After a grueling thirteen hours on the final day of Event #72: $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship , the Finnish poker legend that is Juha Helppi finally claimed his first WSOP bracelet and the first-place prize of $306,622 that comes with it. Helppi played Mike Lancaster heads-up for a long four hours to come out victorious in the end. The 50th Annual World Series of Poker edition of this tournament attracted 118 entries which beat last year’s number.
This is not Helppi’s biggest win ever but the bracelet does mean the most to him: “I’ve been close to winning a bracelet many times, that’s why it was so exciting because it happened to me many times in the past. Finally getting that bracelet that I’ve been looking for, like for 16 years, it’s amazing.”
Helppi has come close many times indeed, finishing in 2nd place three times, 3rd once, 4th once, and 5th once. The most recent deep run was last year in Event #70: $3,000 Limit Hold’em 6-Handed where he lost out to Yaser Al-Keliddar. Helppi built his bankroll by playing Limit Hold’em and has a lot of heads-up experience.
Helppi already collected just over a million in cashes during the WSOP events and even though he added a chunk to it now, he’s already got his sights set on the Main Event: “I’m playing it tomorrow, so I don’t have much time to rest but maybe a new bracelet will be coming!”
Final Table Results
|2||Mike Lancaster||United States||$189,505|
|3||Tommy Hang||United States||$133,718|
|4||Anthony Marsico||United States||$96,272|
|5||Kevin Song||United States||$70,750|
|6||Josh Arieh||United States||$53,095|
|7||Kyle Ray||United States||$40,709|
|8||Qinghai Pan||United States||$31,902|
|9||Robert Como||United States||$25,566|
The day started with 15 players in their seats but it didn’t even take ten minutes before the first player was sent to the payout desk. Spain’s Raul Paez was the first to go when he got all his chips in with pocket treys on the jack-seven-five flop and was called by Josh Arieh who held pocket kings. Arieh stayed ahead to claim Paez’s chips in the end. Day 1 chip leader Andrew Brown started the day as the absolute short stack and couldn’t find a way to build his stack up as he was eliminated in 13th place.
Eli Elezra wouldn’t be adding another bracelet to his collection of four as Lancaster took him out. John Racener wasn’t going to win a second bracelet either as he also fell victim to Lancaster. Jerry Robinson would become the final table bubble boy when Helppi eliminated him in tenth place. The final table was almost an all-American fairy tale but for the lone Finnish player in Helppi who ended up beating them all. Helppi went into the final table second in chips and stayed near the top for most of the almost 12 hours it lasted.
It went from nine to six in a span of 30 minutes with Robert Como, Qinghai Pan, and Kyle Ray busting in that order. It would take another eighty minutes of six-handed play before Arieh was ousted with pocket sevens. Lancaster held king-queen on the queen-six-ten flop and held throughout the board to take Arieh down in sixth place. Forty minutes later, Kevin Song was done for the night as he wasn’t going to claim his second WSOP bracelet in this event. Both him and Lancaster had flopped a pair of kings but Lancaster was ahead with the ace-kicker and stayed ahead.
The four remaining players would play two more hours before they all went into the dinner break with Lancaster in the lead. Almost fifteen minutes after returning from the dinner break, Anthony Marsico ran out of chips when he was up against Helppi with ace-six while Helppi had ace-king. No help of the board and Marsico was sent to the payout desk to collect his second and biggest ever WSOP cash.
Tommy Hang had the biggest and loudest rail of all which also included Chino Rheem and JC Tran during the breaks of the Main Event but after hanging on with a short stack for hours, Hang was hung out to dry when it almost all went in preflop with ace-ten. Helppi held ace-eight and they both made a flush on the river with Helppi holding the nuts with the ace of spades.
Heads-up the chips kept flying back and forth, both claiming the chip lead at certain points throughout the long battle but in the end, Helppi managed to grind it out and claim the win. “I think I’ve played the heads-up well, he was a good player. I caught a few of his bluffs and I was able to do some correct moves and get some extra value when I had a hand so, in the end, I think… I deserved it.”
“My rail helped me so much, it helped me through the bad times, it helped me play my A-game,” Helppi added at the end while his rail was still celebrating, drinking, and chatting in a totally empty Amazon room in the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.