The “mixed max” event featured the unique format wherein it began as a nine-handed tourney (Day 1), then went to six-handed (Day 2), then became a heads-up tournament thereafter. The idea was to stop at 32 players at the end of the second day, create a bracket with seeding based on chip counts, then begin the heads-up portion on Day 3. However, two players were eliminated right at the end of the second day to leave just 31 going forward, meaning the chip leader at the time -- Mirzikinian -- got a first-round bye to start the third day.
Because players carried their stacks forward from match to match, that’s what led to the crazy-long semifinal match between Cazals and Mirzikinian. Both began with around 1.5 million chips in that one, with the blinds starting at just 2,500/5,000. Actually Cheong and his semifinal opponent, Hugo Lemaire, had similarly large stacks to begin their match, too, although Cheong would fairly quickly push out to a big lead, then finish off Lemaire within just three hours or so after flopping a flush.
Meanwhile, Cazals and Mirzikinian would take the whole day Sunday to complete their match, which led to an extra fifth day being added to the event on Monday. Cazals and Cheong each brought stacks of more than 3 million to the finals, with the blinds starting there at just 4,000/8,000 (with one-hour levels). With both players more than 375 BBs deep, some were predicting that record set in Sunday’s match might be broken yesterday.
The scenario kind of reminded me of covering the finish of that $10K heads-up event at the WSOP back in 2010, the one that went on and on and on until dawn and still hadn’t finished, an experience partly chronicled here in a post called “The Match Without End.”
For the first four-plus hours it appeared Cheong and Cazals weren’t in any hurry to put their deep stacks at risk, and in fact the match was almost dead even with the blinds still just 10,000/20,000. That’s about when a crazy hand erupted in which the pair began raising back and forth, with Cazals making what was the very first five-bet of the match.
Cheong responded with an all-in reraise for 2.936 million, and Cazals -- who had him barely covered -- only took a few seconds before calling. Cazals had a hand one would expect in such a situation, . Meanwhile Cheong showed .
Was hard not to think back to the 2010 WSOP Main Event and the hand that proved Cheong’s undoing there. You remember, the three-handed, six-bet shove for around 75 BBs with that was called by Jonathan Duhamel who held ? Wrote about that here, too, in a post titled “Cheong Strong? Or Just Wrong?”
Just as Cheong didn’t get lucky and hit an ace in that hand versus Duhamel, he wasn’t saved by the community cards yesterday, either, as the flop brought a king, Cazals filled up on the turn, and the match was abruptly concluded.
Unsurprisingly, it took mere minutes for a thread to appear on Two Plus Two, titled “subiime donks off another bracelet !!” -- the “another” of course alluding to the 2010 ME hand versus Duhamel.
In fact, David Tuchman and Bart Hanson who were providing commentary had mentioned that hand earlier in the broadcast, noting the super deep stacks and how the formula for the same sort of attempted “leveling” was present once more. And if I recall correctly, Hanson said he didn’t believe Cheong would try anything similar yesterday.
I wouldn’t pretend to try to analyze Cheong’s thinking in this particular hand, certainly affected by a host of factors most of us wouldn’t be privy to merely watching from afar. Cheong is obviously a highly-skilled player whom I’ve always found fascinating to follow, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him break through at some point to grab that first bracelet, perhaps even this summer.
Is fascinating as well, however, to think how the last hand of Event No. 6 echoed that one near the end of Cheong’s 2010 ME run.
(EDIT [added 3 p.m.]: Cheong weighed in with his own post in the 2+2 thread mentioned above, noting with humility -- and perhaps a little tongue in cheek -- how he’d believed he’d picked up a “kgb oreo tell” on Cazals in the final hand.)