Friday, July 14, 2006

WSOP $50K Horse Final Table: The Real Heavyweight Championship

After 19 grueling hours the final table is set in the $50,000 buy-in HORSE event. In the longest single day of any poker tournament I have covered, I didn't think it was going to end. 143 players started out on Wednesday and some of the best pros in the world slugged it out until past 9am in one of the strangest days at the Rio that I've experienced as a tournament reporter in the last two years. The day began with several dealers walking out over their paychecks and ended in the early morning hours after a marathon 19 hour poker session.

Nine top players remain as the HORSE format shifts to NL.
$50K HORSE Final Table Chipcounts (courtesy of Poker Wire):
1 Chip Reese 1.756M
2 Doyle Brunson 1.227M
3 Andy Bloch 934K
4 Phil Ivey 885K
5 Jim Bechtel 841K
6 David Singer 745K
7 Dewey Tomko 438K
8 TJ Cloutier 351K
9 Patrik Antonius 13K

Final Table Payouts:
1st $1,716,000
2nd $1,029,600
3rd $617,760
4th $549,120
5th $480,480
6th $411,840
7th $343,200
8th $274,560
9th $205,920
After two hours of sleep, I returned to the Rio. I was in the media room for about twenty minutes when I got a call from Miami Don and SinCity Carmen. They were wandering around the Amazon Room and we met up. Carmen insisted on seeing the Hooker Bar, so off we went.

I made that bar famous. Everyone's been asking me, "Where's the Hooker Bar?"

partypokerad.gifIt's not anything special, except that after midnight, all the freaks and ladies of the night mill around the Hooker Bar looking for action. During dinner breaks, you can find Otis and myself knocking back cocktails. This instance, I drank Red Stripe while I watched Carmen hit quad Jacks on the video poker machine. Grubby stopped by and I got a little sad because it might be the last time we hang out at the Hooker Bar again.

Don and Carmen offered to buy me dinner. On our way to the cafe, we bumped into Falstaff and Mrs. Falstaff and their entourage of twenty or so people. Yikes. When I walked into the cafe, I saw Chris Newton dining with a lovely young woman. It ended up being Sarah Bilney. She was the second highest finishing Aussie at last year's main event. Of course, Joe Hachem was #1 and she ended up #63. She cashed in two events last year and three so far this year.

"I read your blog," she said in her subtle Australian accent. "Can I ask you a question? Is Change100 here? I read her blog too. Absolutely love it."

Sarah also has a blog. Take a peek at Aussie Sarah.

While we ate, the other event went on dinner break and a steady flow of players walked by. I realized how jaded I've become. Annie Duke and Erik Seidel walked by and I didn't even blink. Carmen on the other hand was excited to see the stars of poker.

Moving on...

Tonight's event is more important to me than the main event. In many ways this is the world championship of poker and the final table is loaded with talent.

Here's some background about today's final table players:

Chip Reese entered the final table as the chip leader. He's considered the best all around player in the world and rarely plays tournaments. He's a fixture in the "Big Game" and other high stakes games. He's my favorite to win. Despite not being a tourney player, Reese has two bracelets that he won in 1978 and in 1982. This is his 12th final table at the WSOP.

Doyle Brunson is second in chips and seeking his 11th win. Texas Dolly looked exhausted last night and outlasted me. I took a nap for a while and went back into the Rio while Brunson gutted it out. The guy is a machine. At one point he was 22/24 with just 25K left in chips when he scooped a monster against Patrik Antonius in Razz. He went on a run after that and built up his stack to over $1M.

Andy Bloch is the guy I'm rooting for the most. He's one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He's been on a tear at this year's WSOP after a disappointing run last year. He cashed four times this year and made his second final table.

Phil Ivey is seeking his 6th bracelet. He's won over 6.3 million playing in tournaments and took second last week when he lost to Sammy Farha heads-up in the $5K Omaha Hi/Lo event. Along with Brunson and Reese, Ivey is a regular in the Big Game.

Jim Betchel is a former framer and a high stakes cash game player. He won the main event in 1993. He's cashed 19 times at the WSOP and made seven final tables.

David Singer made two final tables on the last season of the WPT. He finished 7th at the Mirage Poker Showdown a couple of months ago. He's seeking his first bracelet.

Dewey Tomko had retired from poker for almost a decade to stay at home and raise his kids in Florida. Since his return to the tournament circuit, he's been on a roll. He cashed in two events this year and has made an impressive 20 final tables at the WSOP with three bracelets.

TJ Cloutier is the best player that never won a WSOP main event. He has 6 bracelets and won one last year. The state of Texas has both TJ and Doyle Brunson representing them at one of the most difficult final tables in the history of poker.

