The first final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker featured some of the most recognizable names and faces in the poker world, from one of poker's most beloved ambassadors to one of the most colorful characters in the poker world. Sprinkle in a wildly successful internet superstar playing in his first WSOP event and one of the most successful women in the history of poker, and the final table of the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em World Championship was guaranteed to be exciting. After nine hours of final-table play, Nenad Medic took down Event #1 for his first WSOP bracelet and the $794,112 first place prize.
Andy Bloch held the chip lead as play began, with seating assignments and chip stacks as follows:
Seat 1: Mike Sowers — 675,000
Seat 2: Chris Bell — 455,000
Seat 3: Amit Makhija — 525,000
Seat 4: Patrik Antonius — 230,000
Seat 5: Andy Bloch — 2,115,000
Seat 6: Mike Sexton — 1,130,000
Seat 7: Phil Laak — 425,000
Seat 8: Nenad Medic — 1,200,000
Seat 9: Kathy Liebert — 285,000
The final started off rough for Phil Laak, as he doubled up Patrik Antonius on the very first hand. Laak called Antonius' all-in with pocket jacks, only to be up against Antonius' pocket kings. Laak picked up a set on the flop, but Antonius caught the on the river to double through. It was only four hands later that Laak moved all in preflop with pocket jacks again, only to run into an overpair, again, as Nenad Medic tabled pocket aces. The board ran out , and Phil Laak was eliminated in ninth place for $74,448.
Eighth place became a generational battle of the Carolinas, as Mike Sexton, who spent some time in the Fayetteville, NC area in his youth, took on Mike "SowersUNCC" Sowers, the 21-year-old internet phenom from Charlotte. Sowers raised pot over the top of Sexton's preflop raise, and found himself pot-committed with when Sexton went all in over the top. Sowers made the call, and faced Sexton's . The board came down , and Sowers picked up $99,264 for his eighth-place finish.
It was just a few hands later that Patrik Antonius busted in seventh place when he and Andy Bloch got it all in preflop. Antonius raised from the small blind with , and Bloch re-raised with . Antonius moved all in over the top of Bloch, who made the call to see a flop of . Bloch's ace kicker led, and held as the turn and river came down . Antonius' two pair, king kicker was no good as he collected $124,080 for seventh place.
Chris Bell was the last of the early eliminations, falling shortly after Antonius. Bell raised preflop with , and Nenad Medic re-raised enough to put Bell all in. Bell made the call, only to see Medic turn over pocket jacks. Bell picked up the on the turn, but the on the river gave Medic a set and sent Bell home in sixth place ($157,168).
After the rapid-fire pace of the first few orbits, play slowed dramatically. It took almost as many hands to eliminate the next player as it took to eliminate the first four from the final table. Amit Makhija became the fifth-place finisher when he ran his into Andy Bloch's . Makhija was dominated, and stayed that way as the board came down , giving Bloch the better flush and giving Makhija a $198,528 payday.
Andy Bloch took a commanding chip lead into the dinner break, as the chip stacks looked like this:
Andy Bloch — 3,300,000
Nenad Medic — 1,700,000
Mike Sexton — 1,600,000
Kathy Liebert — 580,000
The remaining four players were very patient, as more than two hours of play passed before the next elimination. After doubling through Andy Bloch on one of the first hands after the break, Kathy Liebert eliminated Mike Sexton when she flopped two pair on a board of . Sexton moved all in on the flop with , and Liebert called with . Sexton picked up outs to a chop when the fell on the turn, but the river sent him to the rail with $248,160 and a warm ovation from the crowd for his efforts.
With Sexton's elimination, Liebert was significantly short-stacked, and it didn't take long for all her chips to end up in the middle of the table. After Nenad Medic raised preflop, Liebert moved all in with . Andy Bloch re-raised, and Medic moved all in over the top. Bloch made the call with , and both he and Liebert needed help against Medic's . Medic flopped a set on the board, and Liebert and Bloch were both drawing dead once the came on the turn. Liebert picked up $306,064 for third place, and received a standing ovation from the crowd at the final table.
After that hand, Medic took a significant chip lead into heads-up play, as the stacks looked like this after Liebert's elimination:
Nenad Medic — 4,940,000
Andy Bloch — 2,100,000
It took nearly an hour of heads-up play for Medic to put away the tenacious Bloch, but the final hand came down to an overpair against a draw, with Medic prevailing for his first WSOP bracelet. In the hand, Bloch raised preflop with , and Medic made the call with . The board came down , and Bloch bet out. Medic raised pot, and Bloch called all in with his overpair. Medic made his flush on the turn, but Bloch had outs to the higher flush. The on the river was no help to Bloch, as he picked up a $448,048 birthday present as the runne-up. Nenad Medic earned $794,112 for winning Event #1, along with his first World Series of Poker bracelet.