Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

The Inside Straight

by CP The Inside Straight Authors |  Published: Aug 22, 2006

World Series of Poker Action Continues to Build
Bigger and Better Than Ever

By Tim Peters

By the time this issue of Card Player goes to press, the main event of the 2006 World Series of Poker will be under way, and the field will certainly be the largest in WSOP history. Most estimates hover around the 8,000 mark, which would represent a 42 percent increase over the 5,619 who played last year. But if early events are any indication, the field could achieve even higher numbers. Just to put that in perspective, from 1970 to 2004, a total of 9,385 people entered the main event. In other words, this year's field may rival the aggregate fields of the first 24 years of main-event history.

But you don't have to wait for the main event to see history unfolding at this year's Series:

• More than $50 million in prize money has already been awarded.

• Youth is being served: Jeff Madsen won a bracelet ($2,000 no-limit hold'em) at the tender age of 21 years, 1 month, and 9 days - edging out record-holder Eric Froehlich for the distinction of "youngest bracelet winner" by less than two months. Froehlich won the $1,500 limit hold'em event last year.

• Youth is being served, Part II: On July 18, Froehlich set a new record when he became the youngest player to win two WSOP bracelets; he was the champion of this year's unscheduled $1,500 pot-limit Omaha (with rebuys) tournament.

• Youth is being served, Part III: Froehlich's record lasted only four days. On July 22, Madsen struck again in the $5,000 no-limit hold'em shorthanded event. So now he's the youngest player to win two WSOP bracelets.

• And two players have won multiple bracelets in 2006: Bill Chen, in the $2,500 no-limit hold'em shorthanded and $3,000 limit hold'em events, and Jeff Madsen, for the two events cited above.

• The pros have proven they can play large-field poker: Allen Cunningham, Lee Watkinson, David Pham, and Rafael Perry all won bracelets in the latest run of events.

Of course, the biggest story to date was the biggest buy-in tournament in the history of the WSOP: the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, for which a full account appears in this issue. A who's who of the poker universe turned out for the battle, and Chip Reese, one of the best and most experienced cash-game players in the world, ended up slugging it out with Andy Bloch, a Team FullTilt professional, in what would be the longest heads-up match in WSOP history: seven hours and 10 minutes.

Bracelets and money aside, the 2006 Series is also notable for how effectively it's running. Staggered breaks are easing bathroom congestion. The new Poker Kitchen just outside the Amazon Room is offering excellent food at excellent prices. And officials are working hard to address concerns; one recent innovation is the creation of a Player Services desk in the hallway outside the tournament area - a resource for players who are competing to raise questions and address concerns.

But let's get back to the bracelets; Card Player presents the following recaps for WSOP events Nos. 14-28.

Event No. 14 -
Rebuy, Rebuy … No More Rebuys
Allen Cunningham Wins $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Rebuy Event

By Alex Henriquez

The ESPN production crew returned in full force to film the final table of one of the World Series of Poker's more popular tournaments, the $1,000 no-limit hold'em rebuy event. The tournament began with a 752-player starting field and $2,317,887 total prize pool.

The chip counts going to the final table were as follows:
1. Tom Franklin - $590,000
2. Tim Phan - $551,000
3. Steve Wong - $295,000
4. John Hoang - $274,000
5. Allen Cunningham - $233,000
6. David "Chino" Rheem - $170,000
7. Andy Bloch - $163,000
8. Alex Jacob - $106,000
9. Everett Carlton - $86,000

The action started with $6,000-$12,000 blinds and $2,000 antes. Team FullTilt member Andy Bloch served up the first casualty when he eliminated Alex Jacob in 10th place ($46,358).

Thirty hands later, Bloch, unable to drag many pots after the Jacob elimination, moved all in on an Allen Cunningham raise.

Bloch held pocket nines, but Cunningham's Aclub Qspade paired an ace and a queen. Bloch exited the tournament in eighth place ($69,537).

On the very next hand, Everett Carlton took a trip to the rail in seventh place ($92,715), courtesy of another Cunningham two pair.

Tim Phan, a favorite to win going to the final table, watched his stack steadily decline. Sitting at the bottom of the leader board, he pushed all in with the Aclub Qspade, only to have David "Chino" Rheem call him with the Adiamond Kdiamond. The board brought no help to either player, and Phan exited the tournament in sixth place ($115,894).

Coming off a second-place finish in the $1,500 seven-card stud event, John Hoang finished fifth here ($139,073), but, due to the number of player rebuys, took home more money.

Rheem, supported by a high-profile cheering section that included the Mizrachi brothers, Amnon Filippi, Nam Le, Tuan Le, and J.C. Tran, thrilled his fans when he eliminated the next two players - Steve Wong and Tom Franklin. Rheem flopped a set of sixes to finish Wong off in fourth place ($162,252), then turned a diamond flush to send Franklin out as the third-place finisher ($185,431).

Rheem took a commanding lead into heads-up play, topping Cunningham by more than $1 million. But, in a matter of a few hands, Cunningham doubled up when his pocket queens held up against Rheem's Aspade Qclub, and the gap narrowed. Cunningham then dragged a succession of pots, and wrenched the title of table chip boss from Rheem.

Cunningham continued to dominate, and Rheem, seeing his stack disappear, pushed all in preflop over a Cunningham raise. After the call, Rheem flipped over the Jheart 9diamond and Cunningham showed the Aclub Qheart. The board came Kdiamond 5diamond 2club Kclub Aclub, and Cunningham had the title.

Rheem, the runner-up, took home $327,981. As for Cunningham, he captured his fourth career WSOP bracelet, and took home a $625,830 first-place cash prize.

Event No. 15 -
Ladies Night, Oh What a Night
Mary Jones Wins $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Event

By Alex Henriquez

The $1,000 ladies no-limit hold'em event attracted a starting field of 1,128, which generated a $1,026,480 total prize pool.

With the fans packed in the bleachers and the TV cameras rolling, the final table kicked off with $4,000-$8,000 blinds and $1,000 antes. Mary Jones provided the first bust out. She eliminated Lorrie Scott in eighth place ($25,662) when her Aclub 7club paired an ace on the flop and Scott's pocket threes failed to improve.

Jones narrowed the field even more when she busted Devi Ortega only 20 minutes later. Ortega took home seventh place ($30,794) after moving all in with pocket tens, only to have Jones, who called with the Aheart 8heart, make her heart flush on the turn.

Surviving on a serious short stack, Julie Allen pushed her final $24,000 in preflop. She received calls from both Jones and Shanee Barton. After the 8club 8heart 5diamond flop, Barton also moved all in, and Jones made that call, too. Barton's pocket fives gave her a flopped full house. Allen's Kclub Qclub and Jones' Kheart 8diamond never caught up. Allen hit the rail in sixth place ($35,927), while Barton's double-up moved her into second place.

Only minutes later, Barton hit another full house, fives full of eights, and eliminated Sue Lockenbaugh in fifth place ($41,095).

Barton continued to accumulate chips with her third consecutive knockout. Instead of flopping a full house, Barton, holding the Kdiamond 10diamond, made an ace-high straight on the flop. Reka Hallgato, all in preflop with pocket fours, bowed out as the third-place finisher ($51,324).

The phrase "hot streak" seemed to be a bit of an understatement when Barton took out a fourth opponent. She called a preflop all-in raise by Beatrice Stranzinger. Barton flipped up the Qclub Jclub while Stranzinger turned over the Aheart 5spade. The Kspade Qheart 7spade 6club 3club board paired Barton's queen and Stranzinger's day ended with a third-place finish ($71,340).

With play now heads up, the 2006 ladies title came down to three dramatic hands. On the first, Jones spiked a queen on the river to make an ace-high straight and crack Barton's set of eights.

Jones' double-up closed the chip-stack gap. She then called a Barton all-in raise on a Jheart 9diamond 3diamond board with the Aspade 10diamond, when Barton had a pair with the Kdiamond 9diamond. The 2spade turn offered Jones no help, and Barton stood one card away from ending it. But, the 10club river gave Jones a pair of tens. The win knocked Barton's stack down to less than $150,000.

On the final hand of the tournament, Barton pushed all in preflop for her remaining $140,000. Jones, with more than $1 million in chips, made the call. Her Qheart 6heart made her a statistical underdog to Barton's Aspade 4club. When the flop came Jheart 9diamond 3diamond, Barton's chances continued to improve. The 6club river, however, paired Jones' sixes, and the title was hers.

Barton pocketed $123,178 for her second-place finish. Jones received her first WSOP bracelet and took home $236,094.

Event No. 16 -
A Dominant Performance
Lee Watkinson Wins $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Bracelet

By Alex Henriquez

For the 2006 World Series of Poker's first $10,000 buy-in event, 218 players ponied up the big bucks to play in the pot-limit Omaha tournament. With a total prize pool of more than $2 million, the event offered a first prize of $655,746.

Last year's bracelet winner, Rafi Amit, returned to defend his title. He entered final-table action as the short stack ($99,000), and the chip counts of his opponents were as follows:
1. Jani Vilmunen - $485,000
2. Hasan Habib - $349,000
3. Mike Guttman - $283,000
4. Lee Watkinson - $276,000
5. Mark Dickstein - $212,000
6. Nick Gibson - $207,000
7. Thomas Wahlroos - $168,000
8. Mickey Appleman - $102,000

The action began with $4,000-$8,000 blinds, and exactly half an hour into play, Mickey Appleman became the ninth-place finisher ($40,984), a victim of Jani Vilmunen's two pair.

After tripling up, Amit continued to accumulate more chips with his elimination of Thomas Wahlroos in eighth place ($61,746).

Proving that no big stack is safe, Vilmunen made an unexpected seventh-place exit ($81,984). The new short stack, Vilmunen fell when Mike Guttman spiked a queen on the river, giving him a full house.

Another short stack who failed to battle back was Nick Gibson. He finished in sixth place ($102,469) after his pair of jacks ran into Amit's aces and kings.

Hasan Habib struggled to drag many pots. He staved off elimination, doubling and tripling up, but lacked the ammunition to make a legitimate run. Amit, aggressive in defending his title, eliminated Habib in fifth place ($122,295).

Putting himself in a good position to win back-to-back bracelets, Amit's run ended when he tangled with the one player who could knock him out - Lee Watkinson.

In a heads-up hand, Amit pushed all in on the flop and showed top two pair, but Watkinson flipped up a king-high straight. The Aclub river improved Watkinson's already dominating hand, and he eliminated the defending champion in fourth place ($143,444).

The pot gave Watkinson a huge chip lead going into threehanded action. Seven minutes later, he used his stack to send Mark Dickstein home as the third-place finisher ($184,428).

Watkinson's million dollar advantage against Guttman implied a short, one-sided heads-up victory - but Guttman had other ideas. A rivered diamond flush doubled him up, and after several dragged pots, and the one-time short stack took the chip lead.

Watkinson, unfazed by Guttman's surge, battled back and took down enough pots to re-establish himself as the chip boss. With the momentum shifted, Guttman plummeted and Watkinson built up another massive lead.

On the final hand of the tournament, Guttman reraised Watkinson $150,000 preflop. After the 5spade 4spade 3heart flop, Guttman moved all in and flipped over the Jspade Jclub 10diamond 10heart. His pair of jacks gave him the lead over Watkinson's Aclub Qspade 6club 5club. But, Guttman's shot at a second comeback came to an abrupt end when the 7diamond turn made Watkinson's straight.

Guttman's second-place finish paid $360,659. Watkinson, who has made back-to-back World Poker Tour final tables and finished 45th in the WSOP main event in 2005, now has more than $2.5 million in tournament winnings, and with this victory, landed his first WSOP bracelet.

Event No. 17 -
Jon Friedberg Wins $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Bracelet

By Shawn Green

The lowest buy-in no-limit hold'em event of the 2006 World Series of Poker drew a huge field of 2,891 players. With a total prize pool of $2,630,810 at stake, the players were offered a bit more bang for their buy-in buck, as Harrah's broke WSOP tradition by providing them $1,500 in tournament chips rather than $1,000. Up until this event, every event in the history of the WSOP followed a one-to-one dollar-to-chip ratio.

After three days of play, the final-table seating and chip counts were:
1. John Phan - $747,000
2. Mike Pomeroy - $1,325,000
3. Humberto Brenes - $564,000
4. Tom Hawkingberry - $675,000
5. Corey Chaston - $229,000
6. Mike Halford - $89,000
7. Kevin O'Donnell - $222,000
8. Jon Friedberg - $189,000
9. Thang Luu - $314,000

Thang Luu was reduced to one $1,000 chip within the first half-hour when his Adiamond Jspade ran into Jon Friedberg's pocket kings. Luu's last $1,000 went in as the ante in the very next hand, and he was eliminated in ninth place ($49,722) by Mike Pomeroy's pair of kings.

The next elimination came when Mike Halford moved all in from under the gun for $41,000 and John Phan made the call. The flop came Qheart 7heart 6club, and Phan's Aheart 3heart gave him a flush draw, while Halford's Jspade 7spade gave him a pair of sevens. After the 7diamond turn, the river was the 9heart and Phan's flush eliminated Halford in eighth place ($61,561).

Phan then went from second place in chips to second to last in the span of two hands, one of which doubled Friedberg up.

The fast-paced action continued with the next elimination, when Pomeroy, holding A-Q, hit a queen on the flop to crack Humberto Brenes' Aspade Kheart. Brenes made $74,715 for his seventh-place finish.

Kevin O'Donnell knocked Corey Chaston out in sixth place ($88,132), but was eliminated just 12 minutes later when Friedberg rivered a set of eights. O'Donnell finished fifth ($105,232).

Play slowed as the next elimination took almost five hours to come about. Tom Hawkingberry moved all in from the small blind and was called by Mike Pomeroy. To Hawkingberry's dismay, Pomeroy flipped over the Adiamond Jdiamond, which dominated his A heart4.

Hawkingberry failed to improve, and was eliminated in fourth place and took home $122,596.

Pomeroy was the next out when he went all in on the river and his two pair wasn't enough to beat Friedberg's full house. He collected $157,322 for his third-place finish.

Then there were two, with only Friedberg and Phan still at the table. Phan had hung on, despite having slipped from second to sixth earlier. The final hand saw Phan move all in preflop and Friedberg call. Phan showed the Qspade 4spade, while Friedberg flipped up the Aheart 7heart for the lead. The board came 10heart 9diamond 3spade 2heart 7spade, which was no help to Phan, who was eliminated in second ($289,389) by Friedberg's pair of sevens.

Upon seeing the 7spade hit the felt, Friedberg threw his hands to his head and then dropped to his knees. He stood up and grabbed two handfuls of his $526,185 prize money and raised them in the air to celebrate his victory. Friedberg also took home a gold WSOP bracelet for his efforts.

Event No. 18 -
Eric Kesselman
Takes Down $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Event

By Shawn Green

The $2,000 pot-limit hold'em event drew 590 players and generated a $1,073,800 prize pool. Defending World Series of Poker Champion Joe Hachem just missed making his second final table in 2006, finishing 15th.

After two days of play, the final table was set, as follows:
1. Chris Viox
2. Kevin Ross
3. Eric Kesselman
4. Dustin Holmes
5. Harry Thomas Jr.
6. Hyon Kim
7. Jason Sagle
8. Chris Black
9. Jim McManus
10. Jeff Rothstein

It took an hour for the first elimination. Jeffrey Rothstein raised preflop and Chris Viox reraised Rothstein all in. Rothstein made the call, but saw his Adiamond 10spade collide with Viox's Aclub Kheart. Rothstein's 10th-place finish earned him $11,812.

Harry Thomas Jr. was eliminated in ninth place ($21,476) by Jason Sagle's pocket treys.

The next knockout occurred when Viox's pocket eights held up against Chris Black's Adiamond Qclub. The eighth-place finish paid Black $32,214.

Two hours later, Eric Kesselman hit a diamond flush on the river and knocked Dustin Holmes out of the tournament in seventh place ($42,952).

Jim McManus was eliminated in sixth place ($53,690) when his K-Q suited butted heads with Hyon Kim's A-10 suited. Kim hit an ace on the flop, and McManus never caught up.

The next elimination came a mere 10 minutes later. Sagle moved all in on a 10club 9club 9heart flop and Kesselman called. They both turned over pocket pairs - Sagle, fives, and Kesselman, sixes. The turn and river improved neither hand, and Kesselman busted Sagle in fifth place ($64,428).

Kevin Ross was the next to go as the fourth-place finisher ($75,166).

The board was unimportant in the next elimination, when Viox pushed all in and was called by Kim. Viox's Kclub 10heart failed to improve against Kim's sixes. Viox's third-place finish paid $85,905 and the stage was set for the heads-up duel between Kim and Kesselman.

However, that matchup was short-lived. Kesselman raised, Kim reraised, Kesselman reraised, and Kim moved all in. Kesselman made the call and had Kim covered. Kesselman showed the Adiamond 10spade and dominated Kim's Aspade 9club. The flop came down Qclub Jdiamond 2club and Kim was still behind, needing running clubs, a 9, or running straight cards to stay alive. The turn was the 8, giving Kim the flush draw and a straight draw. Kim could now survive with any club or 10. But, help did not come when the river was the 7diamond, and Kesselman had won the title. Kim walked away with $164,291 for his second-place finish.

Kesselman, the 33-year-old ex-public defender who decided to become a professional poker player three years ago, took home $311,403 and a coveted gold WSOP bracelet.

Event No. 19 -
Clare Miller wins
$1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold'em Bracelet

By Alex Henriquez

Another large field gathered for the $1,000 seniors no-limit hold'em event, as 1,184 players vied for a share of the $1,077,440 prize pool and $247,814 first prize. On day two, a tough field of 55 returned, and after nine hours, the final table was set, as follows:
1. Scott McClellan - $58,000
2. Clare Miller - $416,000
3. Judith Carlson - $113,000
4. Mike Nargi - $149,000
5. John Vorhaus - $43,000
6. Jake Wells - $283,000
7. Doug Schuller - $366,000
8. Ron Rose - $86,000
9. Stan Schrier - $157,000
10. Dave Claiborne - $125,000

About 20 minutes into play, John Vorhaus and Scott McClellan found themselves all in and dominated - holding the Aspade Jclub and Adiamond Jspade, respectively - by Doug Schuller's Aheart Aclub. The board brought no miracles to either player and they were eliminated in ninth and 10th place, respectively, with Vorhaus earning $24,242 and McClellan pocketing $21,549.

Stan Schrier, whose best finish at the World Series of Poker was third in the 2001 main event, was the next player to exit, an unfortunate pawn of the poker gods when his 5-5 was counterfeited by a board containing eights and sixes, as Mike Nargi raked the pot with the Kclub 10spade.

The most pivotal hand of the final table took place as the two chip leaders, Schuller and Clare Miller, butted heads. After a raising war, Miller showed no fear as she called Schuller's sizable all-in bet before the flop, and her Aclub Kspade won the race against Schuller's Qdiamond Qheart. Schuller earned $32,323 for his seventh-place finish. Miller now enjoyed a monster chip lead that she would not soon relinquish.

WSOP bracelet winner and renowned poker author Ron Rose was the next to exit, in sixth place ($37,710), when his 7club 7diamond ran into chip leader Miller's Jclub Jspade.

Jake Wells then busted two consecutive players as he eliminated David Claiborne in fifth place ($43,098) and Judy Carlson in fourth place ($53,872). However, Wells was no match for Miller after she defended her big blind against his all-in bet, and her Jdiamond 8spade managed to connect with a board of Qclub 10diamond 4club Jclub 3heart to best Wells' Adiamond 3club and send him home in third place, $74,882 richer.

The heads-up battle between Nargi and Miller was short and sweet. On hand No. 5, Miller called Nargi's all-in bet with the Qspade 8spade and managed to spike the 8diamond on the river to vault past Nargi's 3-3. Nargi's second-place finish netted him $129,253. An emotional Clare Miller of Alamagordo, New Mexico, won $247,814 and a gold bracelet to share with her husband of 41 years.

Event No. 20 -
The $1.7 Million Man
Chip Reese Wins Inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Bracelet

By Alex Henriquez

A field of 143 of the world's best poker players gathered to participate in the largest buy-in event ever offered at the World Series of Poker - $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Players faced off in six of poker's most popular games - symbolized in the acronym H.O.R.S.E., which stands for hold'em (both limit and no-limit), Omaha eight-or-better, razz, seven-card stud, and seven-card stud eight-or-better.

The chip counts for the final table, which included two WSOP world champions - Doyle Brunson (1976 and 1977) and Jim Bechtel (1993) - and a group of players who, in total, have amassed 27 WSOP bracelets, were as follows:
1. David "Chip" Reese - $1,756,000
2. Doyle Brunson - $1,227,000
3. Andy Bloch - $934,000
4. Phil Ivey - $885,000
5. Jim Bechtel - $841,000
6. David Singer - $745,000
7. Dewey Tomko - $438,000
8. T.J. Cloutier - $351,000
9. Patrik Antonius - $13,000

Final-table action began with $10,000-$20,000 blinds and $3,000 antes.

Patrik Antonius, with few options, moved all in but exited in ninth place ($205,920) when his Aclub 4heart failed to catch up to Reese's pocket eights.

Despite coming into play second in chips, Doyle Brunson took a big hit when he doubled up T.J. Cloutier. Never fully recovering, he called a $500,000 raise by Jim Bechtel after a Qspade 8diamond2spade flop. Bechtel's Aclub Qdiamond gave him a pair, and Brunson, holding the Jheart 6club, needed help. But, the 7heart turn and 8heart river left Brunson with nothing but an eighth-place finish ($274,560).

The next to be eliminated was Dewey Tomko. After moving all in, his pocket eights put him way behind Bloch's pocket queens, and Tomko exited in seventh place ($343,200).

Less than 10 minutes later, David Singer pushed all in from under the gun and Reese called. Singer's Aspade 10spade failed to improve against Reese's pocket jacks, and Singer's day ended with a sixth-place finish ($411,840).

Cloutier doubled up and pushed all in a number of times, but ran out of moves when his pocket sevens collided with Bloch's pocket tens. Cloutier walked away from the final table as the fifth-place finisher ($480,480).

For the second time in a row, Bloch called an all-in raise with pocket tens while his opponent held pocket sevens. The result was the same, and Bechtel went home in fourth place ($549,120).

The end came for Ivey when he moved all in and his pair fell to Bloch's diamond flush. Ivey's quest for a sixth bracelet ended one spot short of heads-up play ($617,760).

Bloch and Reese entered heads-up play with comparable chip stacks, but Bloch built up a substantial lead. Reese managed to double up twice, once with a straight and the second time with pocket kings, and the players again battled with the same amount of ammunition.

At 9:12 a.m. PDT, Bloch and Reese officially made history by breaking the heads-up record of seven hours, set during the 1983 World Series of Poker.

The end came only a few minutes later. With a $6,850,000 to $300,000 chip lead, Reese moved all in preflop. After a few minutes of thought, Bloch made the call and flipped over the 9club 8spade. Reese showed the Aclub Qclub. Bloch picked up a straight draw with the Jspade 7club 7spade flop, but the 4heart turn and 4spade river gave Reese two pair with a better kicker.

Bloch, making his second final-table appearance at the 2006 WSOP, earned $1,029,600 for his runner-up finish. Reese enjoyed the spoils of the first $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event - namely, $1,716,000 and a coveted WSOP bracelet.

Event No. 21 -
Twice as Nice
Bill Chen Wins Second Bracelet in $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shorthanded Event

By John Stapleton

The second shorthanded event of the 2006 World Series of Poker saw another big field, as 740 players ponied up $2,500 to take a shot at the $1,702,000 prize pool. As the final six gathered at the final table, it was very clear that there was a great variance in both personalities and playing styles.

The chip counts were as follows:
1. William Chen - $175,000
2. Alex Bolotin - $280,000
3. Harry Demetriou - $378,000
4. Mike Guttman - $587,000
5. Nath Pizzolatto - $102,000
6. Dan Hicks - $321,000

The shorthanded final table became even more shorthanded very early, as Harry Demetriou's Jheart Jclub ran into Mike Guttman's Aheart Aspade. Demetriou finished in sixth place ($58,719).

The next two players to exit were Alex Bolotin and Dan Hicks in fifth ($78,292) and fourth place ($107,226), respectively.
Heading into three-way action, Guttman had almost a 2-1 chip lead on Chen, who was followed closely behind by Pizzolatto. After losing several hands to raises and reraises by Pizzolatto, Guttman's stack steadily declined.

As his stack became surmountable, Chen and Pizzolatto began to make moves on Guttman.

The momentum really began to shift, for Guttman and Pizzolatto, when the flop came Aheart Qdiamond 4heart. After a $30,000 bet and call, the turn brought the 9heart. After Guttman check-raised Pizzolatto's $40,000 bet to $100,000, and Pizzolatto called, the river brought the Qclub. Pizzolatto, holding the Kheart 2heart, fired $150,000 into the pot and Guttman called with the Jheart 6heart. Pizzolatto raked in the giant $600,000 pot with his nut flush.

Shortly thereafter, Guttman and his A-K suited were eliminated by Chen's pocket jacks. Guttman, at his second final table of the 2006 WSOP, finished in third place, taking home $139,564.

Heads-up play, ironically enough, came down to the two short stacks from the start of the day. Interestingly enough, Chen had only a $33,000 chip lead over Pizzolatto.

On the second hand of heads-up play, Pizzolatto limped in from the button and Chen raised $25,000 from the big blind. Pizzolatto called, and the flop came Jclub 7spade 5spade. Chen led out with $40,000 and Pizzolatto called immediately. The 10heart on the turn induced checks from both players. Chen fired $70,000 at the 9diamond that fell on the river. Pizzolatto quickly raised to $200,000, and before he could finish announcing the raise, Chen pushed all in. Pizzolatto asked, "Really?" and called the raise. Pizzolatto turned over 8-6 for a jack-high straight, and Chen flipped over the Kclub Qdiamond for the nut straight.

Second-place finisher Nath Pizzolatto took home $238,280.

This was Chen's second bracelet of the 2006 WSOP, and the second in a single week. He also won a bracelet in event No. 7, $3,000 limit hold'em. With this being his fifth cash, the math theorist, who will soon be releasing his book The Mathematics of Poker, has earned more than $800,000 at this year's WSOP. If Chen can pull down his third bracelet, he will join Ted Forrest and Phil Ivey as the only triple-bracelet winners in a single WSOP.

Event No. 22 -
Youth Movement
Jeff Madsen Wins $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em Bracelet, Becomes Youngest Winner in World Series of Poker History

By Alex Henriquez

The $2,000 no-limit hold'em event kicked off with another huge field, 1,570 entrants, and a monstrous prize pool, $2,873,780, was at stake. After two days of tournament play, nine players had navigated the sea of packed tables and sat down at the final table.

The chip counts going into the action were as follows:
1. Julian Gardner - $628,000
2. Paul Sheng - $569,000
3. Troy Parkins - $451,000
4. Robert Cohen - $419,000
5. Jeff Madsen - $413,000
6. Robert Bright - $365,000
7. John Shipley - $166,000
8. Michael Chow - $125,000
9. Billy Duarte Jr. - $102,000

The first cards hit the air with $8,000-$16,000 blinds and $2,000 antes. The bottom three stacks felt the pressure from the blinds early on, and John Shipley became the first elimination. He went home in ninth place ($60,349) after his Jheart 7heart ran into Paul Sheng's pocket queens.

Michael Chow avoided the axe with a double-up, which left Billy Duarte Jr. as the only serious short stack. Duarte pushed all in preflop a few hands later. Robert Bright made the call, and eliminated Duarte in eighth place ($71,845) when his Kclub Jclub paired a jack on the board and Duarte's Aheart 8heart failed to catch up.

The trend of moving all in preflop continued when Chow put his remaining $354,000 in from under the gun. Troy Parkins called, and took a dominant lead when he showed pocket jacks and Chow turned over pocket nines. The Jclub 10diamond 9spade flop provided a set-over-set scenario, and Chow hit the rail in seventh place ($83,340).

Bright exited the tournament next, as the sixth-place finisher ($94,835), after his pocket fours fell to Julian Gardner's ace-high straight.

Two minutes later, Robert Cohen hit the rail in fifth place ($112,077).

At 6:58 p.m., the final-table momentum shifted when Jeff Madsen, all in, flopped a full house and cracked Parkins' pocket aces. Parkins never recovered. He bowed out in fourth place ($132,194) 20 minutes later, a victim of Madsen's pair of kings.

Madsen continued to roll in threehanded play. On a Qspade 9spade 5spade flop, he put Gardner all in. Gardner showed the Qclub Jdiamond, and Madsen flipped over the 10diamond 6spade. The 8heart turn card put Gardner one card away from doubling up, but the 10spade river made Madsen's spade flush. Gardner, the runner-up finisher in the 2002 WSOP main event, ended the day as the third-place finisher ($172,427).

As a result of Madsen's rush, he entered heads-up action leading Paul Sheng $2,260,000 to $970,000. Madsen, who turned 21 a month ago, didn't need to wait long to claim his first WSOP bracelet. On the very first hand of heads-up play, he called an all-in raise by Sheng on a 10diamond 9diamond 8club 6spade board. Sheng showed the Aspade 7 for the 10-high straight, but Madsen turned over the Jclub 7club giving him the jack-high straight.

Sheng's second-place finish was worth $330,485.

For Madsen, who is currently a film student at UC Santa Barbara, this was his second final-table appearance of the 2006 WSOP, and he now holds the distinct honor of being the youngest player ever to win a WSOP gold bracelet (he is 21 years, one month, and nine days old). Madsen is two months younger than Eric Froehlich was when he won the $1,500 buy-in limit hold'em championship last year. Now, for the third consecutive year, the record for youngest World Series of Poker winner has been broken. In addition to the jewelry, Madsen took home $660,948 in prize money.

Event No. 23 -
Ian Johns Wins
$3,000 Limit Hold'em Title

By Shawn Green

A total of 341 players participated in the second $3,000 limit hold'em event of the 2006 World Series of Poker. A prize pool of $941,160 was up for grabs, and only two of the final-table players were over 30 years of age.

The nine players at the final table were:
1. Ian Johns - $207,000
2. Jerrod Ankenman - $161,000
3. Brendan Taylor - $155,000
4. Javier Torresola - $132,000
5. Mark Newhouse - $106,000
6. Ben Robinson - $103,000
7. Theo Tran - $74,000
8. Tad Jurgens - $61,000
9. Fi Tran - $31,000

Play began with $3,000-$5,000 blinds and $5,000-$10,000 limits. Fi Tran survived for three hours before his Aspade 3spade collided with Brendan Taylor's Adiamond Kdiamond. Tran lost the hand and took home $18,823 for finishing in ninth place.

Online poker star Ian "IanJ" Johns provided the next elimination. He put Ben Robinson all in on an Aspade 9spade 4spade flop. Robinson's Aclub Jspade failed to improve against Johns' Adiamond Qdiamond, and the eighth-place finish paid Robinson $28,235.

After his pocket nines ran into Jerrod Ankenman's pocket jacks, Taylor lost another hand to Javier Torresola, and his chip stack dropped to $15,000. Left with few options, Taylor moved all in on a Kdiamond Qheart 10diamond flop. His Kspade 7diamond gave him top pair, but the 9heart turn completed a king-high straight for Tad Jurgens, and Taylor exited the tournament in seventh place ($37,646).

Jurgens built his stack to more than $115,000 in chips, but his run came to an abrupt end. He moved all in with pocket kings, only to have Torresola call him with pocket aces. Jurgens pocketed $47,058 for his sixth-place finish.

Mark Newhouse soon followed as the fifth-place finisher ($56,470).

Theo Tran worked to stay alive all day, but a lost pot to Johns left him with barely more than the blinds. After moving all in preflop, Tran mucked his hand when Ankenman and Johns chopped with two pair and ace kickers. Tran, the fourth-place finisher, walked away $65,881 richer.

Johns' Broadway straight crippled Torresola, and with the high blinds, he moved all in just minutes later. With the board coming 8heart 8spade 6diamond 4club 2diamond, Ankenman showed the Adiamond 6club. Torresola mucked his hand and exited the tournament in third place ($75,293).

During heads-up play, Ankenman received some support from Greg Raymer. The 2004 WSOP champion provided some play-by-play for the fans in attendance, but Johns soon garnered all of the attention. After being down to his last $100,000 in chips, the young poker player doubled up twice, courtesy of an Ankenman missed flush draw and a queen-high straight.

