Jonathan Duhamel came into the final table with a big lead, eventually got a little short, then went on a tear to take an even more monstrous chip lead into this final showdown.
Thirty hands into the final table, Duhamel's chip lead was dented when his was coolered off by Filippo Candio's . All the chips went in preflop, and Candio had secured his double up by the turn to knock Duhamel down around 50 million. Nineteen hands later, he and Joseph Cheong tangled up in a pot that gave us a new chip leader for the first time in four months. Cheong raised and called a Duhamel three-bet, then called a continuation bet on the flop. They checked the turn, and Cheong made a healthy bet of 8.25 million on the river. Duhamel called, and Cheong's gave him two pair, a pot of more than 30 million, and the chip lead.
There was no slowing down for Duhamel, though, and he continued to take his fair share of preflop pots over the next few orbits. After 90 hands, he was at 47,500,000 at dinner. His active play allowed him to scoop up a lot of free chips, but it also forced him to raise-and-fold, or even three-bet-fold on a few occasions.
On hand #129, John Dolan took his final stand. When the table folded around to his small blind, he moved his short stack of about 13 million into the middle. He ended up having , and he was snap-called by Jonathan Duhamel's . The at-risk player seemed happy to be in a coin flip with his queen-five, but he could not connect with the board.
Despite that kockout pot, Duhamel's stack was in the midst of a steady decline, and it would get worse before it got better. A short-stacked John Racener doubled up into contention, then promptly ran his into Duhamel's for a pot of more than 34 million. The flop robbed Duhamel of that big pot, though, and Racener's second double up knocked Duhamel all the way back to 27 million.
That chip problem didn't last long.
On the very next hand, it was Duhamel opening with a raise from the small blind before Michael Mizrachi moved all in from the big. Duhamel called off his stack with , and he was racing for double or nothing against The Grinder's . A nine landed on the flop, and another one on the turn, and Duhamel was right back up over 50 million. He and Mizrachi continued to mix it up in several big pots, most of them eventually being pushed into the French-Canadian's corner.
On Hand #185, Duhamel dealt the final blow to Mizrachi. On a queen-high flop, Mizrachi three-bet jammed his . Duhamel had limped his from the small blind (sneaky, sneaky), and he snap-called the shove to send Team Mizrachi and half of the theater out the double doors.
Joseph Cheong was still the chip leader through all of the middle-stage madness, but that would change in a flash. On Hand #197, Duhamel raised to 2.8 million, and Cheong came along with him from the small blind. Cheong check-raised on the flop, then barreled on the turn and river. Duhamel finally paused to think on the river, but he called off 13.5 million of his chips with to win the massive pot and take the chip lead once again with about 110 million.
Whether or not he can close out this Main Event, Jonathan Duhamel's name will be etched in the WSOP books for winning the largest pot in its history. It happened just a few shuffles before the end of the night, and it was Cheong and Duhamel playing for more than 170 million chips, the buy-ins of nearly 6,000 players. Cheong, the chip leader once again, six-bet shoved his , and Duhamel called all in with . A board full of blanks crushed Cheong down under 10 million in a pot that will live on in WSOP infamy, shooting Duhamel up into a near-decisive chip lead. Six hands later, Duhamel cued the end of Day 9 when his eliminated Cheong and his in 3rd place.