Matthew Ashton Wins the $50K Poker Players Championship

The Poker Players Champion: Matthew Ashton
The Poker Players Champion: Matthew Ashton

The heads-up match between Matthew Ashton and Don Nguyen lasted just seven hands.

Ashton began heads-up play with a nearly 7-to-1 chip lead, and Nguyen was never really able to make a dent in it.

The game switched to Limit Hold'em, and that's where it would end.

The final hand played out over a board of 10 7 3 9 Q, and Nguyen put his final chips into the pot on the river with 10 6 for a pair of tens.

But it was no good, as Ashton flipped over K 10 to win the pot -- and the second-most coveted WSOP bracelet -- with a pair of tens and a king kicker.

Don Nguyen finished as the runner-up, the second time he has finished second in a bracelet event this summer. (He also finished second in Event #16, $10K Heads-Up NLHE.)

Matthew Ashton also had a second-place finish this summer (Event #13), and a third (Event #5). But not tonight.

Don Nguyen
Runner-up Don Nguyen earned $1,096,254

Tonight, Ashton won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, the tournament designed for the best players in the world to prove themselves at high stakes. The winner of this event is recognized as one of the best all-around poker players in the world.

Ashton's name will be engraved on the Chip Reese Trophy, putting him alongside previous champions Chip Reese, Freddy Deeb, Scotty Nguyen, David Bach, Michael Mizrachi (who won it twice), and Brian Rast.

Congratulations to the 2013 WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Champion, Matthew Ashton!

1st:  Matthew Ashton  -  $1,774,089
2nd:  Don Nguyen  -  $1,096,254
3rd:  John Hennigan  -  $686,568
4th:  David Benyamine  -  $497,122
5th:  George Danzer  -  $388,523
6th:  Minh Ly  -  $309,830
7th:  Mike Wattel  -  $251,602
8th:  Jonathan Duhamel  -  $207,630

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$50K: Hennigan Out in 3rd; Huge Lead For Ashton

John Hennigan earned $686,568 for third place.
John Hennigan earned $686,568 for third place.

With three players remaining in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, chipleader Matthew Ashton got off to a good start in Level 26.

During Omaha-8, Ashton played a pot against Don Nguyen over a board of A J 2 9 7, with Nguyen betting the flop and turn, and Ashton betting the river.

Ashton turned over A 7 5 4 to scoop the pot with two pair (aces and sevens) for the high, and a 7-5-4-2-A for the low. Nguyen mucked.

Ashton and Nguyen played another notable pot during Razz with the following boards:

Ashton:  (X-X)  2-5-J-Q  (X)
Nguyen:  (X-X)  A-K-7-5  (X)

Ashton revealed Q-7-6 to win the pot with a J-7-6-5-2, and Nguyen mucked again.

Matthew Ashton  -  16,000,000  (40 BB)
Don Nguyen  -  3,200,000  (8 BB)


Hennigan Takes Chips From Nguyen; Gives Them to Ashton

In back-to-back hands, John Hennigan would find himself all in, and it couldn't have worked out better for chipleader Ashton.

In Hand #256 (Pot-Limit Omaha), Hennigan got it all in after a flop of Q 9 9 against Nguyen, and they turned over their cards:

Nguyen:  K Q 5 2  (two pair, queens and nines)
Hennigan:  9 7 5 3  (trip nines)

The turn was the A, the river was the 8, and Hennigan won the pot with his trip nines to double up in chips.

The next hand (still PLO), Hennigan was all in again, this time against chipleader Ashton.

Hennigan completed the small blind, Ashton raised to 300,000, Hennigan reraised to 900,000, and Ashton called.

Hennigan moved all in dark before the flop of J 8 6, and Ashton called after he saw he flopped two pair with a flush draw.

Ashton:  A 8 6 3  (two pair, flush draw)
Hennigan:  Q Q 7 4  (overpair)

The turn was the 10, the river was the A, and Ashton won the pot with two pair, eights and sixes, to eliminate Hennigan in third place.

