At the World Series of Poker’s Main Event, Thursday morning brought a case of going big and going home, as three players went all-in for a chance to play at the final table. Near-certainty evaporated to desperation and loss in just a matter of moments. Here’s how it all went down.
Playing for high stakes
This year’s World Series of Poker Main Event featured 7,875 entrants who paid a $10,000 entry fee to vie for an $8.8 million first prize. After seven days of play, the Main Event whittled down to just 10 players vying for one of nine seats at the final table, and thus the chance to win that sweet prize and the coveted WSOP bracelet.
Nicolas Manion opened the decisive hand by betting 1.5 million in chips, and it was easy to see why: he’d been dealt pocket aces. Antoine Labat called, and showed a pair of Kings. But then came Rich Zhu, also with a pair of Kings, and he pushed all-in, risking his entire stack and his tournament fate.
Aces or Kings show up in pairs once every 110 hands, so the odds of all three showing up in one hand are astronomical. But Manion decided he had the goods to take out Zhu, so he too went all-in. And then came the crucial moment: Labat deciding whether to risk most of his stack on a pair of Kings.
In a decision that’s up for heavy debate, Labat too went all-in, setting up a three-way showdown for the final seat with more than 76 million chips on the table. Going into the flop, Manion held a 96 percent chance of winning the pot … not certain, but pretty close.
Here’s video of what happened next:
— Poker Central (@PokerCentral) July 12, 2018
The final hand
The flop came 7-Jack-4, and that was enough to bounce Zhu, who couldn’t get the cards he needed for a flush or a straight. Labat had an outside chance at a flush, but that vanished with the turn card, a three of spades. (Labat couldn’t get a third King to beat Manion’s pair, of course, because the other two Kings were in Zhu’s hand.)
So Zhu gets the unwanted notoriety of being the last player eliminated before the final table. He’ll go home with a nice little $850,025 payout. But the ninth-place finisher is guaranteed a million dollars, as well as a shot at that $8.8 million first prize.
Labat, meanwhile, goes into the final table with by far the lowest chip total, and Manion is the chip leader. The final table starts Thursday evening, and the effects of this incredible, gut-wrenching table will loom large.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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