In a much shorter Day 8 than anyone expected, the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event was set. Twenty-seven players started the day at the Rio, including multiple-bracelet winner Phil Ivey, the gregarious Antonio Esfandiari, and the last woman in the Main Event field, Leo Margets. By the time the last pot was pushed, the final table lineup looked like this, with Darvin Moon going into his four-month break holding a monster chip lead:
Seat 1: Darvin Moon - 58,930,000
Seat 2: James Akenhead - 6,800,000
Seat 3: Phil Ivey - 9,765,000
Seat 4: Kevin Schaffel - 12,390,000
Seat 5: Steven Begleiter - 29,885,000
Seat 6: Eric Buchman - 34,800,000
Seat 7: Joe Cada - 13,215,000
Seat 8: Antoine Saout - 9,500,000
Seat 9: Jeff Shulman - 19,580,000
Leo Margets was the first casualty on Day 8 when she busted to Warren Zackey in the first level of play. Margets moved all in over the top of Zackey’s preflop raise with , and Zackey quickly called with . Margets was in a tough spot that only got worse on the flop. The on the turn left her drawing dead, and when the river brought the irrelevant , Margets was done in 27th place ($352,832). Jesse Haabak and Francois Balmigere were among the early eliminations as well, each picking up $352,832 for his finish.
Antonio Esfandiari’s deep run at the Main Event came to an end in 24th place ($352,832) after he and Steven Begleiter tangled in a big pot. Esfandiari raised preflop with , and Begleiter was the lone caller. Esfandiari led out on the flop, and Begleiter put in a stiff raise. Esfandiari moved all in over the top, and Begleiter thought for a moment before making the call with . Esfandiari picked up some extra outs on the turn, but the on the river was no help, and Esfandiari disappeared from the Main Event.
Warren Zackey danced around the chip lead on a couple of preliminary days, but his luck ran out in 22nd place ($352,832) when he lost a race with Ian Tavelli for his tournament life. Tavelli put in a very large preflop raise with , and Zackey moved all in over the top with . Tavelli called, and the flop came down to give Tavelli the nod, and Zackey found no help on the turn or the river. Jonathan Tamayo and George Caragiorgas busted in 21st and 20th places respectively when they each ran into pocket kings on separate hands. Neither one could improve to crack his opponent’s kings, and each man picked up $352,832. When Tommy Vedes busted in 19th place ($352,832) after running pocket threes into Eric Buchman’s pocket sevens, the field condensed to two tables.
Andrew Lichtenberger picked up $500,557 for his 18th-place finish, but still went out on a cooler of a hand. Lichtenberger raised preflop with and got one caller in Darvin Moon to see the flop of . Lichtenberger led out at the flop, Moon raised, Lichtenberger moved all in over the top, and Moon quickly called. Lichtenberger’s overpair shriveled up when Moon tabled for the bigger pair, and he got no help on the turn or the river as he made his exit.
Ian Tavelli went out in almost identical fashion as he raised preflop with pocket nines, found himself facing a reraise from Steven Begleiter, and called to see a baby board of . Tavelli checked, then check-raised all in after Begleiter took a stab at the pot. Begleiter quickly called with his , and the kings held up to send Tavelli packing in 17th place ($500,557).
Tournament pro Ludovic Lacay dominated the field in early days, but the Frenchman was unable to make it all the way to the final table. Lacay moved all in preflop with over the top of Jeff Shulman’s preflop raise. Shulman called with , and they were off to the races. Shulman took the lead right out of the gate when he flopped top pair on the board. The on the turn left Lacay looking for two outs on the river, but the was one pip too low for Lacay, and he was done in 16th place ($500,557).
Nick Maimone made one bold move too many and ended up on the rail in 15th place ($633,022). After Eric Buchman called his preflop raise, the board read . Maimone led out and Buchman check-raised him all in. Maimone made the call with for two overs and a gutshot, but Buchman tabled for top pair and the open-ended straight draw, counterfeiting three of Maimone’s outs. Buchman tripped up on the turn, and Maimone was looking for a king and only a king. The came on the river instead to fill in Buchman’s straight, and Maimone was done just before the dinner break.
Fourteen players returned from dinner, and it took only a few short hours for the field to pare down to the November Nine. Ben Lamb was the first post-dinner casualty when he and Jeff Shulman tangled for the last time. Lamb raised preflop, and Shulman raised enough to put Lamb all in. Lamb was on the short stack already, and made the call with looking for the double-up. When Shulman tabled , Lamb saw that he was dominated. When the flop came down , he saw that his Main Event was almost over. Lamb was drawing dead on the turn, and as the irrelevant came on the river, Lamb shook hands all around and headed to the cage for his $633,022 payday.
James Calderaro moved the last of his chips in preflop from the button with and Kevin Schaffel called from the big blind with . The flop helped neither player as it came down , but Calderaro picked up a flush draw on the turn. The river was the , missing Calderaro completely, and he picked up $633,022 for 13th place.
Billy Kopp’s elimination in 12th place ($896,730) was certainly the pot of the tournament, and locked up the chip lead for Darvin Moon in a big way. The hand started off in fairly pedestrian fashion, with Kopp raising preflop and Moon calling. The flop came down , and Moon checked. Kopp led out, and Moon called again. The fireworks started on the turn. Moon checked, Kopp led out, and Moon check-raised. Kopp then moved all in over the top for somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 million in chips. Moon barely hesitated before calling, and the pot of the tournament was upon us. Kopp tabled for the flopped flush, but he was drawing absolutely dead to Moon’s . The hit the river, and a dejected Kopp was done.
Jamie Robbins made his exit in 11th place ($896,730), but he picked up nearly a million dollars and can tell the folks back home that Phil Ivey busted him. Robbins was short-stacked and made a stand with , and Ivey called with . The board was a lackluster , and Ivey’s ace was all he needed to send Robbins home and condense the field to one table.
The remaining players gathered at one table for the final table bubble, which was over in relatively short order as Jordan Smith busted in 10th place ($896,730). Eric Buchman kicked off the action with a preflop raise, and Darvin Moon called. Smith reraised from the small blind, and Moon made the call after Buchman got out of the way. Smith checked the flop, and Moon led out with a sizable bet. Smith moved all in over the top with , and Moon quickly called. Smith was in deep trouble as Moon showed for top set, and Smith needed a lot of help to repair his cracked aces. Smith caught a wheel draw on the turn, but the on the river was no help and Jordan Smith became the final table bubble boy.
With that elimination, the final nine players bagged their chips until fall as the new November Nine was set. Darvin Moon closed out the summer edition of the WSOP with a massive number of chips, while Eric Buchman, his nearest competitor, finished with barely half his stack. Phil Ivey ended the day as the only bracelet winner still in the Main Event, and he will return in November as one of the shorter stacks.
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