Thursday, July 06, 2006

WSOP Event #9 $5K NL Final Table: Hellmuth, Mercier, Luske, and Vinnie Vinh

I arrived early at the Rio to get ready for one of the toughest final tables at the WSOP in recent memory. 622 players entered event #9 with a prize pool of over $2.9 million. Phil Hellmuth is chasing his tenth bracelet and Isabelle, Marcel, and Vinnie Vinh are looking for #1. And ESPN dropped the ball. They will not have a full crew at this event, which is a shame. As Otis said, "This final table would have made the best TV out of any other tournament at this year's WSOP."
Event #9 $5K NL Final Table Chipcounts (courtesy of Poker Wire):
1 Vinnie Vinh (Hosuton, TX) 784K
2 Phil Hellmuth (Palo Alto, CA) 461K
3 Marcel Luske (Amsterdam, Holland) 458K
4 Isabelle Mercier (Montreal, Quebec) 301K
5 Jeff Cabanillas (East L.A., CA) 275K
6 Doug Carli (Alliance, OH) 273K
7 Eugene Todd (Brooklyn, NY) 240K
8 Thomas Schreiber (Danielson, CT) 200K
9 Dan Smith (Folsom, CA) 117K

Today's Payouts:
1. $818,546
2. $423,893
3. $233,872
4. $204,638
5. $175,404
6. $146,170
7. $116,936
8. $87,702
9. $58,468
On the way in, I found Shirley Rosario a.k.a. Poker Babe in the hallway. Despite being in the middle of chemo treatments, she's playing in Event #12 Omaha Hi-low Split $5,000 and is looking as beautiful as she always is. She's a tough online Omaha player and this is by far her best event. I'll be pulling for her today. It would be awesome if she made the final table and went on to win a bracelet. That would be one of the biggest stories at this year's WSOP.

* * * * *

1:42pm... I ran into Earl Burton from Poker News. He has two pens for today. He's hardcore. He knows how important today is.

1:45pm... Mike Matusow and Daniel Negreanu were discussing a hand in the hallway. Negreanu had a monster and two players in the hand with him folded and didn't pay him off. The discussion got too long as Matusow bolted for the bathroom, where I had just walked into. Negreanu kept rambling on and on as Matusow ducked into one of the shitters. Negreanu finished his story then walked out.

1:54pm... Isabelle made her way to the final table wearing designer jeans and open-toed sandals. She carried a large pink bag and smiled as she crosse dover the ropes. Her silky hair cascaded down her small frame as she put on a beige Poker Stars hat.

1:56pm... Marcel Luske signed an autograph for a woman sitting next to me. I'm situated in the front row with Earl from Poker News.

2:00pm... All the stars are out to catch this event. In the crowd I spotted John Bonetti, JJ Lui, Erick Lindgren, Johnny Chan, and TJ Cloutier.

2:18pm... During the announcements, Isabelle looked nervous and stood up. She walked over to the side and eagerly waited for Nolan Dalla to introduce some suits. Hellmuth walked over to his wife who sat in the row behind us. He's sporting a black & yellow UB hockey jersey. It looks like a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey.

Heather & Amanda in the media room

2:21pm... Cards are in the air.

2:22pm.... Hellmuth won the first pot.

2:30pm... On a board of Q-J-9, Hellmuth took several minutes to call a bet from Jeff Cabanillas. He also checked-called the turn when an Ace fell. I put Hellmuth on K-10 and Earl agreed. The river was a Jack and Hellmuth bet out. Cabanillas folded. Hellmuth won a $200K pot.

2:39pm... Hellmuth doubled up Cabanillas. With A-Q Hellmuth called Cabanillas' all in. Cabanillas had a short stack and pushed with K-10. He flopped a King and doubled through Hellmuth. The pot was worth 130K.

2:45pm... Level is over. Players are on a break.

3:04pm... Isabelle Mercier moved all in. Otis turned to me and said, She's got Queens or A-K." Marcel Luske pondered a call. He took three or four minutes before he decided to fold.

3:08pm... Marcel Luske and Vinnie Vinh rumbled. Marcel moved all in with A-K and Vinh called with A-J. Marcel turned a King and doubled up. He has over 700K in chips while Vinh dropped to 4330K.

3:15pm... I ran into Mike one of the floor guys who is a fan of the Tao and reads plenty of other blogs. He asked me if AlCantHang will be here at all during the WSOP.

