Sunday, November 09, 2008

2008 WSOP Final Table - November Nine - Live Blog

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The day of reckoning is upon us. After a 117-day layoff, the final table of the 2008 WSOP will finally be played out today at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas. The November Nine is here whether we like it or not.

* * * * *

4:20am... Is This Thing On?

Is anyone already tuning in already as I shout into the void? Dreaded batch of insomnia struck. I was wide awake six hours before cards are scheduled to go in the air by 10:23am. Stay tuned for live updates, snarky commentary, and even a couple of new episodes of Tao of Pokerati. Well, it's 4:20. Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

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5:21am... Meet the Entourage

I'm staying at the Rio with Change100. We drove out from the lush hills of Hollyweird on Saturday afternoon and sped through bat country en route to Las Vegas. As soon as we pulled into the valet at the Rio, we caught a glimpse of the massive army of supporters that comprise Dennis Phillips' entourage. I heard that he had booked over 359 rooms at the Rio for his many peeps. That's insane. You can pick out his loyal followers by the red Saint Louis Cardinals hats that many of them are wearing. And even PokerStars has been branding Phillips' army. In the relentless war for the hearts and minds of online poker players, PokerStars appears to have won an early battle. Plenty of PokerStars logos on the legion of Dennis Phillips fans. Fly 'em in, slap stickers on them, and hope everyone who sees that signs up for a PokerStars account.

I only spotted one final table player on Saturday. It was Darus Suharto. He waltzed past us just outside of the Tilted Kilt McFaddens. Matt told me there was a sign at McFadden's saying, "The Official Headquarters of Poker's Chip Leader." Supposedly, Phillips's crew has been using that drinking establishment as their home base. Alas, the hooker bar can't hold 300+ people.

A Hooker Swiped My Seat

What's a trip to Vegas without an interaction with the local working girls? I spotted two white trashy hookers with smeared back tattoos at the Gold Coast on Saturday night. I slurped down a $2 Heineken and scoffed at the plethora of cowboys in town for some sort of Rodeo event while I shot the shit with a couple of my peers in the poker media. The bartender quickly kicked me out of my seat at the bar because I wasn't playing the video poker machine and he gave the spot to a hooker instead. Supposedly, one of the hookers wanted to donk off her cock chugging money playing video keno.

That was a humbling moment in my life. Just when I thought I was getting an inkling of respect in Sin City for being a well-read poker writer, I got put in my place when my stool commandeered by a foul wench.

* * * * *

6:23am.... Dawn Breaks

I gazed out the window towards the Las Vegas Strip and the morning sun is bursting through small holes in the blanket of rain clouds that covered the Las Vegas valley. As darkness gives way to the first inkling of light, the vampires are retreating back into their coffins. The party people are stumbling back to their hotel rooms. The bluehaired slot sluts are making their way to the buffets and the ladies of the night are limping back to their crash pads and washing the semen streaks off of the inside of their thighs. Somewhere out there, the Sunday morning church bells are drowned out by the cacophony of gambling sounds; the relentless beeping of slot machines, grumbles at the craps tables, and some douchebag in sunglasses at a poker table screaming, "One time!" at a weary dealer. It's truly the dawn of a new day.

At this very moment, I wonder if any of the November Nine players are wide awake? Unable to sleep because of the thousands of butterflies thunderously fluttering inside their intestines. Their destiny is only a few hours away. Will they choke and bleed chips from their stacks? Or maybe get lucky and hit a flop early on to thrust them to the front of the pack? Maybe, just maybe today will be the day that the poker gods decide that they are the chosen one.

I wandered around the Rio at the dead hour and only noticed a few hard core gamblers huddled around the table games. The hooker bar was nearly empty and not one hooker was in sight on the entire property. I bought a $5 orange juice and spotted several members of Dennis Phillips loyal following heading out to breakfast. You can't miss them. They are all wearing white Oxford shirts with PokerStars logos and a red Cardinals hat. I love group costumes and early indications suggest that his entire crew will be identically dressed like him.

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8:18am... White Badge

I ordered an overpriced omelete from room service and watched ESPN as a rain gently splattered against the windows. I constructed my Fantasy Sports Live team for Sundays with Dr. Pauly and vacillated on a couple of picks in the Pauly's Pub football pool. Gonna miss the games this weekend because of the damn final table.

I made my way downstairs to media regristration. Spectators were already lining up to get inside the Penn & Teller Theatre. Dave and Seth were handing out badges. I got a white badge which will put me in the orchestra. I also got a swanky food comp for the BBQ joint. It's good for two meats and two sides. Seriously, this is gonna be the best Christmas ever!

I bumped into Michael Craig eating breakfast at Sao Paolo. He told me he got to know a couple of the Full Tilt November Nine players really well such as Craig Marquis, who he described as a "good kid." I also rushed past Dave from ESPN. The familiar faces are trickling into the Rio. But will there be an Oliver Tse appearance? Michalski and I have a prop bet on that.

On the way back to my room, there was a Devo sighting at the Hooker Bar playing video poker. On the other side of the bar, a working girl pecked away at the video poker machine and sipped a pinkish cocktail anticipating an early Sunday morning trick.

