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Playing Down to the Final Table at the Borgata Poker Open

Day Four Action Fluctuates Between a Sprint and a Marathon in Atlantic City

To say that day four of the 2007 World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open started out as a race from three tables down to two would be an understatement. It was more of a 100-meter dash. Pots were raised all in preflop with astonishing regularity in the early going. In one hour and 15 minutes, play was paused and the remaining players had to re-draw for seats at the final two tables. Here is a quick rundown of the early bust outs:

27: James Lee
26: Joe Cassidy
25: David Sparks
24: Joseph Brooks
23: Abe Mosseri
22: Paul Spitzberg
21: Ken Weiner
20: Evlys Gutierrez
19: Robert Coppola

The remaining 18 players then nestled down all snug in their seats for a long poker shootout on the way to the final table. Roy Winston vaulted into what looked like an insurmountable chip lead after eliminating two opponents in large pots, and that left everyone mired in a steeple chase behind him early in the day. As the final 18 played down to nine, a number of players met their end, while the opponents who sent them to the rail climbed the leader board.

17: John Hoang
16: Darrell Hopkins
15: Tom Nguyen
14: Brian Strahl
13: Victor Ramdin
12: Sang Hwang
11: Steve Weinstein

Meanwhile, John Kranyak, Mark Weitzman, and Winston eclipsed the $2 million-chip mark, but one player sat above all of the rest as king of the mountain. Eugene Todd entered the final table with just over $4 million after busting Hoang and Weinstein on consecutive large pots heading into the final table. Todd and Mike Matusow were thick as thieves throughout the day, sharing in each other's triumphs with a cornucopia of chest bumps and celebratory yells. Chants of "Yeah, boy!" erupted from the tournament area and resounded throughout the Borgata poker room. Here is how things looked when the final table contestants took their seats; just four and a half hours after day four had begun:

Seat No. 1: John Kranyak - $2,263,000
Seat No. 2: Heung Yoon - $1,414,000
Seat No. 3: Loi Phan - $273,000
Seat No. 4: Roy Winston - $2,659,000
Seat No. 5: Haralabos Voulgaris - $1,201,000
Seat No. 6: Mark Weitzman - $2,510,000
Seat No. 7: Mike Matusow - $993,000
Seat No. 8: Dale Pinchot - $529,000
Seat No. 9: Eugene Todd - $4,125,000
Seat No. 10: Zvi Shiff - $550,000

A crowded final table venueA large number of railbirds crowded around the scene, both on the rail and in the bleacher seating that had been set up adjacent to the table. This gave the competition a shot of adrenaline, as the upwards of 60 fans present pressed in to get as close to the action as possible. An unlucky 13 hands into the final table, Weitzman had the button in seat No. six and Voulgaris raised from the cutoff to $90,000. Pinchot moved all in from the big blind for $360,000 and Voulgaris called with A 3. Pinchot flipped over pocket jacks. The board came A K 4 K 3 and Voulgaris paired his ace on the flop. Pinchot was eliminated in 10th place and took home $70,616. The quick action continued to please the crowd four hands later when Loi Phan moved all in under the gun for about $380,000. Winston called from early position with A K and Phan showed pocket nines. The board delivered Winston an ace on the turn and he won the pot. Phan was eliminated in ninth place, earning $108,640.

Mike Matusow focuses at the final tableMany times, the march down to the final television table of a WPT event is a long and arduous affair. It looked like that wouldn't be the case in Atlantic City as the breakneck speed that began the day had been revived, and a mere three hands after Phan made his exit, the next contestant hit the rail. On hand No. 20, Matusow raised under the gun to $103,000 and Zvi Shiff made the call from middle position. The flop came A K 7 and Matusow checked. Shiff bet $200,000, Matusow pushed all in, and Shiff called all in for $485,000. Shiff showed A 10 for top pair and Matusow flipped over pocket sevens for a set while he stood up to pump his fist as the heavy favorite. The last two cards were the Q and 10 and Matusow won the pot. Shiff was eliminated in eighth place, for $162,960. The crowd erupted into applause for Matusow after the hand, and one railbird yelled, "We're going all the way Mike-y!"

