WSOP Event #29: PokerStars' John Duthie runner-up in $10K Heads-up
What a day: eight hours of gruelling, energy-sapping heads-up play to determine who would take the coveted WSOP bracelet for topping the $10,000 World Heads-up Championship. If those of us on media row covering the best-of-three final were running on empty by the end, imagine how the players felt.
Team PokerStars Pro John Duthie had already endured three long days to get this far, but he fell agonisingly short of securing his first WSOP bracelet when he went down two matches to one.
He takes home $386,636 for a spectacular effort, leaving Leo Wolpert to take the wrist jewellery and $625,682 first pize.
After all the twists and turns, the ups and downs, the joy and despair it came down to one flop when Duthie hit top pair, Wolpert bottom two.
Duthie, ever the gentleman, shook Wolpert's hand, then turned to me and said only: "C'est la vie." Such is life, indeed, but it's never pretty getting so close yet so far.
Things had started brightly for PokerStars EPT founder Duthie, who took the first match after a long struggle of more than three hours. Much of that time he was behind but clawed his way back before delivering the fatal blow when Wolpert moved all in for his last 920,000 with K♠Q♠ - and was insta called by Duthie with A♦Q♦. The board ran 8♣5♣3♥2♣A♠.
After a brief break it was on to match two, but any thoughts this too would run a marathon distance were dispelled early when all the chips flew in on the 9♠6♣A♥2♦ board.
That left Duthie drawing dead on the river, which fell a 2♣.
So the match drew level, but despite the pressure of the situation, Duthie was still able to joke with the crowd, and even won a $100 side bet with Wolpert when he landed the button in the round WSOP logo on the table.
The deciding match turned into another feat of endurance, close on four hours of play. Some 191 hands later it was all over. Wolpert had taken an early lead, and despite attempts at a comeback, Duthie never made it.
With blinds beginning to take on an added importance as the levels shot up, Duthie started to make all-in moves rather simply raise. It worked for a time, as they always do... until the last time.
Wolpert had limped in from the button and Duthie checked his option. The flop came [10s]3♠5♣ and Duthie pushed, insta called by Wolpert, who had him covered by more than 3:1 at this point.
Duthie needed to catch a second ten or a two, but the turn was J♥ and the river Q♥.
This was Duthie's second big cash of the year after he finished runner-up in the PokerStars SCOOP $25,000 Heads-up event in April for $250,000.
Congratulations to Leo Wolpert, and commiserations to John. Your time for a bracelet will surely come.
Although we've obviously been concentrating on Duthie today, we should not forget how other Team PokerStars Pros have been getting on at the Rio.
Vanessa Rousso cashed for the third time this WSOP when she came 19th in the $1,500 HORSE for $5,906.
And other Team Pros are still going strong in other events. In the $10,000 Limit Hold'em Chad Brown, Barry Greenstein and Lex Veldhuis are each still in the remaining 40 runners and looking to close in on the 18 cash positions.
Meanwhile Andre Akkari has just busted from day two of the $2,000 No Limit Hold'em event, cashing for around $5,000.
All photos © Stephen Beyer, IMPDI