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2009 WSOP: Matthews Takes Early Lead in #56 NLHE Six-Handed

Rui Cao

Event #56, $5,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em, kicked off Tuesday afternoon. This is the last preliminary event for the 2009 World Series of Poker and the third six-handed event of the series. Each player started the day with 15,000 in chips. While this is considered relatively deep-stacked, the nature of the game virtually guaranteed a lot of action and a huge portion of the field exiting during Day 1. The prize pool for this event exceeded $4.3 million and first place will take home just a shade over over $1 million. Rory Matthews finished Day 1 as chip leader with 369,800, followed closely by Sander Lylloff with 360,000, and Rui Cao (pictured) with 354,900. They will lead 160 players into Day 2 action.

This year, 928 players entered this event, up from the 805 runners who came to play in 2008. Among the players in the field were Andy Black, Matt Graham, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Beth Shak, Vanessa Rousso, Jennifer Tilly, Eli Elezra, T.J. Cloutier, Scotty Nguyen, Bill Edler, Lee Watkinson, David “Chino” Rheem, Justin Bonomo, Van Marcus, Gavin Smith, and Kirill Gerasimov. Terrence “Not Johnny” Chan made an appearance, but only stayed around long enough for a cup of coffee. Phil Laak raised from the small blind and Chan moved all in. Laak called and tabled {4-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds} against the {K-Clubs}{8-Diamonds} of Chan. Laak flopped one diamond, turned another diamond to pick up a flush draw, and completed his flush on the river to send Chan home to prepare for the Main Event.

Shaun Deeb doubled through in early action. On the board of {K-Spades}{6-Clubs}{10-Clubs}{Q-Clubs}{4-Clubs}, Deeb moved in and received a call from another opponent. Deeb turned over {A-Clubs}{6-Hearts} for the nut flush and his opponent flashed K-Q before hitting the rail. Deeb sat with 30,000 after the hand. David Saab also sent a player to the rail in early action. On the flop of {2-Spades}{Q-Hearts}{7-Clubs}, Saab’s opponent bet 2,300 and Saab made the call. The turn of the {A-Clubs} was checked around. The river fell the {8-Diamonds} and Saab moved all in for 10,000. His opponent held only 8,000 and made the call. Saab showed pocket eights for a rivered set and his opponent took his leave. Saab sat on 26,000 after the hand.

David Singer had an early day at the hands of Dennis Phillips. Singer moved in preflop with {A-Clubs}{K-Diamonds} and Phillips called with pocket jacks. The board fell ten-high and Singer hit the rail. Phillips moved up to 46,000 and was one of the early chip leaders. Chino Rheem fell victim to Erick Lindgren. On the board of {Q-Spades}{Q-Clubs}{J-Spades}{J-Clubs}{4-Hearts}, Rheem checked to Lindgren, who bet 1,000. Rheem then check-raised to 3,100 before Lindgren made it 6,500 to put Rheem all in. Rheem made the call and Lindgren turned over {A-Spades}{Q-Hearts} for queens full. Rheem mucked and Lindgren moved up to 13,000 in chips.

Daniel Negreanu decided that he was either going to get some chips early in this event or bust, as he was also playing Day 2 of the deuce-to-seven triple draw event. Negreanu lost most of his stack after moving in on the flop with only a flush draw. He missed his flush and was left with only 2,500. He then doubled up with {A-Spades}{2-Hearts} to chip up to 5,000. He then picked up pocket aces and moved all in preflop. An opponent with pocket tens called him and Negreanu was up to 10,000.

Negreanu continued his shove-fest, but when he shoved with {J-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}, Jason Mercier looked him up with {A-Hearts}{3-Hearts}. Unfortunately for Mericer, a jack hit the flop and Negreanu moved up to 20,000 in chips. After doubling up Mercier a couple of hand later, Negreanu decided to push with {A-Clubs}{10-Spades}. This time another opponent woke up with a superior hand in {A-Diamonds}{K-Hearts}. The poker gods must have liked Negreanu’s gambling nature as he was blessed with a {10-Hearts}{J-Spades}{10-Diamonds} flop. His opponent now had a Broadway draw, but that draw did not come in. After the hand, Negreanu decided that 30,000 was enough for now and headed back to his lowball event.

