Cazals captures Mixed-Max bracelet

Frenchman endures marathon heads-up match en route to title

Updated: June 5, 2012, 2:20 PM ET
By Andrew Feldman | ESPN.com

After seven events, the streak is over. France's Aubin Cazals became the first non-American champion of the 2012 WSOP, winning the first-ever mixed-max event in WSOP-Vegas history. Not only did the 21-year-old stun the 2010 WSOP main event third-place finisher Joseph Cheong to win the bracelet, but he also endured the longest heads-up match the WSOP had ever witnessed just to get to the finals.

The mixed-max format made its debut at the 2011 WSOP Europe and featured an innovative format where the maximum number of players at a table changes during each of the first three days. After nine-handed play on Day 1, 112 out of the starting 407 players remained, with Cazals holding an above-average chip stack. After six-handed play on Day 2, only 31 players survived to enter the heads-up portion of the event, and Cazals held a fifth-place stack. The players were then seeded by chip counts, placed into a bracket, and on Day 3, Cazals defeated Eric Froehlich, Toby Lewis and Adam Geyer to reach what many believed would be the final day of play.

Only four players remained -- Cazals, Cheong, Warwick Mirzikinian and Hugo Lemaire -- and a champion was scheduled to be crowned on Day 4. Cheong took care of Lemaire in short fashion and waited to find out who his opponent would be in the final match of the tournament. And he waited … and waited. Cazals needed nine hours and 25 minutes to defeat Mirzikinian. By that point, Cheong had already secured a stack in another event, making it a challenge for the two to find a convenient time to play it out. The two players, along with the tournament staff, decided that they would return the next day to complete their match.

[+] EnlargeAubin Cazals
WSOP.com France's Aubin Cazals, 21, became the first non-American champion of the 2012 WSOP.

Cazals and Cheong started the finals with a mind-blowingly deep average stack of 375 big blinds. As the two battled, preflop raising wars were the standard, and five hours in, Cheong six-bet all-in with 4-4 and was called by the pocket kings of Cazals. A king flopped and Cheong was eliminated in second place, earning $296,956. This was his eighth career WSOP cash and his second WSOP final table.

"Got 2nd to Aubin Cazals," said Cheong on Twitter after his elimination. "He played very well and I [leveled] myself into [six-betting] 44 into KK. Congrats to @kzouls on the bracelet. … [I] left room for improvement. 3rd and 2nd. 1st is all that's left :)"

Cazals became the youngest champion of the Series through eight events, and he believed his youth gave him an edge in the marathon match on Day 4.

"At the beginning I had a good feeling because I won a couple of pots," Cazals said of the semifinal battle. "Then I started running bad and missing flops. It was a very tough match, knowing when to pick the aggressiveness pre and postflop. At the end, I was very tired but he was, too. His tiredness caused some mistakes in the end. I think my youth and endurance prevailed in the end. I used to run long distance races and that helped me well with my endurance at the table."

The French online poker pro enjoyed the victory, but sees himself migrating away from the game in the future.

"It's going to be poker for years to come," he said. "I don't really want to play poker for more than 10 years. But at the moment, it is going to be poker."

Other notable finishers include 2012 WPT Champion Marvin Rettenmaier (T-fifth), Adam Geyer (T-fifth) and Brock Parker (T-ninth). Tom McCormick (T-17th), cashed for the 38th time in his WSOP career and ranks second on the list of most cashes without a bracelet.

Below are the complete results of Event 6 at the 2012 World Series of Poker:

Event 6: Mixed-max hold 'em
Buy-in: $5,000
Entries: 409
Prize pool: $1,922,300
Players in the money: 44

1. Aubin Cazals ($480,564)
2. Joseph Cheong ($296,956)
3. Warwick Mirzikinian ($162,443)
3. Hugo Lemaire ($162,443)
5. Marvin Rettenmaier ($68,151)
5. Fabrizio Baldassari ($68,151)
5. Randy Haddox ($68,151)
5. Adam Geyer ($68,151)
9. Anthony Gargano ($24,390)
9. Daniel Buzgon ($24,390)
9. Matthew DeLuca ($24,390)
9. Ryan O'Donnell ($24,390)
9. Toby Lewis ($24,390)
9. Brock Parker ($24,390)
9. Ryan Leng ($24,390)
9. Aaron Jones ($24,390)
17. Sergey Tikhonov ($14,328)
17. Robert Tepper ($14,328)
17. Markus Gonsalves ($14,328)
17. John Hennigan ($14,328)
17. Igor Yaroshevskyy ($14,328)
17. Michael Ferrell ($14,328)
17. Nicolas Levi ($14,328)
17. Brian Rast ($14,328)
17. Nabih Zaczac ($14,328)
17. Konstantin Puchkov ($14,328)
17. Joe Tehan ($14,328)
17. Eric Froehlich ($14,328)
17. Victor Ramdin ($14,328)
17. Dimitar Danchev ($14,328)
17. Tom McCormick ($14,328)
17. Jesse Yaginuma ($14,328)
33. Raja Kattamuri ($10,984)
34. Will Failla ($10,984)
35. Jason Somerville ($10,984)
36. Jeffrey Gross ($10,984)
37. Mathew Frankland ($10,984)
38. Gavin Smith ($10,984)
39. Olivier Busquet ($9,503)
40. Zach Clark ($9,503)
41. Kyle Julius ($9,503)
42. Thomas Miller ($9,503)
43. Martins Adeniya ($9,503)
44. Ludovic Riehl ($9,503)

Andrew Feldman is ESPN.com's Poker Editor. He is the host of the Poker Edge Podcast and co-host of ESPN Inside Deal. Andrew has covered the poker industry for ESPN since 2004.

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