I am a fan of the game of poker. I can play it for hours on end, and I can watch it being played (well) for hours on end. But I would be lying to you if I said that Thursday's final table for Event # 8 of the LA Poker Classic was thrilling to watch. Filled with ten players with neither a propensity for action, or for chatter this final table was all business.
In sharp contrast to the prior evening's final table, where Men "The Master" Nguyen, and Freddy Twin kept the chips flying, and everyone at the table loose, this final table was more conservative, and quiet. Also adding to the mix was the fact that this wound up being by far the longest final table of the series so far. If there wasn't a deal cut at the first possible moment, I might still be there.
It was nearly sixty minutes before anything worth reporting happened. At that time, Bashar "Charlie" Satoot (in his second final table in 48 hours) set a trap for Scott Lazar, and it worked to perfection. Scott moved in at the pot with a board that read 8 9 10 7, and Charlie called him in a flash with KJ for a straight. Scott's over pair of KK looked good in his hand, but not in relation to the board, as he was dead to a jack for a split pot. No J came, and Scott Lazar was out in 10th place, and picked up $3,259. Charlie was now the clear chip leader, with over 7,000 of the 31,000 chips in play.
Next out was Brandon Wong. Brandon had been playing well thus far, executing good steals, and building a bit of a stack. But his luck ran out when he bluffed at a board that read 7 10 J .all hearts. Brandon moved in with his top pair, with only Scotty Brown to beat. Unfortunately for Brandon, Scotty had Kh 8h, for a flopped second nut flush. There was no miracle coming for Wong, who got up, and went to the desk to collect his $4,074 for 9th place.
Next, some balancing of the chips at the table took place. Kenny Cruz, who seemed to be the short stack all day, doubled up as his JJ held on against Charlie's 66. On the next hand, the other short stack, Dan Pugilese doubled up when his AK spiked a king against Todd Berman's QQ. Now, all eight players had at least 20 times the big blind, and I knew we were in for a long night.
Todd Berman, however, was not in for such a long night. A few hands later, Todd came over the top of Charlie's raise, and moved in with AQ. Charlie was in a gambling mood, and called him with 89 of clubs. Charlie was open ended on a flop of J 10 5, and you know what is coming next .yep, the 7 on the turn gave Charlie a straight, and sent Todd Berman packing. Luck was not on Todd's side this day, but he wound up with $5,093 and an eighth place finish to sooth his wounds.
The next person out was Tommy Hang. Hang hung on for as long as he could, but he called Charlie's all in bet with his two pair of Q 6 on a board of Q J 5 6 5. Unfortunately for him, Charlie had an over pair of KK, and Tommy could hang on no more. Tommy Hang finished 7th place, and departed with $ 6,111 for his troubles.
Nearly another hour went by until anything interesting happened. Kenny Cruz had not played many pots up to this point, and his once back to average stack had dwindled. So, Kenny decided to move his small stack in over the top of Steve Hohn's opening raise. Steve had the price to call with any two cards, so he reluctantly called with K9. Kenny flipped over another monster, KQ, but the board of K Q 10 A K gave Kenny a full house, and Kenny doubled up.
No longer content to put it on Cruz control, three hands later Kenny moved in over the top of Susan Trabune's opening raise with J J. Susan went into the tank for a while, but finally said "Well kiddo, I hope you have KQ again", and reluctantly called. Alert Bad Beat Coming - The flop of 6 7 2 produced a miracle two out beat for Kenny, who produced a few choice words of his own on the flop. No more miracles on this hand, and Kenny Cruz cruised out the door with a payday of $7,130 for 6th place.
Kenny was definitely a story of survival at this final table, where he hung on as long as he could. But, the final hanger-oner was about to be a goner. Dan Pugilese had hung around all day, made few moves, but survived five other players' exits. Dan's time was at hand, however, as in the next hand, he chose to move in with his 66 on a flop of 2 3 4. Charlie called him in a flash with 10 10, and all the little cards were used up, as no 5 or 6 came to rescue Dan. Dan Pugilese finished 5th place, and picked up $8,148.
Mercifully, the players huddled up, and quickly put an end to this tournament by cutting a chip count deal for the top four spots. At the end of the day, Charlie Satoot got his picture taken with the trophy, and his second top two finish in as many days. The final results are below. Tonight's final table is Omaha hi/lo, and as I left, I saw Scott Fishman, and several other notables left in the field. I am looking forward to tonight's final table. Why? Because I am a fan of the game of poker.
1st Bashar "Charlie" Satoot $45,000
2nd Susan Trabune $38,000
3rd Steve Hohn $31,000
4th Scotty Brown $30,000
5th Dan Pugilese $8,148
6th Kenny Cruz $7,130
7th Tommy Hang $6,111
8th Todd Berman $5,093
9th Brandon Wong $4,074
10th Scott Lazar $3,259