Thursday night delivered some of the best poker action so far in the 2012 WSOP. It was the No-Limit Hold'em Shootout event that brought on some of the loudest crowds at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in this year's WSOP. UK's Craig McCorkell was the last man standing after the battle. The victory resulted in 2012's first British Gold Bracelet and a healthy bag of money for McCorkell - $368,593.
When only three players remained in the game, the 2004 Pot-Limit Hold'em winner Antonio Esfandiari was holding an estimated 80% of the chips. Then something happened...
WSOP.com reporter Nolan Dalla explains the events: "the most stunning turn of events at this year’s WSOP took place when Esfandiari not only lost the chip lead, he was ultimately knocked out of the tournament. All it took were three brutal hands for “the Magician” to completely disappear from the ESPN Main Stage".
Esfandiari went all-in with a pocket of 9's facing Jeremiah Fitzpatrick's pocket 7's. The flop showed a 7 and Fitzpatrick, who's best WSOP record shows a 102nd placement in 2009's No Limit Hold'em event 11, terminated Esfandiari. Fitzpatrick was in a great position for the Gold Bracelet.
Thirty minutes into the heads-up between Fitzpatrick and McCorkell, the chips had turned to McCorkell's favour. The final hand gave McCorkell the bracelet with a pair of eights. Nolan Dalla describes the last hand of event 36 as "Oddly enough, the final board was an inappropriately anti-climatic swan song of a thrilling final table that included nine full hours of ecstasy, tragedy, jubilation, and heartbreak".