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World Series of Poker Europe -- Phil Laak Wins Event No. 1

Laak Crosses his Name off the Best Player to Never Win a Bracelet List


Phil LaakThe first bracelet event at the 2010 World Series of Poker Europe was given a shot of adrenaline by a marquee champion in London today. Phil Laak broke from the ranks of best-player-to-never-win a bracelet by topping 243 competitors in the ₤2,650 six-handed no-limit hold’em event.

The toughest test for Laak came at the end of the tournament when he battled heads up with Andrew Pantling. The poker professional from Malta came into the final day with the chip lead and he fought with Laak for three hours before the Unabomber picked up his first bracelet.

In addition to the coveted golden prize, Laak also took home ₤170,802 to add to his $1,119,480 in career prize money. It has been a year of high and lows for Laak, who set the world record for the longest continuous poker session this summer in Las Vegas. He suffered a personal setback in August when he was injured in an ATV crash, but now one of poker’s most original personalities is back on top. The cast on his right arm was emblazoned with the flag of Great Britain today as he played his way to victory.

Here is a look at the chip counts when the final table began:

Andrew Pantling — 627,500
Chris Bjorin — 368,500
Phil Laak — 317,000
David Peters — 251,500
Ilan Rouah — 200,000
Willie Tann — 72,000

The short stack of Willie Tann was in jeopardy from the beginning of the final table. He was able to double up with pocket kings, but the second time he moved all in things did not go as well. Tann committed the last of his chips with pocket sevens on a 4-3-3 rainbow flop. Pantling made the call with pocket nines and after he faded the 4 and 6 on the turn and river, he grew his chip lead while Tann hit the rail in sixth place (₤23,900).

Laak scored his first elimination of the day when Ilan Rouah decided to move all-in an hour later with A-10. Laak made the call with J-9 and he came from behind to win the hand on a J-7-3-6-Q board. Rouah was awarded ₤33,617 for his fifth-place finish.

The next elimination came quickly. All the chips went in on the river of a KHeart Suit QSpade Suit 2Spade Suit 4Spade Suit 2Club Suit board after David Peters and Pantling had battled back and forth with a skirmish of bets and raises. Pantling moved all in on the river with KClub Suit JDiamond Suit and Peters made the all-in call with two red eights. Pantling scored a second elimination while Peters took home ₤48,202 in fourth place.

The battle between Pantling and Laak began to take shape during three-handed play. Pantling won the first battle to reduce Laak’s stack to 255,000, but he rallied back with a bluff. Laak was able to extract 70,000 from Pantling when he bet 110,000 on a JSpade Suit 6Club Suit 4Heart Suit 7Club Suit QDiamond Suit board. Pantling mucked and Laak flipped over 10Spade Suit 8Club Suit as he collected the pot.

Even though the battled raged between Laak and Pantling the other player in the three-handed battle was not one to be trifled with either. Londoner Chris Bjorin has some of the most consistent tournament results in the world during the last couple of years and he was on his home turf as well. He was set back by a short stack, but he was able to double up and extend his campaign.

After an hour and a half of three-handed play Bjorin made his final stand. He picked an unfortunate time to make the move and his pocket queens ran into the pocket kings of Laak. The kings made a set and Bjorin was eliminated in third place, which was good for ₤70,473.

Heads-Up Chip Counts:

Andrew Pantling: 1,078,000
Phil Laak: 759,000

Instead of minding the gap, as the underground Tube reminds you in London, Laak closed the gap against Pantling during the first half hour of heads-up play. He briefly took the lead and then Pantling stole it back. Laak pulled ahead next and then Pantling fought back to the front once again. They switched places once more time and just to clarify, that made for six lead changes after two-and-a-half hours of heads-up play.

The seventh lead change was the final one, with Laak pulling out in front and holding the lead all the way to the bracelet. On the final hand Pantling raised to 33,000 preflop on the button and Laak reraised all in. Pantling made the all-in call and they flipped over their cards:

Laak: KDiamond Suit 5Club Suit
Pantling: AHeart Suit 9Heart Suit

Board: 7Heart Suit 4Heart Suit 4Club Suit 5Diamond Suit QClub Suit

Pantling was eliminated in second place after the hand and he took home ₤105,506 for his solid runner-up effort. Laak took home the gold bracelet and top prize money of ₤170,802.

Final-Table Results:

1: Phil Laak — ₤170,802
2: Andrew Pantling — ₤105,506
3: Chris Bjorin — ₤70,473
4: David Peters — ₤48,202
5: Ilan Rouah — ₤33,617
6: Willie Tann — ₤23,900

The next WSOP Europe gold bracelet will be awarded when the champion is crowned at the final table of event No. 2 (₤5,250 pot-limit Omaha) on Saturday. Check back at Card Player at that time for a recap of the final table.



over 10 years ago

way to go philly! congrats!