This one has gotta sting.
So close, yet so far away.
Jeff Cabanillas, who before today was only known by family, friends, and perhaps a few acquaintances, will now be forever known by the world as the man who denied
Hellmuth had been dominating final table play, assuming the chip lead early, and like how a man who wants something really badly would hold on to something tightly, he held on to the chip lead tightly. Because he really wanted this bracelet. Badly.
However, the tides started to turn when play got three-handed. Cabanillas was heads-up in a pot with Hellmuth and moved all-in on the river with the board showing Qd-Jh-9d-7c-6d. Cabanillas was only holding A-Ko. Hellmuth ends up thinking for a moment, then mucks his hand. When Cabanillas flashed his A-Ko, Hellmuth, as reported by Card Player, knocked "his chair over [and stood] up in shock. The Cabanillas supporters in the crowd [went] wild and [erupted] in support, causing everyone in the Amazon Room to look over at the final table."
After Eugene Todd was eliminated in third, Hellmuth and Cabanillas began heads-up play about even stacked. Hellmuth surged to an early 2-to-1 chip lead, but Cabanillas started winning pot after pot.
While we “technically” were not "there" to see the rest of the action shakedown, we could sense, even though we were approximately 1967 miles away, that it was all slipping away from Hellmuth.
While Hellmuth was able to scrap back and survive some all-ins, Cabanillas had Hellmuth…hmmm…we’ll go with a boxing analogy here…on the ropes.
Of the other final table notables, Vinnie Vinh, who happened to hold a sizable chip lead going into the final table, was eliminated in eighth. Isabelle Mercier, who happens to be a woman, finished in fifth. Not too bad for a girl. And Marcel Luske finished fourth.
While we’re sure this won’t be Hellmuth’s last chance to win his 10th bracelet–he’s still got yeeeeeaaars of good poker left in him–this was one helluva chance. It will be interesting to see how he responds–and it may ultimately end up defining his legacy.
*Images from Poker Pages