Grant Hinkle, who may very well be a damn good player as well, certainly taught us that. After a marathon Day 2 of the record-breaking donkament that was Event 2, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em, and a final that went deep into the wee hours of the morning today as well, Hinkle found one of the sickest and luckiest of ways to defeat James Akenhead heads-up for the bracelet and $831,279 first-place prize.
Brother to Blair Hinkle, who's been tearing up the WPT lately, Grant got it in bad, flopped a boat, turned quads and luckboxed his way into a place in WSOP history just before 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.
It was no surprise that with this unprecedented field it took until after 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to get down to the final 18. And although the plan was to play down to the final nine, that was quickly scrapped in favor of getting some sleep and coming back later in the day to play down from 18 to a winner.
Once they got it down to a manageable 10, the wise decision was made to forgo the TV-table bubble and avoid further delay. But a two-hour delay still ensued before the final 10 appeared in front of the ESPN cameras.
British pro Akenhead, a member of the Hit Squad, came in with close to $2 million in chips and a slight lead over Aaron Coulthard ($1,510,000), Theo Tran ($1,420,000) and Mike Ngo ($1,375,000).
The next tier included Melvin Jones ($1,280,000), Chris "Jesus" Ferguson ($1,235,000), Jeff Wiedenhoeft ($880,000), and Joe Rutledge ($785,000) with Hinkle ($680,000) and David Bach ($675,000) the short stacks.
As usual it didn't take long for the action to heat up. Wiedenhoeft was the first to go, running K-To into Ngo's A♥ T♠ on a flop full of hearts. Ace-high would have been good enough, but Ngo also managed to turn an ace and send Wiedenhoeft to the rail in 10th ($52,021).
Rutledge exited ninth ($83,127) when Jesus spiked an ace against his pocket sixes and David Bach grabbed $117,987 for eighth when his double belly buster didn't come through against Tran's second pair.
At this point Jones needed to double and figured Q♠ T♠ was as good as he would find to do it with. He headed to the cage to grab $158,211 for seventh when Theo Tran woke up with aces, made the easy call and could not be cracked.
Hinkle then took care of a short-stacked Aaron Coulthard when his A-K beat Coulthard's dominated K-J without much drama. Coulthard took $211,841 for sixth.
It was time for Ngo to N-go next when he got it in with a dominant hand against a defiant Grant Hinkle. A-J bested A-K this time and Ngo was railed fifth, cashing $268,154.
The action got really serious at this point as a huge hand played out with crowd favorite Ferguson getting Theo Tran all-in with eights versus Tran's big slick. Theo turned a king to stay alive and entomb Jesus, but he soon arose from the dead and it was actually Tran who went out fourth.
By now Hinkle had built himself a nice chip lead and found a full house to send Tran home wondering why he couldn't get away from top pair. A $327,148 payday should ease his pain a bit.
With play three-handed, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson was clearly the crowd's pet, but after losing a big pot with a gut-shot/flush draw combo against Akenhead's slow-played pocket aces, he shipped it with K-T and disappointed the masses by not sucking out against Akenhead's A-T.
Going into heads-up, Hinkle held the lead with $7,595,000 to Akenhead's $4,235,000 and the marathon ensued. They played for more than four hours before Akenhead fought back to take the lead, however short-lived it was.
Hinkle got up by a slight margin, then shoved over the top of an Akenhead reraise, only to see the Brit snap-call. It was T♦ 4♦ for Hinkle against A♣ K♥ for Akenhead, but the flop changed everybody's perception of the hand rather quickly.
The T♥ 4♥ T♠ flop came down and the crowd around the ESPN stage gasped, as Hinkle had flopped a boat. It got even nuttier on the turn as the 10♣ gave the American quads. While Hinkle was delighted by his luck and mobbed by family and friends, a shell-shocked Akenhead headed to the cage to grab $520,219 for second.
Two more final tables were set today, the first being in Event 3, $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em. When things get cooking around 2 p.m. tomorrow in this one, WPT Season 5 Mandalay Bay champ Joe Tehan will come in with a lead over WPT Season 5 Los Angeles Poker Classic runner-up Jacobo Fernandez.
Full Tilt pro David Singer headlines the list of seven other competitors which includes Robert Lipkin, Russell Harriman, Al Barbieri, Gregory Alston, Zachary King and Glen Bean. But it's the other final table that's the real bonus. The $5,000 Mixed Hold'em event will see a final nine rivaled perhaps only by Event 1's stellar lineup.
David "Chino" Rheem will come in with the chip lead looking to get the bracelet he just missed in 2006 finishing second in a $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event, but there's a table full of top-flight pros waiting to pick him off.
No less than David Williams, Justin Bonomo, Erick Lindgren, Howard Lederer, Roland De Wolfe, Andrew Robl, Isaac Haxton and Pat Pezzin will be joining Rheem when the final table begins at 3 p.m. local time.
Day 2 of both Event 5, $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em w/Rebuys, and Event 6, $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight-or-Better, will go off tomorrow as well. There were 106 players who survived the madness of the rebuy to get to Day 2 and Amit Makhija, who already made one final table here in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em, went to bed Wednesday morning with the chip lead.
Across the room in the Omaha/Eight event, 214 players will come back Wednesday all chasing James Van Alstyne. However, Scott Clements, Jimmy "Goboboy" Fricke, and Robert Mizrachi are all in the top 10.
With the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em event and the $10k Mixed Event set to start tomorrow, it should be a day chock-full o' fun in the Amazon Room and your best bet, as always, is to stick with PL.com throughout. We aim to please!