Action continued for a few more minutes until the players all went to dinner, with the knowledge that one of them would not remain at the end of the night. The break had a calming effect on the fast pace that started the final table, and play slowed down considerably. What had once been a sprint had turned into a marathon. Over the course of the first 50 hands after dinner, Voulgaris doubled up twice to climb above the $2-million mark, and Yoon doubled up to survive. Weitzman also double up to survive, but in doing so, he jumped into the chip lead: Todd raised under the gun to $155,000 and Weitzman called from the small blind. The flop came 9 4 3, Weitzman checked, and Todd bet $225,000. Weitzman then moved all in for $1.2 million. Todd dove into the tank for several minutes before he called with pocket sevens. Weitzman showed down pocket eights. The last two cards were the J and A. Weitzman won the pot to double up to $4.4 million and Todd dropped down to about $3.1 million.

The length of the evening was only beginning to define itself as the hand count eclipsed not only 100 hands, but charged right past 150. Standard operating procedure became a preflop raise followed by every other player at the table folding. During this especially long stretch of uneventful play, Yoon was blinded down to his last $600,000 in chips, which got all in on a pot with Kranyak. It looked like Yoon would be the television bubble boy when his pocket sevens trailed the pair of kings that Kranyak held on the flop. That was when another 7 hit on the turn to double up Yoon, and to lead play later into the night. The chip counts also fluctuated quite a bit during this period, while the bulk of the chips rotated around the table.

Another player to double up during this stretch was Matusow. This brought the crowd to life once again, and they cheered when his A-K dominated the A-Q of Kranyak and held up. The players had been restless for some time, and now the crowd joined the impatience that permeated the room. That was the state of affairs when the short stack once again got all of his money onto the middle of the table. This time the action brought every single person in the room up on his feet.

Matusow limped from the cutoff, Kranyak limped from the small blind, and Yoon checked his option. The flop hit A 8 6 and all three players checked. The turn card was the 6 and Kranyak checked. Yoon bet $125,000 and Matusow folded. Kranyak moved all in and Yoon went into the tank. Yoon finally called, saying, "Let's gamble," and he showed J 6 - trip sixes! Kranyak flipped over A 4 for a pair of aces. The river card was the 3 and Yoon won the pot. He also doubled up to about $4 million, while Kranyak dropped down to about $2.5 million.

This was the beginning of the end for Kranyak, who got all of his chips into the middle soon thereafter. After seven straight hands of raise-and-take-it poker, Kranyak moved all in from the button and Winston asked for a count from the big blind. The bet was exactly $1.1 million. Winston called with A 4 and Kranyak showed down K 9. The flop came K 5 2 and Kranyak paired his king on the flop to take a big lead in the hand. Winston needed an ace, a 3, or running fours to bust Kranyak here. That was when the turn card was peeled off of the deck ... and it was the A! The other players at the table prepared to celebrate and then erupted into cheers after the 2 hit on the river. Kranyak was eliminated in seventh place on the hand and earned $217,280.

It took a little more than seven hours to get to the elimination of the final player of the evening. The final six players will return tomorrow, after one test of their resolve, to begin another. This time, $1,575,280 will be on the line. Here is how things will look at the final table tomorrow:

Seat No. 1: Heung Yoon - $3,090,000
Seat No. 2: Roy Winston - $5,335,000
Seat No. 3: Haralabos Voulgaris - $1,465,000
Seat No. 4: Mark Weitzman - $1,750,000
Seat No. 5: Mike Matusow - $2,965,000
Seat No. 6: Eugene Todd - $2,190,000

Stay tuned to tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET to catch all of the action from the final table.