Antonio Esfandiari turned 32 years old yesterday and in the early hours of this morning he bagged himself his best birthday present yet, the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic title and the $870,124 that comes with it. Esfandiari, known to millions as “The Magician,” defeated Andrew “good2cu” Robl heads up to win his second World Poker Tour title.
After a couple of technical hiccups from the television crews filming the six handed final table, the tournament restarted shortly after 1600 Las Vegas time and less than ten minutes later they had already lost a player. Ted Lawson started the day as the shortest stack and by quite a margin, so it was no surprise he was the first man out of the door. Seeing Vanessa Rousso raise to 225,000 from under the gun, Lawson moved all-in from middle position for his remaining 615,000 chips holding a pair of black nines. The action folded back to Rousso, who quickly called and turned over a much better hand, pocket queens. The Js-9d-2c flop looked like doubling up Lawson but the Qs on the turn meant he was drawing to a single out. That out failed to show up on the river and he was busted in sixth place, worth $126,693.
Next to join him on the rail, though not for another three hours, was Kirk Morrison. With blinds now at 50,000/100,000/10,000a, John Racener, of November Nine fame, made it 225,000 to play from the cutoff and both Morrison on the button and Robl in the small blind made the call. The Ah-Th-5c flop saw Robl and Racener check, Morrison bet 225,000 and Robl check-raise to 550,000. Racener got out of the way but Morrison stayed in the hand to see the 9s arrive on the turn. After a brief pause, Robl moved all in and Morrison made the call, showing AsJh for a pair of aces, well behind the set of fives of Robl, so far behind that he was actually drawing dead. The Ts on the river completed the hand and just before Morrison left to pick up his $168,924 for his fifth place finish, he jokingly shouted “rebuy!”
John Racener's tournament came to an abrupt end 25 hands later when he opted to move all in preflop for his last 1,005,000 with Qc8c only to find Esfandiari sitting in the small blind with KcQh and in the mood to gamble. The gamble paid off right away as he paired his king on a Kh-6c-3s flop and when the turn and river were the 7h and 8h respectively, Racener was eliminated and the tournament down to its final three players.
Chip counts three handed
Seat 1: Antonio Esfandiari: 5,660,000
Seat 2: Vanessa Rousso: 2,790,000
Seat 3: Andrew Robl: 9,205,000
Due to being deep stacked, the three-handed section of the tournament lasted close to four hours but on hand number 123, Rousso lost her stack and the play went heads up. With the blinds now severely biting into the players' stacks at a huge 100,000/200,000/20,000a, Rousso moved all in for a total of 1,950,000 from the button. Robl got out of the way but Esfandiari made the call in the big blind and showed AcQs. Rousso looked dejected as she flipped over Qh2h, a massive underdog in the hand. The five community cards came out 7d-6h-5c-3s-8s and “The Magician's” ace-high was good enough to end Rousso's dreams of being the first female WPT Champion.
Going into heads up, Robl held a 9,500,000 to 8,155,000 chip lead over his opponent but that did not stop Esfandiari from going on the attack from the word go. He gradually chipped away at Robl's stack, managing first to even things up and then take the lead, sitting on 10,000,000 chips. However, Robl fought back to completely reverse the chip counts, before Estfandiari followed suit and retook the lead!
The on hand 181 of the final table, and the 58th of heads up, Esfandiari raised to 800,000 preflop, Robl checked his cards and moved all in and Esfandiari made the call. The latter turned over KcJd, whilst Robl revealed QdTc, which needed to improve to keep the contest alive. The Ad-Kd-6d flop gave Esfandiari top pair but also “good2cu” a diamond flush draw. The 6c on the turn failed to alter anything and when the 5s peeled off on the river, Esfandiari had won ever chip in play and was the new WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic Champion! Robl picked up $549,003 for coming second, whilst the $870,124 Esfandiari won for his first place finish takes him to an impressive $4,508,117 in live tournament winnings.
Esfandiari's win puts in company such as Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein and Erick Lindgren on two WPT titles and just one away from joining Gus Hansen and Carlos Mortensen on three apiece. Can he make it a hattrick of titles at the next stop on the World Poker Tour, the Southern Poker Championship in Biloxi, Mississippi on January 23.