$10k Stud H/L - Kassela Reigns Supreme!

The studliest!
The studliest!

It's ovarrr! Tennessean, Frank Kassela proved he had what it takes to rule the WSOP $10,000 Seven Card Stud H/L Championship. It has been a long and brutal battle but after days of playing he was the last man person standing.

Jennifer Harman Out In Third

Even though she was low on chips, Jennifer Harman still had an excellent chance at a comeback. Her husband Marco Traniello and several other friends were in attendance offering some moral support.

Unfortunately, as we all know, there is some luck in poker, and hers ran out.

Harman had been whittled down to 700,000 when she messed with the Chainsaw and got hurt. To make a long story short, Harman got in for the last of her chips on fifth street in a spot where her low was drawing dead against Allen Kessler's 7-5 and she had no high. Kessler made a pair of fours on seventh and Harman caught total air.

An observer told PL.com that on her way out, she threw a water bottle at a chair and was heard saying that she had 'misplayed the hand and is going to be thinking about it a long time.'

Heads Up

With Harman out of there, there was one thing for certain: one of the two remaining would be winning their first WSOP bracelet.

The heads up match started with Frank Kassela having about 4 million to Allen Kessler's 1 million. Despite a few hiccups, it was pretty much smooth sailing from then on for Frank Kassela.

Kessler kept allowing himself to fall desperately low in chips before getting all in and either scooping or splitting.

It all seemed pretty harmless (the pots were small) but, after a little while, Kassela just wanted to get it over with.

The Last Straw

Left with just a little over 200k, Kessler decided it was go time. He looked down at T-8-9 and went for it after Kassela completed on third street. Kessler raised and then called the last of his chips when Kassela reraised.

Kassela had buried sevens but Kessler promptly nailed an eight on fourth to make a better pair. Kassela made his 'I've seen this before face' but didn't hold it for long. The dealer gave him two pair on fifth.

Kessler made two pair of his own on sixth Kassela's two pair was better and a brick on the river signaled the end of a very sad Kessler.

Tennessean, Frank Kassela won his first bracelet tonight. Not only that but he'll be getting a nice little check for $447,446.

The Chainsaw got a little payday of his own. He took down $276,485 for his second place finish. It's the biggest score of his life so far and hopefully the sign of good times to come.

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$10k Stud H/L - Juanda Out, Zolotow Follows

Soar you beautiful creature... soar high above the mountain tops
Soar you beautiful creature... soar high above the mountain tops

We're not sure if John Juanda and Steve Zolotow carpooled today or what, but both just went out in rapid fire succession.

John Gone

First up to the chopping block was John Juanda.

It was Frank Kassela that would do the dirty deed. After a series of betting, Juanda fired his last 135k on the seventh street.

Juanda had ended up making kings up but they were no match for Kassela's trip aces.

We have heard rumors that this bracelet would have meant a lot more to Juanda financially than the prize money. Like many players, Juanda seems to have some hefty bracelet bets out there that he might have been able to cash out on tonight had he gone the distance.

Much like Tom "durrrr" Dwan, close but no cigar.

The Eagle Plucked

A few minutes later it was Steve "The Bald Eagle" Zolotow's turn to take a stand against Kassela. Unfortunately, Z. didn't get the memo that Kassela is apparently unstoppable.

Zolotow was so short stacked that the betting was over on third street.

Z. had buried queens while Kassela had a split pair of nines. Zolotow stayed in the lead until sixth street when a thunderous third nine was tossed to Kassela to give him trips.

The dealer dealt the seventh card face down.

"He needs a queen," someone said. Indeed he did.

Zolotow's hand were busy buried deep in his pockets.

"Somebody turn it up," he said.

"Want me to do it?" asked Kassela.

Z. nodded and Kassela obliged by flipping over a paint, that for one second might have looked like a queen, but it was instead the J.

Zolotow's spirits had been up all day but he walked away deflated with his head down, hands welded to his pockets to collect his $125,379.

And Then There Were Three

Frank Kassela had a productive hour. He now is sitting on a stack of nearly 3 million chips. He seems to be running away with it.

He looked over Harman's stack of 700k or so. Harman noticed.

"You're not getting rid of me yet," Harman said with a smile.

"You're all the charm and personality at the table, we don't wanna get rid of you," Kassela replied convincingly.

We might have believed  him too except, who would you rather play heads up for a bracelet, Jennifer Harman (a player who has held her own against the best for years) or, Allen Kessler?