John Hennigan - Out in 3rd Place ($686,568)


Official Heads-Up Chip Counts

Ashton goes into heads-up play with a huge lead, and Nguyen has a lot of work ahead of him if he's going to pull out the upset.

Matthew Ashton  -  17,300,000  (43 BB)
Don Nguyen  -  2,500,000  (6 BB)

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$50K: John Hennigan Short With 3 Left

John Hennigan is down to just 5 big bets.
John Hennigan is down to just 5 big bets.

In the second half of Level 25, Matthew Ashton retained the lead on top of the leaderboard of the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, dropping briefly before winning a three-way pot in 2-7 Triple Draw with an 8-5-4-3-2 to bounce back.

Meanwhile, Don Nguyen bounced back from his short stack to trade places with John Hennigan, who now assumes that position.

The key pot between Don Nguyen and John Hennigan came during Seven-Card Stud.

Hennigan had the bring-in with the 2, Nguyen completed with the A, and Hennigan called. Here were their final boards:

Hennigan:  (X-X)  2 2 J 10  (X)
Nguyen:  (X-X)  A A 5 K  (X)

With both players pairing up on fourth street, they could bet double, and did. Nguyen bet 300,000, Hennigan raised to 600,000, and Nguyen called.

On fifth street, Nguyen checked, Hennigan bet 150,000, and Nguyen check-raised to 300,000. Hennigan called.

On sixth and seventh streets, Nguyen bet 300,000 and Hennigan called.

Nguyen revealed A 9 5 to win the pot with a full house, aces full of fives, and Hennigan mucked. It was a huge pot that really separated them on the leaderboard.

Don Nguyen  -  6,900,000  (23 BB)
John Hennigan  -  3,200,000  (10 BB)


A Final Table Straight Flush

A short while later, in the last hand of the level, Ashton and Nguyen were playing Omaha-8 on a board of Q 9 7 3 8, with Ashton betting each street.

Ashton turned over J J 10 5 to win the pot with a queen-high straight flush, and Nguyen mucked, apparently without a qualifying low hand.


Updated Leaderboard

Here are the official chip counts from the break, courtesy of WSOP.com, along with the number of big bets (BB) in each stack:

Seat 1.  Matthew Ashton  -  12,000,000  (30 BB)
Seat 3.  Don Nguyen  -  5,600,000  (14 BB)
Seat 7.  John Hennigan  -  2,195,000  (5 BB)

After the break, the blinds increased to 50,000-100,000 (NLHE and PLO), with limits of 200,000-400,000 (everything else).

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$50K: Matthew Ashton Takes Control w/ 3 Left

Matthew Ashton has 61% of the chips.
Matthew Ashton has 61% of the chips.

Matthew Ashton has more than doubled his chip stack so far this level, and he is the first player to control more than half of the chips in play (61%).

Ashton first started climbing during Razz, with 5-4-A-K showing against then-chipleader Don Nguyen's 7-8-5-10. They put in a bet on every street but sixth.

Ashton won the pot by revealing 9-7-2 for a 7-5-4-2-A, and Nguyen mucked.

Then Ashton won another nice pot during Pot-Limit Omaha against Nguyen.

After a flop of A Q 10, Ashton bet 270,000, and Nguyen called. The turn was the 9, Ashton bet 720,000, Nguyen min-raised to 1,440,000, and Ashton called.

The river was the J, and both players checked. Ashton showed A J 9 3 to win the pot with an ace-high flush on the turn.

That pot propelled Ashton into the lead, and knocked Nguyen down to the short stack.

Matthew Ashton  -  8,600,000  (28 BB)
Don Nguyen  -  3,200,000  (10 BB)

Don Nguyen
As good as this level has been for Ashton, it's been bad for Nguyen.

Three hands later, Ashton and John Hennigan saw a PLO flop of 9 3 3. Hennigan checked, Ashton bet 160,000, and Hennigan called.

