On the Fourth of July, the fireworks weren't limited to the night skies over Las Vegas. There was plenty of sparks flying in the Amazon Room as the World Series of Poker moved into its second week. The first "big money" tournament, Event #9 ($5000 No-Limit Hold 'Em) started its three days of play on Tuesday and Event #8, the $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo tournament, went to work on its second day. The majority of the interest, however, was in the final table for Event #7, the $3000 Limit tournament.
A surprisingly low number of 415 players started the tournament but there was still a bracelet on the line as well as $343,618 to the winner of the event. The players who came to the tables were all primed for action as the cards hit the felt at 2PM with the players lined up like this:
Seat 1: Canadian poker player Allan Puzantyan, 144K
Seat 2: WSOP Newcomer Danny Ciasamella, short stacked at 38K
Seat 3: WSOP Circuit event champion Jeffrey Lisandro, 153K
Seat 4: Karlo "The Wizard" Lopez, the chip leader at 227K
Seat 5: First time tournament player Yucqi "Rich" Zhu, 221K
Seat 6: California casino manager Larry Thomas, 59K
Seat 7: Professional poker player Ernie Scherer, 118K
Seat 8: Poker pro and soon to be author William Chen, 122K
Seat 9: Henry Nguyen, 189K
With the chip stacks so similar and the blinds at a relatively low 3K/5K with 5K/10K betting levels, it was expected that there would be quite a bit of chance for the players to work their stacks. This proved to not be the case in this event, however!
The tournament was started by 1983 World Champion Tom McEvoy and two time Ladies' Champion Susie Issacs as they jointly sounded the call of "shuffle up and deal" and then stayed to call the action for the crowd assembled at the final table. The two poker pros kept the mood light and the table seemed to respond to it as well as they were laughing and joking amongst each other. It also made the remaining thirty three minutes of the level pass fairly quickly with a few players making some impressive moves up the leader board.
William Chen, Karlo Lopez and Henry Nguyen were all active participants in the early battles on the felt. It seemed that one player who was having troubles catching cards was 2005 WSOP Circuit-Lake Tahoe champion Jeffrey Lisandro. While he was in a great mood after watching Italy (his home country) defeat Germany in the World Cup action that was showing on one of the televisions in the tournament room, he wasn't able to transfer the same luck to his cards. Lisandro's chip stack dwindled and, after we moved up to 3K/6K blinds with 6K/12K betting levels, he got all his chips in the middle against Rich Zhu after the board came down 10-3c-7c. Lisandro confidently flipped up his set of threes and had to like having the edge over Zhu's Ac-Kc. When a King came on the turn, Lisandro was still in the driver's seat but once the nine of clubs hit the river giving Rich the nut flush, Jeffrey smacked the table and was eliminated from the tournament in ninth place.
This seemed to get the gambling juices flowing between the runners at the final table. Ernie Scherer never seemed to be able to get it going at the tables and was left to fight without enough ammunition. Allan Puzantyan finally ended Ernie tournament life and he left the Amazon Room with the eighth place prize of $34,362. While this gave Allan some more bullets, it wasn't enough to continue the onslaught as he got into battle with chip leader Rich Zhu. On a board of A-Q-3-J-8, Allan felt confident that his flopped Aces over threes was good enough to take the hand but, once he saw the K-10 for the nut straight of Rich, his tournament was over with in seventh place with five minutes to go to the break. This didn't stop the players from mixing it up as, on the final hand of the level, Larry Thomas (with A-J) was eliminated from the event by Henry Nguyen's flopped set of fours in sixth place.
Fifteen minutes into the next level with the blinds at 4K/8K and the betting limits of 8K/16K, Danny Ciasamella was the next unfortunate player to leave the tournament table. In a multiway pot with Lopez and Chen, Ciasamella was all in when the turn card made for a board of 10-8-5-3. Danny knew he was in trouble when the river brought a Queen and William bet into the side pot between him and Karlo. After Karlo folded and William turned up two pair with his 10-8 hole cards, Ciasamella quietly mucked his cards and went home in fifth place in the $3000 Limit tournament.
At this point in the tournament, Chen kicked into another gear and became ultra aggressive against the table. He was taking pots left and right, seemingly with no one interested in challenging him. William, who will become a poker author when his book "The Mathematics of Poker" is released in "the next couple of months" (from what he said to the crowd, laughing), used this aggressive play to rocket into the chip lead and leave the field staggering to keep up.
Karlo Lopez was the next player to feel the wrath of Chen. After losing a large pot to Henry Nguyen, Lopez and Chen went to war and Karlo had the short end of that stick. His Q-4 was no match for William's K-7 and, once a King hit on the flop, he had no recourse and was eliminated from the tournament in fourth place.
The three remaining players had all held the chip lead at some point in the tournament and were all pretty close together with the chip stacks approximately looking like this:
Chen continued to assault the remaining players, putting on a display of limit poker that was quite remarkable to watch. He was getting excellent cards and, when he didn't start with the best, he was able to get great assists from the board. He personally eliminated Henry Nguyen with a straight and, once Nguyen took the accolades for his third place finish, it was down to Zhu and Chen heads up.
The two men played out the last ten minutes of the level and surprisingly took a dinner break. Once they came back, with the blinds at 5K/10K and betting limits of 10K/20K, the two settled into what would prove to be a very interesting hour and a half of poker.
With Chen leading the event (but just barely) with 635K in chips to Zhu's 610K, the two men went back and forth for the entirety of the level. Chen continued to hammer away at Zhu and it seemed that it was getting to the first time tournament player. Rich often was seen shaking his head as Chen continued to apply pressure to him and at one point even tossed his hands in the air when Chen outdrew him. Through this continued onslaught, Chen pulled away from Zhu until, at the end of the level, it was almost all over but the crying as Chen held a commanding ten to one lead (1.150M to 150K) over the exasperated Zhu.
It only took three hands for Chen to finish the job in the next level of 10K/15K blinds and limits of 15K/30K. Zhu finally ran out of ammunition against the tournament pro and had his money in with a 10-5 against Chen's A-4. He didn't need the help but, once the board flopped a four, William Chen eliminated Rich Zhu and was the victor in the $3,000 Limit Hold 'Em event.
1. William Chen, $343,618
2. Rich Zhu, $184,409
3. Henry Nguyen, $91,632
4. Karlo Lopez, $80,178
5. Danny Ciasamella, $68,724
6. Larry Thomas, $57,270
7. Allan Puzantyan, $45,816
8. Ernie Scherer, $34,362
9. Jeffrey Lisandro, $22,908
While the celebration wrapped up at the Limit event, Event #8 was working its way down to the final table. There should be some excellent players in the highly difficult game of Omaha Hi-Lo that will come to the table at 2PM on Wednesday afternoon and should lead to another highly charged day of action at this year's World Series of Poker.
Ed Note: Noble Poker have 6 handed sit n goes that we think you can beat, and we don't even know you.