The field for the WPT Championship all started in the same room for the first time since this tournament began. This made things much easier on the tournament stuff, not to mention the journalists (like me) who had been hustling from room to room to cover the tournament properly.
But 164 players started today, and everyone had dreams of the $2.8 million top prize. All but 64 players will get paid today, and that certainly makes things a lot easier on the bigger stacks, who know they probably have some room to work. The shorter stacks were going to move quickly, but the average chip count relative to the blinds was such that we would not see the mass exodus we saw early on in day two of this epic event.
Early exits included Josh Arieh, who was out in the first ten minutes of action today. Also out early was Annie Duke, who had the tough moment of the tournament so far, when her Kings ran into David Williams' Aces. Since David's Mom was sitting right behind him, you got the sense that no King was coming. Wrong. Good news for Annie: King on the river, bad news for Annie: There was a 10m J, and Q on the board also, and the King gave Williams a straight, and sent Annie straight for the door.
The YES!!!........DOH!!! award goes to Michael Hauptmann, who saw the 9 of hearts on the river, making four hearts on the board, and Michael thought he had outdrawn his opponent, and let out a "yes!", and gave the table a pound. His opponent, who had made a heart flush on the turn was also happy, as the 9 of hearts gave him a straight flush, and Hauptmann was from ecstasy to agony in one second.
Some name players made big moves early, as Grinder won two huge pots in the first level of play, and was chip leader with over 700,000 chips early. Also moving early was Greg Raymer, who moved in on Made Andersen with an open ended straight draw, and got there on the turn. Mads had an overpair, and was not overjoyed at his bad luck. Gus Hansen was sweating him, and they had some choice words in Danish about the situation...Unfortunately, my Danish translator is broken, though I doubt the words they were using were in the dictionary.
Notable early exits in the second round were Antonio Esfandiari, Kathy Liebert, and Phil Hellmuth. Tuan Le had Phil's number all day, and came over the top of Phil no fewer than ten times in the first two hours of play. This drove Phil absolutely up the wall, and he was talking to himself all day about Tuan's plays. Phil finally thought he had caught Tuan, when Tuan played back at him with KJ. Phil had AK, and of course must have been thinking 'gotcha'. But, any two can win, and Tuan made a straight on the turn, and indeed an unneeded flush on the river, which started the Phil Hellmuth show in full, and I could tell you what that consists of, but I'm sure you have seen it before on television. Phil stormed out, and Tuan stacked his newly acquired chips.
We lost 28 players in the first round, and another 31 in the second round. After the second round things slowed considerably, as the money was only five places away, and players were beginning to smell the 30 grand.
The bad beat of the day award goes to Bradley Berman, who had Aces against Kings for all of his chips. The turn was a King, and Berman lost a 550,000 chip pot. Brad was out two hands later.
At this point, we were at 104, and things slowed down significantly. Unfortunately for a couple of big players, they were close to the bubble, but couldn't survive. Erick Lindgren had been short most of the day, and was grinding as hard as he could, so when a guy moved from the button enough to put Lindgren all in, Erick looked down, found A2 of diamonds, and called. The button player had a real hand, AJ, and Lindgren was out 104th. Several minutes later, Scotty Nguyen (who started the day 9th in chips) was out 102nd, and we were down to hand for hand play to determine this years bubble boy (or bubble girl). Hand for hand play lasted an hour, and it seemed like much longer. Table 47 was the guiltiest of delays, as about ½ the hands, table 47 was the last to finish. Phil Ivey was at table 47, and used 'bubble time' really well, vaulting himself from about 120,000 in chips, to over 500,000 in chips in the 15 or so hands that were played during 'bubble time'.
The buzz in the room was intense, and there were ten times the spectators (the tournament area is closed to the public) in the room during bubble time than at any other time yet throughout the tournament. Every time a player was all in, everyone would rush over to his or her table. As a joke, Todd Brunson yelled 'ALL IN' really loudly when he moved in, and everyone moved over to his table. No call for Brunson, and he would not be bubble boy.