* * * * *

9:19am... Everything In Its Right Place

At 9am the spectator line was backed up to the cafe. Dozens and dozens of Dennis Phillips disciples were dispersed throughout the crowd wearing their uniform. I saw Darus Suharto weaving in and out of the crowd. Peter Easgate sat at a large table in the cafe with his crew of very serious looking Scandis. I hung out on the side with a group of poker media as the line to get in swelled. Otis. F Train. Owen. Matt. Poker Shrink. California Jen. Change100. Schecky. FlipChip. Ryan. A Reunion of sorts.

Barry Greenstein walked by and he was instantly mobbed by a group of rabid fans like a gaggle pigeons in the park attacking a couple of crumbs. We were eventually led inside the Penn and Teller Theatre. I took a seat in the orchestra section. It a maroon plush couch that you's see in the back of the Rhino (minus the splatter stains).

The final table and No Limit Lounge is set up on the stage. I can't see actual stage.I'll be watching this on big TV screens. It feels a little like Christmas morning meets a Grateful Dead show... minus the presents and all the smelly hippies.

A couple of Chino's backers are already here. This might be the earliest some of them have been up in a very long time.

Ivan Demidov's fans are wearing Russian-themed clothing including old school Soviet era fags with the hammer and sickle.

Kelly Kim's contingency is doing their best to vocalize their support even though they are grossly outnumbered by Phillips crew." K-E-L-L-Y-K-I-M!" they have been shouting.

We got wind that PokerStars paid for the Dennis Phillips uniforms for his disciples and also paid for some of their flights. I spotted a dozen or so of them at the bar. Already juicing at 9am. They better pace themselves or they'll pass out. The rest of them are on the bottom level and mezzanine level in the theatre sporting thunder sticks and various signs of support. A sea of white shirts and red hats are behind me.

They will not let anyone else inside the theatre. A mob of angry spectators are pleading, cajoling,and fighting their way inside. Some of them are friends and family of the November Nine. Others are hardcore poker fans wanting to catch a glimpse at poker history. Some of them are hoping for a last minute miracle and a spot inside the circus tent where a sultry busty blonde in red lingerie and a black cowboy hat is spinning different stripper tunes while the ESPN crew and every other media type scramble around like chickens with their heads cut off.

* * * * *

10:20am.... Waiting on the Man

Of course, we're running late and a bit behind schedule. Cards were supposed to be in the air by 10:23am.

Jack Effel introduced Jerry Yang who said a few Yoda-like words of wisdom to the crowd and the November Nine players such as....

"Today is a great day. A wonderful day."

"Thank you for making the sport more meaningful for everyone around the world."

"We set a record. Jerry Yang is the longest reigning champion in the world!"

Yoda has a sense of humor.

At 10:28am, Jack Effel returned to the mic with an enthusiastic greeting. ESPN's November Nine intro played on the big screen. When Dennis Phillips image showed up, his crew went ballistic. When Chino appeared his backers shouted, "Chino! Chino!" Kelly Kim's posse jubilantly cheered for him.

At 10:31am, Jeffrey Pollack took center stage flanked by showgirls as he introduced the November Nine. The different parts of the crowd screamed the names of their guy as they stood next to one another for a quick photo op.

"Let's go Dennis!" chants erupted, while Kelly Kim's crew screamed over Jeffrey Pollack's announcement.

A couple of suits spoke nonsense and I drained it out as someone with a thick Brooklyn accent shouted, "Come on Ylon!"

At 10:35am, players unbagged their chips. "It was held under the tightest security since July," explained Jeffrey Pollack. Yeah, a Rocco with a shotgun keep a close on eye the chips for the last 117 days.

The circus has been delayed for a few more minutes. I set the over/under ending time at 1:50am. Otis took the over.

* * * * *

11:20am... The Begrudging End

10:57am, at Jeffrey Pollack said, "I'm about to announce the best tournament director in the world!"

"Thomas Kresmer?" someone piped up in media row.

Pollack introduced Jack Effel who read a prepared piece and introduced the November Nine by seat number. The Dennis Phillips crew went nuts. Again. I wonder if they can maintain that fervent energy the rest of the final table?

Scott Montgomery's fans proudly waved Canadian flags when he was introduced.

Chino looked a bit intimidating when he walked onto the stage like a prize fighter with his hoodie covering his head. His numerous backers shouted his name from the rafters.

The Russian contingency is in the crowd waving Soviet flags and wearing fut hats. In the corner a guy who looks a hell of a lot like Teddy KGB is snorting Oreo crumbs.

Kelly Kim has the loudest contingency considering they are outnumbered by 7 to 1 compared to the legion of Dennis Phillips clones. They roared. Roared. Loudly. Deafening. They interrupted Jack Effel who had to let them chant "Kelly! Kelly!" for a few seconds before he continued with reading his bio.

At 11:07am, Jack Effel was done with the intros.

"Let's double up!" shouted one of the folks from Kelly Kim's peanut gallery.