3:18pm... I got yelled at by one of the suits from the media company that works for Harrah's. I was sitting in the stands taking notes and later standing in an "unauthorized area." Earl got nailed for that too

3:19pm... "It's pretty useless having credentials here," Michalski said to me in the media room.

3:20pm... Nolan Dalla is the shit. He cleared up the media headache for us. He said it was a misunderstanding. I'm lucky he's a fan and on our side. We're now cleared allowed to sit in the stands and take notes. It's weird that they would not allow us to do that. Like I said before, a spectator has a better chance to do better coverage than us. There's a "media row" that is reserved for the "official live updates" crew but no space for the remainder of the media. We have to find spots in the bleachers if we want to cover this event.

3:30pm... Jeff Cabanillas doubled up against Vinnie Vinh. Jeff's K-K held up against Vinh's 6-6. Vinh went from the chipleader to 7th place. Marcel Luske is the new chipleader.

3:40pm... Recent Elimination: Dan Smith was the first player busted out in 9th place. Hellmuth won with King high. Smith won $58,468.

3:41pm... Here's an updated chipcount:
1 Marcel Luske 805K
2 Phil Hellmuth 590K
3 Isabelle Mercier 410K
4 Eugene Todd 390K
5 Jeff Cabanillas 305K
6 Vinnie Vinh 225K
7 Doug Carli 177K
8 Thomas Schreiber 165K
4:20pm... Smoke break.

4:31pm... Recent Elimination: Vinnie Vinh is out in 8th place. He started the day as the chipleader and doubled up players when he was dominated (KK vs 66 and AK vs AJ). This instance he was all in with Kd-Qd versus Hellmuth's A-10. Hellmuth flopped an ace and busted his second player of the final table Vinh won $87,702 for 8th place. Marcel Luske is still the chipleader with 800K but Hellmuth is close behind wuth 750K. Isabelle is third with just under 500K. Brooklyn's Gene Todd has 325K and is in 4th place.

4:35pm... Recent Elimination: Jeff Cabanillas pushed all in from the small blind with Q-8 and Doug Carli called with the Jaxia... aka J-9o. Cabanillas was ahead but sealed Carli's fate when he rivered a Queen. Carli won $116,936 for 7th place.

4:45pm... Players went on a break. With 6 remaining, one shark (and Day 2 chipleader Vinnie Vinh) has already been busted. Hellmuth, Marcel, and Mercier are currently 1-2-3 in chips.
1. Phil Hellmuth 990K
2. Marcel Luske 719K
3. Isabelle Mercier 557K
4. Gene Todd 311K
5. Jeff Cabanillas 302K
6. Tom Schreiber 95K
5:10pm... Shirley Rosario Omaha 8 Update: Shirley has 3K in chips and she's hanging in there. She's sandwiched in between Patrik Antonius and Perry Friedman who has not stopped talking since he sat down. Perry wanted me to send a message to all final table players in the $5K NL event... "I'm putting a 35 cent bounty on Hellmuth," Perry said. That event is loaded with talent. I spotted Ted Forrest, Annie Duke, Capt. Tom Franklin, Andy Bloch, Sammy Farha, Amir Vahedi, Gus Hansen, Erik Seidel, Texas Dolly, Erick Lindgren, John Juanda, Mike Matusow, Phil Ivey, Huck Seed, Max Pescatori, Gavin Smith, Steve Badger, Mike Gracz, Joe Hachem, and Minneapolis Jim Meehan.

5:25pm... Recent Elimination: Thomas Schreiber doubled up against Phil Hellmuth to stay alive, but a few orbits later he busted out in 6th place. Schreiber moved all in with 7-7 and Jeff Cabanillas called from the big blind with Big Slick. It was a classic race. Cabanillas picked up more outs with gut shot when a Queen and Ten flopped. He promptly rivered the Broadway straight when a Jack spiked to win the race. Schreiber won $146,170. Then there were five. Hellmuth leads the pack with 950K. Isabelle slid into second and Marcel is third in chips.

5:35pm... Back by popular demand! I saw Negreanu in the bathroom moments after he busted from the $5K Omaha 8 event.
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Johnny Bax
2. Daniel Negreanu
3. Bill Gazes
4. Victor Ramdin
5. Chau Giang
6:15pm... Recent Elimination: Isabelle Mercier lost a big pot to Phil Hellmuth. He sniffed out a bluff from the beauty and scooped a pot with just King high. I'm sure Hellmuth peeked into her soul and saw that she had a busted draw. A few hands later, Isabelle Mercier finished in 5th place. Her K-3 was run down by Jeff Cabanillas' 8-8. Isabelle won $175,404 in the second largest NL buy-in event at this year's WSOP. I know she's bummed out that she didn't win her first bracelet, but she played magnificently for three long days.

