Jay Farber v. Ryan Riess in 2013 WSOP Main Event Finale

Jay Farber v. Ryan Riess in 2013 WSOP Main Event Finale

The 2013 World Series of Poker main event is down to its final two players after several hours of spirited action at the final table, where the biggest names departed early and the self-declared amateur among the nine, Jay Farber, rode the night’s biggest hand to the chip lead and a seat in heads-up play against Ryan Riess.  Riess dominated early action and saw his better hold hands hold up late to gain the other spot in the final two, with action resuming tonight.

Viewers who turned in to watch the “nearly live” coverage on broadcast and internet channels, anchored by ESPN’s coverage emanating from the United States, saw Riess and Farber beat the odds again on their way to tonight’s finale.  Both the started the day with healthy but mid-range stacks, in fourth and fifth place, respectively — 25,975,000 and 25,875,000, a single 100K chip apart.

Meanwhile, the betting line favorite was JC Tran, the most experienced of the pros in this year’s November Nine, with two WSOP bracelets and other huge tourney scores, both live and online, already to his credit.  But despite an early and modest chip-up to more than 40 million, it wasn’t to be Tran’s night.

Viewers were instead treated to a neatly partitioned, three-part night of action.  Part 1 featured three of the shorter stacks being swept from the table in the first 45 or so hands, those belonging to Americans Mark “Newhizzle” Newhouse and feared online pro David “Raptor” Benefield, and Dutch player Michiel Brummelhuis.  Riess was the early beneficiary, delivering the first two knockouts and jumping out to an early lead with more than 60 million chips.

Following that early spurt came four hours of gentle prodding and positioning as the players jostled for position.  The shorter stacks, which at times included Farber, Sylvain Loosli, Mark-Etienne McLaughlin and Amir Levahot, succeeded in defending their short stacks.  Riess slowly added to his stack while Tran faltered, the victim of a long stretch of dead cards.  Later, in his exit interview, Tran mentioned never holding a pocket pair the entire night.  Farber, at one point the shortest stack at under 10 million, succeeded in doubling up twice to move into connection.

What also never occurred the entire night was a collision of huge hands… that is, until McLaughlin ran his K-K into Farber’s A-A after more than six hours and 160 hands had been played.  Five raises later the chips were all in, and the 79-million-chip pot went to Farber when the board ran out 7-6-2-J-J.  The huge cooler sent Canada’s McLaughlin off in sixth and with the pot, Farber broke the 100-million chip mark, where he stayed the rest of the night.

From there, the bloodletting began, with the field trimmed to its final two in just another 15 hands.  Tran went first, his last stand with A-7 run down by Farber’s K-Q.  Then, the last international players departed, first France’s Sylvain Loosli, who was involved in the night’s only controversial hand, in which he may (or may not) have shot an angle during a raise.  Loosli was bounced by Riess, who then ended the night’s proceedings a single hand later, when his 10-10 held up against Israeli Levahot’s 7-7.

The final two thus becomes an all-US (and actually all-Las Vegas affair), with Riess and Farber remaining.  Riess is a Michigan native who now plays full time in Nevada, while Farber, the amateur, works at a Vegas nightclub.

Riess’s and Farber’s rise through the night’s play continues the general trend in recent years of the initial chip leader not being able to close the deal.  Farber in particular, would have been few people’s favorite to make the final two, while Riess angered many in the poker community with his good-natured chutzpah in claiming that he was the best player at the final table and would win it, ignoring the strong track records of Tran, Benefield, Newhouse and others.

The two will return to action tonight with fairly equal chip stacks, raising the possibility of a hidden chop for much of the remaining prize money, officially $8,361,570 for first and $5,174,357 for second.  Farber holds 105,000,000 chips, while Riess has 85,675,000, giving both players deep stacks with the blinds and antes at 500,000 / 1,000,000 / 150,000.   Action resumes tonight at 8pm ET / 5pm PT, or shortly thereafter.


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