After last night's epic battle in the Shootout event, we were prepared for another long evening as we got ready to start the twenty-first event of the Classic, the $1500 Limit event. They had started with one hundred and seventy six players and played into the wee hours of Wednesday morning to get down to the final table of ten. Up for grabs was a prize pool of $256,080 and the valuable points for the All-Around Player of the Tournament Award.
The lineup was very interesting:
Seat 1: James Newton, short stacked at 9,000
Seat 2: Charoen Art, 35,000
Seat 3: 2005 Jack Binion World Poker Open bracelet winner Raul Paez, 24,000
Seat 4: WPT and WSOP veteran Chip Jett, 37,000
Seat 5: Erik Gault, 28,500
Seat 6: Henry "Hank" Karwowski, 38,500
Seat 7: Steve Dunning, 50,000
Seat 8: WSOP veteran and Chip Leader Patty Gallagher, 74,000
Seat 9: Jin Young Sun, 21,500
Seat 10: Steve Rosling, 34,500
It was a first of many things for myself at the Classic. Not one but two women, Gallagher and Sun, were at the final table. There would be other firsts as well as we started off the night with the blinds at 500/1500 and Patty Gallagher on the button.
Play started off predictably enough, as the players started off like boxers in a heavyweight fight: throwing the jab and seeing who was on their game tonight. James Newton, our short stack at the table, actually was able to stay around for much of the first hour, even making it to the next blind raise to 1/2K. His luck ran out on Hand 27, when he went all in for his last 1000 chips and found another Chip waiting for him on the button. Jett called his bet and, along with Raul Paez, took the flop of
K-7-9. Jett bet Paez off his hand and turned up the top pair over Newton's Jack high. A Jack on the turn provided a momentary feeling of hope, but it went away with the rag on the river. James Newton left the table in tenth place.
Patty Gallagher held the table as she aggressively played her hands, raising frequently and, on many occasions, taking the pots without a fight. Some might remember her for her actions at last year's World Series, but I found exactly the opposite of what many people have said. She is a delightful person who has a very passionate and aggressive approach to the game of poker, and it comes out in her personality.
Ten hands later, on Hand 37, Jin Young Sun was all in during a multi way pot and was able to muck her hand and take home ninth place. Only nine hands later, we had another victim as Hank Karwowski was on the button with a respectable 10-9 of clubs and pushed his remaining stack to the center of the table. Erik Gault, who had raised into Karwowski, happily obliged him by calling his all in with pocket queens. When nothing but rags came on the board, Hank was out in eighth place.
After a break, the action became the most intense I have seen in my stay here at the Classic. The blinds were raised up to 1500/3K and the short stacks at the table realized it was time to start trying to make a move. What resulted was the loss of three more players within ten hands of the break and in a three hand span..
On Hand 52, Charoen Art decided it was time to gamble and raised all his chips against Steve Rosling. Steve responded by calling Art's raise and flipping up pocket tens. Charoen turned over his K-Q and the board did nothing for him. Charoen, who's parents watched from close by the final table, came home to them in seventh place.
The very next hand spelled the end of the night for another competitor. Erik Gault found himself on the button and made his move, calling Chip Jett's raise and seeing Patty Gallagher come along for the ride. After the flop came down 7-6-10 rainbow, Jett bet out, Gault called and Gallagher raised the two of them. Chip deliberated for a bit, then mucked his hand as Erik put his remaining chips to go against Patty. His K-Q overcards looked good until Gallagher turned up a 10-9, giving her top pair and a straight draw. When the eight that she needed came on the turn, Gallagher locked the hand and put Gault out for the night in sixth place.
Two hands later, it was time to say goodbye to Chip Jett. He never seemed to catch a hand after taking the chip lead very early in the night. He raised up the pot and, after a reraise from Paez on the big blind, dropped his final chips into the pot. He felt good about his pocket fours until Raul showed his pocket nines. A severe underdog, the board was no source of help and Chip left the Crowne Ballroom for the night in fifth place.
So here we were, barely two hours into the event and four players were left. In every other tournament to this point, a deal was struck among those survivors and the game ended for the night. For the first time, not one word was said about a deal at this point. Play continued and the four remaining players, Paez, Dunning, Gallagher and Rosling continued the combat for the championship.
