Greatest WPT Comeback Ever?

Sep 25, 2009

Online specialist Olivier Busquet comes back to win after a 20-to-1 chip deficit

By BJ Nemeth

There have been some great comebacks in WPT history, but it’d be tough to find any as dramatic as Olivier Busquet’s victory in the 2009 WPT Borgata Poker Open.

Entering with a big chip lead and the most distinguished poker resume at the final table, Busquet almost fell victim to a collapse. When he eliminated short-stacked Kenny "Super Tuan" Nguyen in 6th place, he had nearly twice as many chips as anyone else. But he eventually fell victim to the relentless aggression of Jeremy Brown, who was either getting a miracle run of cards or bluffing like crazy.

Busquet and Brown were nearly even in chips when they clashed in Hand #36. With a good-size pot brewing over a board of [AsKh5d2c], Busquet bet 2 million and Brown moved all in. Busquet folded, and with that hand, Brown took over the chip lead.

Brown eliminated the next three players (Keith Crowder in 5th, Yanick Brodeur in 4th, and Ivan Mamuzic in 3rd), and heads-up play began with a nearly 3-to-1 chip lead for Brown over Busquet. Brown was acting very arrogant, as if victory was imminent, and downing a lot of drinks along with his friends on the rail. Brown was laughing and joking, and everything he said was based on the fact that his victory was assured.

The early stages of the heads-up match gave Brown plenty of reasons to feel that way. He continued his aggressive play, and Busquet took his time, trying to play relatively small pots. (Busquet began heads-up play with 40 big blinds.) Momentum continued in Brown’s favor until the 18th hand of heads-up play, when Brown had built up a 20-to-1 chip lead (29,075,000 to 1,530,000).

Busquet doubled up (his [Jc7c] beat Brown’s [Qc9d]), and picked his spots carefully to continue to build a stack until Brown’s lead was down to 4-to-1 by Hand #121. That’s when they got it all in after a flop of [8h7c6s], and Busquet had flopped the nuts with a ten-high straight. Busquet flopped top pair and turned two pair, but missed the river to lose the hand. Brown still had the chip lead, but it was now 3-to-2 — anyone’s match.

Hand #128 is the hand that will be talked about by everyone when it finally airs on TV. After a flop of [AsKs6h], Brown check-raised, only to see Busquet raise back at him again — 43% of Busquet’s chips were in the pot at that point. Rather than backing down, Brown put in the fourth bet, and Busquet moved all in. Brown then folded [Qc2c] face up after bluffing away 7.6 million in chips. (Read the entire hand by clicking here.)

Suddenly, Busquet had a 3-to-2 chip lead.

Brown would regain the lead in Hand #137, when the pot built up to 12 million over a board of [Qc10h9sKhQs]. Brown showed down [KsQh] to win the pot with a full house, and reverse the chip stacks (3-to-2 in Brown’s favor).

But Busquet had come back once already, and this time it was much easier — he had the lead back in eight hands, leading up to the finale in Hand #153.

The board showed [4s4c3c], and they were both all in so quickly we couldn’t even hear who shoved and who called. Brown had [5s2s] for an open-ended straight draw, while Busquet had [As4d] for trip fours. The turn card was the [7s], giving Brown additional outs with a spade flush draw. The river card was the [5c] — close enough to Brown’s outs that the entire audience was stunned for more than five seconds before realizing the tournament was over.

Olivier Busquet, the favorite at the start of the final table, became one of the biggest underdogs in WPT history before coming back to win the WPT Borgata Poker Open. Busquet is a legend among online players for his results playing heads-up online, and he has now solidified that reputation with a spectacular heads-up performance in a high-stakes live tournament.

Here’s a look at the winnings for the six final tablists:

1st  –  Olivier Busquet  –  $925,514
2nd  –  Jeremy Brown  –  $453,519
3rd  –  Ivan Mamuzic  –  $251,955
4th  –  Yanick Brodeur  –  $216,681
5th  –  Keith Crowder  –  $188,126
6th  –  Kenny Nguyen  –  $156,212

Unfortunately, this episode of the WPT won’t be broadcast on FoxSportsNet until the spring of 2010, but you’ll definitely want to watch this one when it airs. There was plenty of action, plenty of drinking, and plenty of table talk — followed by a skillful heads-up match and one of the greatest comebacks in WPT history. You won’t want to miss it.

The next stop for the World Poker Tour is the WPT Festa al Lago at Bellagio in Las Vegas, which starts October 21. Return to for complete live coverage of that event from start to finish.

Until then check out for your chance to win your way to a $10k buy-in WPT Main Event. 

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