Black Belt Neil Channing misses elusive bracelet by just one place in event #43.

26 June 2012

LAS VEGAS -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Last night under the bright lights of the Amazon Room, Neil Channing came within one card of fulfilling his ultimate poker dream and capturing his first ever World Series of Poker bracelet.

In event #43's $1,500 No Limit Hold'em freezeout, Neil bested all but one of the 2,770 field to finish in second place for a cash prize of $406,409 - but despite the financial fruits, the only thing on his mind when the final river fell was the elusive gold bracelet.

Heading into the final day, Neil lay in third place with more than double the average, and just a handful of small denomination chips behind then-leader Zach Clark. After a near-miss two years previous, this seemed like a great chance.

However, early signs suggested that the Poker Gods disagreed as Neil doubled up two short stacks to dip below the one million mark, the first of which saw his T-T versus Ac-5s unraveled by running clubs on a Jc-5h-3s flop.

Nevertheless, Neil remained focused and prudently maintained his stack as opponents began to fall. His patience was rewarded as he won a huge pot with a flopped set of kings to proceed onto the final table second in chips, with fellow Brit Tom Alner in fourth.

Neil would then go on a heater that would make the sun sweat, eliminating Jared Rosenbaum in ninth with Q-Q versus A-4, swiftly followed by Francois Dur (no relation) in eighth with Q-Q versus T-T.

Neil was allowed a rest by John Nelson, who disposed of Hungary's Balazs Botond in seventh, before he re-donned his shades and leather jacket to terminate the next four players.

Hovan Nguyen was the first to hit the deck with J-4 no match for A-J, soon joined on the rail by Nelson (A-T losing to K-Q). Alner took fourth when J-8 ran into A-9, before former bracelet winner James Mackey felt the Channing wrath with K-Q versus 5-5 on an action-packed K-3-4-3-5 board.

This left Neil with a chip advantage of 4.5 to 1 and a gnat's nostril hair away from victory; the momentum was in his favor and it seemed as though nothing would deny him his date with bracelet gold.

The final battle, however, would prove more dramatic than an Eastenders Christmas cliffhanger with Neil unable to clear his final hurdle despite numerous attempts. Having been faced with less than two big blinds earlier in the day, Henry Lu had already showcased a never-say-die attitude that Neil would have to overcome.

Neil's opening stumble came when he doubled up Lu with A-J versus A-Q on an ensuing T-8-T-6-5 board. The lead swung back and forth, before Neil grinded back a 4 to 1 lead, but Lu doubled up for the second time when his A-K held firm against Neil's A-T.

After slipping down to 3.5 million, Neil sang his swan song in the early hours of the morning; his bread was buttered the wrong side with Ad-Jd unable to out-flip 4c-4h on a close-but-no-cigar 2h-3s-Qs-Kd-3c board.

Neil was understandably stunned as Lu celebrated with his rail, and collected the bracelet and $654,380 first prize.

But despite losing out on three consecutive all ins and being one river card away from adorning his wrist on two occasions, Neil was philosophical in defeat:

"It was 1997 when I first came to the WSOP in Las Vegas," he regaled. "I played my first bracelet event in 2001 and in the last few years I have played around 25 a year. At this rate I could be 90 years old before I finally win one of the damn things. I'd like to thank everyone for their support today and I hope you'll be around to cheer me on on the day it finally happens."

For now, he'll have to wait, and start his venture all over again - but that "day" could be just around the corner as Neil will be returning to action this Thursday for the $5,000 No Limit Hold'em and subsequent $1,500 events, before setting his sights on the $10,000 Main Event in July.

If he's to get his hands on a bracelet, then doing so in October wouldn't be a bad move - and a rather fitting one, perhaps. As appears to be the common consensus this side of the Pond: No U.K. player deserves a bracelet more than Neil Channing. Let's hope Lady Luck agrees.

Official results:

1st Henry Lu (United States) -- $654,380
2nd Neil Channing (United Kingdom) -- $406,409
3rd James Mackey (United States) -- $286,633
4th Tom Alner (United Kingdom) -- $207,019
5th John Nelson (United States) -- $151,338
6th Hovan Nguyen (United States) -- $111,961
7th Balazs Botond (Hungary) -- $83,802
8th Francois Dur (France) -- $63,459
9th Jared Rosenbaum (United States) -- $48,614

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