When the $25,000 six-handed no-limit hold 'em event was added to the 2010 WSOP schedule, many professional poker players circled the date. It was a can't-miss tournament with a steep buy-in and a lot of prestige attached. A field of 191 of the game's best players spent that $25,000 for a chance at $1.3 million and perhaps the third-most coveted bracelet of the WSOP season behind the Players' Championship and the main event. With a solid mix of veterans and young guns going for gold, after four days of play it would be a WSOP rookie holding the bracelet and locking up a new endorsement deal.
Dan "djk123" Kelly had been one of the more-hyped rookies heading into the WSOP, and his performance in this event simply proved all the critics right. The 21-year-old from Potomac, Md., had done virtually everything online with numerous six-figure scores in a multitude of games, and now the Villanova senior can add a live seven-figure cash and a bracelet to his poker résumé. This was his fourth cash of the Series, bringing his total WSOP earnings this year to $1,338,609.
"It's a mixture of being shocked and excited," Kelly said after his win. "I definitely thought I could win, or I wouldn't be playing. But you can't expect to win a tournament, even if you play perfect. This definitely exceeds my expectations."
Kelly will head back to school for his senior year to graduate and then pursue his poker career from there. "I feel like I can keep winning bracelets," he said. "It's amazing that I have already won one. I would like to win more."
His path to this bracelet was anything but easy. Heading into Day 3, when 18 players remained, Kelly had the short stack, barely staying afloat at the money bubble. When John Juanda was eliminated in 19th place, the field headed home for the night in the money and Kelly created his plan of attack for the next day. Just a few hours into Day 3, Kelly was the chip leader, and he never looked back. Observers called his ability that day "incredible," and once he held the big stack, Kelly was able to keep the pressure on until the final hand, when he spiked a three-outer on the river to beat Shawn Buchanan. Along with the bracelet and the money, Kelly was also awarded an endorsement deal as part of the Brunson 10 with DoylesRoom.
Buchanan has been one of the most consistent players over the past few years, with a total of $3.3 million in WSOP earnings. This second-place finish was his 17th cash since 2007 and his eighth of the Series, giving him a tie for first in that category with Allen Kessler. He earned $812,941 for his four days of work.
It was hard to keep the focus on the chip leader Kelly during the day when Frank Kassela was still in contention. Kassela, already a double-bracelet winner this Series, was looking for his third piece of hardware, but he would fall short and finish third. Despite not winning this event, his final-table fiinish should be enough for him to lock up the 2010 WSOP Player of the Year achievement. Only a main event final table performance from Juanda could steal the title away. For the Series, Kassela has earned $1.3 million from his five WSOP cashes and three final tables.
In fourth place was Jason Somerville, who now has a second-, a third-, a fourth and a fifth-place finish at the WSOP in the past two years. He earned $386,125, and with his nine career cashes, he falls just short of the million mark. Mikael Thuritz finished fifth and became the only player to make the final table of the two biggest WSOP events this year. He finished eighth in the $50,000 Players' Championship. Eugene Katchalov was the short stack entering the final table and was eliminated shortly into final play. He has three final tables in 2010 for more than half a million in earnings.
Other notable finishers from Event 52 included Issac Haxton (ninth), Daniel Negreanu (11th) and Carlos Mortensen (17th).
Below are the complete results of Event 52 at the 2010 World Series of Poker:
Event 52: six-handed no-limit hold 'em
Prize pool: $4,536,250
Players in the money: 18
1. Dan Kelly ($1,315,518)
2. Shawn Buchanan ($812,941)
3. Frank Kassela ($556,053)
4. Jason Somerville ($386,125)
5. Mikael Thuritz ($272,084)
6. Eugene Katchalov ($194,559)
7. Sam Trickett ($141,168)
8. Bryn Kenney ($141,168)
9. Isaac Haxton ($104,651)
10. Brian Hodhod ($104,651)
11. Daniel Negreanu ($77,569)
12. Abe Mosseri ($77,569)
13. Martins Adeniya ($58,699)
14. Billy Jordanou ($58,699)
15. Heather Sue Mercer ($58,699)
16. Vadim Trincher ($58,699)
17. Carlos Mortensen ($58,699)
18. Justin Bonomo ($58,699)