At the beginning of this summer, Jason Senti had never met a guy called Jonathan Duhamel, and Duhamel similarly had no knowledge of Senti. But as the two of them donned their PokerStars patches and sliced through the massive World Series Main Event field, they started to spend more and more time in one another’s company, culminating in their appearance around this weekend’s final table.
Over the past few months, they’ve also hung out a good deal as they travelled the world on Air PokerStars, flying the familiar flag as November Niners. They’ve become pretty good friends, even if Duhamel says that Senti talks too quickly for him to understand. (Duhamel’s first language is French, although his English is perfect.)
Obviously, there’s no soft play between the two at the final table–each is a fierce and fair competitor–but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t both celebrate after a recent pot. Each had legitimate reasons of their own for their obvious delight.
The pot was played out between Senti and Joseph Cheong, the tournament short stack and the chip leader at the start of the hand. It was folded to Senti in the small blind and he open shoved for 10.1 million. Cheong, in the big blind, snap-called from a stack of more than 60 million.
The cards were turned over and Cheong had the lead. His A♣9♣ was ahead of Senti’s K♦7♠, although any mathematician would tell you how close it was. Cheong’s had about a 65% chance of winning the hand, to Senti’s 35%.
The flop came J♦6♦3♠, which tightened Cheong’s stranglehold. The turn A♦ may have also looked like a good card for Cheong, but Senti’s supporters had noticed that their man now had additional outs. Any diamond would give Senti the pot-winning flush and double him up to more than 20 million.
As hundreds of fingers crossed themselves in the crowd, the dealer peeled off the 10♦ and Senti’s rail exploded. He’d got his chips in the middle for the umpteenth time this afternoon, and once more he’d taken down the pot.
Duhamel’s celebrations were more muted. Indeed, they were silent and invisible. But there’s no doubt he’d have known what Jack Effel soon announced to the room: The hit to Cheong moved Duhamel back into the chip lead.
What was good for Senti was also good for Duhamel. But as the blinds go up, and the field shrinks, it seems likely that soon the two friends will soon clash.
Duhamel didn’t cling onto the lead for long. Michael Mizrachi seized it back from him with a rare four bet pre-flop. Latest standings:
Michael Mizrachi 52,700,000
Jonathan Duhamel 45,300,000
Joseph Cheong 34,600,000
Filippo Candio 32,125,000
John Dolan 23,650,000
Jason Senti 17,825,000
John Racener 13,625,000