At 11:09am, Jerry Yang uttered the famous phrase.... "Shuffle up and deal."

According to the big clock in front of us, there are 21 minutes and 50 seconds left in Level 33. Blinds are 120k/240k with a 30k ante.

Here are the final table payouts including the interest added:
1st Place - $9,152,416
2nd Place - $5,809,595
3rd Place - $4,517,773
4th Place - $3,774,974
5th Place - $3,096,768
6th Place - $2,418,562
7th Place - $1,772,650
8th Place - $1,288,217
9th Place - $900,000
Kelly Kim moved all in on the first hand from the button and everyone folded.

Chino probably has the most logos at the final table. His arms and sleeves of his hoodie are all pimped out. When you don't have 100% of yourself, you gotta get cash somehow.

And yes, we recorded the first November Nine episode of Tao of Pokerati. Click here to listen to Episode 4.1: WSOPenn & Teller (3:17).

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12:20pm.... Jonesin' for Pot and Big Pots

We had a first flop on Hand #13. I popped a big chubby after 42 minutes of passive poker. Ivan the Russian raised 775K. Scott Montgomery called from his big blind and the crowd went apeshit as Jack Effel said, "We're going to see our first flop!" He had to hush the crowd for being too noisy during the hand. Come on, Jack. This isn't golf or tennis or even table tennis. You guys brought the crowd in here for a reason and it's not a damn religious revival, or is it? Back to the hand... on our first flop (the cards are pointless) Montgomery fired out 1+ million and the Russian folded. The first flop-pot goes to the Canadian Rain Man.

We had our first non-Kelly Kim all in involving Ylon Schwartz. Ylon opened, Scott Montgomery re-raised to 2.4m. Ylon insta-shoved for over 11m. Montgomery who eventually folded and Ylon picked up a quick 2.4m. Montgomery slipped under 20m for the first time since the final table started.

During a rare moment of silence, an empty beer bottle fell over and clanked. The crowd giggled. A slight change of pace from all the screaming and yelling of players' names.

Ylon making moves The second time against Dennis Phillips. Phillips opened for 900K and Ylon called. Although Chino wasn't involved in the hand, someone screamed, "Go Chino!" Phillips firded out 2+ million at the pot and Ylon raised to 6 million. Phillips agonized over the call and eventually folded. The aggressive Ylon won the pot and increased his stack to almost 18m. Meanwhile, Phillips coughed up the lead and all of a sudden Ivan the Russian had stumbled into the slight chiplead. He leads Phillips by just 1 million.

Yeah, in the first hour of play (we're 30 minutes in level 34), the big story is that Kelly Kim is not out like a lot of folks had predicted. Ivan the Russian has the seized the lead while Phillips lost chips in the first pot he decided to play. The spoils usually go to the aggressor, and Ylon is slowly inching his way towards the 20 million chip mark.

Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho sighting. They are among the pros on the rail including several of Chino's posse that includes the Grinder, the Brother of the Grinder, Greg FBT Mueller, and Amnon Fillipi. Other pros in the building include Hevad Khan, Barry Greenstein, and Johnny Bax.

There was some noteworthy action on Hand #18. Leave it up to Ivan the Russian to liven things up in this early snoozefest. The battle of the big stacks. The oldest player at the table, Dennis Phillips, was challenged by the young gun. Ivan raised to 1m. Phillips re-raised to 3.5m and Ivan fired back 8.2m. Phillips called. Biggest pot thus far. The flop was Js-10c-8d. Philips bet a sheepish 4.5m. Ivan the Russian moved all in. Phillips tanked and looked like he was passing a kidney stone. He eventually folded. Score one for Ivan as he retained the chiplead. He increased his monster stack to 35 million. Phillips bled even more chips and went from the big dog to a drowning one. He slipped to 8th in chips, while Peter Eastgate improved to second in chips.

Players went on a break and I'm going on a well-deserved smoke break.
Chip Counts (courtesy of PokerStarsBlog):
Ivan The Russian- 35.875M
Scandi Kid - 20M
Ylon - 19M
Montgomery - 18.2M
Suharto - 13.7M
Craig Marquis - 10M
Chino - 9.3M
Dennis Phillips - 8.88M
Kelly Kim - 1.81M
* * * * *
1:20pm... Marching in Silence

Players Remaining: 9
Chipleader: Ivan the Russian

Happy 4:20 to all my East Coast readers. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

As spectators went outside on the first break, I got caught up in the horde of people exiting the theatre. The Phillips posse looked stunned. Silent. Dejected. Walking with their heads down. Their hero took a massive hit at the hands of the young Russian. On the contrary, the smattering of Russians here supporting Ivan Demidov had shit-eating grins on their faces. They couldn't be happier with the outcome in the first ninety minutes of play. Their boy is the chipleader after he blasted the former big stack.

I wandered through the casino and saw Phil Hellmuth. He was lost and in search of the Penn&Teller Theatre. He followed me into Starbucks. He was immediately swamped with fans. I became the photographer as a couple of groups of people asked me to take the shot. Hellmuth asked me to wait a second before I snapped the photo. He pulled his designer shades out of his jacket pocket and slid them on.

