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Russ "Dutch" Boyd wins his first Bracelet

Phil Hellmuth extends record for World Series of Poker Cashes

Dutch Boyd - photo by Joy K. Miller of IMPDIIn a sea full of amateurs, it's a rare treat when two professionals go head to head for a World Series of Poker bracelet. July 2, 2006, was that rare day.

The stage was set for a dramatic final table in the $2,500 No Limit Hold'em Short Handed Event at the 2006 WSOP. Russ "Dutch" Boyd was the chip leader when the final table began and he was joined by Joseph Hachem, Michael Goodman, Peter Hassett, David Solomon and Jeff Knight.

Boyd was active early taking a number of small pots to increase his chip lead. In a sign of things to come Boyd took down a huge pot from Hachem early when his six high straight defeated Hachem's two pair.

Mike Solomon was the first to fall when his Kheart6club ran into Goodman's KspadeQspade. The board helped neither player and Solomon received $68,277 for his sixth place finish. Hachem sent the next player to the rail with AheartJheart on a board of Aspade8spade2diamond7spade5spade. Peter Hassett flipped over KdiamondQheart and was eliminated from the tournament in 5th place and earned $91,917.
Dutch Boyd and Joe Hachem - photo by Joy K. Miller of IMPDI
Hachem doubled up through Boyd twice and jumped into the chip lead with $1,146,000. Boyd was down but definitely not out with $691,000. Boyd started his climb back up to the chip lead when he eliminated Michael Goodman with an ace high straight. Goodman was awarded $115,607 for his fourth place finish. Boyd then regained the chip lead when he eliminated Jeff Knight with a set of Jack's. Knight was caught bluffing with 4heart3spade and received $153,511 for third place.

All the pieces fell into place and the heads up battle between the reigning world champion and one of the game's passionate young stars wasDutch Boyd - photo by Joy K. Miller of IMPDI under way. Boyd was the chip leader with $1,226,000 and Hachem trailed with $846,000. The railbirds surrounded the final table, and the Amazon Room buzzed with excitement.

Boyd struck the first blow with a pair of Jack's and crippled Hachem by taking $320,000 from the world champion. Hachem was short stacked at this point and switched gears to aggressive play. He kept tempting Boyd to "pass the sugar" with many bets and raises. Hachem was able to double up when his Ace played on a board of JheartJclub3spade10diamond10heart against Boyd's Kdiamond3heart. With the chip stacks at $1,460,000 for Boyd and $600,000 for Hachem the decisive hand of the tournament was dealt and the roller coaster ride ended.

Boyd moved all-in pre-flop and Hachem immediately called. Hachem flipped over AspadeQclub and Boyd turned over Adiamond5heart. The flop of AheartKclub9spade hit both players but Boyd was still behind and the turn was the Jclub. With only two
Joe Hachem - Card Player outs remaining that could give Boyd his first bracelet the 5diamond hit on the river and madness usually reserved for March ensued. The infamous "Crew" rushed the table and hoisted Boyd up on their shoulders for some victory crowd surfing.

Hachem was consoled after the defeat by his wife and also by his friend and fellow world champion, Greg Raymer. Hachem was confident in
his final table strategy against Boyd, "I had him where I wanted him. I knew exactly what he was going to do." Raymer also pointed out that "Every time Joe was all-in, he was the big favorite." Hachem was awarded $256,800 for his second place finish and further cemented his WSOP legacy with another solid performance.

Dutch Boyd - photo by Joy K. Miller of IMPDIBut, to the victor goes the spoils and Boyd was awarded his first gold bracelet and $475,712 in prize money while surrounded by celebration. "This is what the Crew's all about," Boyd pronounced as he gave many thanks to his friends and family present to support him. You could see the rush of emotion take over him as he realized his dream of a gold bracelet.

The $3,000 limit event was a tale of two cashes. When play ended there were 44 players remaining, but the two main stories were that of a poker darling, and a poker brat. The darling of this event is Kuei "Mama" Chang, who is the mother of professional poker player J.J. Liu. At 80 years old "Mama" plays a mean game of poker, proven by her second consecutive cash in her first WSOP.

Seated next to her was Phil Hellmuth who earned his 51st WSOP cash and extended his own record. "It's a nice record to have because it
shows some consistency." Says Hellmuth, "I want to have the record when the series is over this year."

Another record Hellmuth undoubtedly wants is the most WSOP bracelets. His nine trail only Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson, who each have ten. With $65,000 Hellmuth is second in chips only to Karlo Lopez and he is in prime position to make a run at that elusive tenth bracelet.The $2,000 No Limit Event played late into the night to reach a final table. Juan Carlos Mortensen reached his second final table of this WSOP and will be joined by Nam Le and Mark Vos. These players will have to chase down the chip leader Kevin Petersen to earn a gold bracelet tomorrow.

Stay tuned to for live updates, chip counts, photos, videos, a new episode of "The Circuit" radio show and new videos from "The Series," with Scott Huff and Rich Belsky.

By Ryan Lucchesi

Images courtesy of Joy K. Miller of IMPDI

Dutch Boyd Wins - photo by Joy K. Miller of IMPDI