Cards go dead for Negreanu in bid for WSOP bracelet No. 5

8 June 2009

Daniel Negreanu fell just short in his bid for a fifth bracelet late Sunday night at the World Series of Poker and the manner in which he did so left even than man they call "Kid Poker" nearly speechless.

Negreanu, who has been as busy as any player in the early stages of the 2009 WSOP, went into heads-up play of the $2,500 Six-Handed Limit Hold'em event with a slight lead over Brock "TSoprano" Parker and when he increased the lead from about a half-million chips to almost one million in the first 40 minutes of head-up play it appeared that bracelet No. 5 was well within reach.

But remember this is poker we're talking about and poker is a brutal game. Suddenly Negreanu's cards went dead. And when he did get decent cards, Parker was up to the task as he busted Negreanu's queens with Jack-Six and Negreanu's jacks with Three-Four. As time went on Negreanu seemed to be getting more and more agitated and before you knew it, Parker was in the lead. And less than an hour after Negreanu took what appeared to be a mounting lead he was eliminated when his pair of 10s was trumped by Parker's pair of aces on the final hand of the night.

When Negreanu lost the final hand and busted out, there was an audible shock in the air inside the jam-packed ESPN Featured Table. Negreanu was gracious and congratulatory towards Parker, but then exited quickly to play in the $10,000 World Championship Omaha HL/8 or Better event that was already underway. According to Negreanu's Twitter account, he was in the midst of his seventh-straight 15-hour day of poker.

"This is mentally tough," wrote Negreanu, who already has three cashes in this year's Series and two Top-10s. "[It's] not for everyone. I kinda hate it, but I kinda love pushing myself to the edge."

Negreanu, who now has three second-place WSOP finishes to his name in addition to the four bracelets, was shooting for his third Limit Hold'em title at the WSOP, which would have tied him with Phil Hellmuth in that category. But instead he had to settle for the second place check worth $138,280.

As for Parker, the 27-year-old from Maryland won his first bracelet and the $223,697 first-place prize. He isn't a household name for most poker fans, but he's well-known by the players as one of the best in the business, particularly in No Limit.

"Daniel is great as a player and a person. But a lot of people get famous because the toot their own horns," said fellow pro and WSOP bracelet winner Alex Borteh, a close friend of Brock. "People don't know Brock because he does not post on poker forums all day or draw attention to himself. He is a below-the-radar kind of guy… He's an online legend, and [this win] is well deserved."

The third-place finisher was Tommi Horkko, from Tampere, Finland. Kevin Hong of Los Angeles was fourth and followed by Barry Shulman of Las Vegas and Kyle Ray of Georgia. The $2,500 buy-in event attracted 367 entrants and created a prize pool totaling $844,100. The top 36 finishers collected prize money.

Other odds and ends from the 2009 WSOP:

  • Through the conclusion of Event #14, the 2009 WSOP has attracted 17,099 entries. More than $32 million in total prize money has been awarded.
  • Through the Mixed Event, 12 Americans have won gold bracelets. One Russian player has won. One Finnish player has won. No other nations have been represented on the gold bracelet stand. So far, this is a far cry from last year, when 16 of the 55 gold bracelet events were won by non-Americans (29 percent). This number increased to 19 of 59 events (32 percent), including the four gold bracelet tournaments played at WSOP-Europe.
  • All U.S. 50 states have had at least one entrant into this year's WSOP. All ten Canadian provinces have had at least one entrant into this year's WSOP.
  • International players (non-Americans) make up about 15 percent of the field, in events played so far. Note that this number is expected to grow higher when the Main Event is played next month, which attracts an even greater number of international visitors. It's important to remember that last year, one international visitor named Peter Eastgate came to the WSOP and won the world title and $9,152,416.

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