Coming in to this final table, I had memories of Bay 101, and how the "amateurs" just kept moving in, and moving in on the pros, and forcing them to lay down hands in order to survive. With only one top pro in the final six today, I wondered if he would become the fly in the ointment, and be the one throwing his short stack around. He was of course, Phil Ivey, and he was one of the shortest stacks at the table.
The usual pomp and circumstance surrounded the WPT taping, and I have decided that I really like having these in places like Reno, and San Jose, because the crowds really get into it. In LA, and in Vegas, the crowds can often be a little listless. Speaking of listless, the WPT crew really looked like they had had enough. This was their third show in 2 days, and they looked like they had been going non-stop. Still the energy from Linda Johnson was there, and the players were certainly excited, and it was time to play some poker.
To refresh your memory, here are the chip counts when play began.
Russ Carlson- 802,000 in chips
Blair Rodman- 478,000
Arnold Spee- 721,000
Mike Yoshino - 937,000
Mark Chapic- 182,000
Phil Ivey - 490,000
Th crowd was firmly behind Ivey today, and right from the start, any time he puts chips into the pot, the crowd went nuts. Surprisingly, this didn't seem to bother the other players at all.
The action got underway, and our first big pot occurred about a half hour into play as "Mr. Pocket Pair" Mike Yoshino had two Queens, and wound up getting all his money in with Russ Carlson, who had AK. A queen on the turn left Carlson with only four outs, and he didn't hit one of them. Carlson was now critically short, and saw the writing on the wall.
Carlson was eliminated a few hands later, but he wasn't alone. Mark Chapic was also pretty short, despite having been doubled up two hands earlier. Chapic moved in with AJ, Carlson threw his remaining chips in with a pair of sevens, and Blair Rodman called them both with AK. A King on the turn did both players in, and it was only the second time in WPT history that two players were knocked out on the same hand (I know Moneymaker was one of the two knocked out the other time it happened). Because Carlson had more chips (236,000) than Chapic (163,000). Flop was Q83, but the turn was a King , meaning only a 7 or a 10 would have spoiled Blair's huge pot. The river was a queen, and Blair Rodman was the proud owner of over 400,000 new chips. Mark Chapic, 6th place, $60.387....Russ Carlson, 5th place, $77,641.
Blair Rodman was just meant to be at this final table. Blair busted out of the final super satellite just minutes before registration was to close. Blair was despondent over this, until his wife encouraged him to just go buy in to the tournament. Blair ran, got the money, and was the last player to register for the tournament, only two minutes before the close of registration. Blair owes his wife....big time.
On to more poker, and at this point, I put the chip counts at about.
Blair Rodman- 950k
Arnold Spee - 719 k
Mike Yoshino- 1 mil
Phil Ivey- 880k
Blinds 10k/20k with a 2k ante.
Shades of Bay 101 next as the guy who had been living SO right, Mike Yoshino, finally had it all come back on him...in one hand. Blair moved in with AQ, and was called in a heartbeat by Mike "Pocket Pair" Yoshino. Mike had every single pair hold up for the last two days, and this time it seemed it would be no different as the flop was 10 6 4. However, shades of Bay 101, as Rodman hit running queens to make trips, and Yoshino hit the floor, his luck finally running out in the cruelest of ways. Mike was crippled down to only 74,000 chips, and Blair was the clear chip leader.
The next hand was Mike Yoshino's last. Mike moved in with 45 of spades, and was called by Blair with AK. The flop was A 3 6, but had two spades. Mike had a ton of outs, but none of them came, and Mike Yoshino was out in 4th place, and had $103,521 to show for all those pocket pairs.
A light moment followed when a cell phone kept ringing. Linda Johnson is always a stickler for this, and was admonishing the audience to turn off their phones. But the phone kept ringing, and finally Phil Ivey took it out of his pocket, and turned it off. A good laugh was had by all.
No more laughing for Phil, however, as it was his time to go next. Phil had pairs on two of the consecutive hands he chose to play, and ran into a bigger pair both times....three handed. The first one, Phil pushed with 66, only to run into the QQ of Blair Rodman. At this point, Phil was the chip leader, but went from the penthouse to the outhouse on this hand. Several hands later, Phil liked his nines enough to put all his money in. This time, Arnold Spee was the lucky recipient, and had KK in the Big Blind. Arnold called, and Phil called (for a cab). Phil Ivey, 3rd place, $163, 908.
It was now down to heads up, and you had two great stories on hand. Blair Rodman, he of the benevolent wife who took mercy on him, and suggested he enter at the last minute, and Arnold Spee, who by account of a legend that is making its way around the room, predicted he was going to win this exact tournament after getting busted out of a different tournament last summer (to all who were at the table apparently). So, you had the prophetic, and the benevolent facing off for $683,000 and glory.
There is always a "unique" money presentation when any WPT tourney gets down to two players, and tonight was no exception. The money rode in on a horse and stagecoach, and the battle was on.
The battle was short lived, however, as after a few blind exchanges, the final hand of the WPT World Poker Challenge came up. After a preflop call, Arnold made it 200k to go, on a flop of 9 7 3 with two spades. Blair came over the top for all his chips, and Arnold called immediately. Blair showed K7 offsuit for middle pair, and Arnold flipped over the 34 of spades for bottom pair and a flush draw. The turn was the 5 of diamonds, and Arnold needed a spade....or did he? The river was a four, Arnold Spee had two pair, and his first WPT victory. Final money positions are below, and I hope you have enjoyed this romp through Reno. See you at Bellagio.
1st - Arnold Spee, $638,380
2nd - Blair Rodman, $327,815
3rd - Phil Ivey, $163,908
4th - Mike Yoshino, $103,521
5th - Russ Carlson, $77,641
6th - Mark Chapic, $60,387
Please visit our online poker room directory to see the best bonuses on the web!