The turn was the J, Hennigan checked, Ashton bet 480,000, and Hennigan called. The river was the 8, Hennigan checked, Ashton bet 980,000, and Hennigan called.

Ashton showed A 8 3 2 to win the pot with a full house, threes full of eights, and Hennigan mucked. It was another multi-million chip pot for Ashton to extend his lead.

Matthew Ashton  -  11,500,000  (38 BB)
John Hennigan  -  5,400,000  (18 BB)

Ashton turned a flush against Don Nguyen in the next PLO hand to increase his lead even further, and right now he has all the momentum.

On the flip side, Nguyen is getting pretty low in chips, and he will need his luck to turn around soon to have a shot at winning the Chip Reese trophy.


Updated Leaderboard

Here are the updated chip counts, courtesy of WSOP.com, along with the number of big bets (BB) in each stack:

Seat 1.  Matthew Ashton  -  12,400,000  (41 BB)
Seat 3.  Don Nguyen  -  2,400,000  (8 BB)
Seat 7.  John Hennigan  -  5,400,000  (18 BB)

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Benyamine Busts in 4th

David Benyamine - 4th Place
David Benyamine - 4th Place

David Benyamine was nearly critical in chips, but managed to claw his way back during Stud-8 in a hand against Don Nguyen that knocked the chipleader off the top of the leaderboard.

Benyamine:  (X-X)  J Q 9 6  (X)
Nguyen:  (X-X)  6 Q 7 A  (X)

Nguyen completed on third street, Benyamine raised, and Nguyen called. Benyamine bet fourth and fifth streets, and Nguyen bet sixth street with his ace showing. Both players checked on seventh street.

Benyamine revealed J 7 X to win the pot with nothing more than a pair of jacks, and Nguyen mucked, unable to beat it and apparently unable to make a valid low.

David Benyamine  -  3,000,000  (12 BB)
Don Nguyen  -  5,700,000  (23 BB)

Unfortunately for Benyamine, his positive momentum didn't last long.

Nguyen won some of it back during 2-7 Triple Draw, beating Benyamine with a Q-8-6-5-4 to knock Benyamine down to 2.1 million.

Benyamine dropped back down to 1.2 million during No-Limit Hold'em after folding to Matthew Ashton on the turn with the board showing K 6 4 Q.


David Benyamine Out in 4th Place ($497,122)

The end for Benyamine came in Seven-Card Stud. Don Nguyen had the bring-in with the 2, Benyamine completed with the J, and Nguyen called.

Here were their boards:

Nguyen:  (X-X) 2 Q 7 2
Benyamine:  (X-X) J 4 5 X

Benyamine got it all in on sixth street, but it was over as soon as Nguyen revealed 7 2 in the hole for a full house, deuces full of sevens.

Benyamine didn't even show his hole cards, claiming he was drawing dead, and mucked his hand as soon as Nguyen was dealt the J to complete the hand.

Don Nguyen shot up to 9 million in chips while Benyamine was eliminated in fourth place.

Don Nguyen  -  9,000,000  (37 BB)
David Benyamine  -  Out in 4th Place  ($497,122)


Updated Leaderboard

Here are the official chip counts from the break, courtesy of WSOP.com, along with the number of big bets (BB) in each stack:

Seat 1.  Matthew Ashton  -  5,760,000  (19 BB)
Seat 3.  Don Nguyen  -  7,545,000  (25 BB)
Seat 7.  John Hennigan  -  6,470,000  (21 BB)

After the break, the blinds increased to 40,000-80,000 (NLHE and PLO), with limits of 150,000-300,000 (everything else).

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$50K: David Benyamine Is Getting Critically Low

David Benyamine needs to reverse his momentum.
David Benyamine needs to reverse his momentum.

David Benyamine was the short stack going into the dinner break of the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, but it's only gotten worse for him since then.

