Event #38 at the World Series of Poker – the $2 000 buy-in Limit Hold'em competition – has passed into the history book after a spirited two hour heads up out of all proportion to the disparate chip stacks of the final two players.
The 446-strong entry field generated a prize pool of $811 720 and included names like Barry Greenstein, Maria Ho, Noah Boeken, Erick Lindgren, Maya Gellar, Eric Froehlich, David Plastik, Berry Johnston, Victor Ramdin, Michael Mizrachi, Daniel Webb, J.J. Liu, Marcel Luske, Shannon Elizabeth, Dragan Galic, Rob Hollink, Lex Veldhuis, Michiel Brummelhuis, Brock Parker, Matt Hawrilenko, J.C. Tran and John Phan.
The limit specialist from Holland, Marc Naalden nailed this one down and pretty much dominated the event….but he still needed two hours of heads up action to eliminate plucky Steven Cowley despite an overwhelming 2 million chip lead going into the heads up.
The final table comprised Naalden in the lead on 755 000, followed by Alex Keating (464 000), Danny Qutami (323 000), Steve Cowley (322 000), Rep Porter (287 000), Tommy Hang (202 000), Jameson Painter (205 000), Jared O'Dell (189 000) and Ian Johns (113 000).
By the time the final table was down to seven players Naalden owned half the chips on the table and continued to dominate play, taking out one opponent after another to the delight of a crowd of Dutch supporters yelling "lekker, lekker" (nice, nice). And as he zeroed in on the heads up, several big Dutch names in the game joined the supporters, perhaps conscious that only the second WSOP bracelet ever was about to go to the Netherlands.
The departure of Ian Johns in 3rd place for a $77 576 payday late on Sunday evening set the scene for a heads up between Naalden and American pro Steven Cowley of Richmond, Virginia, who has 8 cashes in a career that had at that point earned him $65 000. The Dutchman held a massive almost 2 million chip lead, but it still took him a good two hours to send Clowley to the exit.
Naalden, a former options trader who took up poker professionally in 2005 and has played over 60 WSOP events, claimed his first winner's bracelet and the $190 770 main prize, leaving the second place honours to Cowley and a paycheck of $117 902.
Both players had already achieved low-value cashes in this year's WSOP, but these rewards were the ones boosting the return on investment for both.