With six players left fighting it out for the top prize of $1.1 million dollars, the final table of the Mirage Poker Showdown was a mish mosh of every kind of player today's tournaments have to offer. You had a top pro in Ted Forrest, two younger pros who many agree are great players in Gavin Smith, and Kido Pham. Also at the final table was one of North Carolinas top players, Chris Bell, and rounding out the field were amateur players Gene Todd, and Mark Ellerbe. This table is truly a cross section of the type of players you find in these $10,000 events these days.
The chip counts entering the final table were:
Thang 'Kido' Pham - 1.76 million in chips
Chris Bell - 1.42 mil
Ted Forrest - 1.3 mil
Gene Todd - 763,000
Gavin Smith - 687,000
Mark Ellerbee - 353,000
The play at the final table was anything but a cross section of the play you see at these events. Everyone had come out tight as a drum, and there was little to no action in the first hour. Not helping the pace of things was Gene "TV Time" Todd, who every time the action was on him would take 10-20 seconds of prime TV time to lay down his 9 4 offsuit.
This was the first tournament of season four of the World Poker Tour, and as such the first regular tournament appearance of the new hostess of the World Poker Tour, Courtney Friel. Courtney was taking Shana Hiatt's place, and it will remain to be seen if she can fill Shana's....um....shoes. A few select press had a small 'Meet and Greet' with Courtney (showbiz name for an awkward 10 minute meeting where you stand around, and meet a celebrity, and don't have a whole lot to say to them), and Courtney seemed very nice, and well spoken, as well as attractive.
On to the poker...where it was no surprise that amateur Mark Ellerbee was the first to go. Mark had two overcards to a board of 9 5 3, as he was holding J 10. All in seemed like a good play at the time for Mark, until Kido Pham jumped out of his seat as he yelled 'call'. Kido had flopped a set, and Mark Ellerbee could go back to Texas, and tell all his friends about his WPT final table appearance. Mark Ellerbee, 6th place - $ 106,729
Down to five, Gavin Smith went on the rush of his life. Within ten minutes, he had doubled up through Kido with A 3 of hearts (Kido had K Q offsuit, and called a 500,000 chip re-raise) when an Ace hit the river.
Two hands after doubling up, Gavin turned a full house, and Gene Todd turned for the door. After a preflop raise, and call, the flop comes K K J. Gene bet out 125,000, and Gavin raised him, a raise which Gene called. The turn was a nine, and Gene bet out 125,000. Gavin said 'all in', and after several minutes of deliberation, Gene called with A J. Gavin showed K 9 for a full house, and Gene was drawing dead. Gene Todd, 5th place $137,223
Next we had a huge pot taken down by Ted Forrest. Kido Pham went for the power bluff of all time with a 9 5, into a board of 5 2 4 K. Ted Forrest took a long time deliberating whether to call or not, as there were three spades on the board. Kido was prancing around the set, looking very relaxed, and very confident. Ted wasn't buying it, and called with his set of fours. This was by far the biggest pot of the tournament, and Ted Forrest had secured himself about 2.5 million in chips.
So, we had two guys (Forrest, and Gavin) with about two-thirds of the chips, and one super short stack in Kido Pham, who was down to about 250,000.
Kido was not long for this tournament, though, as he moved in with A 5 under the gun. Ted Forrest called, and Chris Bell called. The flop came K 8 4 with two spades, and Ted bet out 200,000. Chris folded two nines face up, and was not happy when Ted turned up only an Ace High flush draw with A 9. The turn brought the case 9, and Chris would have made a full house on the river to crush Ted. But Ted had enough to beat Kido, and the chip leader at the beginning of the day was out in fourth place. Kido Pham, 4th place, $182,962.
Down to three, and the chip counts looked like this.
Chris Bell - 2,574,000
Ted Forrest - 2,269,000
Gavin Smith - 1,468,000
A couple hands later, a huge pot developed. Ted & Chris tangled, and with a board of J 8 7 2 7, Chris moved in with his last 1.5 million with a pot of 2 million already out there. Ted thought for a full five minutes, and finally laid the hand down, making Chris Bell the dominant chip leader at close to 4 million.
Speaking of huge pots, a pot developed several minutes later where Gavin re-raised Chris Bell to 600k, and Chris called. The flop brought a 7 9 5, and Gavin moved in. The flop had been kind to Chris, as he had A 9. Gavin had A J, and was dead to a jack. The river was a jack, and Gavin had hit his second three outer for all his chips in the last 24 hours. Gavin went from dead to three outs, to chip leader in the turn of one card. Gavin went and high fived his rooting section (which included Erick Lindgren) so hard he must have broken someone's hand.
You just have to have good luck to win these things, and Chris Bell's luck was running bad at the worst possible time. The very next hand after doubling Gavin Smith up on a three outer, he doubled Ted Forrest up on a three outer. Ted moved in with A 7, and Chris moved in with AK, causing Gavin to fold. The flop brought a 7, and Chris had lost two million chips in two hands on three outers. Bad Times.
The bad times continued for Chris Bell, as a few hands later he moved in from the small blind with 8 8. Gavin Smith woke up with A Q in the big blind, and called. The flop brought an Ace, and there were no two outers for the man who had been killed by three outers. Chris Bell, 3rd place $289,693.
Gavin had come over the top of Ted three or four times in the last few minutes, and Ted finally decided to make a stand. Ted made it 150,000 to go, and Gavin came over the top all in. Ted thought for a while, and called with A J of clubs. Gavin flipped over two queens. The flop came K 10 9, giving Ted two more outs (the Irony Queens). No help came for Ted, and Gavin Smith had won his first WPT Championship.
Ted Forrest - 2nd place - $579,386
Gavin Smith - Champion - $1,128,278
Ed Note: Did you know that Full Tilt is sending 30 people to the WSOP from one tournament....guaranteed!