The key hand for Benyamine came at the end of the Pot-Limit Omaha round. Chipleader Don Nguyen raised from the cutoff to 135,000, and Benyamine called from the big blind.

The flop came 9 9 3, Benyamine checked, Nguyen bet 85,000, and Benyamine called. The turn was the 4, and both players checked.

The river was the 10, and Benyamine bet 210,000. Nguyen raised to 1,005,000, and Benyamine tanked for a while before calling.

Nguyen turned over J 10 10x 8 to win the pot with a rivered full house, tens full of nines. Benyamine mucked, losing the pot worth nearly 2.5 million.

Don Nguyen  -  8,800,000  (36 BB)
David Benyamine  -  1,380,000  (5 BB)

Benyamine lost a little bit more during the Limit Hold'em round to drop even further.


Updated Leaderboard

Here is an updated look at the leaderboard, courtesy of WSOP.com, along with the number of big bets (BB) in each stack:

Seat 1.  Matthew Ashton  -  4,500,000  (18 BB)
Seat 3.  Don Nguyen  -  7,900,000  (32 BB)
Seat 7.  John Hennigan  -  5,300,000  (22 BB)
Seat 8.  David Benyamine  -  1,200,000  (5 BB)

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$50K: Back From Dinner For the Final Four

Who will win the Chip Reese trophy?
Who will win the Chip Reese trophy?

The final four players in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship return from dinner to begin Level 24, with blinds of 30,000-60,000 (NLHE and PLO), and limits of 120,000-240,000 (everything else).

Action will continue tonight until one of these players wins what is likely the most coveted bracelet other than the WSOP Main Event.

Here are the official chip counts from the dinner break, along with how many big bets (BB) each stack is worth:

Seat 1.  Matthew Ashton  -  5,620,000  (23 BB)
Seat 3.  Don Nguyen  -  7,200,000  (30 BB)
Seat 7.  John Hennigan  -  4,170,000  (17 BB)
Seat 8.  David Benyamine  -  2,805,000  (11 BB)

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Dinner Break; Nguyen Back into the Lead

Benyamine in the danger zone.
Benyamine in the danger zone.

The players are on a one-hour dinner break. Cards will be back in the air 8.10pm.

Don Nguyen had a good end to the level and reclaimed the chip lead. David Benyamine has the most work to do when he gets back. Matthew Ashton and John Hennigan are sandwiched in between.

Chips at Dinner:

Don Nguyen – 7,200,000

Matthew Ashton – 5,620,000

John Hennigan – 4,170,000

David Benyamine – 2,805,000


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You Can’t Nguyen Them All; Chip Leader Keeps Changing

Nguyen - lost the lead.
Nguyen - lost the lead.

The blinds are getting to the level now where each pot can get very big quickly, and the stacks of every player left are swinging heavily.

Matthew Ashton took a chunk out of Don Nguyen’s stack. He check-called a flop bet from Nguyen before he led out on the turn and river. The final board read J T Q 8 3 and Nguyen folded on the river.

The next LHE hand was key for Nguyen’s opponent, John Hennigan, who was at risk of being cut adrift at the bottom.

Nguyen raised from the small blind and Hennigan peeled to see a J 8 5 flop appear. Hennigan raised when faced with a c-bet from Nguyen, who called.

The board ran out 5 2 with Nguyen check-calling bets on both streets. Hennigan opened J 5 for a full house and Nguyen mucked.

More for Hennigan

David Beyamine made trips deuces in a Stud-8 hand and that was good enough to make Nguyen muck his hand on showdown.

The rotation moved onto 2-7 Triple draw and Hennigan actually overtook Nguyen for a while after winning a hand against him.

Nguyen raised from the small blind and Hennigan defended his big blind. Nguyen drew three and Hennigan one before the former check-called a bet from the latter.

Nguyen then drew two while Hennigan stood pat. Nguyen check-called another bet before drawing one. Hennigan bet and Nguyen folded.

That pot put Hennigan into the lead but he soon gave up that position to Ashton.

