Gambling Related Essays and Reports by Andrew W Scott

World Series of Poker Main Event... Report number 5

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

July 13th 2007

Day 3: Thursday 12 July
Finally the split days are over, and the entire field can play as one. Of the 6,358 starters, only 797 remained at the start of day 3. They included the following Australians, with the place they are based in, if known:

29th Kit Manoez 405,700
42nd Julian Powell Melbourne 358,800
135th Leo Boxell Melbourne 258,700
390th Nicholas Nicolaou Brisbane 135,400
447th Sam Khouiss Sydney 120,600
592nd Tim Duckworth Melbourne 83,600
624th Dion Fotopoulos Melbourne 69,800
642nd Tony Hachem Melbourne 65,300
644th Angela Giannino Melbourne 64,500
720th Gary Benson Sydney 44,200

Others to start day 3 included:

1st Gus Hansen Monaco 622,300
2nd Hevad Khan Poughkeepsie, NY 592,500
3rd Jeff "Mr Rain" Banghart Bennington, NE 570,100
4th Jeff Weiss Davie, FL 550,000
5th Jon Monves Los Angeles, CA 549,800
108th Huck Seed Las Vegas, NV 280,500
125th Maria Ho Arcadia, CA 263,400
142nd Carlos Mortensen Las Vegas, NV 254,700
188th Berry Johnston Bethany, OK 217,900
248th Gualter Salles Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 190,100
262nd Robert Varkonyi Great Neck, NY 182,700
314th Chris "Jesus" Ferguson Pacific Palisades 160,900
335th Tobey Maguire Los Angeles, CA 152,900
343rd Takashi Takii Sacramento, CA 149,400
401st John Strzemp Las Vegas, NV 133,000
440th Amnon Filippi Las Vegas, NV 122,100
498th Bill Baxter Las Vegas, NV 107,400 499th
Scotty Nguyen Las Vegas, NV 107,200
518th Adam Noone United Kingdom 101,900
523rd Cancer Outlaw Sumter, SC 101,000
551st Humberto Brenes Costa Rica 94,700
565th Todd Brunson Las Vegas, NV 90,600
559th Pamela Brunson Las Vegas, NV 91,300
764th Sully Erna Boston, MA 32,300

At the start of day 3 there were six former winners still in the hunt: Robert Varkonyi (2002), Carlos Mortensen (2001), Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (2000), Scotty Nguyen (1998), Huck Seed (1996) and Berry Johnston (1986). John Strzemp was runner up to the late Stu Ungar in 1997. Todd and Pamela Brunson are the son and daughter of poker living legend Doyle Brunson, who won back-to-back victories in 1976 and 1977. Bill Baxter is widely know as the man who backed Stu Ungar when Ungar won in 1980, 1981 and 1997. Tobey Maguire is the actor that played Spiderman in the recent movies of the same name. Sully Erna is the lead singer for Godsmack. Gualter Salles is a Brazilian racecar driver.

Takashi Takii owes his tournament life to incredible luck on day 1. He held a pocket pair of 8s to Mike Panzarella’s pocket pair of Aces. The flop (the first three cards of the five card board) came with an Ace giving Panzarella three of a kind, otherwise known as a set, of Aces, an extremely powerful hand. But the turn (the fourth card) came 8 and the river (the fifth, and final, card) also came 8 to give Takii a miracle four of a kind, and a win on the hand. The odds of those two perfect cards coming like that were 902 to 1.

Many of the 797 starters were desperate to hold on to make it to the top 621 positions, which share the total prize money of US$59,784,954. The day started at 12:12pm, at the eleventh level, with blinds at 1,200/2,400 and a 300 ante. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson was eliminated at 1pm, when his Ace-5 suited lost to William Childs’ pair of Queens when the board helped neither player.

Hand-for-hand play is one of the most exciting yet dreaded periods of any major poker tournament. Hand-for-hand play occurs so that the so-called "bubble" can be correctly determined. The bubble represents all players in the money, in the case of this year’s tournament the bubble comprised 621 players, the so-called "bubble boy" being the 622nd ranked player in the tournament, the highest placed finisher who doesn’t receive any money. Once the tournament gets down to about 10 players away from the bubble, each table begins each hand simultaneously, with no table beginning the following hand until the first hand has been completed on all tables. With approximately 70 tables in play, hand for hand is a logistical nightmare, excruciatingly slow as each hand takes as long as the longest hand of all tables for that particular hand. The long and laborious process of hand-for-hand play began at 3:50pm, and the bubble finally burst at 5:45pm, almost two hours later. In those two hours, only fifteen hands were played, an average of eight minutes a hand.

This is a terrifying period for the short-stacked players, who are desperately praying that other players around them will bust out. Some of these short stacked players have just a few chips, perhaps only enough to pay one blind or a few hands of antes. Some players even sheepishly admit to folding the best possible hand, a pair of Aces, just to remain alive in the tournament. For the big stacks, this is a time that they can add to their chips considerably, by bullying the small stacks, who have every reason to fold and give up their blinds and antes.

