The field contained many of the biggest names in poker, several of whom made an early exit. Among the latter were the two Phils, Hellmuth and Ivey , along with Johnny Chan and Mimi Tran . An early out is nothing unusual for tournament pros, however, as many play an aggressive style intended to build a large chip stack to be in contention for the top prize. Top players who also exited on Day One were Amnon Filippi, Steve Zolotow, Darrell "Gigabet" Dicken, Dewey Tomko, Todd Brunson, Ted Forrest, Daniel Negreanu, Humberto Brenes, Chau Giang, John Juanda, Layne Flack, Evelyn Ng, Gavin Smith, and Michael Mizrachi. Mizrachi, fresh off his win at the WPT’s Borgata Poker Open on February 1st played as the defending champion, having won this event last year. There were also several Hollywood celebrities in attendance, including James Woods, who achieved his biggest money finish to date, placing 24th and earning $39,859.
When the top six players convened at the final table, it was Goehring’s birthday. But play lasted so long that his win came early the next morning. Goehring initially faced trouble at the final table, losing almost $800,000 chips on the first two pots. A true pro, however, does not let such a dent in his stack rattle him. Goehring was no exception.
He sat back and waited as the other finalists took each other on, getting involved occasionally and getting lucky once or twice.
Here are the chip counts going in to the final table:
1. J.C. Tran - $3,720,000
2. Per Ummer - $2,870,000
3. Michael Woo - $2,195,000
4. Alan Goehring - $1,900,000
5. Daniel Quach - $1,655,000
6. Steven Simmons - $1,505,000
It took more than four hours - and 79 hands - before the first finalist was eliminated. Per "Nemo" Ummer is a Swedish player who hails from Cyprus, and generally plays online cash games. On hand #80, he moved all in for $1.2 million holding Ac-7c, and was called by J.C. Tran, who had him dominated with Ah-Kh. The board came 10d-10h-4d-Js-2c. Ummer was eliminated in sixth place, with a payday of $199,296.
Next to depart was J.C. Tran, a well-known player from Sacramento, CA. Tran’s previous best finish was fifth place at the WPT event at Foxwoods in 2004, which garnered him $353,850. He also won a WSOP Circuit event at the Rio last year.
With blinds at $100,000/$200,000 and a $20,000 ante, Tran made it $600,000 to go on hand #96 with pocket Aces, and was reraised by Goehring, who moved all-in with pocket Fives for $1,420,000. Tran, of course, called, his chip stack just about dead even with Goehring’s. The flop came 9s 7s 2s, giving Tran, with the As, a flush draw along with the best pair. The turn card, the 2h, paired the board. A miracle five on the river gave Goehring a full house. He doubled through Tran, whose stack contained only one chip - $25,000 - less than Goehring’s. His fifth place finish brought Tran $265,728. It also gave Goehring over $3 million in chips.
Not long after, Steven Simmons moved all-in with Jc-10h, with blinds at $150,000/$300,000. Simmons, from Watertown, New York, had several money finishes in smaller tournaments and a great run in L.A., cashing in four events at the Classic. Unfortunately, he was called by Goehring, who held Kh-Jh in the big blind. The board brought no help to either player, and Goehring won the hand with his King. Simmons took home $338,803 for fourth place.
Ten hands later, Michael Woo, from Desert Hot Springs, CA, saw his run at the championship come to an end. A long-time player who made the final table in the WSOP Ace-to-Five Draw event in 1989 and has been playing championship events on the West Coast more recently, Woo raised to $1,000,000 on the button, and was reraised by Daniel Quach, who moved all-in from the big blind. On a board of Ah-As-Qs-10s-3h, Woo’s pocket Fives went down to Quach's Ks-Qd. Woo earned $571,315 for third place.
It was heads-up. Goehring and Quach would play for 20 more hands, with Goehring clinching the win with Kd-8h to Quach’s Ad-Jh. Quach moved all-in on the button, Goehring called, and the flop came Qc-Jd-9c, giving Quach the lead with a pair of Jacks. The turn brought the Kh, giving Goehring top pair. Quach had seven outs - four tens and three Aces - but the 7c on the river gave Goehring the win. The players’ stack sizes were so close that it took a little while to confirm that Goehring had Quach covered. Quach, who was born in Vietnam and now resides in Monrovia, CA, previously finished second to Annie Duke at the $2,500 Limit Holdem event during the 2004 Five-Star Classic at the Bellagio. He cashed in the WSOP Main Event in 2005 as well, finishing 190th, no small feat in a field of over 5,600 players. Quach received $1,162,560 for second place.
Goehring, who lives in Henderson, NV, is well-respected on the tournament trail. His biggest accomplishments to date include winning the WPT World Championship in its inaugural season in 2003, for a payout of $1,011,886. He took second place to Noel Furlong in the 1999 WSOP Main Event, a finish that brought Goehring more than $750,000.
Several significant hands paved the way to Goehring’s victory. On Day Three, he won the biggest pot of the tournament to that point - about $320,000 - when his suited 5-4 made a flush on the turn against David Chiu’s pocket Aces. An hour later, Goehring was faced with calling for all his chips, when Jim Bechtel went all-in on the turn, on a board of Q-9-4-4. As it turned out, Goehring, holding A-4, had little to worry about, as Bechtel held A-Q for Queens-up. Goehring made a full house on the river and doubled up to $730,000.
What happened in another hour illustrates the bumpy ride that often constitutes tournament play. Goehring again faced Chiu in a big pot, but this time, Chiu won. When the latter moved all-in with pocket kings on a flop of 4c-4h-2c, Goehring called on a flush draw with 7c-5c. Chiu made a full house when the turn brought a King. Goehring lost approximately $300,000 on the hand, but he still had about $450,000, an above-average stack. Chiu ultimately finished in 10th place, earning $73,075.
Goehring’s win brought him $2,391,550 and a $25,500 entry into the WPT World Championship, to be held later this year.