill with 524 $1,500 limit hold'em shootout players, each hoping to take down their single-table tournament to progress to the next round of WSOP event No. 36. The ultimate winner of the tournament is looking at a $157,338 payday and a shiny, golden WSOP bracelet.

Some big names that dropped out during the first day's play were William Chen, Kirill Gerasimov, Sean Sheikhan, Isabelle Mercier, and Aaron Bartley.

Howard Lederer, Andy Bloch, and Mike Caro each won their tables and will advance to the next round in which they and 54 other winners will have to take down another ninehanded table. All of today's winners are guaranteed at least $7,153 for surviving the day.

The tournament will continue tomorrow at 2 p.m. PDT.


$1,000 Seven Card Stud 8/OB (Day 1 of 2)

For WSOP event No. 35, 788 seven-card stud eight-or-better players packed the Rio Hotel and Casino's Amazon Room this afternoon with their targets set on the bracelet and the $172,091 first prize to be awarded the next day.

Some notable eliminations from the event included Ted Forrest, Jennifer Harman, Mel Judah, Ted Lawson, and Max Pescatori.

The 98 remaining players will return at 4 p.m. PDT tomorrow and play to a winner. The remaining players are not yet in the money and will need to play down to 72 before the bubble will burst.

Stay tuned to CardPlayer.com for live updates, chip counts, photos, videos, and for new episodes of "The Circuit."

For more information on bracelet winners and other WSOP news stories, please visit http://www.cardplayer.com/tournaments/wsop/2006s.