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2016 Monster WPT Tournament of Champions Day 2: Strong Final Table Features Jonathan Jaffe, Michael Mizrachi Among Leaders

The first-ever final table for the Monster World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions has been set after a day of play on Saturday and it has six men that are well-qualified to be sitting in the seats. Atop the leaderboard when action resumes this afternoon is Jonathan Jaffe, but he’ll be facing some heat from Florida’s own Michael Mizrachi.

31 men returned on Saturday from the 64 player field, looking to claim their piece of the prize pool and potentially the first title of this semi-invitational event (players are eligible by having won a previous WPT event; those that didn’t win during the Season XIV schedule had to pony up a $ 15,000 buy in to be able to play). The man who had the best fortunes through the action on Friday was defending WPT Amsterdam champion Farid Yachou, who was able to eke out the lead over Mizrachi at the closing bell Friday night. But with only eight men taking down anything for their efforts from this tournament, the tension between the players was already at peak levels as they vied for the crown.

Coming in as the short stack for the day, former World Champion Joe Hachem was the first casualty of the day; his hopes were raised after doubling through Justin Young, but those hopes were dashed when Hachem got it in with A-Q on an A-Q-10 flop only to see Anthony Zinno turn up a K-J for Broadway. The story was a bit different for players such as Asher Conniff and Mike Scarborough, who doubled and tripled up at their tables, respectively.

Mizrachi began to make his move for the title early on after a particularly interesting hand against Griffin Paul. Paul raised out of the hijack and Mizrachi three-bet the action from the button. After the blinds got out of the way, Paul popped in a four bet of 24,500 and Mizrachi made the call to see an A-5-4 flop. Dual checks were followed by a second four, bringing a check-call from Paul of a 15K Mizrachi bet, and a seemingly innocuous eight fell on the river.

Paul would check his option and, after Mizrachi moved all in, Paul went deep in the tank. He would burn off three of his “Time Bank” chips (the “Action Clock” of 30 seconds was in play once again on Day 2 and each player had four 30 second “Time Bank” chips to use as they pleased) in deliberating his action, finally settling on a call and turning up pocket Kings for two pair. Mizrachi, however, had him clipped in turning up an A-Q for a better two pair, knocking Paul out of the tournament and sending Mizrachi into the lead.

Mizrachi meteoric rise would be short-lived, however, as another contender arose from the pack. With all the chips going in pre-flop, John Hennigan and Matt Salsberg went to the races with Salsberg’s Big Slick up against Hennigan’s pocket Queens. A paint card came on the flop, but the J-6-2 didn’t help either player and kept Hennigan in the lead. A four on the turn was another blank, leaving Salsberg grasping for one of six outs that didn’t come when the river rolled with another six. Hennigan’s two pair took the hand as he scooped up Salsberg’s chips and sent him towards the door in 21st place.

How bad did it get for Mizrachi? Soon after Salsberg’s departure, Mizrachi had to double through Jonathan Roy to reach 58K in chips, let alone get back to six figures in chips. Meanwhile, Hennigan continued to power his way through the field when his actions forced Roy to burn through all four of his “Time Bank” chips before folding his hand on a J-7-5-9-A board, claiming to have had two pair on a non-flush capable board. With his 435,000 in chips, Hennigan seemed to be in solid position for the final table, while Mizrachi was holding on for dear life.

The first dent in Hennigan’s armor came when Jaffe doubled through him. After a pre-flop raising war eventually ended with Jaffe all in, Hennigan’s pocket Queens weren’t in very good shape against Jaffe’s pocket Aces. An Ace on the turn left Hennigan drawing dead and, after the chips were counted, Jaffe picked up the 583,000 pot to take over the lead with 15 players remaining as Hennigan fell back to 235,000 in chips.

Hennigan would be victimized by another cooler, but this time it would cost him his tournament existence. On a Q-6-4-2-A board, Darren Elias moved all in against ‘Johnny World’ and, after using two “Time Bank” chips, Hennigan made the call with only pocket sevens. Elias had the pocket Aces this time and the unnecessary Ace on the river only improved him to a set, knocking Hennigan to the rail in 14th place after having held the lead a half-hour earlier.

Mizrachi began his climb back by eliminating Tyler Patterson in 13th place and doubled up through Ravi Raghavan to crack the 200K mark once again (215K, to be exact). After Justin Young’s run at a second WPT title in a week came to a close in tenth place (Young was the victor at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown on Wednesday last week), the final nine came together with Mizrachi among the bottom feeders. With only one more elimination to the money, the players were all aware of what was on the line.

The final nine men would battle through 75 hands and a dinner break before that unfortunate “bubble boy” was determined. Pushing with his pocket treys, Raghavan was looked up by Noah Schwartz’s Big Slick and held up after a flop and turn of Q-J-8-8. The Ace on the river wasn’t what he wanted to see, however, as it gave Schwartz a better two pair, Aces up, to send Raghavan to the rail with nothing to show for two days’ work and guarantee everyone left a minimum $ 38,160 payday.

Jaffe became the first player to crack the million chip mark as Mizrachi’s battles continued. He would double up through Elias to get over 330K in chips and take a hand from Jaffe to crack 400K. Once Mizrachi eliminated Yevgeniy Timoshenko in eighth place, he had completed a Lazarus-like recovery to actually become a challenger – albeit distant – to Jaffe with his 575,000 in chips.

It was inevitable that the two would clash and, on Hand 111, Jaffe and Mizrachi would face off. With about 225K in a pot with a board reading Q-6-4-10-8, Jaffe faced a 100K bet from Mizrachi. After some deliberation (including asking Mizrachi his hand content, of which of course he received no reply), Jaffe decided to fold; Mizrachi did kindly show him his pocket Queens for the flopped set as the twosome drew almost equal in chips.

Five hands later, the final table was set. Schwartz and Andy Frankenberger got their chips to the center, with Frankenberger at risk, and Schwartz held the power. His pocket eights were in good shape against Frankenberger’s A-6 off suit and, after it failed to find anything on the 9-5-4-5-Q board, Frankenberger headed for the exits in seventh place while the final six bagged their chips.

1. Jonathan Jaffe, 996,000
2. Michael Mizrachi, 871,000
3. Noah Schwartz, 532,000
4. Darren Elias, 324,000
5. Farid Yachou, 264,000
6. Vlad Darie, 214,000

The final table will begin at 4PM (Eastern Time) at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL. The live stream will begin over Twitch approximately a half-hour later, featuring commentary from WPT Champions’ Club member Tony Dunst and Vanessa Selbst, as these six men figure out who earns the first-ever Monster WPT Tournament of Champions victory and the multitude of spoils that go along with it.

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