Vladimir Dobrovolskiy has been something of a feel-good underdog story since that wild, three-way all in hand that my colleague Martin Harris wrote about yesterday. He was down to less than five big blinds after that hand, but rallied all the way back to make the final table as a short stack.
Dobrovolskiy started today with about 25 big blinds. He moved in a few times early, including one hand in which he shoved the button and had to sweat as small blind Marcelo Fonseca took a long time before deciding to fold. Dobrovolskiy didn’t look entirely comfortable during those minutes. His eyes were closed behind his sunglasses and his jaw was clenched.
But Dobrovolskiy’s stack couldn’t keep pace with the blinds. In Level 24, the 15k-30k level, Francisco Baruffi opened to 70,000 pre-flop. Action passed to Dobrovolskiy, who three-bet shoved. When all others passed, Baruffi asked the dealer to count down Dobrovolskiy’s stack. The dealer announced the total as 450,000. Armed with that amount, Baruffi snap-called.
Both Angel Guillen and Joaquin Melogno quickly pointed out that the dealer made a mistake. Dobrovolskiy’s stack totaled 612,000, not 450,000, but by that point it was too late to know if the extra chips would have made a difference to Baruffi. The cards were on their backs. Dobrovolskiy showed 10♠10♥; Baruffi had the overs with A♣Q♣.
It was looking for all the world like Dobrovolskiy’s feel-good story of overcoming adversity would add another chapter as the flop came 3♠7♠6♦ and the turn fell 8♥. But the Q♥ on the river drew a gasps from the players at the table and a grimace from Dobrovolskiy. He nodded his head slightly, then shook hands with everyone at the table – even as Marcelo Fonseca stood up and raced around the table to hug fellow Brazilian Baruffi and congratulate him on the knockout.
Dobrovolskiy’s 7th place finish is three spots better than his friend Andrei Tsitovich finished last year, and earned Dobrovolskiy $26,770. But his elimination was disappointing to almost everyone who witnessed this young Russian, far from home, dig deep yesterday and find the moxy to bull his way to being one river card away from having a 40 big blind-stack with seven players to go.