Rory Matthews took over the chip lead during Level 5 after knocking out Dario Minieri. A preflop raising war ensued between Matthews and Minieri, and ultimately, Minieri was all in for around 40,000 total. Matthews insta-called and revealed pocket kings. Minieri could only show {8-Hearts}{3-Spades} and was in dire straits. The {Q-Hearts}{5-Spades}{6-Spades} flop gave Minieri some hope for a running straight. The turn of the {4-Hearts} gave Matthews a bit of a sweat as a deuce or seven could double up Minieri. The river {Q-Diamonds} sealed the hand for Matthews and sent Minieri to the rail. Matthews sat on 90,000 in chips after the hand.

Daniel Negreanu decided to return to his table during a break in the lowball event and try to gamble it up a bit more. His results were not nearly as good this time. Three players saw the flop of {6-Hearts}{2-Spades}{6-Diamonds} and the small blind bet 7,250. Negreanu moved all in for 20,000 and the small blind made the call with pocket tens. Negreanu held {K-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds} for an inferior two pair. The turn and river failed to bring a deuce and Negreanu headed back to his other tournament.

Scotty Nguyen made a preflop raise to 1,600 and a player from the button reraised to 4,100. Nguyen made the call, but before the flop could be dealt, the player from the button asked if he could be dealt his second card. He had only been dealt one card, yet decided to try and make a move for the pot against Nguyen. He received his second card and after the flop fell ten-high, Nguyen immediately moved in. The preflop-reraise-with-one-card move failed for Nguyen’s opponent. After the hand Nguyen commented, "What if he shows one card and beats me? Would be the most embarrassing moment in the last 27 years."

Yevgeniy Timoshenko and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson were among the first players to move over 100,000 in chips on the day. Later in the day, they found themselves on the same table. The first confrontation between the two big stacks went Ferguson’s way. Timoshenko raised to 2,050 preflop and Ferguson made the call. The flop came down {A-Clubs}{8-Clubs}{4-Spades} and Timoshenko bet out 2,700. Ferguson called and the {8-Spades} fell on the turn. Action was checked around and the {10-Clubs} fell on the river. Timoshenko bet 4,200 and Ferguson rasied to 14,000. Timoshenko laid it down and Ferguson moved up to 127,000 in chips, while Timoshenko held 110,000.

Phil Hellmuth had an up-and-down day. After moving up to 80,000 earlier in the day, Hellmuth lost a series of pots to leave himself at 21,500. As play wound down for the evening, Hellmuth was able to get some of those chips back. After a cutoff player raised to 4,000, Hellmuth reraised to 12,000. His opponent then moved all in for 14,000 and Hellmuth made the call. Hellmuth held the lead with {A-Hearts}{Q-Diamonds} against the {A-Spades}{10-Clubs} of his opponent. A queen on the flop put Hellmuth in the lead. The turn {4-Spades} left his opponent drawing dead, and Hellmuth finished the day around 85,000 in chips.

David Peters chipped up late to move among the chip leaders. On the flop of Q-7-4, Helppi checked to David Peters, who bet 5,100. Helppi check-raised to 20,000 and Peters called. The turn fell a three and Helppi bet out 30,000. Peters then moved all in for 96,600 and Helppi made the call. Helppi had Peters covered and revealed pocket fours for a flopped set. Peters then revealed the bad news when he turned over pocket sevens for a higher set. The river failed to bring quads for Helppi and Peters moved up to 250,000 in chips.

160 players will return Wednesday, with 90 of those players receiving paydays. Rory Matthews finished the day as chip leader with 369,800 in chips. Day 2 promises a lot of action as players look to make their way to the final table and ultimately the bracelet. Also, the $1,003,163 top prize may provide a little extra motivation for some. Play will resume Wednesday at 2 p.m. PDT and is scheduled to continue until the final table has been reached. Stay tuned to as we bring you coverage of the final preliminary events of the World Series of Poker.

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