Red Army 1 – Barmy Army 0 – After the crazy scenes at the end of Day 3 of the $2,500 NLHE Championship (Event 36), organisers at the WSOP where hoping for a quieter afternoon as the remaining five players – including UK poker player and event chip leader Tom Middleton – sat down to conclude the “battle for the bracelet” and first prize of $749,610. However it was not to be and, amid an atmosphere described by one observing poker professional as reminiscent of the film “Animal House”, the fantastic British support again made everybody at the Rio Suites and Casino well aware of their presence.
The early exchanges across the felt were relatively subdued in relation to the brutal poker play that had taken place on the previous evening. Eddy Sabat was the first to depart, after losing a big hand to Thomas Miller and then being rolled over by Tom Middleton for his remaining chips. Sabat was quickly followed by Miller himself, as his AJ failed to connect against Mikhail Lakhitov´s pocket queens. This gave Lakhitov a commanding chip advantage, and when Tom Middleton attempted to take a chunk of it with his pocket tens, he caught a cold against Lakhitov´s AK which found a King on the flop.
Tom collected a substantial prize of $305,015 for finishing third, and the Russian had temporarily quietened the chants of the Barmy Army. With a 10:1 chip advantage over Hasan Babajane, it did not take long for Lakhitov to wrap up proceedings, take the title, his first WSOP Bracelet, his fifth WSOP Cash this series and displace Phil Hellmuth at the top of the WSOP Player of the Year rankings.
In a post-tournament interview, the new Champion spoke of how he had learned to play poker while serving in the Russian army and that, although cashing in a WSOP event in 2010, was not aware until recently that gold bracelets were given to winners. He plans to present his to Mrs Lakhitov on his return to Moscow.
No Horsing Around From Fabrice
In the $10,000 HORSE Championship (Event 37) it was eighth time lucky for French poker pro, Fabrice Soulier, who has cashed in a WSOP event every year since 2004, but has never been able to overcome a final table hoodoo – until now. The ex-film director is one of the most successful European circuit poker players and can regularly be found in Paris´s famous Aviation Club.
Taking only four hands to dispose of Heads Up opponent, Shawn Buchanan, and claim the $609,130 first prize, Fabrice admitted that winning the Championship was a very emotional moment for him and he had to fight back the tears when he realised that he had won. He thanked the many thousands of French well wishers who had left him good luck messages on Facebook and the strong French support that followed his achievement from the rail.