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Steve Wong Wins World Poker Classic $2,500 Event 3

Poker Pro Nam Le Passes Shannon Shorr and Inches Closer to Michael Mizrachi

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Final TableThe final table of the Bellagio 2006 World Poker Classic $2,500 no-limit hold'em event went off with a bang yesterday. Steve Wong, Nam Le, Theo Jorgensen, Gevork Kasabyan, John Esposito, Mark Abousharkh, David Tran, Dapo Fadeyi, and Alan Cutler lined the felt of the feature table. Only an hour into level 12, the table had already suffered three casualties.

Dapo Fadeyi finally garnered the respect he deserved, going deep in several WPT events this year, and making a few circuit final tables. He entered this event's feature table with a moderate amount of chips. And though the man is known for pacing himself, he landed a position smack dab in the middle of the short-stacked and unpredictable John Esposito in seat No. 3, and Jorgensen, a man with a mountain of chips, in seat No. 5.

Fadeyi went all in with A-J, but it was run over by Jorgensen's K-10 after the flop gave Fadeyi a pair of jacks and put Jorgensen on a straight draw. The turn didn't affect either player, but a nine on the river completed Jorgensen's hand, sending Fadeyi home in ninth place with $8,205.

Mark Abousharkh pushed all in before the flop with pocket aces, and Wong called with A-10 offsuit. The flop came K-9-7 and it seemedNam Le Abousharkh possessed a clear lead, but as poker goes, the turn was a queen, giving Wong a straight draw, and in runner-runner fashion, a jack fell on the river to complete his hand and send Abousharkh home in eighth place with $10,255.

David Tran was short-stacked going into the next hand and got in the way of Cutler and Jorgensen who were more focused on each other. With a flop of 7-7-4, Jorgensen was first to act and checked. Cutler got a free turn card, a queen, but Jorgensen turned up the heat, and Cutler folded. To Tran's dismay, Jorgensen turned over trip sevens and spiked a nine for the overkill on the river, filling him up. Tran went home in seventh place with $12,820.

Alan Cutler was the next player to exit, when Jorgensen raised after the flop and Cutler called all in. Jorgensen, with pocket nines, dominated Cutler with pocket fives. Jorgensen made a set on the turn to send Cutler home in sixth place with $17,950.

John Esposito avoided several landmines, coming into the day severely short-stacked, but outlasting four other final tablists. But Esposito's endurance run ended when he pushed with pocket nines before the flop. Wong, in late Gevork Kasabyanposition, called the bet and showed two overcards, A-10. On the flop of A-7-8, Wong immediately paired, and Esposito would need a 9 or a running straight draw to win. But a 4 on the turn and a 3 on the river gave Wong the victory, sending Esposito home in fifth place with $23,080.

There were four players remaining, and everyone had their eye on POY candidate Nam Le, who was keeping quiet and staying out of the way of fire. But the action kicked up a few notches as Le went into the 13th round. He was the target, being the next short stack. Jorgensen, on the other hand, celebrated a clear lead.

This was the seating order with approximate chip counts.

1. Steve Wong - $320,000
2. Nam Le - $145,000
3. Theo Jorgensen - $410,000
4. Gevork Kasabyan - $250,000

Jorgensen did his best to bully the table with his mountain of chips, but something went terribly wrong, and soon he found himself short-stacked and all in against an aggressive Gefork Kasabyan.
Final Table
Jorgensen pushed on the button with pocket jacks (Jclub Jheart), but apparently chose the wrong moment. How could he know, in later position, Kasabyan had picked up pocket aces (Aspade Aheart)? The board came 7heart 6club 4heart 10club 5diamond and Jorgensen sat stunned for several moments before he made his unexpected exit from the table. Jorgensen went home in fourth place with $30,770.

Nam Le was in third position. Jorgensen had just given Le a raise and gifted him with several more POY points. But going into three-way action, with the blinds and antes gnawing away at his short stack, Le finally faced elimination. In the small blind, Le called with Aspade 3heart. Kasabyan, raised his option with 9club Kclub. Le then went over the top, all in. Kasabyan called and the board came Jheart 9spade 5club 5spade 4spade, giving Kasabyan a pair. Nam Le went home in third place with $56,415. The win seeded Le in second position on the POY leader board, surpassing long-time runner-up Shannon Shorr. Le has earned 4,993 points and is inching closer to Mizrachi, who maintains the lead with 5,989 points.

Kasabyan vs. Wong

Gevork Kasabyan, with the advantage, faced Steve Wong in heads-up action. Kasabyan had $740,000. Wong had $340,000.

Both players elected for an extended break, and Wong stopped by Card Player's makeshift booth (a laptop and a chair) to review our coverage. When asked to describe his opponent, Wong shrugged and said, "There's not much background on this guy. He mostly plays the smaller tournaments on the circuit." Coming in short-stacked, Wong showed no signs of letting Kasabyan off the hook. "I don't think he's ready to face me since I have a lot of experience in big events like this." When asked if he thought he could come from behind and turn the tables on Kasabyan, Wong replied. "Yes, I can."

Steve Wong WinsPlay resumed, and just as promised, Wong went on the attack. After three rounds of betting, and a substantial pot at stake, the board showed 8club 6club 8heart Jheart. After the turn, Wong pushed on the button. Kasabyan though for a moment, then folded. Wong pulled in a huge pot.

And so it went for several hours. Just about the time Wong developed a lead, Kasabyan would put his chips in, win a hand, and score. Wong took a different approach and rallied back with a slow but sure pace. Kasabyan was showing clear signs of fatigue, while Wong appeared to be just getting started. Kasabyan requested several breaks as the clock ticked closer to midnight.

Three hours and 20 minutes of heads-up action later, Wong went into a hand short-stacked. But he doubled through Kasabyan in what was probably the key hand of the night.

Kasabyan called Wong from the small blind and Wong answered with an all-in bet before the flop. With his last $200,000, Wong pushed and waited for Kasabyan's next move. If Kasabyan called and lost the hand, it would bring both players back to even in chips. But Kasabyan called anyway, turning over Aheart 8heart. Wong sat back and tossed his cards face up on the table. Wong had Aspade 9diamond. Kasabyan would have to pair his kicker, or pull some other rabbit out of a hat to win the hand. The board came Qdiamond 6spade 5club 2club 2spade and Wong raked in a monster pot.

Only moments later, the game was over and Kasabyan accepted defeat. He went home with $112,825.

Steve Wong won the gold bracelet, $215,255, and a $25,000 seat into the World Poker Tour finals on April 21, 2007. He also became the Bellagio's 20th tournament millionaire.