WSOP November Nine: The 70 million chip curse
Johnathan Duhamel started today with 65,975,000 chips. He was the leader. He had more chips than any player had ever brought to a World Series final table. And he needed to win only 4,025,000 more of them to break the 70 million chip barrier, the first player to do so in this year's tournament.
As we've noted previously, the early stages of this final table did not go in Duhamel's favour. He was pegged back first by Joseph Cheong and then by Michael Mizrachi, who both surged to more than 65,000,000 as Duhamel slid back into the pack.
But then we started noticing something weird happening. Let's call it the curse of the 70 million pot. It simply seemed as though no player could get beyond that apparently insignificant landmark. Anyone who tried lost a massive pot and was knocked back down to size.
Just as Cheong closed in on 70 million, for instance, he lost a huge pot to Jason Senti, who doubled through the then-chip-leader with K♦7♠ against Cheong's A♣9♣. Then Duhamel, who had chipped back up, lost a huge pot to John Racener, with Duhamel's A♣K♥ being outdrawn by Racener's A♠Q♠ all in pre-flop. Duhamel would have broken 70 million with a win there, which is probably precisely why he lost.
Then it was Mizrachi's turn. He moved all in over the top of a Duhamel opener, and Duhamel called for his tournament life. The pot had the chance to put Mizrachi in the 70 millions, but Duhamel's A♠9♥ got there against Mizrachi's 3♥3♠.
"Whoever gets to seventy million first is going to win this tournament," said one press box observer. And if that's true, then the title is going to Cheong, who eventually managed to chip, chip his way through the glass ceiling through a succession of small pots. But then guess what? He lost a bunch of pots again to leave him on around 67 million at the break.
Here's how they line up as we enter level 40:
Joseph Cheong - 66,750,000
Jonathan Duhamel - 56,550,000
Michael Mizrachi - 39,500,000
Filippo Candio - 29,950,000
John Racener - 26,550,000