With the wrapup of the $50K H.O.R.S.E. event late Saturday morning (by about 10AM), there was a mood of exhaustion that seemed to course through much of the Amazon Room. This didn't hinder the excellent Harrah's staff from charging on with the activities for the day: both Day Ones of the second $3K Limit Hold 'Em tournament and the $3K Omaha Hi-Lo started off on schedule and the second day of the $2K No-Limit event headed to the felt with plenty of players eager to strike the same gold as the H.O.R.S.E. players had earlier in the day.
There was another final table that was set for the main stage in the Amazon Room and that was Event #21, the $2,500 Short-Handed (six player) No Limit Hold 'Em tournament, which would bring us some familiar names who have already done well in this year's World Series as well as others who were looking to make their first mark. The final table set up with the following men coming to do battle:
Seat One: 2006 $3K Limit Hold 'Em champion William Chen, 175K
Seat Two: Alex "The Diesel" Bolotin, 280K
Seat Three: Popular European professional Charimidos "Harry" Demetriou, 378K
Seat Four: Chip leader Australia's Michael "Mick" Guttman, 587K
Seat Five: First time WSOP player Nath Pizzolato, short stacked at 102K
Seat Six: Florida's Dan Hicks, 321K
This was Chen's second trip to the final table at this year's event and overall he is in the leader for the 2006 Player of the Year race, as he has also taken a bracelet in the first $3K Limit event held back on July 4th. Guttman has also shown that Australia is a burgeoning poker ground as he has now hit his second final table after finishing second to Lee Watkinson at the $10K Pot Limit Omaha tournament on July 11th.
This is one of the things I had a chance to speak with "Mick" about as we discussed the upcoming tournament. "We've definitely done well so far," Guttman humbly said as we reviewed the Aussies successes to this date. With World Champion Joe Hachem's second to Dutch Boyd earlier in this three weeks, Mar Vos' stirring bracelet victory and Guttman's success, we could very well be seeing Australians make more runs here at the World Series. "The best of us all has to be Mark," Guttman commented as we spoke. "He's got the youth, the intelligence and the game to really be a great player."
As the players came to the felt at the start of the 1K ante, 3K/6K blind level, with so many chips in play it seemed that there would be plenty of action at this table and could potentially lead to another marathon being played out at the Rio on Saturday. This couldn't have been farther from the truth as we lost our first player only five hands into the event.
Harry Demetriou, who had received supporting back slaps from both John Gale and John "The Razor" Phan, was in the sandwich with 68K after Bolotin raised the pot to 18K and chip leader Guttman responded to his reraise with yet another raise to 130K. After Bolotin dropped out, Demetriou called the Guttman raise and saw a scary flop of all hearts with the 2-3-5 come up. Demetriou quickly called all in and was almost as rapidly called by "Mick", whose pocket Aces (with a heart) thoroughly dominated Harry's pocket Jacks (with a heart). No more hearts and no Jacks came on the turn and river and Guttman had seized a stranglehold on the field by eliminating the (at that time) second place Demetriou from the tournament in sixth place.
While the next seventy plus hands yielded no other eliminations, there was plenty of excitement still at the tables. Early on in the final table, WSOP newcomer Nath Pizzolato went on a tremendous run of six hands where he was all in every time and nine hands total that increased his stack. This run ran him up the leader board from the short stack at the table to the point that he was in second behind Guttman (although behind by more than a two to one margin).
This "all in" strategy was not limited to just Pizzolato alone, however. Every other player at the final table (other than Guttman) was all in and doubled up on at least one occasion, leading to edge of the seat action and the amazement of the assembled audience. We were well into the blinds of 4K/8K with a 1K ante before another player would depart the Amazon Room.
Alex Bolotin was a player who was struggling to keep up with the field. Many times he raised from his button only to find a more than willing Pizzolato pushing all in on him. Bolotin was unable to keep his stack on the increase and on Hand 82, after once again raising from the cutoff to 24K, Pizzolato once again responded from the small blind with the call of "all in". Bolotin decided this was the time and called, flipping up an A-Q to Pizzolato's pocket eights. When the board brought no help for Alex, the Brooklyn, NY native was eliminated from the tournament in fifth place.
Two hands later, it was time for our fourth place player to leave the table. Guttman raised Hicks and the Floridian moved all in over the top, which Guttman pondered for a few moments before calling. It turned out to be the correct move as Guttman's A-J was in firm control of the hand over Hicks' A-8. The flop of Q-Q-K brought many chances for a split pot between the players, but the turn and river didn't bring any of them for Dan Hicks as he was ushered out of the tournament in fourth place.
The remaining three players shuttled the chips around the table until, with the blinds only at 6K/12K and antes of 2K, the chip stacks stood like this:
By far the person who seemed to be having the most fun at the table was William Chen. Chen, who already has a bracelet victory at this year's World Series (from Event #7, the $3000 Limit Hold 'Em championship), was quite at ease as he willingly gambled it up with his opponents and never seemed to be overly concerned with the rapid pace of the tournament. "He's always that way," said one of his friends when I asked. "He thinks it's just a game!" This attitude seemed to carry William along well as his opponents began to falter.
Only five hands into the level, newcomer Pizzolato captured the chip lead for the first time from Guttman when he held the nut flush over "Mick's" Jack high flush. This signaled the demise of the Aussie as, five hands later, Chen and Guttman got all the chips to the center of the table. Chen's pocket Jacks held the edge in the race against Guttman's Big Slick and, once the board blanked out for the Aussie, he had gone from the chip leader to the third place finisher in a matter of twenty minutes.
With Chen's elimination of Guttman, the chip stacks were almost even for the final two players:
With the inauspicious blinds and the vast chip stacks, how long would you believe the two players battled it out for the bracelet? Would you believe TWO hands! The first hand of action, Chen raised from the button and Pizzolato called. When William bet out after Nath checked an unthreatening flop, Pizzolato folded and gave up the chip lead to Chen.
On the very next hand, Hand 117, Nath limped into the hand and Chen raised for another 25K. After Nath's call, the two saw a flop of J-7-5. William raced his 40K bet into the center and, almost as quickly, Nath called. A ten on the turn slowed both players down as they both checked to see a nine come up on the river. Chen bet again at the pot, only to have Pizzolato raise him to 200K. The speed was tremendous as immediately Chen called all in to an astonished Pizzolato, who just as quickly called. Once William Chen turned up the nut straight with a K-Q in his hand, Pizzolato could only tap his hand and muck it (he showed an eight for a lesser straight) and William Chen had captured his second bracelet of the 2006 World Series of Poker.
1. William Chen, $442,511
2. Nath Pizzolato, $238,280
3. Michael "Mick" Guttman, $139,564
4. Dan Hicks, $107,226
5. Alex Bolotin, $78,292
6. Charimidos "Harry" Demetriou, $58,719
With his second victory at this year's World Series, Chen is certainly making for some good marketing for his upcoming book, "The Mathematics of Poker"! As 2004 World Champion Greg Raymer congratulated his friend Chen, he mentioned that there were many people who didn't think there would be a double bracelet winner this year and that, because of William Chen, many people would be on the losing end of that wager. Chen simply smiled as he has through both of his WSOP victories and accepted another bracelet for the first breakout champion of this year's World Series.
Ed Note: Do the math.. Pokerroom.com adds up to a winner.