Event #3: BIG 50 – $500 No-Limit Hold’em was certainly going to be the crowd puller for the 50th anniversary of the WSOP and the numbers didn’t lie. The event that recently concluded recorded the largest live tournament field with 28,371 entries. The event concluded early last week and Femi Fashakin was crowned the champion and took home a whopping $1,147,449 and his first Gold WSOP Bracelet. It took four days and seven hours of play for Fashakin to defeat Paul Cullen heads-up to claim the title in this special event.
Fashakin started the day with the chip lead when the final seven players returned to resume play in Thunderdone in the Amazon Room. Guaranteed a minimum of $182,192, the players certainly had their eye on the BIG prize. In the very first hand of the final table, Daniel Ghobrial shoved with the shortest stack with ace-king. Fashakin who held the same cards, called, and the pot was chopped. Shortly after, Daniel had some chips flying his way with his king-queen up against Walter Atwood’s ace-ten.
That then put Adrian Curry on the shortest stack and he was eliminated shortly after in seventh place since his pocket tens couldn’t beat the kings of Rafi Elharar. Ghobrial however, couldn’t capitalize on his double up and ended up hitting the rail in sixth. After the day’s first break, it was Atwood who left the stage next. Chow had taken over the chip lead and this elimination added to his stack. During the four-handed play, the chip lead switched several times between Chow and Fashakin.
With a bit of a tweak in his strategy, Fashakin chopped down Chow after the third break of the day. Chow was ahead preflop with ace-four and Fashakin held queen-ten. The flop came queen-five-deuce, all hearts. The turn was a jack that didn’t change things, but the three on the river was a heart and that gave Fashakin the flush to eliminate Chow in fourth place.
Cullen doubled up once more before Elharar was done for the day as he ran his king-six into the ace-three of Fashakin. With more than 75% of the chips with Fashakin, heads-up play lasted less than 30 minutes. Cullen shoved his last ten big blinds with queen-jack in the eight hand of heads-up play and was gutted to see he was called by Fashakin who held the rockets. Though he did manage to flop the queen, the board didn’t help him any further.
Here are some facts to help understand the magnitude of this historical event that will be looked back as a landmark event. There were 1,418,550,000 in chips in play, the total prize pool was $13,509,435 which is the largest ever for a $500 buy-in tournament, 709,725 physical poker chips were used, there were 17,790 unique players, 4,258 players were in the money, and 1,208 dealers were used for the four opening flights.