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$10k Stud H/L - The Crowd Goes Wild!

Please calm down sir.
Please calm down sir.

The same five players are hanging tough. For now, it's Kassela who is king of the hill. His 1.8 million is double that of the stacks of Allen Kessler, Jennifer Harman, and Steve Zolotow.

John Juanda gets crowned chimp chump of the hour. His 450,000 stack is looking pretty sad compared to the others.

Harman Down and Back Up

Harman had some Kessler related problems that caused her stack to plummet when Chainsaw nailed two pair and an 8-7 which proved unbeatable.

Luckily for her, it wasn't long before she was back to stacking chips.

She was heads up with John Juanda and after some light betting, the two decided to check it down after fifth street.

Harman pretty much surprised everyone when she turned over trip sevens and an 8-7 low.

Someone on the rail made a comment about how shocking it was that she chose not to bet any of her remaining 200,000.

"Hey, we're playing pretty big here," she said with a smile.

It seems like only the rail was surprised. Juanda had been showing 6 4 3 9 - a scary board for sure.

"She had to check there, there are so many ways she could have been scooped," Frank Kassela told PL.com.

"Plus if she checks there, she might get someone who would have folded a worse hand to a bet think they're good and put a bet in themselves," added Steve Zolotow.

Well played.

Kassela v. Kessler

Right before the break, Frank Kassela and Allen Kessler went at it.

By the end, Kassela had three aces up while Kessler was showing 3 A J 4. The dealer dealt out seventh and Kassela check called.

"I have a wheel," said Kessler confidently.

The wheel was good for the low, but Kassela's aces full of sevens meant that it was a split pot.

Kessler looked exasperated as he clutched his head.

Yuval Bronshtein is in attendance (he says he just finished a solid 28 hour session of Chinese Poker - and won a bundle) and he came over to Kessler.

"C'mon, the guy has three aces on his board and you wanna scoop?" he asked.

Kessler mumbled something about his luck as the rest of the table headed off to take a break.

60,000/120,000 with a 15,000 ante.

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$10k Stud H/L - Still Five Handed

Recipient of Harman spanking.
Recipient of Harman spanking.

Some of the players are starting to look a little fatigued. The same five players that were here last update are still hanging in with nobody willing to throw in the towel...yet.

"I'm so tired, I've been playing for like 12 hours," Allen Kessler said as an explanation for why he's not all smiles.

"I need to get the blood flowing," said Frank Kassela as he stood up and walked around for a bit between hands.

The announcer who has been working hard calling out all the cards and bets has the opposite problem. As the dealer shuffles the deck, he shuffles over and takes a seat. Fifteen seconds of rest might not seem like much but it's better than nothing.

Out of Control Crowd

We have noticed that it's not just the players that look tired.

The crowd watching is running out of steam as well. While most tournament audiences are chock full of drunk twenty somethings, this crowd looks - different.

Look, we're not saying they're old. We're just saying that maybe some of them remember the time before internet... some of them might even remember when a computer couldn't fit in a two car garage.

Nevertheless they are there to witness the action and only three have fallen asleep (we're not joking here).

Harman Back On Top

As for the actual game play, the same five players are still here. Harman had given up the chip lead to Frank Kassela, but only for a little bit.

Juanda and Harman tangoed in a big pot that left Juanda feeling a little stung. He had been firing until sixth street when, all of a sudden Harman raised it.

Harman: 5 T 6 7

Juanda: T 8 3 J

Juanda made the call and did so once again when Harman fired on seventh.

Harman flipped her hand over.

"Ace high flush with a six-seven low," said the dealer.

The crowd, temporarily aroused by the hand, ooh'd and ahh'd. Juanda mucked and the monster pile of chips was pushed to Harman.

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$10k Stud H/L - Rollercoaster of Stud

On the uspwong (yes it's supposed to be an 'o')
On the uspwong (yes it's supposed to be an 'o')

We've seen players with decimated stacks battle back from the murky deep many times this tournament. This past level, Steve Zolotow did just that. He was down to less than 200,000 a few minutes later as he headed to break he had over 1.2 million.

Allen Kessler had over a million but is on a downswing of his own and he's letting everyone know it. Down to 300,000 he was thinking out loud about how lousy his luck has been.

"I lose all the hands I should win," he lamented.

"Maybe I should start folding kings and jacks," he said, still not finding any sympathy from his tablemates. He should know better than anybody that anything is possible in this crazy game.

