I walked into the most active, buzzing ballroom yet. No, there was not a huge crowd awaiting the final table participants, rather, there were 400 or so players involved in the $1,000,000 guarantee w/rebuys event. Chips clattered, and the din of the crowd was as loud as I have heard in the three weeks I have been here. Just walking from the door to the final table, I spotted Scotty Nguyen, Amir Vahedi, and Tobey Maguire.
Much like the night before, I knew there were many players at this table who had never played for this kind of money. Unlike the night before, however, this table was tight. If you put a lump of coal in the middle of this table, you would have had yourself a nice diamond by night's end. For the most part, the players were unwilling to gamble.
One player that stood out as different at this final table was Humberto Brenes. Brenes is a terrific player, but that is not why he stood out. Humberto was the short stack at the table, so you knew he would come out swinging
And come out swinging he did. Humberto was all in 4 or 5 times in the first two orbits. Despite his activity, Humberto was not the first player out. That distinction belonged to Gevork Kasabyan. Gevork made a move with KQ, but was unlucky to run into Mike Vatan's pocket Aces. The river King was too little, too late, and it was time for Gevork to go. Gevork Kasabyan finished 10th place, and collected $5,308.
Humberto was, however, the next to go. Humberto, who earlier had lost a coin flip with 5's, figured he would try them again, and called a raise from Daniel Fuhs that put him all in. Daniel flipped over AK, the first two cards off were Kings, and Humberto was off, into the night. Brenes finished 9th, and won $7,077.
Mike Joon Lee was playing in his third final table out of only six events he had played in. An impressive resume to be sure, but this was not going to be Mike's night. Mike moved over the top of Daniel Fuhs with AQ. Daniel reluctantly put his remaining chips in, and flipped over two 8's. The flop was kind, and an 8 fell for Daniel. Mike was now crippled, and put his chips in on the very next hand with Q9 of hearts. Christian Kruel called from the BB with AJ. The flop was not cruel to Christian, as a Jack fell. No help for Mike Joon Lee, and he got up to go get his $8,846 for 8th place.
David Gee had been short stacked pretty much all day. So when Gee found A9, he felt he had to make a move. But Gee was left saying 'Gee Whiz' as he ran into Mike Vatan, and his pocket Kings. A King on the flop put David Gee out to pasture. David Gee - 7th place - $11,046
Next, Daniel Fuhs made a button move with A8. As has seemed inevitable at this tournament so far, Eli Pearlman woke up with KK in the big blind. Daniel had moved in with his A8, and now he was getting ready to move out. Fuhs was live to an Ace all the way to the river, but a King on the river made Pearlman a set, and set Fuhs on his course home. Daniel Fuhs - 6th place, $15,481.
Something must have been contagious about moving in with fair hands, because several hands later, "Chico" Mike (we had three Mikes at this final table) Dufloth moved in from the cutoff with J10. Christian found AQ on the button, and called. Dufloth knew he was in trouble, but was pleased that he had two live cards. None of those live cards fell, however, and Chico Mike was the next Mike to leave us. Chico Mike sauntered over to the desk, and finished 5th for $19,904.
At this point, the players struck a deal, but left a fair amount of money on the table to play for. Usually in these situations, play loosens up significantly. But not as this final table, as it was clear that this would be by far the longest final table of any event yet, and I was scouring the ballroom looking for a lump of coal to turn into that previously mentioned diamond.
Bad luck for Christian Kruel, as he was the chip leader when the deal was struck, but was first out from here for 4th place. Christian made a button move for a lot of chips, and Mike Vatan came over the top with pocket 5's. Christian decided to call with AJ, and the doorcard on the flop was a five, and Christian was up, and out. One thing that I thought showed a lot of class is Christian shook all three remaining players hands upon his exit. I don't know why I haven't noticed this, but no one in ANY of the events had done this yet. The handshakes were a nice gesture on Christian's part, but you couldn't help but think that he really had left some money on the table here. Christian Kruel finished 4th place, and picked up $66,000.
Now down to three, the crowd had dissipated, and only the three players tournament staff, and myself and Max Shapiro were left, as everyone else had been bored to tears. Probably another 30 minutes went by before Brian Kim, who was getting short, re-raised Mike's button raise all in with KQ. Mike thought for a minute, and then called with A5. No help to either player until the river made a straight for Mike, and sent Bryan home. Bryan Kim - 3rd place, $71,000.
Finally, mercifully this tournament ended. Eli Pearlman made a nice comeback after trailing Mike Vatan about two to one, and put this baby to bed. I hurried out of the ballroom to go home, and get some sleep. Final results are below. This will be my last report until WPT time, as I am going to France to play in the European Poker Tour event there. The very capable Earl Burton will be taking over for me. His first report will be tomorrow, as he gets to walk into the eye of the storm, with the $1,500 + rebuys event next, and a prize pool of over $1.2 million.
1st - Eli Pearlman $100,000
2nd - Mike Vatan $81,000
3rd - Bryan Kim $70,000
4th - Christian Kruel $66,000
5th - "Chico" Mike Dufloth $19,904
6th - Daniel Fuhs $15,481
7th - David Gee $11,058
8th - Mike Joon Lee $8,846
9th - Humberto Brenes $7,077
10th - Gevork Kasabyan $5,308