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Sonny Franco Wins 2019 WSOP International Circuit Marrakech Main Event

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  • Namita Ghosh January 22, 2019
  • 2 Minutes Read

With 2019 kicking in, the annual roster of International Circuit halts hosted by the World Series of Poker (WSOP) have spun into motion and the latest stop was held at Casino de Marrakech. Headlining the series was the Main Event that culminated with Sonny Franco (cover image) walking away with the WSOP circuit gold ring and the first place purse of 1,500,000 MAD ($156,862).

This is Franco’s fourth WSOP International Circuit ring, and also his second Main Event title. Back in March 2018, Franco had taken down the WSOPCircuit Main Event in Cannes.

The event attracted 544 entries over two starting flights, setting a new record for Marrakech. Coming into the heads-up play, Franco was up against professional football player Jimmy Kebe and he defeated the latter to win the title after a grueling 17-hour slog fest. While Kebe picked up the runner-up finish, for 950,000 MAD ($99,340), Robert Julien finished third for 650,000 MAD ($67,970).

The final day of the event saw rapid eliminations in the first hour of play with the field slimming down to 17 players. Not much later, the final table was set.

Final Table Recap

It took two hours of play before the nine-handed final table saw its first elimination. Abdelhamid El Khayati was the first player to exit, in ninth place after he moved all in with pocket aces on a six-jack-ten board that had two diamonds. Kebe held and immediately hit his flush when the turn brought the , making the queen on the river a mere formality.

UK’s Brahim Hajji then pushed all his chips in the middle with pocket fives on a flop. Hajji was up against Hassan Fares’ and like Kebe, Fares hit his flush on the turn as the popped up. The on the river was of no use to Hajji who was eliminated in eighth place.

Next up, Isabel Baltazar got the last of her eight big blinds in the middle with pocket queens and found a caller in Julien Robert from the small blind. Robert held ace-queen and when the king-six-ace appeared on the flop, Baltazar’s chances got even bleaker. The turn was the that left her with just one out and the on the river ended her run in seventh place.

Hassan Fares next ran his king-jack into the ace-queen of Edoardo Mortera and crashed in sixth place.

Following Fares to the rail was Najib Bennis who moved all in for 17 big blinds with ace-nine and was called by Franco with ace-queen. Franco clipped a queen pair on the flop sending Bennis out in fifth place.

The next elimination came through after nearly two-and-half hours when Franco eliminated Edoardo Mortera. Action saw Robert opening the action and Mortera moved all in with ace-queen. Franco woke up with pocket kings and made the call, putting Mortera at risk. The board ran nine-high and Mortera collected a fourth place payout.

Nearly 16 hours later, Julien Robert ran his queen-ten into the ace-four of Franco. Big blind Kebe folded leaving only Robert and Franco in the hand. Franco flopped an ace and the rest of the board blanked out, eliminating Robert in third place.

Jimmy Kebe entered the heads-up play very short stacked but managed to double up through Franco to get back in contention. However, on his third all-in move, Kebe, who held pocket nines against Franco’s pocket fives, got extremely unlucky when Franco caught lightning in a bottle with a five on the turn. With no nine on the river, Franco picked up the title, relegating Kebe to a runner-up place.

Sonny Franco
Sonny Franco – Winner of WSOP Marrakech Main Event

Final Table Results (MAD)

  1. Sonny Franco – 1,500,000 MAD
  2. Jimmy Kebe – 950,000 MAD
  3. Julien Robert – 650,000 MAD
  4. Edoardo Mortera – 480,000 MAD
  5. Najib Bennis – 365,000 MAD
  6. Hassan Fares -283,000 MAD
  7. Isabel Baltazar -222,000 MAD
  8. Brahim Hajji – 183,000 MAD
  9. Abdelhamid El Khayati – 156,000 MAD


Content & Images courtesy: PokerNews and WSOP

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