Kirill Drilled

The Russian contingent will have to wait until the next one. Kirill Rabstov was doing well but it all fell apart. Allen Kessler did most of the dirty work by nailing a full house on seventh against Kirill's aces and eights.

After that it was Kassela who stepped in for the finishing blow.

Kassela and Rabstov were all in by fourth and it was show time. Rabstov had a flush draw and nailed it on seventh. Kassela, who had two pair kings and eights, needed an eight or king to drag the pot and eliminate the Russian. Kassela picked up the card and flipped over the K!

The full house was the final nail in the Russian's coffin. Kirill will cash a check for $78,142 for his efforts.

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$10k Stud H/L - Lucky Seven


We're moving on at a steady clip with two more players being axed during the first level back from dinner.

Jennifer Harman fans rejoice! She's sitting pretty in the top spot with a cool 1.3 million. She has Steve Zolotow partly to thank for her good fortune.

Dario Minieri Out

Dario Minieri barely had a chance to become comfortable when it was time for him to go.

After losing the bulk of his chips to Vladimir Schmelev, Minieri got all in on third street with: A 6 7. Allen Kessler had the A 3 3.

The dealer began to deal out the boards. He accidentally dealt Kessler the first card which was the A when it should have gone to Minieri.

Table captain Steve Zolotow stopped him in his tracks and the card moved over to Minieri's side of the table. Despite hitting a pair of aces right off the bat and picking up a low draw it was Kessler who would hit two pair and Minieri who would miss half the deck.

"Wow," said the awestruck floor man into the microphone, obviously surprised that Minieri couldn't find some help.

Dario was the first elimination from the final table. He took home $52,366.

Schmelev 0-3 In Bracelet Wins

Vladimir Schmelev was the next to go.

Schmelev has surprised everyone by showing up and playing three big buy in tournaments ($50k HORSE, $10k Seven Stud, $10k Seven Stud H/L) and final tabling all of them!

He appeared from thin air this year and is definitely getting noticed, though after three near hits he might be rapidly developing the reputation of someone who can't seal the deal.

Schmelev made jacks and nines by the end but Frank Kassela had made trip tens.

Despite coming up short yet again, Schmelev smiled and shook every single player's hand before heading off to collect his $63,457.

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$10k Stud H/L - Dinnarrr!

As excited as ever.
As excited as ever.

Although there were 18 minutes left on the clock, the players decided to take their dinner break early.

Benson Busted

Gary Benson had just been eliminated in ninth place which meant that they were down to eight players - the official final table.

Benson had gotten all in on a three way hand against Allen Kessler and Frank Kassela. Benson showed his queens and tens but Kassela turned over kings up. Benson looked down at his seventh card and gave it a good squeeze - the 3. Benson picked up his jacket from the back of his chair and quietly put it on before bidding everyone a farewell.

Final Table

As expected by the turnout of well known names, we have quite a sick final table going here. We've got Jennifer Harman and Steve Zolotow looking for WSOP bracelet number three, John Juanda looking for his fifth, and Dario Minieri in the hunt for number two.

Vladimir Schmelev that is rocking this year's WSOP. This will be his third final table so far.

Frank Kassela is a real class act and he went on a surge during the last level to pump his stack up back to nearly half a million after being down to the 200,000 mark.

And let's not forget Allen Kessler. He's here too looking as excited as ever.

Here's a look at the chip counts:

Kirill Rabtsov   882,000

Jennifer Harman   861,000

Frank Kassela   800,000

John Juanda   787,000

Steve Zolotow   684,000

Allen Kessler   467,000

Dario Minieri   316,000

Vladimir Schmelev   304,000

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$10k Stud H/L - Final Table... Kind Of

Master of the sarcasmz.
Master of the sarcasmz.

Just like that we're down to nine. Players dropped like flies during the last level. They went from thirteen players all the way down to nine.

The players are busy consolidating to a the stadium table though the 'official' final table won't begin until they shake one more player.

It'll Be An Early Night Right?

You guys and girls might be reading along thinking "wow, this is going really fast, it'll be over in a flash!"

Guess again. Last year the tournament took over thirteen hours to play down to a winner - and they started at nine. It's 7:15pm PST at the moment. If the tournament finishes as 'quickly' as it did last year, we'll be here observing until 10am tomorrow morning.

It suffices to say, we're thrilled, we just wonder if our hearts can take the excitement.