Patrik Antonius from Finland is probably the best young up and coming poker players in the world. He's definitely one of the best young players to come out of Europe. I first met Antonius at the EPT in Barcelona. He made the final table and held his own against Gus Hansen, Christer Johansson and Jan Boubli. I watched him bring Patrick Martenson, the Swedish Monopoly champion, to his knees when he ran over him at the final table. Whenever Martenson raised, Antonius re-raised. I was impressive with his play and since then Antonius has been on a rush. He won an EPT event, took second in a WPT event, and cashed twice at this year's WSOP. Too bad Antonius has just 13K in chips with 10K/20K blinds.

* * * * * $50K HORSE Final Table Updates * * * * *

9:14pm... The event started late. TV tables always do. The stands are packed with friends and family of the final table players. It's standing room only. Spectators on the rail are ten and fifteen people deep, elbowing their way to catch a glimpse of history. Stephen, an intern at Poker News who wrote a great article about the crappy cards being used at the HORSE event, was booted from the stand by one of the security guards. I was told to leave as well. Without a place to sit, there's really no place to watch the final table.

9:30pm... Nolan Dalla introduced Robert Williamson who introduced the final table players. I found a spot behind the boom camera with Toby and Matt. Toby mentioned that she liked, "Doyle's Johnny Cash look." Texas Dolly is wearing all black including a black stetson. I'd post a picture but that would be against the rules.

9:41pm... Cards are in the air!

9:42pm... Patrik Antonius moved all in and both Andy Bloch and TJ Cloutier checked it down to the river. Antonius tripled up.

9:47pm... Recent Elimination: Patrik Antonius's A-4 was busted in 9th place by Chip Reese's 8-8. Antonius won $205,920.

10:30pm... Dewey Tomko moved all in with the Hilton Sisters and Phil Ivey called with A-10. Tomko's Q-Q held up and he doubled up.

11:00pm... Here's an updated chipcount:
1 Chip Reese 1.8M
2 David Singer 1.4M
3 Andy Bloch 1.1M
4 Phil Ivey 910K
5 Doyle Brunson 780K
6 Jim Bechtel 420K
7 TJ Cloutier 380K
8 Dewey Tomko 290K
play online poker11:30pm... I watched an interesting cash game. Andy Black, Danny Alaei, and Johnny Chan are playing that NL table with $50 one BB with $25 antes. People are four or five deep on the rail. I took Wil over there to watch them for a few hands. Miami Don was there sweating Andy Black. The table next to them had Noli Francisco, Brad Berman, Greg Raymer, Eskimo, and David Sklansky playing high stakes Omaha. Wil and I have a final table last longer... I picked Chip Reese and he has Phil Ivey. If he wins, I give him Grubby's car. If I win, he sends me his Stand By Me residual checks.

12:00am... It's the Midnight hour at the Rio. Chip Reese is over 2 millon in chips. He won a big pot from Phil Ivey preflop when he threw out a huge re-raise. Ivey thought about it for a few moments and mucked. Betchel won a race against Andy Bloch and double up.

12:30am... Recent Elimination: Doyle Brunson is out in 8th. TJ Cloutier's 9-9 had doubled through Brunson's K-J and Brunsn lost most of his stack. Two hands later Brunson busted when his J-6 could not beat Jim Bechtel's A-Q. Texas Dolly did not win his 11th bracelet, but won $274,560 for 8th place. Chip Reese is still the man to beat. Here's an updated chipcount:
1 Chip Reese 2.5M
2 Andy Bloch 1.3M
3 Jim Bechtel 900K
4 Phil Ivey 720K
5 David Singer 520K
6 TJ Cloutier 500K
7 Dewey Tomko 400K
12:53am... Recent Elimination: Dewey Tomko is out in 7th place when his 8-8 ran into Andy Bloch's Hilton Sisters. Tomko won $343,200. Here's an updated chipcount:
1 Chip Reese 2.8M
2 Andy Bloch 1.34M
3 Jim Bechtel 1.1M
4 Phil Ivey 685K
5 TJ Cloutier 504K
6 David Singer 283K
1:01am... Recent Elimination: David Singer moved all in with a short stack. He had A-10 but ran into Chip Reese's J-J. The Jacks held up and Singer finished in 6th place. He won $411,840. That pot put Chip Reese over 3 million. With 3.2M he has twice as many chips as Andy Bloch in second place. With five players remaining, TJ Cloutier is the short stack.

1:20am... Recent Elimination: TJ Cloutier is out when his 7-7 ran into Andy Bloch's 10-10. TJ won $480,480 for fifth place. Chip Reese has 3.1M and Phil Ivey is the shortstack with 850K.

