Legendary Winnings : Brunson and Chan tied again, this time at 10!
Jul 25, 2005  
by Greg Cavouras  

June 29th, 2005 will go down in history as a landmark day in Poker history. It was on June 29th that Poker Great Johnny Chan broke a 3 way tie for most World Series of Poker victories, by securing his 10th Golden Bracelet. Chan won the $2500 Pot Limit Hold’em Event to break the deadlock for most bracelets; Amazingly, the ageless Doyle Brunson responded just four days later, by picking up a 10th bracelet for himself, and re-joining the battle for all time WSOP supremacy.


Johnny’s victory in Pot Limit Hold’em will go down as one of the great moments in Poker history, as he had to work for it every step of the way. Chan finally sealed the deal at 3:18am, ending an epic dual with Phil “Unabomber” Laak, and capping off a very exciting event. While pro Tony Hartman was the event’s chip leader going into the final table, Chan appeared destined for victory. One hand in particular stands out; with play four-handed, Chan and Frank Kassela went heads up. Kassela held A-A against Chan’s Q-Q. Chan was all-in on the hand, and flopped a set to severely cripple Kassela. Winning this hand made Chan the big stack, and the short-stacked Kassela would go out shortly after, losing his final hand to eventual runner-up Phil Laak.


After Kassela’s departure, it was down to Laak, Chan, and Richard Osborne. Osborne would eventually lose to a very lucky Phil Laak; Richard pushed all-in with A-K against Laak’s K-10. Neither player hit, and Laak caught some divine intervention when a 10 hit on the river. He paired his 10s and that was a disappointing end for Richard Osborne.

Heads up play in this event won’t soon be forgotten; the table attracted ESPN’s cameras despite not being scheduled for broadcast. Phil Laak’s antics had everyone in the room laughing, and the action at the table didn’t lack for entertainment either. The game went well into the morning, and it was certainly one of the more memorable heads up battles. Nevertheless, eventually a winner had to be decided; and unfortunately for Phil Laak, his big hand came at the worst possible time. In what would be the final hand, Laak was dealt K-J, against Chan’s Q-Q. The flop came J-5-5, and the Unabomber was trapped with top pair and a big kicker. Laak moved all-in, and ran smack into Chan’s overpair, and that was the end of the event.


With this win, Chan took home $303,025, and broke the three way tie for most WSOP victories. His control of this record would be short lived however, as the Texas Dolly would strike back before tournament’s end.


Doyle would strike back 4 days later to be precise, at Event #31, the $5000 No Limit Hold’em showdown. Far from a cake walk, the legendary Brunson had to work for his money every step of the way, coming through a field of 301 players, but also sitting down at the final table with the likes of Layne Flack and Scotty Nguyen. Tough company indeed!


If anyone has the experience to compete at a stacked table like this one, it’s Doyle. He put that experience to good use too, taking control of final table play, despite Layne Flack being chip leader initially. The field was quickly narrowed to 6, and all 6 were top tier players.


6th out was Jason Lester- despite picking up big slick, he was called by Scotty Win who held 7s. Lester missed his cards, and went home in 6th.


Ayaz Mahmood played well throughout the tournament, but ran into a brick wall on his last hand. Despite holding a nice pair of ladies, Flack had him covered with pocket rockets, and that was the end for Mahmood.


Brunson would breathe a sigh of relief when the next player eliminated was the ever talented Layne Flack. After losing a big pot to Doyle’s trip 8s, Back to Back Flack was eliminated when his K-10 got caught out by Brunson’s K-9 which caught a miracle 9 to pair. His elimination was followed by Scotty Nguyen’s loss, who went out while battling with his low chip count; Scotty’s Q-J fell to Minh Ly’s pocket 5s.


When heads-up play began, Brunson held a huge chip advantage, and the stage was set for the historic victory. Ly was shortstacked and played it aggressively; when he looked down at K-Q, he moved all in. Brunson thought about this play, and decided to play his 10-3 in the hopes of eliminating an aggressive and skilled opponent. Despite being a dog in the hand, Brunson’s victory was not to be denied, and with stacks of hundred dollar bills on the table, a 3 hit the board and history was made.


Brunson took home $367,800 for this win and yet again confirmed his legendary status. His victory re-established a tie with Johnny Chan for most WSOP bracelets, and proved that he can still compete at the top level with players half his age for inordinate amounts of time.


These two events will stand as among Poker’s milestones, as two of the game’s true legends established their supremacy and re-established an epic battle. Expect both players to take home another bracelet or two before this war’s over.

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