Marco Johnson Gone... Son

Marco Johnson was the first to go during the last level. He went out lucky number thirteen.

We're pretty sure he headed straight from here to the $5,000 No Limit Hold-em that is currently raging in the Pavilion Room.

Alessio Down

Alessio Isaia was next to go. He was busted by Steve Zolotow when he missed his wheel draw against Z's two pair.


After Isaia, it was Sergey Altbregin's turn to go. He was heads up with John Juanda. By sixth Juanda had made aces and kings to outrun Altbregin's pair of aces.

"He's drawing dead," someone said.

"No he can catch the last king, he has queen kicker," Juanda said. He was right; Altbregin had a pair of aces with a king as well as a queen that would outkick Juanda.

Unfortunately for the Russian the last king would not come and his tournament was over right there.

From The Felt

"I want to play with Dario. I want to learn it all. I want to learn all his tricks."

- John Juanda to Dario Minieri inbetween hands.


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$10k Stud H/L - Harman On Tear, Kessler is Lucky

Already in for more than a min-cash.
Already in for more than a min-cash.

Summer of George Cut Short

Chris George just missed getting to the break. He was hanging by a thread for much of the last hour and finally succumbed in a hand against Dario Minieri. They got it all in by fourth street. Minieri turned over trip queens while George needed to catch two cards to make a low or running cards to make a straight.

A couple of bricks later George was off to collect his money.

Harman Making a Move

Jennifer Harman looks harmless, but don't let looks fool you.

Last night she was down to less than 90k but now she's sitting on over 760,000. She's played in the big mixed games over at the Bellagio for years and her experience is shining through.

She beat Steve Zolotow and Alessio Isaia with two pair and a few minutes later was seen rocking Steve Zolotow for another couple hundred thousand.


Frank Kassela played a heads up pot against John Juanda. Frank had 4 2 A 9 while J.J. was showing K-J-4-Q.

Frank had been leading the whole way and didn't slow down after getting his seventh card. Juando thought for a bit before slipping in the call.

"Ahhhh, I didn't even look at it," said Frank, indicating he needed to catch something. He turned over just a pair of fours and a busted low draw.

"I didn't even look either, I just called," replied John J.J. and turned over A-K-T having caught a ten to make broadway.

"You don't even have low," Juanda continued.

"Yeah, you scoop. Nice hand. Yikes," Kassela said a little shocked that Juanda had gotten to seventh with just a pair of kings against his incredibly scary board.


Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler has been adamant about not busting out of this tournament. He was down to around 40,000 and all in against Frank Kassela.

Kessler had a pair of kings. While Kassela was working on a low draw. By sixth Kassela made a low as well as a pair of sevens. The dealer threw Kassela a deuce on seventh to make him two pair.

"What does he have?" Kessler asked.

"Got a seven low and two pair. Got a scoop right now," Kassela replied.

Kessler, looking quite miserable, picked up his downcard and flipped over a five to make two pair. It was a chop, but Chainsaw was still alive.

 A few minutes later he was all in again, only this time he was up against three opponents and they were all betting - heavily.

Kessler refused to watch what was going on as his opponent bet at each other. At the end, George Lind bet and Frank Kassela called while John Juanda folded.

Kassela turned over two pair, queens up while Lind turned up an eight low.

Kessler, whose board was 2-K-8-4 who was looking particular miserable, picked up his three cards and spread them out face up - it was A-3-5.

"Wheel!" Kessler exclaimed.

"Wow, you caught the last five," Kassela said.

Indeed the three other fives were out.

"A one outer," Kessler said.

The dealer pushed Kessler the main pot and, just like that, Kessler was back to nearly 300,000.

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$10k Stud H/L - Two More Down!

Better luck next time.
Better luck next time.

Two more players went down in the last fifteen minutes and another is on life support. Toto Leonidas and Blair Rodman headed for zee hills while Chris George, who has already been all in a couple of times, is looking for his next spot.

There's No Place Like Home, and that's Where Leonidas is Going

Toto Leonidas was flushed by Sergey Altbregin after his two pair was bested by Altbregin's hearts. Toto had a low draw as well but a brick on seventh street sent him on his way.

Penny Poker

"When is the next pay jump," asked Steve Zolotow.

"One more player and we make the jump," replied the floor man.

"Well, if it goes up it must be literally pennies, it's like nothing," he speculated.

Well, it is pennies. It's precisely 421,900 of them.  

