Duthie vs. Wolpert in WSOP Heads-Up finals

John Duthie
EPT boss John Duthie goes head-to-head for his first WSOP bracelet on Tuesday.

John Duthie will play heads-up for his first World Series of Poker bracelet on Tuesday.

The Team PokerStars Pro pro is in the final round of the WSOP's $10,000 Heads-Up No Limit Hold'em World Championship event after a grueling Day 3 at the Rio.

The European Poker Tour founder defeated Steve O'Dwyer and Nathan Doudney to claim a berth in the finals, where he'll face poker pro-turned-law student Leo Wolpert.

"I'm elated, just elated," Duthie told PokerListings.com. "I feel that heads-up is among my strongest games and I had my eye on this tournament from the beginning.

"I've been very focused and I'm looking forward to tomorrow, however it turns out."

In what was supposed to be the tournament's final day, many of the playdown matches went marathon lengths, prompting organizers to add an extra day to the schedule, with the best two-of-three championship slated for Tuesday at noon.

Duthie, however, disposed of his rivals with relative speed, leaping out to an early lead in both matches and wasting little time in closing out the proceedings.

Leo Wolpert
Leo Wolpert

"I built up a pretty commanding lead against Nathan and my strategy was to not double him up, and to make sure I had him crushed if and when all of the money got in," Duthie said.

The plan worked. After building up a 3:1 chip lead, Duthie got Doudney to ship all-in with A-J against his pocket queens and faded the three-outer to clinch the match.

"Nathan played great," said Duthie. "He wasn't as aggressive as my previous opponents, but that's probably normal. Everyone wants to make the finals at this stage."

Compared to Duthie's relatively painless path, Wolpert's road to the final round was a marathon slog.

After disposing of Dustin "Neverwin" Woolf by miraculous resuck in the Elite Eight (77 v. 66 all-in preflop with the board coming Q-6-5-8-4), Wolpert had to face Jamin Stokes in the Final Four.

Stokes had defeated defending runner-up Alec Torelli in a hard-fought battle on Sunday and took on Johnny Chan in another epic match on Monday.

After spending four hours with Chan, Stokes found himself facing down another determined opponent in Wolpert.

Jamin A. Stokes
He be Jamin!

The two players battled for another four hours, trading the lead multiple times before Wolpert finally claimed the match when his A J held up against Stokes' Q 9 all-in on an 8 6 3 flop.

"Jamin played really well," said Wolpert. "I think he went a bit card dead and I could see him getting frustrated that he had to keep folding.

"He kept getting 8-3 and 8-4; if he had been playing blackjack he would have crushed!"

Even though both Final Four matches were played on the WSOP final table, Wolpert said he didn't have any opportunity to scout his future opponent while facing down Stokes.

"I was pretty focused on Jamin," he said. "He was more than enough of an awesome player to demand my attention."

Earlier in the evening, Duthie confessed he knew little of either Wolpert or Stokes.

"The only thing I know about them is that I want to kill them - whoever gets through!" he said.

Stokes and Doudney took $214,289 for their efforts while Duthie and Wolpert are guaranteed at least $386,636.

First prize in the Heads-Up Championship is $625,682.

PokerListings.com will have live updates from Tuesday's final table. Check out the 2009 WSOP section for full details.

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