As the final table for event No. 3 of the World Series of Poker Europe began, the focus was clearly on one player.
If Kelly was the last man standing from the 582-player field, his name would enter the WSOP record books.
If Kelly was to win the €1,000 buy in No Limit Hold’em event, he would become the first two-time WSOP Europe bracelet winner.
He also had the chance to be the first player since Phil Hellmuth to win the same WSOP Hold’em bracelet event in back-to-back years. Hellmuth won the 1992 and 1993, $5,000 buy in Limit Hold’em events.
In addition, the 24-year-old Kelly was in line to break Phil Ivey’s record of youngest player to win three WSOP bracelets. Ivey won the third of his eight bracelets at the age of 26.
Of course, there were seven other players seated around the felt that did not want to see Kelly get close to the €133,857 winner’s share of the prize pool nor the gold bracelet.
The chip counts as the final table began were:
Kaveh Payman – 434,000
Mehdi Senhaji – 369,000
J.P. Kelly – 242,000
Jeppe Brisgaard – 171,000
Nicky Katz – 150,000
Scott Shelley – 148,000
Karim Jomeen – 109,000
Paul Pitchford – 77,000
Jack Lyman – 55,000
When play got down to heads-up, Kelly sat across the felt from the 24-year-old Scott Shelley.
While Kelly was looking to set records if he came out victorious, Shelley was looking for vindication as he finished one place outside the money in this event last year. When heads-up play began, Kelly held the chip lead with 1,030,000 to Shelley’s 720,000.
The first big pot of heads-up play came when Kelly semi-bluffed at a board showing Qh Jh 7h 2h Jd.
After the river hit the table, Kelly made a raise of 80,000.
The raise sent Shelley into the tank as the board showed a lot of possibilities for Kelly. Shelley eventually made the call.
Kelly said, “I’ve got a seven,” but that would not be close to good enough as Shelley tabled a pair of kings. After the hand, Shelley had 1,215,000 chips in front of him while Kelly was down to 535,000.
It did not take much longer to get to the final hand. Shelley opened with a raise of 47,000.
Kelly thought for a bit, and then announced that he was all in.
Shelley called, and the players showed their cards.
H held 3c 3h and Kelly tabled Qd Jh. It was a classic race situation, as the odds put both players at close to a 50 percent chance to win the hand before the flop.
The dealer tabled the flop of 3s 5h 8c, and Shelley jumped to a 98 percent favorite to take down the hand and the tournament. The turn of 7h had Kelly drawing dead before the 10d hit on the river.
The final table payouts:
Scott Shelley €133,857
J.P. Kelly €82,854
Jeppe Bisgaard €55,063
Paul Pitchford €40,862
Kaveh Payman €30,666
Mehdi Senhaji €23,239
Jack Lyman €17,768
Karim Jomeen €13,694
Nicky Katz €10,633