The $5,000 Limit Hold’em Event #37 played to a close Saturday night. The winner was 63-year-old Michael Moore, who finally realized his longtime dream of winning a WSOP bracelet. Along with the gold bracelet, Moore took home a prize of $211,743.
The field for this event was a small, but experienced, group of 170 players. Among the contenders who were eliminated before the final day of play were Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey and Barry Greenstein. Among the 12 left standing after two days of play were double bracelet-winner Greg Mueller and Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo.
After the first three eliminations of the day (Jeffrey Yass, Jan Sjavik and Steve Landfish) the remaining players were down to nine, and the final table could begin. Here’s how the contenders stacked up, entering final table play:
1. Dom Denotaristefani – 427,000
2. Todd Witteles – 384,000
3. Michael Moore – 323,000
4. Ronnie Bardah – 318,000
5. Greg Mueller – 299,000
6. Brian Aleksa – 273,000
7. Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo – 219,000
8. Gabriel Nassif – 158,000
9. Ben Yu – 149,000
Justin Bonomo was the first to leave the table. After losing a few big pots, he got all-in preflop with J9 against Greg Mueller’s A6. Bonomo’s hand failed to improve, and he exited the tourney in 9th place, taking home $19,863.
Greg Mueller was then severely crippled when he lost a cooler to Dom Denotaristefani. He got the last of his chips in against Gabriel Nassif with A4. Mueller was dominated by Nassif’s AJ and was sent packing in 8th place with $24,721.
Next to leave was Ben Yu only a couple of hands later. He and Todd Witteles got it in on a 375 flop. Yu showed the J4 for a gutshot and overcard, but Witteles had him crushed with J7 for top pair. The turn and river were no help to Yu, so he left the tournament in 7th place, receiving $31,264.
There then followed about 90 hands over the course of three hours of play during which nobody was eliminated. All the shortstacks got the help they needed from the deck, mostly at the expense of Dom Denotaristefani. Dom, the initial final-table chip leader, was left shortstacked. He got it in on a 3 T 8 board against Ronnie Bardah, who showed that he had 88 for a flopped set. Dom’s ace-high was no good, and he was eliminated in 6th place, earning $40,205.
In the very next hand, Brian Aleksa open-raised the cutoff, and Tom Wittles three bet it from the button. Aleksa four-bet and Wittles raised all-in. The hole cards were revealed:
Witteles was flipping for his tournament life. The flop came down favorably for him: 4J8. Unfortunately the Q on the turn won the hand for Aleksa, and Todd Witteles was knocked out in 5th place, good for $52,582.
Aleksa’s luck would soon change, however, as he then lost pots to Michael Moore and Ronnie Bardah. Finally, he got his remaining chips in the middle with the mediocre J8. He was called in two spots, and he failed to improve. Brian Aleksa had to leave in 4th place with $69,968.
The three-handed chip counts looked like this:
1. Gabriel Nassif – 1,090,000
2. Ronnie Bardah – 820,000
3. Michael Moore – 690,000
Ronnie Bardah and Gabriel Nassif soon played out an all-in pot. Bardah opened from the button, and Nassif called in the small blind. The flop came down A38. Bardah cbet and Nasif check-raised. Bardah made the call for all his chips. Bardah had just the K9 for king-high with no draw. Nasif revealed the K3 for a pair of treys and the nut flush draw. The 7 turn completed that flush draw and left Bardah drawing dead. Ronnie Bardah took down a prize of $94,793 for his 3rd place showing.
That left Gabriel Nassif and Michael Moore to play heads-up for the championship, with Nassif holding approximately a 2-1 chip lead. The wily finalists proceeded to battle it out for over two hours. The initial play was inconclusive, featuring a lot of small pots and few showdown hands.
Moore was fortunate to make two pair while holding 64o and again with A9o, and he got paid off both times. By so doing, he took the chip lead away from Nassif. Moore kept the pressure on, soon winning another pot with top pair. Nassif closed the deficit somewhat when he was able to river a flush to beat Moore’s trips. Just a couple of hands later, though, Moore rivered trips, and this time, they won the pot, placing Nassif at a severe disadvantage.
On hand #334 of the tournament, and #135 of heads-up play, Nassif and Moore got into a raising war preflop, and Nassif wound up all-in. Both players revealed their hands:
Nassif was a solid favorite, with 70% to win. The TJ8 flop improved him to 83%. But the turn cruelly came the T, reversing the players’ fortunes. Now Moore, with trip tens, was an 86% favorite to win the hand. The river was the 2. With that bad beat, Gabriel Nassif became the 2nd place finisher of the tournament. He won $130,852.
Michael Moore, who lives in a small town in South Dakota with a population of only 72, was thus able to add a tenth cash to his WSOP record. This result is the most important one; a win counts for much more than a cash. Of course, the $211,743 of prize money counts for something, too. The complete list of final table payouts is as follows:
1. Michael Moore – $211,743
2. Gabriel Nassif – $130,852
3. Ronnie Bardah – $94,793
4. Brian Aleksa – $69,968
5. Todd Witteles – $52,582
6. Dom Denotaristefani – $40,205
7. Ben Yu – $31,264
8. Greg Mueller – $24,721
9. Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo – $19,863