I saw Lara Miller in Starbucks. She's Dennis Phillips PR person and her mood was not as peppy as usual because of Dennis Phillips slide into Hades. She mentioned that he got a blurb on the front page of MSN. That was the only good news and she was obviously worried about Phillips future.

Chops from Wicked Chops Poker fame stopped by the media row and commented that Phillips looks totally stunned and rattled twenty minutes after the break. He needs to get his shit together and grind his way back into contention otherwise he could be the first player to hit the road. His 300+ large posse is absolutely silent. What a difference one hand can make? The air has been sucked out of Dennis Phillips cheering section and the initial excitement and buzz has been replaced by a growing trepidation and murky uncertainty.

Flipchip has joined me in media row (located in the orchestra pit). Fitting that I get to sit next to him at the November Nine as he upload photos of the final table. Flipchip and the Poker Prof gave me my first job as a tournament reporter in 2005 when they hired me to write recaps for LasVegas We saw some of Flipchip's pics of the hot blonde DJ who was spinning tunes earlier in the day. Otis was visibly shaken at the sight of the picture. We have a confirmed Otis-tilt in media row.

More pro sightings.... Chris Moneymaker and Phil Gordon are in the house. Johnny Bax is sitting int he crowd cheering on Ylon. I wonder how big of a piece JohnnyBax has?

* * * * *

2:20pm... Ylon's World

Players Remaining: 9
Chipleader: Ylon Schwartz

Ylon took over the chiplead on Hand #30 and became the first player to pass the 40 million mark. He got most of that on one hand against former chipleader Ivan the Russian. The pot started out with a 775K raise from Ivan. Ylon called from his big blind. The flop was Kh-10h-2d. Ylon fired out 1.1m. Ivan the Russian called. The turn was the 3d. Ylon bet 2.45 and the Russian calmly called. The river was the 6h. Perhaps, Ylon feared the flush because he checked. Ivan bet 3.7 million and as fast as he could put it out there, Ylon called.

Ylon: Kc-10c
Ivan the Russian: Ad-Kd

Ivan was ahead preflop but Ylon took the lead when he flopped two pair. His hand held up despite a scare card on the river. That hand pushed Ylon over the 40 million mark and he took over the chiplead as Ivan slipped to 27m.

With about 15 minutes to go in Level 34, the room woke up when Kelly Kim moved all in with pocket Kings. The shortstack had dipped to under 1 million and needed help. His Ks-Kh was up against Ivan the Russan's Kc-10d and even faded a gutshow draw to double up. The section of Kelly Kim fans sitting behind us went absolutely berserk. Although Kim has 1.7 million, he still has a lot of work ahead of him as the shortstack.

Kim was all in a couple of hands later. He held Ad-Kc versus Chino's Ah-Kc. Kim's fans screamed, "Diamonds! Diamonds!" The flop was all hearts and Kim's section let out a huge groan as Chino picked up a flush draw. Kim's fans instantly regrouped and rose to their feet shouting, "Kelly! Kelly! Kelly!" The turn was black card and Kim's section got louder and louder. The river was the Queen of diamonds and Kim avoided a potential ugly elimination. He and Chino chopped the pot.

On the last hand before the break, Chino and Phillips were all in. Chino was behind with Jd-Jc against Phillips' Qd-Qs. Chino had Phillips covered and Phillips was all in for his tournament life. His army rose to their feet praying that their hero could dodge a major bullet. The flop was Kc-5d-3s. The turn was 9d. Chino's crew screamed and begged and pleaded for a Jack. The river was the 6h. Phillips doubled up and for the first time since we began, his cheering section erupted. Phillips avoided an early exit and doubled up on the last hand of the level. And just like that, Phillips has sprung back to with almost 10m. On the flip side, Chino is in trouble with 6.6m.

Michalski posted a pic dump over at Pokerati. Check it out. He also has some interesting things to say about the UB scandal and another former WSOP champ who may be fingered as a culprit. Check it out.

Oh, Level 34 is over and players are on a 20 minute break while they color up chips. See you in a half hour.

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3:20pm... Down to 8; Craig Marquis Eliminated in 9th Place

Players Remaining: 8
Chipleader: Ylon 36.6m

New Tao of Pokerati podcast! Click here to listen to Episode 4.2: Root, Root, Root for the Short Stack (3:17).

Some random things shouted from the crowd... "May the Schwartz be with you!" and "Who's Chino?"

Jeremiah Smith sighting in the orchestra press pit.

Ylon didn't sit on his lead and got into a scrape with Ivan the Russian. The board was Jh-7h-5h-9h-5s and the pot was worth over 7m. Ivan bet 4.3 million and Ylon tanked for several minutes. Ivan originally raised preflop. They both checked the flop. Ylon tried to take it down on the turn with a small bet, but Ivan raised him. Now on the river, Ylon was faced with a suspicious bet from Ivan. He pondered the call for several minutes. It was very quiet in the theatre and someone in the crowd screamed "Clock!" Someone in the media row joked, "Where's Tiffany to call the clock?" Ylon continued his pensive pose, but reluctantly folded. As the dealer pushed him the pot, Ivan flashed a smirk like he wanted Ylon to make the call.

