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World Series of Poker Main Event

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Sep 02, 2008


On July 3, 2008, the poker world breathed a collective sigh of anticipation as the 55th event of the 39th World Series of Poker approached: the $10,000 no-limit hold'em world championship.

With all the variety and colour of Mardi Gras in the Brazilian city that shares the tournament venue's name, enthusiastic amateurs sat next to hardened professionals, and celebrities cracked jokes with anonymous qualifiers. The atmosphere was electrified with a mixture of excitement and self-belief as the highly anticipated words rang out: "Shuffle up and deal."

Day 1A

A total of 1,297 players were whittled down to 657 by the end of day 1A.

Frenchman David Benyamine sat one table over from his fiancée Erica Schoenberg, but they were quickly split up with Benyamine's early elimination. Schoenberg soon followed suit.

England's Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott was another who didn't hang around for very long. He was in bad shape, all in with the 9 9 against the Q Q. The board came A 10 4 3 Q, and he was knocked out.

Europeans who followed shortly thereafter were Germans Katja Thater and Jan Von Halle, Brit Roland De Wolfe, Finn Juha Helppi, and Italian Luca Pagano.

Stefan Mattsson from Sweden made his way onto the leader board by the end of play with 154,275 in chips.

Day 1B

The celebrations of 535 players were cut short on Independence Day, as the field was narrowed from 1,158 to 623. Irishman Andy Black was one of the surprise early exits.

Black had taken a few body shots in the first hour and was on life support with less than 5,000 in chips. On a board of 7 5 3 in a four-way pot, he reraised a bet of 500 to 3,000. Two players mucked, but the original raiser called. Black sighed and showed J-J, while his opponent showed the 7 5 for two pair. With the 2 on the turn and the 5 on the river, his World Series was over for another year.

Brit Ross Boatman got all of his chips in preflop with the A 3. To Boatman's disappointment, his opponent had him dominated with the A Q. "Any 3 will do," the Englishman said, but the flop fell K 7 2. The J on the turn offered no help, and Boatman headed for the rail as the 10 hit the river, giving his opponent a needless straight.

Other significant eliminations included Frenchman Patrick Bueno and Englishman Ram Vaswani. Liya Gerasimova from Russia was the leading European at the end of play, with 111,050 in chips.

Day 1C

After a sluggish first two days that saw only a combined 2,455 entrants, many were skeptical about the turnout in relation to last year's 6,358-player field. Day 1C's 1,928-player turnout meant that day 1D would need only 1,975 to match last year's number, and with more than 1,800 already registered, it was odds-on that the event was going to be the second-largest in poker history.

Italians Max Pescatori and Marco Traniello, Davidi Kitai from Belgium, German Marcus Lehmann, and Dutchman Marcel Luske saw their main-event hopes come to an end, while Irishman Padraig Parkinson and Brit Mark Teltscher were hanging in.

Henning Granstad from Norway was the chip leader at the end of the day, with 242,950.

Day 1D

The biggest news of the day was the announcement of the $9,119,338 first-place prize. The total number of players was also announced, 6,844, and 666 would make the money.

Italian wonder boy Dario Minieri didn't quite make it to the end of the day. Minieri raised against one middle-position limper, and the player called. He also called the Italian on the flop of 7 2 2. The turn was the 10, and Minieri shoved for his remaining 7,500. His opponent called once again and was in bad shape with the A 10 against Minieri's Q Q. The river brought the unfortunate 10, sending the bracelet winner to the rail in the last level of the night. German George Danzer also was sent out during the day.

Spanish champion Carlos Mortensen fared better. He ended the day on the leader board with Swedes Mohamad Kowssarie and Johan Berg, Russians Alexander Kostritsyn and Nikolay Evdakov, and Dane Gus Hansen.

Day 2A

A total of 1,251 players from days 1A and 1B continued their quest to become the champion. Some 263 of them were Europeans.

Notables who were up and down throughout the day were Norwegian Thor Hansen, Finn Voito Rintala, and last year's fourth-place main-event finisher Alexander Kravchenko from Russia.

There was a mass exodus from the English side in the form of Peter Gould, Julian Gardner, Victoria Coren, Harry Demetriou, Mickey Wernick, John Shipley, and Joe Beevers. Their World Series dreams were over for another year.

Other notable Euro eliminations were Ciaran O'Leary (Ireland), Dario Alioto (Italy), Trond Erik Eidsvig (Norway), Philip Hilm (Denmark), Thomas Wahlroos (Finland), and Jens Voertmann (Germany).

Soren Petersen from Denmark ended the day as the leading European with 274,700 in chips.

Day 2B

Almost 2,400 runners from days 1C and 1D played in day 2B, but only 855 made it through.

The day saw the end for former main-event champion Carlos Mortensen. On a flop of Q 10 2, Mortensen got it all in with pocket deuces against Grant Hillman's pocket queens. Both players flopped a set, and Mortensen was reduced to catching the case deuce or going runner-runner heart flush. The turn and river failed to bring any help, and his dreams of another main-event win flew out the window. Irishman Padraig Parkinson was also among notable eliminations on the day.
The Euro chip leader at the end of play was England's Andrew Teng (314,200).

Day 3

Day 3 was filled with eliminations as play made its way toward the money. When the bubble finally burst, players got down to business, and many Europeans proved themselves a force with which to be reckoned.

Finn Patrik Antonius wasn't one of them, however. He started the day with a short stack and moved all in from the big blind after a button raise by Jim Dalessandro. The reraise was 25,000 more to Dalessandro, who eventually made the call. Antonius had the K J, and Dalessandro the A 10. The K 6 2 flop was a hit for Antonius. However, the 4 turn and Q river gave Dalessandro an ace-high flush, and Antonius was gone.

Europeans soaring up the leader board were Dutchman Yde Van Deutekom and Russians Alexander Kostritsyn and Sarkis Akopyan.

After the bubble burst, a chipped-down Gus Hansen went all in. He doubled up and got back in the game, commenting, "It was a piece of s--- hand, but I was on tilt."

By the end of play, the leader board had a European flair to it with Russians Alexander Kostritsyn (980,000) and Sarkis Akopyan (850,000), Norwegian Dag Mikkelsen (930,000), and Romanian Cristian Dragomir (860,000). Notable eliminations included Alexander Kravchenko and Rolf Slotboom.

Day 4

Day 4 played so fast that action ended early, with 189 players remaining.

Kostritsyn had a bumpy ride throughout. He went all in with the A Q against a short-stacked Moon Kim with the A J, but Kim spiked a jack on the river. He then went on to lose another all-in pot, doubling up a short stack. The most significant blow came when Cristian Dragomir snagged a two-outer, hitting trips on the river for a pot of more than 1,000,000. Despite all this, Kostritsyn survived the day.

One player who went from strength to strength was Gus Hansen. Early in the session, Hansen called Irishman Bernard Brady's all in with pocket aces. Brady held the A Q, and although he flopped a queen, it wasn't enough to take down the pot. The Dane then increased his stack more by eliminating Joseph Ward.

Irishman James McManus suddenly appeared on the leader board to become a feared contender. During level 16, McManus made an audacious bluff with 8-4 offsuit to take a pot from David Saab and Matt Matros preflop. Later on, he took another pot from Mitchell Smith, which put him at almost the 1 million mark.

Russian Kirill Gerasimov's main-event dreams were put to an end early in the session. Hansen bet, and Danny Mitnick tossed in a reraise with the A K. Without too much hesitation, Gerasimov moved all in with the K K. Hansen folded, and Mitnick made the call. The dealer laid out the A A 10 flop. Gerasimov needed runner-runner to survive, but the turn and river were the 2 and 5, and the Russian was eliminated in 439th place ($27,020).

Cristian Dragomir fought hard to keep his healthy stack and eventually topped the Europeans on the leader board after hitting a set against Jeremy Joseph. Among those who busted out on the day were Maya Antonius (who outlasted her husband, Patrik), Chris Bjorin, Bertrand Grospellier, Soren Petersen, Sigurd Eskeland, and Domini Kulicki.

Day 5

A total of 75 players were left out of an initial 6,844 after day 5. James McManus started the day as the chip leader, but Cristian Dragomir fought him successfully for the top spot after taking down a large pot with quad fours. Russia's Ivan Demidov also made his way onto the leader board early in the session, but it was not all smooth sailing for Europe.

Kostritsyn experienced a heartbreaking run of bad luck. First, the Russian won a healthy pot from Reagan Silber, but Silber didn't take it lying down and took an even bigger one right back. With a board of A J 10 7, Silber saw his chance for revenge and went all in. Kostritsyn had Silber's 616,000 in chips covered, but his A A couldn't beat Silber's straight with the K Q.

He then went all in with trip deuces against Dragomir, who rivered a flush. The torture finally ended when his A K was beaten by Garrett Beckman's pocket sevens. He went out in 84th place ($64,333).

Yde Van Deutekom continuosly bet as a board of J J 5 6 7 filled out. Deutekom snap-called Albert Kim's 250,000 bet on the river, announcing that he had the nut flush, but in fact he had misread his hand. He actually held the A K, and it was fortunate that he didn't raise all in, as Kim had him substantially covered. Kim won the pot with the J 10, and Deutekom was crippled. He courageously laughed off his mistake, but it cost him dearly, and he was soon sent out in 112th place ($51,466).

Other notable Europeans who didn't make it through were Keith Hawkins, Gus Hansen, Sarkis Akopyan, Jeff Kimber, and Vito Branciforte. Russian Nikolay Losev was among the chip leaders at the end of play, with 4,058,000 in chips.

Day 6

Going into day 6 were 79 weary soldiers, and as they played down to 27, hopes for a European champion diminished.
The event's final Irishman, James McManus, who was on and off the leader board throughout the tournament, eventually busted out in 71st place, earning $96,500 for his valiant effort.