6:20pm... Players are on dinner break until 7:40pm. Hellmuth is way ahead with almost 2x as many chips as Gene Todd. Here's an updated chipcount:
1 Phil Hellmuth 1.29M
2 Gene Todd 630K
3 Jeff Cabanillas 590K
4 Marcel Luske 490K
6:45pm... Shirley Rosario is out of the Omaha 8 event. She said she played good though. More to come.

6:55pm... Pimp Chau Giang's Ride: Coming back from the parking lot, I saw Chau Giang in his Mercedes. He's got a 500 series and my boy was pimping hardcore.

7:15pm... Recent Elimination: Marcel Luske is out in 4th place after he was busted by Phil Hellmuth. Luske had Q-J and lost to Hellmuth's K-10. The Flying Dutchman won $204,638 for 4th place. With three players remaining, Hellmuth is ahead with 1.62M with Jeff Cabanillas in second with 1M and Gene Todd trailing with 480K.

7:20pm... Stud Update aka Johnny Chan Watch: We're on the final table bubble in the $1500 Stud event. There are nine players left. Final tables for Stud are 8 handed. Miami John Vernuto, David Williams, and Johnny Chan are all left in the mix. Chan is seeking bracelet #11.

7:25pm... Recent Elimination: Gene Todd is out in 3rd place. He won $233,872. Jeff Cabanillas's 10-10 held up against Todd's K-8. Cabanillas has 1.65M in chips to Hellmuth's 1.5M.

8:30pm... Hellmuth is trailing Cabanillas. Hellmuth has 1.2M to Cabanillas' 1.9M. The area around the final table is packed with railbirds including one very drunk guy sitting next to me. He screamed, "Suck my dick!"

10:04pm... Hellmuth is back on top with a 1.8M to 1.3M lead. The Quiet Lion (aka Richard Brodie) described the final table as, "Tonight history or a hissyfit will be made."

10:35pm... After two hours of heads up play and Hellmuth is up 1.9M to 1.2M. His stack reached over 2M at one point. This kid from East LA is hanging on tough against one of the legends of poker. He's not going to let Hellmuth win his 10th without a fight.

10:40pm... Here are the chipcounts courtesy of Michalski from Pokerati:
Hellmuth 24
Cabanillas 7
These counts are not accurate in real life, but in Michalski's warped mind... they make sense.

10:50pm... There's a Dutch Boyd sighting near the final table. He's showing off his new bracelet and charging fans $5 just to touch it.

11:00pm... Hellmuth and Cabanillas pulled even. The unknown kid who is playing in his first tournament was jawing back at Hellmuth after Hellmuth attempted to tilt him with his verbal abuse. Here's a sample of the exchange:
Hellmuth: "I can't believe you called with K-J."
Cabanillas: "I did and I also called with a pair of fives and they held up."
11:15pm... Players went on a break and Hellmuth is on the verge of mega-tilt unless he calms himself down and does some yoga in the hallway. Hellmuth admitted, "This kid is good. he's good." He's down 1.85M to 1.25M.

11:30pm... I miss BJ doing live updates. He was good. He was the best. He would record every fuckin' hand!! Not the new guys.

11:45pm... Sitting in the front row are Texas Dolly, Johnny Chan, and Shannon Elizabeth.

12:01am... Hellmuth was seriously outchipped 2.5M to 500K. He doubled up when he was on the brink of elimination when he caught a lucky river. On a board of 8-6-5 with two spades Hellmuth moved all in with As-5s. Cabanillas called with 10-8 and turned two pair when a 10 hit. The river was the Jack of spades and the crowd erupted. Hellmuth pumped his fist as railbirds shouted, "Come on, Phil!!"

12:20am... After almost four hours of heads up play, we have a winner... Jeff Cabanillas took down Phil Hellmuth. Minutes before Jeff's railbirds were chanting, "Phil's on tilt! Phil's on tilt!"and the TD had to ask them to calm down. Thanks to Jorgen for that bit of info. Congrats to Jeff Cabanillas for an amazing job at the final table.

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