"About four thousand dollars," the floor man told Steve.

"Yeah, see nothing," Zolotow replied before thinking about for it a minute, "I guess you have to be pretty sick to say that four thousand is nothing."


Blair Witch'd

Blair Rodman seemed like he was on track to make it to the final table but just a few bad hands and he was fighting for his life.

He made his stand against Kirill Rabstov. Rabstov had rolled up fours that never improved while Rodman had a gutshot broadway draw as well as a pair of aces by sixth. He flipped over his final down card to reveal a harmless (for Rabstov) ten.

Chip Counts

Kirill Rabstov   795,000

Frank Kassela   675,000

Steve Zolotow   580,000

Jennifer Harman   560,000

John Juanda   435,000

Vladimir Schmelev   380,000

Dario Minieri   340,000

George Lind   300,000

Gary Benson   280,000

Alessio Isaia   275,000


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$10k Stud H/L - It's Money Time

Early departure.
Early departure.

Well, we're off to a quicker start than expected. Just halfway through the first level of the day and we're officially in the money!

Leaving On a Jett Plane

Chip Jett's performance astonished everybody including Chip. He started the day with nearly a quarter of a million in chips but it wasn't enough.

After losing a couple of pots, he was on the ropes. Then he got all in against Kirill Rabtsov on fifth.

Jett had trip sixes and a low draw. Amazingly, his opponent had trip sevens which then improved to a full house on sixth. Jett needed to catch any of a myriad of low cards in order to stay alive. He picked it up and flipped over his seventh card - the K. No good!

Chip slammed the card on the table picked up his things and practically ran out of the door, clearly steamed.

"Wow, Chip just busted, how does he bust with a quarter million on the bubble," a dumbfounded Frank Kassela wondered.

Juanda Has Wheel... Good for High and Low... Earthy Tones...Smooth Draw

Blair Rodman and John Juanda just played out a sizeable pot. Juanda had an A K 5 J showing while Rodman was showing 4 2 A 9 up. Rodman fired and Juanda checked his hole cards several times before announcing raise.

Rodman made the call and Juanda turned over the perfect hole cards - 2,3,4 for a wheel.

"Wow, nice hand. Two outs," Rodman said.

Dovzhenko = Official Bubble Boy

Alexander Dovzhenko was down to just 30,000 or, one big bet. Christopher George asked him for a count.

"Ok, I raise, I'll put you all in," he said.

It folded over to Dovzhenko who happily called and turned over buried queens with an ace.

George had a good starting hand of his own with the 5 2 3. The dealer began to deal the cards. George made a pair of kings by fifth to give him the lead. To add insult to injury, George had made two pair on seventh.

Dovzhenko, who needed an ace or a queen to make trips flipped over a harmless 3.

Just like that, we're down to 16 and in the moneyz!

The office will print checks starting at $28,221 and the money is going to just get bigger from there.

15,000/30,000 with a 3,000 ante.

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$10k Stud H/L - Buckle Up!

Ready for action.
Ready for action.

Fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen it's going to be a long one.

Day three of the $10,000 Seven Card Stud H/L is about to begin and it's going to be a doozy. There are eighteen players left and they must play to a winner tonight. With all the pot choppage we're virtually guaranteed to be in for at least a dozen hours of studly goodness.

Frank Kassela went on a late night rush last night and ended up building his stack to over 500k.

He's in a good spot right now, but the levels are reaching astronomical heights. They're going to start at 15,000/30,000 with a 4,000 ante so even Kassela who has the chiplead has a bit less than 17 big bets.

The cards about to go in the air. Get that pot of coffee going and make sure you keep it glued to PL.com, your best choice in Seven Card Stud Hi Low Split Championship coverage.

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Event Name Event 15 - $10k Seven-Card Stud Championship
Venue Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
Date 6 June 2010
Final Day 8 June 2010
Buy In $10,000
Entrants 170
Prize Pool $1,598,000
First Prize $447,446

Frank Kassela

Event 15 - $10k Seven-Card Stud Championship

Top Money Finishers Prize
1. Frank Kassela $447,446
2. Allen Kessler $276,485
3. Jennifer Harman $173,159
4. Steve Zolotow $125,379
5. John Juanda $97,989
6. Kirill Rabtsov $78,142
7. Vladimir Schmelev $63,456
8. Dario Minieri $52,366
9. Gary Benson $43,833
10. George Lind $43,833