1:30am... Recent Elimination: Jim Betchel was sent to the rail by Andy Bloch. Bechtel had 7-7 and Bloch had 10-10. Those were the same hands when Bloch busted TJ Cloutier four hands earlier. Bechtel won $549,120. for fourth place. Here's an updated chipcount:
1 Chip Reese 3.2M
2 Andy Bloch 2.8M
3 Phil Ivey 880K
1:45am... Cash Game Update: I spotted Carmel Petresco sitting at the high stakes NL cash game table playing with Johnny Chan and Andy Black.

2:00am... Recent Elimination: Phil Ivey is out in 3rd place. Ivey had A-7 and Bloch had 4d-5d. The flop had two diamonds. Ivey flopped second pair and re-raised all in. Bloch called with his flush draw and got there when the ace of diamonds fell. Ivey won $617,760. Bloch trailed Reese in chips, but the count was very close to even.

2:45am... Action is slow and methodical. Both these players are very careful and not risking too much of their stacks. Andy Bloch took the lead 3.64m to 3.55m at one point.

3:00am.... Check out some of Flipchip's 2006 WSOP Photos, like this one of Jen Tilly.

Courtesy of Flipchip

3:15am... Andy Bloch took down a huge pot with 5-5. He had a flush and built his stack to over $5.25M to Reese's $1.9M.

3:30am... Bloch dropped the Hammer... and lost! OK, it was actually 7s-2s and on a board of 7-4-3, Reese check-raised Bloch and moved all in. Bloch called with top pair and Reese had 10c-5c. On the turn, Reese caught his gutshot when a 6 fell. His hand held up and he doubled through Bloch. At that point BLoch's lead slipped. He had $4.4M to Reese's $2.8M.

3:45am... Bloch still leads $4.5M to $2.65M. I know these chip counts see off. But I'm not doing them.

4:00am... Where the fuck is Foiled Coup?

4:20am... Smoke break!

4:30am... The crowd has thinned compared to the packed house at 8:30pm. I can sit in the front row if I want. Flipchips's been here for a few hours. He's waiting to take a winner's photo. Both Tommy and the Mark were hanging out for a while. I set the Over/Under at 6am.

4:40am... Bloch has a 4.8 to 2.4 lead. Minh Ly came over to talk. I stood next to Jen Leo as he asked me about the hand where Reese lost a big pot. "Doesn't matter," Ly said, "Chip's coming back."

4:53am... As I was taking a leak in the bathroom, ESPN announcer Norman Chad walked into one of the stalls to drop a deuce.

5:00am... After three hours of heads-up play, both players are still slugging it out. We're on Hand 170 (for the final table) or something like that which means they've been playing heads-up for 80+ hands. I'm starving. Time to head to the kitchen tent which is open until 7:00am. Thanks to anyone who's still up and following this coverage.

5:30am... Andy Bloch started putting on pressure. A few times players went all in preflop after a button raise. It looks like the exhaustion is setting in.

5:40am... Players are on a break. Andy Bloch is wearing a weird camoflauge hat that he calls his "Brokeback" hat. Chip Reese talked to his sons at the break, who is a very good baseball player and is expected to get drafted. He's not wearing any socks.
Andy Bloch 5.8M
Chip Reese 1.35M
6:30am... On the brink of elimination, Chip Reese doubled through Andy Bloch. On a board of Kd-Jd-9d, Bloch flopped two pair with K-J and Reese had Ax-10d for a straight flush draw. The turn was the Ace of diamonds which gave Reese the lead. The river was a blank and Reese doubled up. He had 2M to Bloch's 5.2M.

6:55am... After 160 hands+ of heads-up play, Chip Reese doubled up with K-K against Andy Bloch's 9-9. Reese pulled near even to Bloch with 3.7M to 3.45M. After he won that hand Reese walked over to his sons and said, "We're back in the game, boys!" After nearly five hours of heads up play, both players are close to even in chips.

7:30am... Players are on a break. Both guys are even. Snoopy from Blonde Poker took a pic of me passed out in the media room. Jen Leo posted that pic over at Breakfast Club Poker.

7:45am... Chip Reese is ahead 4.2M to 3M.

8:30am... At Hand 316, Andy Bloch and Chip Reese were still going at it. Bloch pulled even, then retook the chiplead. He leads 4.3M to Reese's 2.85M. Jen Leo mentioned, "This is going to go until Noon."

9:01am... We're reaching the 7th hour of heads-up play. Someone shoot me and put me out of my misery like Bambi's mother.

9:30am... Recent Elimination: Andy Bloch took second place. He won $1,029,600. Chip Reese is the HORSE champion winning $1.716,000. On the 354th hand of the entire final table, Bloch pushed all in with 8-9o and Reese called with A-Q. Reese ended up winning the final hand with just ace high.

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