WSOP November Nine: The first moments of heads-up play

wsop2010_thn.jpgAnd so we've reached the moment at which Jonathan Duhamel and John Racener sit down eye to eye.

In the moments leading up to the match, Duhamel came off the Rio's Ipanema Tower elevator flanked by an entourage of two burly fans. Duhamel's ears were stuffed with white buds. He danced in the corridor and looked every bit the heavyweight fighter on his way to the ring. Once he reached the Penn and Teller Theater, he met his army of Canadiens-sweatered supporters.

Meanwhile, Racener's fans filled in the other side of the stage with the RCNR shirts a stark contrast to the red jerseys on the other side of the floor.

The two remaining players in the 2010 WSOP event were about to play the youngest WSOP Main Event heads-up match in history. Just moments before play got underway, the Poker Hall of Fame inducted Dan Harrington and Erik Seidel into the ranks of poker's most famous and accomplished players. Now, two men aged 23 and 24 were about to compete for poker's biggest prize.


It fell to WSOP 2010 Player of the Year Frank Kassela to get the night underway. He gave the dealer the permission to shuffle up and deal. At 8:36pm PST the cards were in the air.

Who was to say how it would go? It could be over in one hand. Or Racener could double up once or twice and settle in for a very long night.

In the early going, neither player seemed willing to give it up soon. After waiting four months to take a girl on a date, you don't really want to take her out for McDonald's. Better to make it last a while.

Here's how the first ten hands and the remaining of the level played out.

Hand 1: Duhamel raises to 2.5 million. Racener folds.

Hand 2: Racener open folds.

Hand 3: Duhamel raises to 2.5 million. Racener moves all in. Duhamel folds.

Hand 4: Racener limps from small blind. Duhamel checks and they go to the first flop. It comes: A♣A♥8♣. After Duhamel checks, Racener
bets 1.5m and wins.

Hand 5: Duhamel raises to 2.5 million. Racener folds.

Hand 6: Racener calls. Duhamel checks. Flop J♠A♥[10d]. Check, check. The turn comes Q♥ and Duhamel bets 1.7 million. Racener folds.

Hand 7: Duhamel raises to 2.5 million. Racener folds.

Hand 8: Racener calls. Duhamel checks. Flop J♦J♥A♦. Racener bets 1.5 million and Duhamel calls. The turn is J♦, Duhamel checks, Racener checks. The river is [10c] and Duhamel bets 2.2 million. Racener folds.

Hand 9: Duhamel raises to 2.5 million, as he tends to do, but this time Racener calls. That takes them to a 8♣6♣A♦ flop, which they both check. The turn is 9♥, which they also both check. The river is 3♠ and Racener bets 3.5 million, which is good.

Hand 10: Here's the first significant-ish pot of the night, and it goes to Duhamel. Racener limps from the small blind again, and Duhamel checks once more. They go to a flop of 3♠J♣9♠ and Duhamel checks. Racener bets 1.4 million and Duhamel calls, taking them to a 4♦ turn. They both check that. The river is [10s] and Duhamel bets 2.8 million. Racener raises to 6.9 million and Duhamel calls, showing J♦4♣ for two pair. Racener mucks.

At the end of the first ten hands, the chip counts looked like this:

Duhamel: 201,150,000
Racener: 18,450,000

That all changed on the very next hand when Duhamel raised all-in from the button with king-four. Trouble was, Racener held pocket queens. Duhamel couldn't draw out and Racener got the first of the double-ups he will need if he plans to come back.

As we head into the 800,000/1.6 millon level, the chip counts sit as follows:

Duhamel: 182,700,000
Racener: 36,900,000

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker