Event #7 $3k Limit Holdem
In case anyone needed evidence that limit holdem is the ugly stepchild to no-limit, the 414 entries to Event #7 $3k LHE should clear everything up. The $2k NLHE equivalent started a day earlier and captured a whopping 1,919 participants, and this starting day hearkened back to what the World Series must have looked like years ago. Forty-odd tables, little fanfare, and chips moving back and forth. Many of the top pros participating were there focused on the bracelet. This list included Jennifer Harman, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, and Chris Ferguson. The top forty-five cashed, and the bubbles were a Who’s Who mix of poker stars. Ivey was out in 48th, busted by Ernie Scherer’s better kicker. Joe Sebok missed his first 2006 WSOP cash, his pocket fours chased down and out in 47th. Michele Lewis was looking to make her second, limit final table this year, but she went out with pocket jacks to a turned straight. Sarah Bilney went out on the same hand, so the two split the $3,436 that went to 45th place.
With only five tables working down to one, Day 2 was destined to be a short one. Phil “The Cash” Hellmuth had made it far on Day 2, and his consistency in making the money added to his record of 50 WSOP cashes. He outlasted Mimi Tran, Darrel “Gigabet” Dicken, and J.C. Tran to get down to two tables. Fittingly, Hellmuth would be crippled as always with the best hand, his pocket aces brought down by pocket queens and a runner-runner straight. Hellmuth wouldn’t grab his tenth bracelet this time, and he was out in 13th ($10,309). Barry Schulman was the TV bubble boy, out in 10th ($12,599) when his 10-9 caught a great flop of Q-8-7 vs. Allan Puzantyan's pocket queens. Another seven ended Schulman’s hopes and play was ended for Day 2.
The first couple of hours looked similar to any $4/8 limit game you’d find at any casino in America, the only difference being that no one could reload and there was an irritating guy who kept announcing what everyone did. Jeffrey Lisandro was the first to leave the table. This was his sixth final table, in addition to winning the 2005 WSOP Circuit Event at Lake Tahoe. His set of three’s was no good vs. Yuequi “Rich” Zhu’s nut flush, and he would have to wait for his first WSOP bracelet (9th, $22,908). The short stacks of Ernie Scherer, Allan Puzantyan, Larry Thomas and William Chen were all about survival. Chen would survive the other short stacks (Scherer: 8th/$34,362 - Puzantyan: 7th/$45,816 - Thomas: 6th/$57,270). Chen would continue his run, taking out Danny Ciasemella (5th, $68,724) by flopping top two pair with . Chen had gone from short stack to chip leader by taking risks, hitting flops, and getting paid off. He continued the run, his pocket aces crippled Karlo Lopez and his flopping top two pair. Lopez made a valiant run but was gone (4th, $80,178).
Henry Nguyen lost a couple of big pots and then was taken out by Chen’s straight (3rd, $91,632), and it was heads-up between Chen and Zhu. Chen/Zhu may not have the cache of Duran/Leonard or Ali/Frazier, but with even chip counts it was either man’s bracelet. Chen would prove to have the stronger chin this day, gradually pulling pots from Zhu throughout the session. Zhu made a couple of runs but would need a string of pots to grab the chip lead back. Chen wouldn’t allow it, and he would win the final pot catching middle pair with . Zhu put up a solid battle (2nd, $184,409), but this day would belong to Chen. He started the day in sixth chip position, got down to $67k with the limits at $5k/10k, then fought his way through every player to win Event #7 $3k LHE ($343,618). You can’t luck your way to that sort of run; you can only claw your way to victory.