On Hand 62, Steve Dunning raised from the button and was three bet by the other Steve, Rosling. Dunning called and, as the board came down Q-5-2-A-Q, proceeded to call each of Rosling's bets. Rosling turned a pair of threes out of his pocket, and was crippled when Dunning showed his daring by showing the winning hand with A-6.
Steve Rosling showed his resilience, as he stuck around the game much longer than anyone expected after that. He tripled up his short stack on Hand 65 and milked it for everything it was worth. It wasn't until Hand 74 that he challenged a raise from Raul Paez and put his chips in. Four handed, he showed a respectable A-4 that Paez hammered with an A-6. Paez had the lead all the way and, when a six came on the river, it added insult to injury and sealed the fate of Steve Rosling. He walked from the table in fourth place.
The final three at this time began the discussion on a deal at this time. Dunning had been making impressive strides as he took over the chip lead from Patty Gallagher. He had almost half of the chips at the table and it looked as though he would take the title (not bad for a guy who had not planned on playing in the event, from what he told me). Talks broke down as the fiery Gallagher called off talks and sat down, indicating we were going on with play.
"I don't make deals," she told me later. "In the World Series last year, I didn't make deals and it cost me about a quarter million dollars. I don't care about the money...I want to play it out. Besides, I WANT the horse!," she exclaimed with a laugh, referring to the beautiful trophy that each champion receives.
It was obvious that the battle was going to rage on and it did. Gallagher used her attacking style, Dunning fought back, and Paez mixed it up when he felt he had the best of it. We went to the color up and blind raise with the table looking like this:
The blinds were raised to 2/4K and the cards went cold for Patty Gallagher. On Hand 100, she found herself down to her final chips (although a sizable stack of the 1000 chips) in a battle with Dunning. The board came K-K-7-A-3 and both bet aggressively. At the river, they both showed Aces in the hole, but Patty's queen played and Steve's six did not. Patty got an important double up there to stay in the game.
It would take another nineteen hands to knock out our third place player. The cold card curse shifted to Steve Dunning and there was no cure for it. Dunning's once large stack was slowly decimated by Gallagher and Paez and he found himself all in against Patty. Both turned up interesting holdings: Steve held a 8-4 offsuit and Patty showed a J-7 of spades. When the board came up zip, Dunning picked himself up and left with the third place prize and wondered what might have been.
Discussion began again on a deal, often intense verbal barrages. Professional player Paul Wolfe encouraged Gallagher, who held a slight chip edge, to "take the deal and the horse!" It was a sight to see as the passionate Patty sparred with the equally intense Spaniard Raul. After fifteen minutes, no deal could be reached and play continued.
Two hands spelled the end for Patty Gallagher, and both involved sevens. On Hand 148, the two titans traded bets and raises into a board of 2-J-7-6 and saw the board pair the seven on the river. Patty confidently turned up her pocket tens, only to be dismayed to see Raul's chase pay off for his K-7. On Hand 157, Gallagher was on the button with around 30K in chips and traded bets with Paez again. The seven was magic for Paez again as he outdrew Gallagher again. One hand later, it was over as Raul, with 9-4, spiked his four over an all-in Patty, whose Q-J was not good enough to save her.
Final results in the played to the end tournament went like this:
Raul Paez, Barcelona, Spain $97,310
Patty Gallagher, San Diego, CA $48,655
Steve Dunning, Anchorage, AK $24,027
Steve Rosling, Tigard, OR $15,365
Chip Jett, Las Vegas, NV $10,243
Erik Gault, Burke, VA $8,963
Charoen Art, Rosemead, CA $7,682
Hank Karwowski, $6,402
Jin Young Sun, Concord, CA $5,123
James Newton, $4,097
Both Raul and Patty said they would be playing the World Poker Tour event with some of their winnings this evening. Before that event starts Friday, we'll have the final points event of the Classic, the $2500 No Limit Holdem event, to finish off Thursday night. Look for another great battle as we find out who will be this year's All Around Player of the Tournament and earn the $50,000 prize.