The size of the fields at this WSOP has wreaked all kinds of havoc on TV schedules, tournament staff schedules, and took a toll on the players in these events.
With the Event # 2 Hold Em final table playing out for the ESPN cameras, the Pot Limit final table played itself out in a fairly unassuming table smack dab in the center of the card room, or in the case of the 2005 WSOP, the card cavern.
Not a lot of breathing room for the final table participants, as the crowd gathered in close, and the players were smothered by media, and fans all around them.
Because of the size of the field, instead of playing down to 10, as was the plan, play started today with 36 players, and the final table, which was originally scheduled for 4pm, actually started closer to 8pm.
At about 8pm, we were down to 10. Here were the chip counts as we started the final table.
Layne Flack - 391,000 in chips
Martin Green - 282,000
Thom Werthmann - 265,000
David Bach - 130,000
Pierre Nasr - 118,000
Ernest Patrick - 118,000
Mario Venezuela - 116,000
Arash Ghaneian - 87,000
Gavin Smith - 73,000
Tony Ma - 48,000
Gavin Smith's first WSOP final table of 2005 lasted all of one hand. Martin Green raised it under the gun, and Gavin re-raised all in. Martin called and flipped over AK of hearts. Gavin turned up two queens, and was looking to double up. The first four cards off were no help to Martin, but the river was a King, and Gavin was left feeling like anything but a King. Gavin Smith, 10th place, $16,260.00.
The next big hand had a huge impact on the table. We had three players all in, and Tony Ma, the short stack entering today's play was one of them. When they sorted it all out, three players opened the following hands.
Ernest Patrick - 88
Arash Ghaneian - AQ
Tony Ma - KK.
The flop brought no help for Arash, or Ernest, and Ernest was our 9th place finisher, and short stack Tony Ma had tripled up to 150k, and was now a factor in this final table. Ernest Patrick - 9th place, 29,560.
The next hand gave Arash, well....a rash. Arash had tried to raise it up a couple times in a row, only to be re-raised both times. The second time was not the charm for Arash, and he really had no choice but to commit the rest of his chips. Mario Valenzuela had re-raised from the small blind with KJ. Arash had 67 of clubs, and had to go with it. A jack, and no clubs pretty much sealed Arash's fate, and he was our 8th place finisher. Arash Ghaneian, 8th place, $ 44,340.
Next to go was Pierre Nasr. Pierre entered the day as the chip leader, and had played himself from 36 players left, to the final table. Not a lot of help for Pierre though, as he kept getting shorter, and shorter throughout the day. He finally put his money in from the cutoff, and pretty much goaded David Bach into calling him. David had only K2 of diamonds, but Pierre had pocket queens, and was proud that he got his call....Until three diamonds came on the board (the last two coming runner/runner), and Pierre Nasr had plenty of money to buy a vowel. Pieere Nasr, 7th place, $ 59,120.
The next big hand was a portend of things to come. Layne Flack, and Mario Valenzuela played a huge pot with a board of 3 10 5. Layne checked to Mario, and Mario bet the pot. Layne raised him all in, and Mario had no choice but to call with an overpair, (QQ) which he did. Layne had flopped a set of tens, and busted Mario when no miracle queen came. This massive pot allowed Layne to have a strangle hold on the table, being the dominant chip leader. Mario Valenzuela, 6th place - $73,900
The next hand was a very interesting study in reads, and guts. David Bach, and Thom Werthmann got into a little raising war preflop. The flop came Q 6 4, but you knew the rest of the money was going in, which it did. The interesting thing about the betting is that Thom was the one that put David all in, and Thom had pocket 2's, meaning he bet into the pot with three overcards, putting David on AK. David pretty much had to call, and did flip over AK. No help for David Bach, and he was out 5th. David Bach, 5th place - $ 88,680
Now down to four, the chip counts looked like this.
Layne Flack - 870,000 in chips
Thom Werthmann - 475,000
Martin Green - 210,000
Tony "How to play a short stack" Ma - 60,000
The players proceeded to play four handed for almost two hours. Every time a short stack was all in, he doubled up. Tony Ma had ridden his short stack since the beginning of the final table, and he wasn't about to give up now. At one point, Thom Werthmann lost a pot of almost 900k to Layne Flack, leaving himself only about 45,000 chips. In a matter of about ten hands, Thom had roared back to 450k, and was back to second in chips. It was that kind of night.
After close to two hours, Martin Green after doubling up at least twice, put all his chips in with A J. Layne Flack felt he had the odds to call with K 4. The flop was J 2 4, and once again, it looked as if the short stack would double up again. But, someone changed the script, and Flack caught a 4 on the river to eliminate Martin Green. Martin Green, 4th place, $ 103,460.
Only two hands later, Tony Ma, and Thom Werthmann played a pot that spelled the end for Ma. Tony had ridden the short stack brilliantly all day, but at some point it has to come to an end. With a board of A 2 4 J 7, Thom made a pot sized bet after having checked it down post flop. Tony called with A 3. Thom had been slow playing A J, and had caught Tony in his trap. Tony Ma, 3rd place, $ 118,240.
Down to heads up, the counts were
Layne Flack - 1,142,000
Thom Werthmann 485,000
Heads up play was fast and furious. First, Thom doubled up, then Layne doubled up, then Thom took the lead back....all of this in a matter of 30 minutes.
Finally, it was fate for Thom Werthmann. Thom attempted to keep the pressure on Layne, and tried to play big pots throughout the heads up match. Eventually, It came down to Layne, and his pocket fives, against Thom's A 2. Thom caught an Ace on the flop, and another on the turn, and there were no miracles for Flack. Thom Werthmann had gone from critically short, to WSOP champion in a matter of about 90 minutes. Oh, how fate can be a cruel mistress.
Champion - Thom Werthmann - $ 369,535
Runner Up - Layne Flack - $185,855