The action slowed down a bit at the start of Level 35. The 5k chips were removed. I overheard Feldman from ESPN doing a quick podcast with Phil Gordon. He asked Gordon who he thought would would make a move this level. Gordon quickly said, "Craig Marquis." Now does Gordo actually believe that or is he towing the company line and supporting one of the three Full Tilt logoed players at the final table.

Sorry, Gordo but your boy went busto. Maybe he's a cooler or something because Marquis was all in for his life with 7h-7d versus Scott Montgomery's Ad-Qh. A race. A coinflip. The flop was Ah-10s-7c. The crowd erupted. Montgomery flopped his ace, but Marquis flopped a golden seven for a set. He unleashed a sign of relief as his fans unleashed a howl. The turn was a Jd and Montgomery picked up a gutshot. I turned to California Jen and Said, "You know what's coming, don't you?"

She shook her head and a King of spades spiked on the river. The crowd unleashed an collective, "Awwwww!" Someone screamed, "Fuuuuuuck!" Montgomery's fans jumped up and down. Score one for Canada.

Craig Marquis, the young Texan, is the first player out in 9th place. Kelly Kim managed to hang on for this long and avoided being the first guy out.

Down to 8.

* * * * *

3:30pm... Kelly Kim Eliminated in 8th Place; No Love for Tiffany

Breaking news... on the hand after Marquis bustout, Kelly Kim headed to the rail in 8th place when he lost in a three-way pot. The super short stack manged to hang on for this long which was impressive, even though Owen joked that, "Kelly Kim folding oblivion."

Even though Kim went out, his enthusiastic fans gave him one last hearty cheer. With Kim's exit, his boisterous fans also left the room. It's not going to be as loud as it used to be with them versus Phillips legion of fans.

Jack Effel introduced Tiffany Michelle to the crowd as the last female standing in the tournament. The crowd reacted negatively and rained down a chorus of boos. A couple of not-so nice words were tossed in there, like a few of inappropriate vicious c-bombs. Jack had to rush to her defense to stop the boo birds. Good old Jack, way to throw Tiffany under the bus there.

"Tiffany not getting much love here," commented one veteran poker writer.

As Michalksi pointed out, that was the first "WOW" moment of the day.

* * * * *

4:20pm... Small Stacks Double Up and the Tao of Pokerati

Players Remaining: 7
Chipleader: Ivan the Russian 40m

Happy 4:20 to all my herb friendly readers on the West Coast.

The boo birds returned. When Jack Effel introduced Phil Hellmuth, the crowd promptly booed him. It wasn't as malicious as what Tiffany experienced, but almost somewhat playful.

With 7 to go, it was Chino's turn to make something happen. He had been relatively quiet all day. Chino in his hoodie moved all in and Ivan the Russian called. Chino had Ac-Kh versus Ivan's 9s-9h. Classic race. Chino's crew chanted "Chino! Chino!" The flop was 8s-7h-5d. The turn is the King of Diamonds and the theatre erupted as Chino took the lead. He still had to dodge a couple of bullets. Ivan had a gutshot but whiffed on the river. Chino doubled up and made a ton of people in the crowd extremely joyous. He jumped up to 6.5m.

Despite the hit, Ivan the Russian regained the chiplead over the last hour. He sailed past the 40m mark while Ylon slipped to under 40m.

Darus Suharto was the invisible player at the final table. I can't recall a specific hand that he played in the first couple of hours. Suharto has slipped into the short stack with under 50,000. He was all in against monster stacked Ylon. Suharto's Ac-Kh was ahead of Ylon's Qc-8s. Ylon flopped a Queen to take the lead and Suharto's future looked dim until the Kc fell on the turn and Suharto regained the lead. The river was an Ace and Suharto doubled up with two pair.

We have another episode of Tao of Pokerati for your listening pleasure. Click here to listen to Book 4: Episode 4.3: Double Up! Double Up! (1:20)

Players are on a 20 minute break. See you in 30 minutes.

* * * * *

5:20pm... Chino Rheem Eliminated in 7th Place; Dennis Phillips Soils Ylon's Queens

Players Remaining: 6
Chipleader: Ivan the Russian 39m

Yeah it's Sunday and I did not get to see one down of football today. Too bad the sports book wasn't closer to the Penn & Teller Theatre. Then again, I'm such a degenerate gambler that I had to quit sportsbetting cold turkey. I've been getting my gambling fix betting on gold futures and gold options, but that's for another day. Anyway, good to hear that my hometown NY Jets stomped the lowly St. Louis Rams. My brother kept texting me updates throughout the game. I'm also 10-2 in my football pool this week. Otis was winning it all but slipped into a tie for first place. He's been on tilt ever since the Browns lost on Thursday night. It's weird because I usually associate the NBA playoffs with the WSOP, especially this past summer when Phil Ivey had his rumored $1 million bet on the Lakers, which he whiffed on.

