After two days in which Josh Arieh claimed all the attention as the chip leader, it was Andy Philachack who hung around the top of the leaderboard to capture the victory at the World Series of Poker New Orleans Circuit Main Event. Philachack came from a short stack at the beginning of the final day to knock off Arieh in a quick heads-up match after an action-packed final table.
The seating assignments and chip stacks looked like this as the final nine players returned to Harrah's New Orleans, with Arieh well out in front:
Seat 1: Ted McCollom 252,500
Seat 2: Philip Sparta, Jr. 85,500
Seat 3: Lou Esposito 20,500
Seat 4: Bruce F. MacGregor 123,500
Seat 5: Nic Gellepis 65,000
Seat 6: Andy Philachack 35,000
Seat 7: Leonard Pruzansky 174,000
Seat 8: David Fox 324,000
Seat 9: Josh Arieh 510,000
The final table got off to a raucous start, with three all-ins and two eliminations in the first orbit. In just the fourth hand of the day, Nic Gellepis moved all in from under the gun and Andy Philachack called off the rest of his chips. Philachack's tournament was on the line as Gillepis had him covered. Gellepis revealed to Philachack's . The board brought no help for Gellepis, and Philachack doubled through to start his day.
On the very next hand, defending champ Lou Esposito moved all in from the button with and Gellepis was once again involved in a big pot as he called with . The board ran out , and Gellepis' ten played to send Esposito to the rail in ninth place ($15,300). On the next hand, Ted McCollom called Lenny Kazinski's pre-flop raise, then called Philip Sparta's all-in move. Sparta tabled to McCollom's , and when the board blanked out, McCollom's pocket threes were good enough to bust Sparta, who picked up $22,950 for his eighth-place finish.
A few hands passed before the next major confrontation, but only a few. Five hands later McCollom once again found himself calling a pre-flop raise and an all-in with a small pocket pair, as he called Bruce MacGregor's all-in with pocket sixes. MacGregor came to the coin flip with , and the board of brought him no help. McCollom's sixes held up and MacGregor was eliminated in seventh place ($30,600).
Play slowed down after the first orbit's rapid-fire eliminations, and several hours passed before Josh Arieh took out two opponents in one hand. Nic Gellepis moved all in, and Lenny Pruzansky called. Arieh also called, and the players realized that both Gellepis and Pruzansky had identical chip stacks! When the hands were revealed, Gellepis had the lead with , Arieh showed and Pruzansky tabled . Arieh took the lead when the flop came down , but Pruzansky picked up the nut flush draw. Both opponents were drawing dead after the turn brought the , giving Arieh quads. The on the river officially sent Gellepis and Pruzansky to the rail, and since they started the hand with identical chip counts, they split fifth- and sixth-place money, each picking up $42,075.
Not long afterwards, David Fox called a Philachack raise with , and found himself up against Philachack's . The flop of missed both players, as did the on the turn, but the on the river hit Philachack and sent Fox to the cashier's cage in fourth place to pick up his $61,200 payday.
Three-handed play lasted for a couple of hours before Arieh and McCollom tangled for the final time. Both men limped in to see the flop of . Arieh checked the flop and McCollom pushed all in. Arieh called with to see McCollom's . The on the turn gave Arieh a full house and knocked McCollom from the tourney before the meaningless river fell. McCollom exited in place, good for $76,500.
Philachack still took a 3:1 chip lead into heads-up play, and Arieh couldn't recover, particularly when the last hand brought big action from both players. Arieh and Philachack limped in to see a flop of , and Arieh led out after Philachack checked. Philachack check-raised, and Arieh pushed all in over the top. Philachack called with for top and bottom pair, and Arieh was drawing thin with for bottom two pair. The turn and river brought no help for Arieh and he was eliminated in second place ($130,050). It meant that Andy Philachack had come from one of the shortest starting stacks at the final table to knock off two-day chip leader Josh Arieh for the win, the WSOP Circuit ring, the added 2008 WSOP Main Event buy-in and the $247,860 winner's prize money.
The final-table finishes and payouts:
1. Andy Philachack — $247,860
2. Josh Arieh — $130,050
3. Ted McCollom — $76,500
4. David Fox — $61,200
5t. Lenny Pruzansky — $42,075
5t. Nic Gellepis — $42,075
7. Bruce MacGregor — $30,600
8. Philip Sparta — $22,950
9. Lou Esposito — $15,300