The rush proved to be enough to put Johns in the lead, and he never looked back. A turned straight then crippled Ankenman. On the next hand, with the board coming Aheart 9spade 5club 3club 2heart, Ankenman made an all-in call on a Johns raise. When Johns showed the Aspade 3diamond, Ankenman mucked his hand and the tournament was over.

Ankenman made $150,586 for his runner-up finish. Johns, a 21-year-old professional poker player from Seattle, Washington, took home $291,755 and his first WSOP gold bracelet.

Event No. 24 - Hellmuth Denied Again
Scott Clements Wins $3,000 Omaha Eight-or-Better Bracelet

By Alex Henriquez

The $3,000 Omaha eight-or-better event attracted a tough starting field of 352 players and generated a $971,520 prize pool. So, was the final table loaded with big-name pros? You bet. Three players were gold bracelet winners: Phil Hellmuth Jr. (nine), Thor Hansen (two), and Brent Carter (two).

The chip counts going to the final table were as follows:
1. Scott Clements - $244,000
2. Phil Hellmuth Jr. - $158,000
3. Ronald Matsuura - $120,000
4. Alex Limjoco - $116,000
5. Peter Costa - $108,000
6. Steve Ladowsky - $97,000
7. Thor Hansen - $86,000
8. Martin Corpuz - $76,000
9. Brent Carter - $49,000

The final table began with $3,000-$6,000 blinds and $6,000-$12,000 limits. Hellmuth's run at bracelet number 10 got off to a rough start, as his chip stack dwindled to $70,000 within the first half-hour.

While Hellmuth endured a scattershot of lost hands, Alex Limjoco saw the majority of his chips disappear in one pot. He made a full house, queens full of fours, only to have Scott Clements make a bigger full house, aces full of queens. On the very next hand, Limjoco exited the tournament in ninth place ($19,430) when he mucked his hand to Martin Corpuz's two pair.

Hellmuth furthered his effort for a 10th bracelet by eliminating Steve Ladowsky in eighth place ($29,146). Then, Thor Hansen defeated Peter Costa's queen-high flush with the nut ace-high flush. Costa earned $38,861 for his seventh-place finish.

Hellmuth was scooped on consecutive hands by Hansen and Clements, respectively, and with only $16,000 left, he pushed all in from middle position preflop. The 10spade 8heart 8spade 8club 3club board gave Hellmuth trip eights with an A-Q kicker, but it wasn't enough, as Carter had the same hand, but with the A-K kicker. Hellmuth, making his second final-table appearance of the 2006 Series, finished in sixth place ($48,576).

The story now shifted to Clements, and his near insurmountable lead. The young poker player held a 5-to-1 chip lead over Hansen, the player next on the leader board.

Hansen did his best to keep Clements within striking distance. He took a huge pot from Ronald Matsuura, then eliminated
Matsuura in fifth place ($58,291) five hands later.

After eating his dinner (it was most likely spinach), Clements finished off his opponents for dessert: He rivered a flush to knock Corpuz out in fourth place ($68,006), and hit a straight on the river to send Carter to the rail in third place ($77,722).

Hansen told Card Player that going into heads-up play, he had no doubts that Clements was unbeatable. He was right. Clements eliminated Hansen with a spade flush and a 2-3-4-5-6 low 20 minutes into the action.

The inevitable loss came with a silver lining, however, as Hansen pocketed $155,443 for finishing in second place. Along with his first gold bracelet, Clements won $301,175 in prize money.

Event No. 25 -
The Dragon Slays the Shootout Field
David 'The Dragon' Pham Captures Second Bracelet With $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout Victory

By Shawn Green

With 600 players and a $1,092,000 prize pool, this was the first shootout event of the World Series of Poker. The shootout format, in which a player advances after besting a table full of other players, is basically a series of single-table tournaments.

After conquering multiple table groupings, 10 players returned for a shot at the $240,222 top prize.

At the final table, each player began with $200,000 in chips, and the seating assignments were as follows:
Seat No. 1 - Jeffery Heiberg
Seat No. 2 - Roland De Wolfe
Seat No. 3 - David Bach
Seat No. 4 - Chad Layne
Seat No. 5 - Dustin Woolf
Seat No. 6 - Jerald Williamson
Seat No. 7 - Adam Kagin
Seat No. 8 - David Pham
Seat No. 9 - Charles Sewell
Seat No. 10 - Jason Dewitt

It was almost two hours before the first elimination. Jeffrey Heiberg moved all in for $30,500 from early position. David Pham made the call from the small blind and Charles Sewell called from the big blind. The two players checked down a board of Jdiamond 2club 2 

Back to the Latest Issue