Can I go home now? No, the poker action is not dull...quite the opposite, actually. But, this is the first time that I know of that a poker tournament has gone more than five full days, and I have hit the reporting wall.
I showed up today with a chipper attitude however, as I chose not to play last night for the first time, and got some sleep. The sleep that happens in Vegas....stays in Vegas.
Seventeen players remained after the double knockout that occurred last night, getting us to seventeen, and putting us two players from next money bump.
It was clear who was going to go first, as Paul Testud was by far the shortest stack. Paul had only about three times the size of the big blind, so it was no surprise to see him throw his chips in the first time he was under the gun. Paul had KJ, and was called by Paul Maxfield with A 9. An Ace on the flop left Testud out in the cold, and on his way back to France. Paul Testud, 17th place, $75, 485.
Some gamesmanship occurred next, as the next person out would miss the next money bump. The two critically short stacks were Tony Ma, and David Sklansky. David was playing stall ball every time it came to him to make the other table, where Ma was at play more hands. Tournament Director Jack McClelland caught on, and took the tourney to hand for hand play to stop the madness. The damage was done, however, as Ma only had 25,000, and his next blind was 40,000. The poker Gods were watching, however and Ma doubled up with A 3 against J7. A few hands later, John Phan put Sklansky all in, and David felt it was correct to call with 3 5. Phan had a powerhouse 56, but again the poker gods were watching, and all little cards came, and Phan's six played...without pairing anyone. David Sklansky, 16th place, $75, 485.
Now it was assumed that Ma would bail out quickly, but George Miller had other ideas. George was short also, and put his chips in with KJ of clubs. Rob Hollink had AQ of diamonds, and called. The board came 6 high, no suits, and George could take $94, 355 back to Indiana. George should be applauded, for being the highest finishing true amateur in a field of sharks. George Miller, 15th place.
Now it was Ma's time to go. Ma is a pro's pro...so it is appropriate that he be eliminated on a good old fashioned coin flip. Tony moved in with 88, and was called by Tuan Le with KQ. A king on the turn ended Tony's day. Tony Ma, 14th place - $94, 355.
After two hours of not a whole lot, the eliminations were coming quickly. The next coin flip victim was Sammy Arzoin who took his 9's into battle against AJ. An Ace on the flop left Arzoin out in the cold, and on his way back to France....possibly with Testud. Sammy Arzoin, 13th place, $94,355.
The two short stacks now were Jeff Shulman, and Joseph Corti. Both were short when they tangled with Shulman's tens went against Joesph's KQ of hearts. The board was a "who's ahead?" mess of A Q J, shifting Shulman's outs from tens to Kings. The turn was a ten, which gave Shulman trips, and Corti a straight. The river was a 3, and Shulman was critically short, and not Happy.
Shulman had no choice but to play for all his chips a few hands later. Jeff moved in with Q8, and was called by John Phan with Q7. The first card off was a 7, and Jeff didn't get saved. Jeff Shulman, 12th place, $94, 355.
Michael Mizrachi was at or close to the chip lead with nearly 4 million in his stack. With eleven players left, Grinder had to be feeling good about things. But, Grinder re-raised Hasan Habib after Hasan had opened the pot, and Grinder decided to declare all in. Hasan knew he was playing for all his chips but he also knew he would have six million chips, and be two to one on the field if he won. After faking a couple all in moves, and then faking a couple folds, Hasan called. Grinder had pushed with 66, and Hasan had QQ. A queen on the flop meant we had a new chip leader, and I mean big time. Hasan now had over six million in chips, and Grinder was down to about a million.
About two hands later, Rob Hollink opened for 200,000, and again Grinder declared all in. Rob took a couple minutes, but finally called with AQ. Grinder sheepishly turned over AJ, and five cards later Grinder had lost 4 million chips in the course of 10 minutes. Michael 'Grinder' Mizrachi, 11th place, $94, 355.
Now down to the final table, here were the chip counts.
Hasan Habib - 6,475,000
Phil Ivey - 3,795,000
Rob Hollink - 3,080,000
John Phan - 2,245,000
Tuan Le - 2,090,000
Joe Beevers - 1,625,000
Paul Maxfield - 1,270,000
Chris Ferguson - 1,115,000
Joesph Corti - 975,000
Juha Helpi - 390,000
If you said Juha had to be the next to go, you were right. Juha had about 6 hands to pick one, and he picked AJ. Unfortunately for Juha, Ivey was right behind him with AQ. Juha Helpi - 10th place, $113,225.
Back to coin flips, as Jesus Ferguson opened the pot, and Paul Maxfield moved all in, essentially pot committing Jesus (it was close). Jesus did the math, and decided it was too close, and called with pocket 10's. Maxfield turned over AK, and a King on the turn meant Jesus could go home. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, 9th place, $132,095
Maybe 30 minutes of uneventful poker followed, until Joesph Corti moved all in over the top of Hasan Habib, and Hasan decided to call, even thought he knew he was probably behind with K 10. Indeed, Corti was ahead with A 8 of spades, but there were still five cards to come. It was the fifth card that slayed Corti, as a King ended the day of the 2003 World Champion of Online Poker. Joseph Corti, 8th place, $150,970.
Now down to the TV bubble, there were no super short stacks, and you got the feeling, that we might be here a while.
Joe Beevers was getting short, and decided to put all his chips in under the gun with the 9 10 of diamonds. Rob Hollink took a while, but called with A 10. No diamonds, or 9 for "The Elegance", who made an elegant bubble exit, and took home $188,710 for his troubles.
So, down to six now, and the chip counts for tomorrow's telecast are
Hasan Habib - 7,795, 000 in chips
Rob Hollink - 4,430,000
Phil Ivey - 3,365,000
Paul Maxfield - 2,885,000
Tuan Le - 2,700,000
John Phan - 1,405,000
This should be a good final table, as we have a number of action players on hand, and the chips should fly. The taping is at 4pm tomorrow. See you there.
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