Four hundred eighty-four hands were played during the 19-hour final table at the World Series of Poker Europe main event. Exhausted from the day and proving that endurance is necessary during competition, John Juanda held his fourth bracelet, his first since 2003. Throughout the 39-year history of the World Series of Poker, Juanda's victory over Stanislav Alekhin completed the longest final table, breaking the record of final-table hands by 130.
"This is unbelievable," Juanda said. "We played for over 24 hours I didn't give up. I tried my best. You have to give the last two players a lot of credit."
Those last two players that Juanda eliminated were the two Russians with tremendous weight on their respective shoulders. Alekhin, at age 23, was making his first major live final table. Time and time again, the other players commented that he was impossible to read, including Juanda.
"Second place isn't so bad for me," said Alekhin to worldseriesofpoker.com. "I played all day with the best of the world's poker players In heads-up it is important to use your position and I was unlucky today. Several times I was all-in and was a favorite. I could be the champion if certain river cards didn't come."
The other Russian was none other than Ivan Demidov, who currently is second in chips heading into the WSOP main event in November. He became the first player to make both main event final tables and has sent a message to all those looking to find a favorite among the field of nine next month. However, even though he finished third, Demidov was disappointed with his play.
"I had my chance. I feel like I just screwed it up," Demidov said. "You know, it's not that I got unlucky. I understand I played bad. I made so many mistakes. If I played tomorrow, I would've played all the hands different and better."
Still, Demidov felt that this table would help him in November.
"Every final table is practice for another final table," said Demidov. "I wanted to win, not to practice, but I think it's going to be a good lesson for me, especially when it comes to staying focused all the time."
Before the dinner break, Juanda had trouble against both the Russian players, but immediately after dinner, he seemed to change gears and take advantage of the duo. Entering dinner in fourth out of five players, he chipped up against his opponents and took the chip lead entering heads-up play. Shortly after, the tables turned and Juanda was a 7:1 underdog.
"It's a good thing that I have a strong heart," said Juanda to ESPN's Norman Chad. "It wasn't easy at all. I've been playing poker for a long time, but even tonight, I got very frustrated, but I tried so hard to not let it bother me and to play my normal game."
Juanda's win, the first for an American at the WSOP Europe, was worth £868,800 and a bracelet he'll never forget.
"Of all the four bracelets, this one is the most special," said Juanda. "This is the WSOP Europe main event. It's one of the top three tournaments I want to win.
"I feel really good here. I love it here. I wake up feeling good every day. I know I caught a lot of good hands and some river cards when I needed it to, but you need that to win a tournament. For four days I played pretty good poker."
Juanda's emergence in the poker world came at the same time as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey and Allen Cunningham. The four were a very close group, and although Juanda initially took the bracelet lead, Norman Chad noted that the other three had passed him by.
"You know that people have to keep up with the Joneses, but I have to keep up with the Iveys, the Cunninghams, the Negreanus," said Juanda.
Negreanu finished in fifth place, spending most of the time as the short stack. He was eliminated by Alekhin's J-J against his A-9. After his elimination, it was Demidov who Negreanu gave some credit.
"Send him the bracelet in November," Negreanu said jokingly in an email to ESPN.com. "Kidding, but he is good."
This event will be televised on ESPN in early 2009.
Other notable finishers include Scott Fischman (sixth), Brandon Adams (17th), Mike Matusow (18th) and Andy Bloch (23rd).
Below are the complete results from Event 4 of the 2008 World Series of Poker Europe:
Event 4: No-limit Hold 'em
Prize pool: £3,620,000 ($6,660,079)
Players in the money: 36
1. John Juanda (£868,800)
2. Stanislav Alekhin (£533,950)
3. Ivan Demidov (£334,850)
4. Bengt Sonnert (£271,500)
5. Daniel Negreanu (£217,200)
6. Scott Fischman (£171,950)
7. Robin Keston (£135,750)
8. Toni Hiltunen (£108,600)
9. Chris Elliott (£81,450)
10. Peter Neff (£54,300)
11. Johnny Lodden (£54,300)
12. Soren Kongsgaard (£54,300)
13. Talal Shakerchi (£45,250)
14. Philippe Rouas (£45,250)
15. Brian Townsend (£45,250)
16. Justin Smith (£36,200)
17. Brandon Adams (£36,200)
18. Mike Matusow (£36,200)
19. Erik Seidel (£28,960)
20. Kim-Andre Torsvik (£28,960)
21. Mel Judah (£28,960)
22. Perttu Bergius (£28,960)
23. Andy Bloch (£28,960)
24. Tim West (£28,960)
25. Panicos Panaxi (£28,960)
26. William Haughey (£28,960)
27. Harri Pehkonen (£28,960)
28. Roberto Machado (£25,340)
29. Brian Johnson (£25,340)
30. Tomi Moreira (£25,340)
31. Peter Turmezey (£25,340)
32. Alexis Guimbal (£25,340)
33. Josh Arieh (£25,340)
34. Christofer Williamsson (£25,340)
35. Jani Sointula (£25,340)
36. James Keys (£25,340)