Bubble boy would be Danny Dang, who was left with some words less printable than Dang as his pocket Jacks lost to a QJ offsuit. The 100 players left would all do no worse than $30,000 each, and there were smiles and handshakes all the way around, and everyone else was happy.
Other name players eliminated today were Barry Greenstein, and Allen Cunningham. Kudos to Todd Brunson, for starting the day 153rd in chips, and making the money.
As soon as the players were in the money, the play got very fast, very quickly. When Dang went out bubble boy, there were about six minutes left in the level. Six players were eliminated in those six minutes.
A pretty extraordinary hand occurred when David Chiu made it 25,000 to go from the button. Isabelle Mercier moved in from the small blind. Alan Goehring called Isabelle's all in. Back around to David Chiu, who came back over the top for all his chips. Goehring called Chiu also, and all three flipped their hands up. Isabelle had AQ, Goehring had 88, and Chiu turned over QQ. The flop was three rags, with 2 diamonds. The turn was a diamond, and Chiu did not have the Q of diamonds....but Isabelle did. Goehring also had a diamond, and guess what. The river was a diamond, Isabel won her all in with a Q high flush, and Goehring won his all in with an 8 high flush, and Chiu was out.
In the first level back from the break, we lost a whopping 37 players, as nearly everyone who was short, but had survived to the money started gambling, knowing that it would be dozens of more places until the money went up, and then only several thousand dollars. Notable exits during this level were Jen Harman, and the above mentioned David Chiu.
Then the grind began to set in, as most of the short stacks had been weeded out. Level 15 was the last level for the night, and players were starting to jockey for position. Big stacks at this point were Greg Raymer, Grinder, a guy named John Smith (not kidding), and Reza P.
From the department of "Aces are/aren't my friend" within 90 seconds of each other, we lost two players who either held, or were against Aces. Surinder Sunar liked his Aces when the flop came 8 hi, and he called the big raise of John Smith. But all three cards were diamonds, and Smith held the 9 of Diamonds in his pocket nines. Of course, all five cards wound up being diamonds, but Smith's 9 gave him a higher flush, and Aces were not Surinder's friend. Moments later, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson's Aces actually held up, knocking his opponent out, and getting us down to 50 players.
As we finish for the night, we have 45 bodies left in chairs. I can't imagine being in this position, and having played longer events won't start to be an advantage. These guys (and gal) must be tired. Tomorrow I get to preview the WPT table game, coming to a casino near you. I'll let you know how that goes. See you then.
Reza Payvar - 1,638,000
John Smith - 1,611,000
Tuan Le - 1,480,000
Michael "Grinder" Mizrachi - 1,102,000
Phil Ivey - 1,088,000
David Williams - 838,000
Arnold Spee - 754,000
Matthew Keikoan - 693,000
Keith Carter - 631,000
Juha Helppi - 630,000
George Miller - 627,000
Bo Sehlstedt - 610,000
Rob Hollink - 571,000
Joe Beevers - 565,000
John Phan - 544,000
Francois Safieddine - 512,000
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson - 492,000
Tony Ma - 438,000
Paul Maxfield - 430,000
Paul Testud - 409,000
Victor Ramdin - 394,000
Brad Wyatt - 382,000
Mark Rose - 378,000
Dewey Tomko - 371,000
David Wells - 366,000
Peter Costa - 366,000
David Sklansky - 360,000
Alan Boston - 358,000
Alan Goehring - 335,000
Isabelle Mercier - 334,000
Greg Raymer - 334,000
Hasan Habib - 299,000
Nick Hanna - 285,000
Bob Stupak - 253,000
Dave Colclough - 251,000
Alex Prendes - 237,000
Jeff Shulman - 236,000
Jesse Jones - 214,000
Gavin Smith - 205,000
Joseph Cordi - 203,000
Bernie Collins - 194,000
Paul Kraus - 189,000
Alex Todd - 174,000
Sammy Arzoin - 125,000
Stuart Paterson - 107,000
Here are the payouts these 45 players are vying for:
1st $2,856,150 (+ a seat in next years WPT Championship)
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