Ashton into the Lead

Matthew Ashton
Ashton into the lead.

Into NLHE and Ashton raised to 115,000 from the button. Hennigan peeled from the big bind to see a Q 8 4 flop appear.

Ashton continued for 180,000 and Hennigan check-called to the 6 turn. Ashton fired another 285,000 at the pot and Hennigan check-called again. No more chips ventured into the middle as both players checked the 7 river.

Ashton opened A Q for top pair and Hennigan mucked.

Chip Counts:

Matthew Ashton – 6,300,000

Don Nguyen – 5,500,000

John Hennigan – 5,000,000

David Benyamine – 2,900,000

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$50k: Cry Me a River; Danzer Eliminated in 5th Place ($388,523)

Danzer - 4th place.
Danzer - 4th place.

George Danzer was all in and all set to leap into the chip lead. He had to fade two streets but the river came like a dagger to his heart and he departed in fifth place, earning $388k.

The man to do the damage was Don Nguyen, who had dropped out of the lead briefly, before finding that vital river to get back to the top.

David Benyamine opened the pot to 80,000 and was called by Nguyen and Danzer, out of the blinds.

The flop fanned 8 8 3 and Independence Day fireworks of the poker kind went off. Nguyen led out for 150,000 before Danzer raised to 425,000. Benyamine folded but Nguyen three-bet to 800,000. Danzer wasn’t done though and four-bet to 1.2 million.

There were still room for five and six-bets, as Nguyen bumped it up to 1.6 million and calling when Danzer shove for 2.25 million.

Nguyen: K J T 8

Danzer: A K 9 8

Both had trip eights but Danzer had the nut kicker to go with his. He just had to avoid a jack or a ten to stay in the tournament.

The 4 turn changed not a thing but the J river made Nguyen a full house for the pot and the scalp.

Danzer took the defeat with absolute class and shook all the players’ hands before heading off to the payout desk.

That was the end of the level and the four remaining players stack up as:

Don Nguyen – 7,550,000

David Benyamine – 4,880,000

Matthew Ashton – 4,650,000

John Hennigan – 3,015,000


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$50k: Mike Wattel Eliminated in 7th Place ($251,602); Minh Ly Eliminated in 6th Place ($309,830)

Wattel - 7th place.
Wattel - 7th place.

Mike Wattel has become the second person eliminated from the final table today.

He managed to get George Danzer off a hand in 2-7 Triple Draw but gave all the accumulated chips, and more back, the next hand he played. That left him adrift at the bottom of the counts and he busted soon after.

2-7 Triple Draw Loss For Wattel

Wattel was in the big blind and defended after David Benyamine raised from the cutoff. Both players drew two and Benyamine called when Wattel led out.

Wattel needed to draw one more but the Frenchman was happy and stood pat. Benyamne bet when Wattle checked to him and called when he raised him.

Both players stood pat on the final draw and Wattel’s lead was called by Benyamine. Wattel announced a nine but lost out as Benyamine opened 8 6 5 4 2.

Wattel Down and Out in No-Limit Hold’em

Chip leader, Don Nguyen, had been quiet so far today but he stepped up to the plate when needed to eliminate Wattel.

Wattel was down to a three-bet shoving stack after that loss to Benyamine and that’s exactly what he did; his last 550,000 going in after Nguyen had raised to 80,000. Call.

Wattel: A J

Nguyen: A Q

The board ran T 6 Q 2 9.

Nguyen flopped top pair but had to fade Wattel’s straight draw. He did just that and has almost six million chips as a result. Wattel takes home $251,602 for a fine Independence Day gift.

Benyamine Rises as Ly Falls and Busts

Benyamine is having a great day today and has moved up to second place in the chip counts with 5.15 million The direct result of Benyamine’s rise is the fall, and elimination, of Minh Ly.

Minh Ly
Ly - 6th place.

Ly dropped down to 620,000 in No-Limit Hold’em after he bet out on the river of a K 3 Q 2 T board. Beymaine called with K Q, a two pair hand that bettered Ly’s K T.