Thanks to the shoutout from Nick and Lacey Jones over at Bluff TV. I'd link it up, but the site is overloaded.

Schecky overheard this from a guy on a cellphone in the hallway, "Dude you know I can't be seen in public right now. I Could get killed."

When Daniel Negreanu stopped by the final table, he got a warm applause.

All in action between the former chipleader and the chess whiz. Chino opened for 1m. Dennis Phillips called from the small blind. Ylon raised from the big blind to 4.4m. Chino folded. Phillips moved all in for 10 million and Ylon insta-called.

Dennis Phillips: Ac-Qh
Ylon: Qc-Qs

Phillips was all in and on the brink of elimination. If there was ever a time to flop an Ace... t would be at that precise moment. Phillips loyal fans squealed for an Ace. They all rose to their feet and awaited the outcome of the hand. If he could get lucky, he'd double up and avoid elimination. If not, he'd be going home and 300+ fans would go home disappointed. His fate was decided when the Ace of spades fell on the flop and the theatre erupted in jubilation and screams and whistles. Ylon did not improve his hand and Phillips won the pot. His hundred of red-hated and white shirted clones chanted "Dennis! Dennis! Dennis!"

That hand whipped his fans into a frenzy. "There are a lot of Dennis Phillips fans in the house tonight," said Jack Effel. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Phillips increased his stack to 21m and jumped into third place in chips. Ylon slipped to 4th with a 20m stack.

"These guys are too nice," said Flipchip. "Back in the day you used to go to see the nasty talk at the tables. Like Stu Ungar and Puggy Pearson. Stu can insult you in five ways."

Sadly, Chino Rheem is out. Short stacked Chino found himself all in as a big favorite with Big Slick against Peter Easgate's A-Q. However, Eastgate flopped a Queen to take the lead and Chino's backers let out an angry grumble. The turn and river did not help Chino and he was eliminated in 7th place.

Down to 6. Ivan the Russian is the chipleader, Eastgate the Scandi is second in chips, and Darus Suharto is the short stack.

* * * * *

6:00pm... Phillips Closing in on Ivan the Russian

Players Remaining: 6
Chipleader: Ivan 30.7m

We're six-handed by 6pm. That's not a bad thing as action slid into Level 36. The antes are 50k and blinds are 250k/500k. Starting stacks were 20k so each hand, players are tossing in 2.5 main event starting stacks.

A group of media folks were patiently waiting in line to interview Chino. If anyone will give you the straight dope, it will be Chino. Despite a medium-stack to start the final table, Chino was a popular pick among seasoned poker pros. They all felt that Chino's ability and style of play gave him the best chance to win out of the other eight players. Chino couldn't get anything going early on and instead of slowly adding to his stack, the opposite happened. He never really bled away any chips but simply couldn't get any momentum going.

One media rep asked Chino how he's feeling after he busted out. Chino lashed out... "Are you being fuckin' serious? What the fuck kind of question is that? I feel like shit. You can quote me."

I hoped that action would accelerate once it got six-handed, but instead it slowed down. I assume that the final six players are taking some time to gauge how their opponents play short-handed at this juncture. After an hour or so, I hope that they get a good read on everyone's short game and start making necessary adjustments. It would be the cat's balls (or the dog's bollocks as my British friends would say) if we could get down to five players by the dinner break and get down to three by Midnight.

At any rate, the crowd seems to fade in and out during the a large gap of inaction at the final table. As Ryan said, a lot of these spectators (a large majority of them from Dennis Phillips crew) are not frequently hitting up the tournament circuit. They are feeling the effects of the dreaded slow down and the ebbs and flows of a poker tournament. And televised events are even slower because of the extra breaks the crew has to take to change film or due to equipment malfunctions.

Just as I was writing the above paragraph, Dennis Phillips and Ivan the Russian were involved in a noteworthy pot. Phillips won the pot and woke up the slumbering clones in the crowd. With over 7 million in the pot, and the board reading Kd-3h-3c-7c-Ks, Ivan the Russian checked. Phillips bet 4.5 million and the Russian went into the tank. The lengthy Euro-tank as Martin Derbyshire would call it. Ivan eventually made the call and was not happy to see that Phillips won the pot with a full house. That hand thrusted Phillips up to 27 million and second in chips. Despite the loss, Ivan the Russian retained the lead, but Phillips was right behind him in second place.

Phil Hellmuth introduced Johnny Chan but not before he got booed. Hellmuth welcomed the boos and then handed the mic over to Johnny to shamelessly plug his second-rate energy drink that is nothing more than glorified sugar water that turns your urine bright orange if you drink to much.

Players went on a dinner break. Action resumes at 7:15pm local time.
Dinner Break Chip Counts:
Ivan the Russian - 30.725
Peter Eastgate - 27.17
Dennis Phillips - 26.95
Ylon - 20.47
Scott Montgomery - 20.3
Darus Suharto - 10.6
* * * * *

7:15pm... Hall of Fame Inductions

Jeffrey Pollack said that 37 people were in the poker Hall of Fame. Two more would be going in tonight... Dewey Tomko and Henry Orenstein. Pollack introduced Doyle Brunson who spoke a few minutes about his good friend Dewey Tomko - poker pro and golf hustler.

