Still Searching for First Canadian 2014 WSOP Bracelet

Kal Raichura before he was eliminated in 2nd-place in Event 14

As we slip past the one-third mark of the World Series of Poker, Canada has yet to win a bracelet. Five final tables including two runner-up finishes have been scored so far, but that enviable piece of gold jewelry continues to elude us.

Here’s a recap of Canadian final-table finishes so far:

Event #12: $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em

Ryan Schoonbaert from Calgary, Alberta managed an eighth-place finish for $16,384, just $1,500 shy of beating his previous best cash of $17,891 that he earned in the Canadian Poker Tour Main Event this past April in his hometown. This is Schoonbaert’s first WSOP result, and he outlasted 549 other players before he was eliminated on the final table.

It all ended when he pushed his short stack all in preflop with {q-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds} and was called by Kazu Oshima, the eventual runner-up finisher of this event. Oshima held {k-Hearts}{j-Clubs} and Schoonbaert got no help on the board of {7-Hearts}{4-Hearts}{3-Clubs}{4-Spades}{j-Spades}.

Event #13: $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship

Top money-earning poker player in Canada with $21.5 million in lifetime earnings, Daniel Negreanu, just missed earning his seventh WSOP gold bracelet when he lost heads up to Paul Volpe in the deuce-to-seven championship event. Negreanu earned $156,674 for the result.

It was an absolutely stacked final table. Joining poker masters Negreanu and Volpe were Jason Mercier, Brian Rast, Larry Wright, John Monnette, and Abe Mosseri. Negreanu’s run ended when Volpe moved all in from the button for about 245,000 effective.

"I have four good ones," said Negreanu with a chuckle. He waited a moment. "I'll call."

Both players took one card and their hands were turned on their backs.

Negreanu: {j-}{6-}{5-}{4-}
Volpe: {j-}{10-}{7-}{6-}

Volpe rolled his card over immediately, showing a {3-} and making his jack-ten. Negreanu squeezed his card while supporters all over the ESPN stage shouted for low cards.

"Two!" boomed one railbird.

"Four!" yelled another, prompting a double-take from Negreanu.

"No, not a four!" replied Negreanu with a laugh. The crowd burst into laughter as well and Negreanu went back to squeezing out his card.

"It's paint," he said, flinging a {q-} on the table.

Event #14: $1,500 Limit Omaha Hi-Low

Another runner-up finish for Canada, Kal Raichura (pictured above) from Napean, Ontario saw the bracelet slip through his fingers when Nick Kost won their heads-up battle. This was Raichura’s third-ever WSOP cash, and the largest of his poker career at $175,300.

It all came to an end when Kost raised the button and Raichura three-bet. Kost called and the flop came {q-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}. Raichura bet, Kost raised, Raichura made it three bets, and Kost made it four bets. Raichura called, then bet the {8-Clubs} turn. Kost called and Raichura put the last of his chips in blind on the {3-Diamonds} river.

Kost quickly called, standing up as he slapped {a-Spades}{k-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{q-Diamonds} onto the felt for a gueen-high flush.

“Nice hand,” Raichura said, briefly exposing {k-}{j-}{q-}{x-} before the dealer swept it up.

A second Canadian made a final-table finish in this event. Calen “Big Wheel” McNeil finished fourth and came impressively close to defending his title as he was the winner of this event last summer. McNeil, from Victorai, BC, earned $79,608 for his great finish.

His end came with he three-bet from the button after Kost opened. Kost called. The two of them got the last of McNeil’s chips in the middle on the {9-Hearts}{4-Clubs}{2-Hearts} flop.

McNeil: {a-Hearts}{10-Hearts}{k-Hearts}{8-Spades}
Kost: {k-Diamonds}{6-Spades}{5-Diamonds}{3-Spades}

Kost had flopped a wrap and a low draw while McNeil and his enthusiastic supporters on the rail began calling for hearts. The dealer burned and turned the {10-Clubs}, keeping McNeil best and giving him a scoop if he found a big card.

“Big!” he yelled. “Big!”

The dealer revealed the {a-Clubs} on the river. Kost made the wheel, eliminating McNeil from the tournament.

Event #23: $1,000 Turbo No-Limit Hold’em

The most recent final-table finish for Canada was Gianluca Cedolia who finished in seventh for $30,252 in the turbo. The fastest tournament of the series began with 1,473 players and played down to a champion in just a day and a half. From Toronto, Ontario, Cedolia’s result was within $100 of his career-best cash — a 16th-place finish in the 2011 European Poker Tour Sanremo Main Event.

With the blinds quickly escalating, Cedolia met his demise when he pushed his six-big-blind stack into the middle from the small blind and Doug Polk, the eventual winner of this event, called from the big blind.

Cedolia: {a-Diamonds}{2-Spades}
Polk: {q-Clubs}{8-Hearts}

Cedolia was at risk but ahead with his ace-high. The flop of {q-Hearts}{j-Hearts}{7-Diamonds} would change that, though, moving Polk into the lead with the queens. The turn and river were the {4-Diamonds} and {5-Diamonds}, respectively, and Cedolia lost the last of his chips.

There are still plenty more events to play in this year’s World Series of Poker, and we’re confident that one of our Canadians will earn a bracelet for red and white soon. Plenty of superstars are in Las Vegas grinding out the series — people like Daniel Negreanu, Jonathan Duhamel, Sorel Mizzi, Greg Mueller, Mike Watson, Mike Leah, Shawn Buchanan, Gavin Smith, Nenad Medic, Xuan Liu, Griffin Benger, Jason Duval, and others.

Follow our live reporting blog to keep up to date on every event in the series. We’ll have a Canadian bracelet in the headlines soon enough.

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