Felix Osterland became the last German standing when Geert Jans was eliminated during level 24. Jans was in prime position to double up when he went all in with pocket aces against Russian Nikolay Losev's Q-J. Maintaining his lead on a board of Q-7-6, he was drastically unlucky when a queen fell on the turn. The river was a 9, and Jans made his way out of the playing area in 62nd place ($115,800).

It wasn't to be for Germany, however, as Osterland was sent out later in 38th place ($154,400).

Romania did a good deal better, with Cristian Dragomir finishing 29th ($193,000). His demise started when the final female survivor, Tiffany Michelle, put a large dent in his stack. The hit left him with less than 1.5 million in chips, which he shoved all in with pocket tens preflop against Joe Bishop's pocket aces.

The flop came down Q 6 2, and Dragomir needed to hit one of the remaining tens to stay alive, but the end was nigh as the turn was the 5, and the river, the J. Romania still had one player left in the event, however: Judet Toni Cristian.
Although Nikolay Losev topped the European leader board and was second overall coming into the day, his success was short-lived. Despite raking a massive pot after hitting trips in a hand with Dean Hamrick and David Saab (ultimately eliminating Saab), it wasn't too long before he was sent out.

Losev's downfall started when Nicholas Sliwinski made a harsh attack on his stack. A few hands later, the players went head-to-head again, with fatal consequences. Losev bet 775,000 with the 8 3, Sliwinski moved all in with the A 5, and Losev made the call. The board ran out 10 10 4 9 4, and Losev was the final elimination of the night, leaving the tournament $193,000 richer in 28th place. The Euro chip leader going into the final day was Peter Eastgate from Denmark with 8,720,000 in chips.

Day 7

The six Europeans who started the day were Gert Andersen (Denmark), Judet Cristian (Romania), Ivan Demidov (Russia), Peter Eastgate (Denmark), Niklas Flisburg (Sweden), and Aaron Gordon (England). In just over 15 hours, the event saw 18 players fail in their attempts to reserve a seat at the final table.

Gordon, the youngest at just 21 years old, was all in for his tournament life with the Q 10 against the pocket jacks of Darus Suharto. The flop came K 6 2, with the 5 on the turn giving Gordon the flush draw. The 7 on the river sent him out in 24th place ($257,334).

Judet Cristian was bluffed out of a pot by Jason Riesenberg early in the session, but went on to gain some valuable chips when his pocket aces beat Albert Kim's pocket nines. A run-in with Darus Suharto, however, resulted in his departure.

Riesenberg raised to 300,000, Suharto called, and Cristian reraised to 1 million total. Riesenberg folded, and Suharto announced that he was all in. Cristian called and showed pocket jacks. Suharto revealed pocket kings, and the flop came Q 10 9, which meant each player held the other's outs for any possible straight. The 5 turn and 5 river completed the board, and Cristian went out in 22nd place ($257,334).

Peter Eastgate's stack was reaching the 18 million mark when he met his match in Dennis Phillips. The players struggled with each other in two important pots, resulting in Phillips taking over the chip lead, with almost 19 million.

After the dinner break, Gert Anderson went all in for 3,810,000 after a raise of 500,000 by Ylon Schwartz. Schwartz quickly called and turned over the A K, dominating Andersen's A J. The tension was high as the flop came Q 10 2, giving the Dane a gutshot-straight draw but removing the remaining jacks from his list of outs. The turn was the 8, improving Andersen's straight draw by giving him four additional outs. The 5 on the river was a miss, and Andersen exited the tournament in 14th place ($463,201).

An exciting hand saw Ivan Demidov double up late in the session. He raised preflop to 650,000, David Rheem repopped it to 2 million, and Demidov went into the tank. He then announced that he was all in for almost 8 million. Rheem took some time of his own before making the call. He turned over the 10 10, in good shape against Demidov's 9 9. The crowd went wild as the flop came 10 8 6, giving Rheem top set but also giving Demidov a variety of outs. The turn brought the 4♥ and Demidov had spiked a flush. Rheem needed to pair the board, but the 5♥ sealed the deal for Demidov, and he moved up to about 18 million. He then took on Craiq Marquis, ultimately adding 8 million more to his stack.

This did not stop Marquis, however, as he set his sights on Dean Hamrick, and made him the unfortunate bubble boy. The nine players who withstood 6,835 other hopefuls and succeeded in prolonging their World Series experience are:

Dennis Phillips: 26,295,000
Ivan Demidov: 24,400,000
Scott Montgomery: 19,690,000
Peter Eastgate: 18,375,000
Darus Suharto: 12,520,000
Ylon Schwartz: 12,525,000
David "Chino" Rheem: 10,230,000
Craig Marquis: 10,210,000
Kelly Kim: 2,620,000

They will return on Nov. 9 to play for the massive first-place prize of $9,119,338 and the right to be called the world champion.