"It takes talent to get to the top," he said about Tomko's skills.

Henry Orenstein was next up to be inducted. He couldn't make the trip. The former Holocaust survivor endured some horrific experiences in concentration camps and had his entire family murdered by the SS. Orenstein has over 100 toy patents including the Transformers. He also revolutionized poker by creating the lipstick cameras. A true innovator, Orenstien is one of the principle reason why I have a job in the poker industry today.

"It is privilege to be included among the poker greats," wrote Orenstien in a statement that was read aloud to the crowd.

* * * * *

8:20pm... Here Comes the Scandi

Players Remaining: 6
Chipleader: Peter Eastgate 37m

We have a couple of episodes of Tao of Pokerati...
Episode 4.5: Boo Berry (4:18)
Episode 4.6: Poker Rogue (1:05)
The money was brought out and placed on a table near the final table. It's fake of course. It's either real $100 bills on the outside wrapped around stacks of $1. Or it's straight up fake money. Depends on the casino and tournament circuit. Flipchip said that back in the old days at Binion's, they really dumped the prize money on the tables and the thuggy looking goons with shotguns actually had live shells in the barrels.

Action resumed at around 8:00pm. There was 90 minutes left in Level 36.

Otis is in trouble. He already started drinking All In. His second so far. Trying to stay awake after a tasty dinner at Rub BBQ. We got a $20 food comp, which was good for two meats and two side dishes.

After Peter Easgate won a big hand that thrust him into the chip lead, his Scandi friends (that included Jesper Hougaard) chanted an odd song. A lot of us looked on totally stunned and didn't know what to make of the performance.

Here's the big hand... Eastgate raised to 1.25m from the button. Phillips re-raised from the small blind for 3.5m. Eastgate called. The flop was Kd-2d-2s. Phillips checked. Eastgate fired out 3m. Phillips check-raised to 7m. Eastagte re-raised all in. Phillips tanked and folded. That's when Jesper and the Danes started singing. Weird shit, man.

Eastgate jumped up to 37.5 million and took the lead for the first time at the final table, while Phillips slipped to 5th in chips.

* * * * *

9:00pm... Darus Suharto Eliminated in 6th Place

Players Remaining: 5
Chipleader: Peter Eastgate 37.5m

Breaking news.... Canuck on Canuck crime. Darhus Suharto was busted by his fellow countryman in 6th place. Suharto was shortstacked and shoved with A-8. Scott Montgomery called with A-Q. Suharto could not come from behind and he went out in 6th. The accountant from Toronto won $2,418,562.

Down to five. Updates chip counts... Peter Eastgate 37.5M, Scott Montgomery 32.7M, Ivan the Russian Demidov 26.3M, Dennis Phillips 20.27M, Ylon Schwartz 19.3M

* * * * *

9:40pm... Scott Montgomery Eliminated in 5th Place

Players Remaining: 4
Chipleader: Ivan the Russian 50m

When action became five-handed, Scott Montgomery made a run. He ran his stack past the 30m mark and took over second place in chips behind Peter Eastgate. Ylon won a small pot to climb out of the cellar, while Dennis Phillips found himself as the shortest stack remaining with 18.7m. However, if he doubled up, he would jump into second place in chips.

Ivan the Russian had been quiet ever since the break ended. He hovered around the same stack while Eastgate and Montgomery started to pull away from the pack.

At this point in the tournament, there is no longer a massive line to get in. There are plenty of seats. Dennis Phillips clones are not as vocal as they once were. It's the fatigue and the fact that he's the short stack.

Just when I thought it was slowing down, Ivan the Russian woke up with a monster and Montgomery got caught speeding. Ivan had the Ks-Kd. Montgomery had Ad-9d. Ivan had around 24m and Montgomery had him covered. The Russians in the crowd began chanting and rooting on Ivan. The flop was 6c-6d-4d and the crowd unleashed a collectibe, "Oooooooooooooo!" Montgomery flopped a nut flush draw. The turn and the river were blanks. Ivan the Russian faded the Ace and the flush draw to win the pot. He doubled up to almost 50 million and regained the chiplead. Montgomery slipped to 7m and was the shortstack.

On the last hand before the break, Scott Montgomery was all in with A-3 against Peter Eastgate's pocket sixes. In true luckbox fashion, Montgomery flopped an Ace and turned and Ace. Eastgate was down to one out since Phillips mentioned that he folded a six. The river was the case six and the entire crowd erupted in dismay and disbelief when Eastgate spiked his one outer. Eastgate won the hand and Montgomery busted out. The Danes started singing as Montgomery headed to the rail in 5th place. The last Canadian in the WSOP has left the building. He won $3,096,768.

Down to 4.

