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Six players began the $100,000-entry High Roller Event #29 final table in the world-famous Horseshoe Las Vegas. Under the glittering array of bright lights in the arena known in poker circles as the ‘Thunderdome’, Jans Arends bookended the event by heading into play as the chip leader and walking away with the WSOP bracelet. In between those two occurrences, however, a rollercoaster ride was enjoyed or endured by the half-dozen players going for gold.
Play got underway at the final table with just six players in action. The chip leader was Jans Arends from the Netherlands. It wasn’t an unfamiliar position for Arends to find himself in, with the popular high roller finding his way to the final table of the $50k High Roller earlier in the Series. That time, he started the day behind Alex Foxen. Both men would miss out on the heads-up on that occasion, but here the opposite would be true, as Arends and his nearest challenger Cary Katz both made the final duel.
The first player to miss out on those late stages was the Chinese poker pro Biao Ding. He busted in sixth place for a score of $469,464 when his king-jack was up against Chance Kornuth’s ace-queen. The American, whose Chip Leader Coaching platform has seen him help others in their pursuit of equalling his three WSOP bracelet wins of the past, began play as the shortest stacked hopeful at the table. An early resurgence allowed him to call against Ding with ease.
Ding never caught so much as a paint card on his way to the rail, and with him gone, the final five who took each other on for the trophy were very evenly matched. Cary Katz is one of the 20 most successful tournament poker players of all time, and in Kornuth, Arends, Jeremy Ausmus and Adrian Mateos, no-one was an easy seat. Kornuth in particular had risen through the ranks and with five players left led the field. Drama, however, was right around the corner.
With poker fans tuning in from around the world as the drama played out live on PokerGO, it was Jeremy Ausmus who departed next. The popular American and five-time WSOP bracelet winner was out in fifth after he lost with ten-eight to Adrian Mateos’ jack-nine, a jack coming on the flop for good measure. The Spaniard was soaring high, climbing into the chip lead, but Ausmus was cooked, out for a score of $619,919.
After leading with five players left before that hand, Chance Kornuth plummeted down the leaderboard to lose his seat in fourth place for $833,854. Losing a big one to Mateos, Kornuth was left short and moved all-in with ace-four. His cards were suited but Cary Katz called with the vastly superior ace-jack.
The flop was almost encouraging for Kornuth as it came 6-5-2. A three or four and Kornuth would double up and be right back in it but the three-time WSOP bracelet winner couldn’t find any luck at all, a nine on the turn and eight on the river meaning he slid out of contention while the impressive Katz chipped up.
With three men left, it was a surprise next in third place for $1,142,147. The Spanish professional Adrian Mateos has made a living out of conquering tough fields and has four WSOP bracelets at the age of just 28 years old. Mateos couldn’t hold onto the chips here, however, as he slipped to short stack after an extended period of play without an elimination.
All-in with king-jack, Mateos lost to Jans Arends’ pocket nines after the Dutch player’s pocket pair not only held but improved to top set on a flop of 9-3-2, an insignificant jack then queen following to send Mateos to the rail. It was an equally important hand to Arends as it gave him the chip advantage going into the final battle for the bracelet with 44 million for him playing Katz’ 11 million chips.
Katz dropped to half his stack, but the redoubtable owner of PokerGO doubled back to around the same stack as he began heads-up with. Then he made the right move at the wrong time. All-in with a suited queen-four he had two live cards to call when Arends called with ace-king of diamonds. The flop of A-Q-J paired each man a card, but Arends still needed help. A three on the turn was no good and a king on the river ended the event in Arends favor, giving the Dutch professional his first WSOP in a live event and the only seven-figure score of his career to date, as he won the $2,576,729 top prize and the WSOP gold bracelet.
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