When Event #58: $1,500 Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold'em kicked off on Monday there were 1,475 runners in the room, each hoping to find themselves where Jared Jaffee sits tonight. The longtime pro finally earned his first World Series of Poker bracelet after recording 11 cashes here at the Rio since 2009, and with the accomplishment he also moved one step closer to capturing poker's "Triple Crown." Jaffee took down the World Poker Tour Jacksonville bestbet Fall Poker Scramble $3,500 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event in November of last year, but as every poker player knows, there's nothing quite like grabbing the WSOP gold.
The mixed-max format saw the field play a full first day of nine-handed action and whittle the field down to 181, and on Day 2 the tables shrunk to six-handed for another gauntlet of short-handed poker. Late on Day 2, the final 24 players reconvened at four-handed tables and the pace accelerated until just 10 remained. Jaffee topped the counts entering the third and final day of play, and he quickly went to work building on that advantage.
A crucial cooler of a hand against Brandon Cantu propelled Jaffee into the final four heads-up matches with nearly half the chips in play, as Jaffee's kings were ran down by Cantu's queens, until the river reversed the situation in cruel fashion for the combustible Cantu.
Armed with a massive chip advantage over his heads-up opponent Joseph Alban, Jaffee dispatched him in short order to secure a spot in the finals, where he would face fellow pro Mike Watson. Both players were searching for their first WSOP bracelet, and a lengthy heads-up duel ensued in which Watson fought back admirably from a nearly 2-1 disadvantage when play began. Watson picked off a bold bluff by Jaffee to briefly claim the chip lead, but Jaffee continued to apply pressure with preflop raises and post-flop aggression, winning the majority of pots during the contest.
Jaffee collected $405,428 for the first-place finish, pushing over the $2 million live earnings milestone in the process by capturing his third six-figure score in a nine-month span. He now needs only a victory on the European Poker Tour to become the latest member of the "Triple Crown" club, proving that Jaffee's name belongs among the short list of poker's rising stars.
Hand #99: Mike Watson limped the button, Jared Jaffee raised to 180,000 in the big blind and Watson reraised all in for about 1.6 million. Jaffee took a deep breath and sighed before he announced a call.
"ACE!!!!!!" yelled Jaffee's rail as everyone stood up in anticipation for what was to come.
The flop came down , keeping Watson well in front with his pair of jacks. Short of an ace, the turn was as good as it gets for Jaffee as it gave him a flush draw and an open-ended straight draw. The river gave Jaffee an eight-high straight to lock up the victory, ending Watson's run in second place.
Hand #71: Mike Watson opened to 125,000 and Jared Jaffee flatted. The flop came down and both players tapped the table to bring the to the board on the turn. Jaffee then check-folded to Watson's 150,000 wager.
Hand #72: Watson went for a walk in the big blind.
Hand #73: Watson opened for 125,000, Jaffee flatted, and the flop fell . Jaffee checked to Watson, who obliged with a bet of 130,000, but Jaffee popped it to 290,000 to force the fold.
Hand #74: Jaffee opened to 125,000, Watson flatted, and the two saw the flop come down . Watson then check-called a bet of 165,000 to peel the on the turn. Watson checked a second time and then called when Jaffee continued for 320,000. On the river Watson checked for a third time, and then looked Jaffee up after the latter fired away for 610,000.
Watson's turned two pair was the winner and Jaffee's bottom pair bluff was busted.
Hand #66: Jared Jaffee raised to 125,000 on the button and Mike Watson called from the big blind. They checked to the river of a board where Jaffee bet 140,000. Watson folded and Jaffee picked up the pot.
Hand #67: Watson limped his button and Jaffee checked his option. They checked to the turn of a board where Watson took down the pot with a bet of 60,000.
Hand #68: Jaffee raised to 125,000 on the button, Watson three-bet shoved for about 1.14 mllion and Jaffee folded.
Hand #69: Jaffee received a walk.
Hand #70: Jaffee raised to 125,000 on the button and Watson three-bet all in for 1.255 million. Jaffee confirmed the amount before he called.
A chop was likely, but the flop fell . Watson still led, while Jaffee picked up a wheel draw. The turn added some chop outs, but the river gave Watson the double up as his six kicker played.
Hand #37: Jared Jaffee received a walk in the big blind.
Hand #38: Jaffee opened to 90,000 holding the button and Mike Watson called to take the flop. Watson then check-folded to Jaffee's 120,000 c-bet.
Hand #39: Watson opened to 80,000 but quickly relinquished when Jaffee three-bet to 220,000.
Hand #40: Jaffee opened to 90,000 and took down the pot without a contest.
Hand #41: Watson opened to 80,000 and Jaffee flatted, with the flop falling . Both players checked and the turn came , prompting a feeler bet of 125,000 from Jaffee. That forced Watson off the hand, and the fifth consecutive pot was pushed to Jaffee.
Hand #7: Mike Watson opened to 60,000 holding the button and Jared Jaffee flatted to see the flop come . Jaffee then check-called a bet of 65,000, and both players tapped the table on the turn. When the arrived on the river Watson checked to Jaffee, who bet 130,000 to take the pot down.
Hand #8: Watson went for a walk in the big blind.
Hand #9: Watson opened to 60,000 and Jaffee called to see the flop. Both players checked through and the turn came , upon which Watson fired out 77,000 to force the fold.
Hand #10: Jaffee tossed out enough chips for a 40,000 raise — but the minimum raise for this level is 48,000. After the dealer corrected his action Jaffee was forced to commit an additional 8,000, with Watson flatting to see the flop. Watson then check-folded to Jaffee's 59,000 c-bet.
Mark Herm was on the ropes after losing a few big pots in short order, and he open-shoved for his last 400,000 holding the button.
Mike Watson called with and found himself in great shape against Herm's , but the latter was drawing to two live cards.
The flop came to gift Herm a gutshot straight draw to the nine. But the turn () and river () missed his hand entirely. Herm pocketed $126,882 for his efforts, while Watson secured his seat in the final heads-up match against Jared Jaffee.
The two will square off with a bracelet on the line at 8 p.m. local time, so check back then to find out who takes down their first taste of 2014 WSOP gold and glory.
Mark Herm has chopped one of Mike Watson's legs out from under him, and now he is leaning on his man, hoping to make him fall.
On one hand Watson raised before the flop and Herm popped it up to 150,000. Watson flatted and the flop came , with Herm quickly leading out for 150,000. Watson relented and the pot was pushed to Herm.
A few hands passed with Herm open shoving to claim the blinds and antes, before Watson tried limping into the pot. Herm obliged by checking his option, and the flop rolled out . Herm then check-called a 40,000 wager, and both players tapped the table on the turn. When the completed the board on the river Herm led out for 55,000, and once more Watson's hand was slid toward the dealer in defeat.