Level 36 has come to a close. Players are on a 20-minute break. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

* * * * *

10:40pm... The Final Four

Players Remaining: 4
Chipleader: Ivan the Russian

Level 37. Blinds are 300k/600k with a 75k ante. We're down to the final four. Two Americans. Two Europeans. All of them are PokerStars players. As Michalski wrote over at Pokerati... PokerStars has won the 2008 WSOP. Ah, the battle for the hearts and minds of online poker players is officially in PokerStars hands. The crew at PokerStars had the final table dominated with 6 players compared to 3 sponsored by Full Tilt. They were the odds on favor to be the primary logo on the eventual winner especially sine they had teh chipleder and two of the strongest players at the final table in Chino and Ivan the Russian.

Anyway, with four to go, the two twentysomething Europeans are 1 and 2 in chips while the two older Yanks are at the back of the pack.

The Rio is making some serious bank on the drinking habits of the Dennis Phillips clones. Every time I pass the bar in the Penn & Teller Theatre, there are no less than a dozen of people in white shirts and red hats ordering more cocktails. And they are also camped out at the Hooker Bar and McFadden's as well. Shit, they are everywhere and drinking up a storm. One of them has been shouting things in drunkenese. We have no idea what he's been saying.

When level 36 ended, Ivan had a marginal chiplead over Eastgate. He's added a few more chips since then and is closing in on 50 million.

Ylon and Eastgate were all in with A-K versus A-K. The flop was all diamonds and Eastgate held the King of diamonds. He was freerolling the flooooosh draw. Deja vu all over again. Ylon needed to fade a diamond otherwise he was going home. The turn was a blank and the river was also a blank. Ylon let out a sigh of relief as he chopped the pot.

* * * * *

11:40pm... Slowdown and Burn One Down

Players Remaining: 4
Chipleader: Ivan the Russian 51m

We have another new episode of Tao of Pokerati...

Episode 4.7: Pokerstarzistan (2:04)

Here's Michalski's description... At dinner break, Dr. Pauly and I discuss Chino Rheem’s bustout interview and its political inspiration, along with PokerStars’ domination over Full Tilt. (Four Stars players left, one Full Tilter.) In fact, there’s even a rumor we start discuss about PokerStars’ intentions to start its own country - which would be theoretically feasible, and would probably have the best prisons.

Players returned from a break. The video screen wasn't working so everyone in the audience got restless and starting a mutiny. Instead of seeing the final table, an old chip count screen was displayed instead. "Where's the video?!" people shouted. The technical difficulty was quickly resolved and the video was back up. "Where's the chip counts?" one wise ass shouted out. Maybe I'm getting tired, but that shit was funny.

Here's a chip count since there hasn't been too much going on...
Ivan the Russian - 51,250,000
Eastgate the Scandi - 45,050,000
Dennis Phillips - 20,800,000
Ylon - 19,125,000
* * * * *

12:01am... Ylon Schwartz Eliminated in 4th Place

Breaking news.... we're down to three after Ylon Schwartz busted out in 4th place. Eastgate raised 1.5m and Ylon called from the big blind. The flop was Kh-8h-2s and both players checked. The turn was the Kd. Ylon checked. Eastgate bet 1.75m and Ylon called. The river was the 5d. Ylon checked. Eastagte fired out 4.6m. Ylon check-raised all in for 12.4m more. Eastgate called.

Eastgate: 5s-5c
Ylon: Ah-10c

Yikes. Ylon got caught bluffing off all his chips. He probably should have check-raised the turn and Eastgate would have folded there. Alas, Eastagte rivered a boat and Ylon was history.

"It could have gone my way, but I'm happy," said the always aloof Ylon in a bustout interview.

It's now Dennis Phillips as the shortstack against two young Europeans in Peter Eastgate and Ivan the Russian. I sorta predicted a Scandi/Russian heads up battle. It might happen.
Final 3 Chip Counts:
Peter Eastgate - 64.925M
Ivan the Russian - 50.575M
Dennis Phillips - 20.725M
* * * * *

12:35am... Dennis Phillips Eliminated in 3rd Place; Heads Up Battle Set

Players Remaining: 2
Chipleader: Peter Eastgate - 79.5M

Dennis Phillips and Peter Eastgate entered the Octagon. The fight was to the death. The flop was Jc-4d-3s. The cagey Eastgate fired out 1.5m. Philiips moved all in. Eastgate quickly called. Eastgate flopped a set with 3d-3c. Phillips was way behind with 10c-9h. The turn was As and Phillips was drawing dead. The last American standing was eliminated in third place and won $4,517,773. His clones gave him a roaring send off.

I won my prop bet with Otis on the ending time. 1:50am was the line I set. He took the over. I won. Otis money is the sweetest money.

It took 169 hands, but the heads up match is set. Play is over for the night and will resume tomorrow. The final two are Peter Eastgate and Ivan the Russian.
The Final Two:
Peter Eastgate (Denmark) - 79.5M
Ivan Demidov (Russia) - 57.725M

1st Place - $9,152,416
2nd Place - $5,809,595
Eastgate will be trying to become the youngest ever WSOP champion tomorrow night. The final heads up match will begin at 10pm local time. Check back in with the Tao of Poker for live updates.

You guys have been a great crowd. Thanks for tuning in. See ya tomorrow night.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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