The rotation moved into Stud and a three-way hand between Ly, Benyamine and Danzer saw the end for Ly.

Danzer brought it in, Ly completed and Benyamine called. Ly bet out on fourth and fifth street. Both players called before Benyamine raised on fifth street. Danzer raised and Ly called off his remaining stack. Benyamine came back with a four-bet and Danzer called.

Benyamine kept up the aggression and bet the final two streets. Danzer called both bets.

Danzer had a ten high flush but Benyamine opened 8 6/Q 8 T A/Ts# for an ace high flush.

That meant the side pot was Benyamine’s and the main pot went to him as Ly could only muster two pair with A K/K T 2 A/9.

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$50k: Jonathan Duhamel Eliminated in 8th Place ($207,630)

Duhamel - 8th place.
Duhamel - 8th place.

It didn’t take long for the first player to fall, and it was 2010 World Champion, Jonathan Duhamel. 

The player to take his out was fellow Team PokerStars Pro, George Danzer. I wonder what the bosses at PokerStars will think of that?

All’s fair when the players are sat at the baize though, and at least the chips stayed in the team. Well, most of them did anyway. Just before his exit, Duhamel lost more than a third of hid stack to Matthew Ashton.

Ashton raised from under the gun and called when Duhamel three-bet from the next seat. Duhamel continued on a 4 4 5 flop and Ashton check-called.

Both players checked the 8 turn before Ashton led for 320,000 on the 6 river. Call. Ashton showed K K Q J for a flush and Duhamel mucked.

Danzer Busts Duhamel

The very next hand, Duhamel raised to 65,000 from under the gun and picked up Danzer and Ashton en route to a 6 J T flop.

Danzer was the first to bet at the pot, for 130,000, only to be check-raised up to 600,000 by Duhamel after Ashton folded. Danzer raised enough to put Duhamel all in. Call.

Danzer: J 6 2 5 for two pair.

Duhamel: K K Q 2 for an over pair.

The board ran out Q#$h and Duhamel will take home $207,630.

Danzer climbs to around 3.7 million chips.



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$50k: Nguyen Leads Star Studded Final Table

Nguyen looking for second bracelet of the summer.
Nguyen looking for second bracelet of the summer.

One of the biggest final tables of the summer is upon us. In both buy in and prestige, the $50k Players Championship is up there.

The final eight are set and Don Nguyen leads the way, searching for his first bracelet of the summer after coming second in another prestigious final table of the summer, the $10k Heads-Up.

Even though he has a clear lead at the top, the bunch of players chasing him after not to be taken likely. Here’s the full line up:

Seat 1. Matthew Ashton - 2,996,000

Seat 2. Jonathan Duhamel - 1,627,000

Seat 3. Don Nguyen - 5,068,000

Seat 4. Mike Wattel - 810,000

Seat 5. George Danzer - 2,868,000

Seat 6. Minh Ly - 2,307,000

Seat 7. John Hennigan - 1,412,000

Seat 8. David Benyamine - 2,709,000

Play is due to start very soon and the PokerListings team will be on hand all day to bring you all the major action. The tournament is in level 21 and the first game of the eight played will be PLO.


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Event Name Event 55 - $50k Players Championship
Venue Rio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
Date 30 June 2013
Final Day 4 July 2013
Buy In $50,000
Entrants 132
Prize Pool $6,336,000
First Prize $1,774,089
Matthew Ashton

Matthew Ashton

Event 55 - $50k Players Championship

Top Money Finishers Prize
1. Matthew Ashton $1,774,089
2. Don Nguyen $1,096,254
3. John Hennigan $686,568
4. David Benyamine $497,122
5. George Danzer $388,523
6. Minh Ly $309,830
7. Mike Wattel $251,602
8. Jonathan Duhamel $207,630
9. Mike Gorodinsky $173,796
10. Michael Glick $173,796