When the bubble burst, an enormous cheer erupted across the Amazon room, because those remaining had made the money, all now guaranteed a payout of at least US$20,320. The unfortunate bubble boy was Mr John Sigan, from Strongsville, Ohio, who finished in 622nd place and received nothing for his two and a half days of poker. Once the bubble burst, there was a rush of all-in bets from short stacks and many eliminations quickly ensued. At 7:05pm Tony Hachem, brother of 2005 champ Aussie Joe Hachem, was eliminated when his pocket jacks lost to 6-7 of clubs when the board came 10c-8c-2d-9h-3h, giving his opponent Jon Kalmar a straight. Tony finished in 552nd place. Australian Angela Giannino finished 578th. All players finishing between 550th and 621st received prize money of US$20,320.

As the day ground into night and more and more players busted out, the tension rose as it became clear the players were getting closer to the big money. One player, upon getting drawn out upon on the turn, slammed his fists into the table causing chips to jump. Once the river card hit and he knew he was busted, he proceeded to lift the entire table off the ground and sent chips and cards flying. The other players managed to scoop their chips up and everything was put back in order. The player in question was escorted from the building by security, and I am sure we will not see him again for the rest of this tournament, and he may even be refused entry to future tournaments based upon his ungentlemanly performance.

After the 550th placed finisher busted out, the prize money kicked up from US$20,320 to US$25,101. At 9:45pm Todd Brunson busted out with pocket Queens against Ace-Queen, when the board came 9-7-5-A-2. He finished 459th. His sister Pamela ran over and teased him, calling out "last Brunson standing!", as their father, poker legend Doyle Brunson had busted out on day 1.

At 10:30pm Nasser Hamedani needed medical assistance. Paramedics took him to the hospital for a suspected heart attack, or possibly suffering a panic or anxiety attack. He had a little over 100,000 in tournament chips at the time, but his empty stack was slowly blinding away while he was at the hospital and his empty chair finished the day with 31,000 in chips, the smallest chip stack of any player left alive at that time. Could he return from hospital tomorrow for what what would surely be a miraculous victory?

Everyone who placed between 478th and 549th received US$25,101, including Australian poker legend Leo Boxell who placed 508th. From the 477th finisher the prize money kicked up to US$29,883, which is the amount Sydneysider Sam Khouiss picked up when he was eliminated in 422nd place. From the 414th place, the prizemoney increased yet again to US$34,664, and Aussie Nicholas Nicolaou just scraped into this high level of prize money, finishing 412th.

As the prize money continued to escalate the room became noticeably more tense. At 11:30pm, the fifteenth level began, with blinds of 3,000/6,000 and a 1,000 ante. At that time there were 399 players remaining. 1997 runner-up John Strzemp finished in 379th place, picking up US$34,664. At 12:15am, the last surviving member of the Brunson clan, Pamela Brunson, was eliminated in 364th place, receiving US$39,445, as the prize money had escalated to this new amount from the 376th placed finisher. Pamela had pocket Queens, but was beaten by Ace-Jack when the board came A-5-4-6-2.

During the day other Australians to bust out without cashing any prize money were Dion Fotopoulos, Julian Powell and Tim Duckworth, all from Melbourne. Only two Australians remained alive at the end of day, Sydneysider Gary Benson and Kit Manoel from Adelaide. Play finished for the day at 12:30am, half-way through the fifteenth level, with 337 players remaining alive. There were only about five women left in the field including Mimi Tran, Amanda Baker, and Maria Ho.

The official standings at the end of day 3 were:

1st Dario Minieri Italy 2,398,000
2nd Voidim Triucher Davie, FL 1,533,000
3rd John Kalmar Chortleyville 1,410,000
4th Hevad Khan Poughkeepsie, CA 1,319,000
5th Kenny Tran Arcadia, CA 1,175,000

11th Gus Hansen Monaco 1,044,000
77th Huck Seed Las Vegas, NV 544,000
89th Maria Ho Arcadia, CA 481,000
114th Robert Varkonyi Great Neck, NY 424,000
128th Karim Vegas Brookline, NH 393,000
160th Scotty Nguyen Las Vegas, NV 321,000
191st Takeshi Takii Sacramento, CA 267,000
203rd Gary Benson Sydney, Australia 256,000
205th Adam Noone London, UK 255,000
222nd Kit Manoel Adelaide, Australia 219,000
229th Humberto Brenes Costa Rica 210,000
234th Berry Johnston Bethany, OK 203,000
281st Sully Erna Boston, MA 135,000
287th Tobey Maguire Los Angeles, CA 131,000
315st Bill Baxter Las Vegas, NV 105,000

Play continues on day 4, Saturday 14 July, with Gary Benson starting on table 72 seat 7 and Kit Manoel starting on table 63 seat 6. My latest stories on the tournament are available here

© 2007 Andrew W Scott




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