Dan Colman, an online heads-up sit-and-go specialist, beat Daniel Negreanu heads up to win the $1 million Big One for One Drop, $15.3 million and his first World Series of Poker bracelet on Tuesday night.
In the end, it all came down to two ace-four hands. Colman shifted the momentum and the chip lead when he won a huge pot off Negreanu — including an 18-million-chip bet after making a full house on the river — holding ace-four, then later won the title when he beat Negreanu's ace-four by making a straight on the turn to take the title.
In the first hand, Negreanu called Colman's 2.5-million-chip bet after a flop of jack-eight-four with two spades. He then called for another 7 million after an ace of spades hit on the turn before facing the 18-million-chip bet after the four of hearts was dealt on the river. Negreanu thought for a long time, at one point saying, "I think I have to call here."
One would think he had a really strong hand. With three spades and a pair on the board, there are possible flushes and full houses. But in the end, Negreanu made the call with king-queen for no pair.
"I had king-queen with one spade, I check (the flop), which is pretty standard there," said Negreanu. "The turn is the ace of spades, so now I have a flush draw, a gutshot, and I still have king-queen high, which beats a lot of his straight draw combos. He bet again, so I thought he had to have a really strong hand or a draw, so I called. The river was the four, which doesn't look like it ever helps him, and I checked, he made a big bet at it, and I thought it was a really good chance he's not going to bet a pair of jacks, he probably checks an ace, so unless he had a flush or better, than my king-high was going to win, because he's probably got nine-10. So I was wrong on the hand, but in the long run I would make the same call again."
Two hands earlier, Negreanu got unlucky when his ace-queen was beat on the river by Colman's ace-eight on a board of Jh-9h-Jc Js 8c.
"I played it well," said Negreanu. "I made a bet on the turn to get him out, he called and hit the eight. And then from there, the wind got knocked out of my sails, and he's really tough. He wasn't giving any chips away."
Colman declined to be interviewed by members of the media following the tournament.
On the final hand of the night, Negreanu moved all in with ace-four and Colman called with king-queen. Things were looking good for Negreanu when he flopped two pair, but with a jack on the board, Colman had draw to a gutshot straight. A 10 on the turn left Negreanu hoping for a four or an ace on the river for a full house, but a seven of spades sealed his fate as the runner-up.
Negreanu claimed nearly $8.3 million for second place and now holds the top spot on poker's all-time tournament leaderboard with nearly $29.8 million.
The heads-up loss followed an impressive afternoon for Negreanu, who was responsible for five of the seven knockout hands heading into heads-up play. He busted Tom Hall and the bubble on the first hand of the day, beating Hall's pocket 10s in a race with ace-queen. He knocked Cary Katz ($1.31 million) out in eighth with pocket jacks vs. pocket eights, then faded a flush draw from Scott Seiver ($1.68 million) with top pair on a flop of Jd-Ts-9d to trim the field to five players. He flopped a flush to eliminate Tobias Reinkemeier ($2.05 million) in fifth, and his pocket fives were enough to eliminate Christoph Vogelsang in third ($4.48 million).
Other in-the-money finishers included Rick Salomon in fourth ($2.8 million) and Paul Newey in seventh ($1.42 million).
The tournament was the second time the World Series of Poker has held a $1 million buy-in event. The first, in 2012, drew 48 players, while this year's event drew 42. Each entry included a $111,111 donation to the One Drop Foundation, which works to provide safe sources of drinking water in areas where people have none. The Big One for One Drop tournaments have raised $9,999,990 for the nonprofit organization.
Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi. Follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.