The 2006 World Series of Poker has its first double winner. William Chen , author of The Mathematics of Poker, made all the right calculations, besting a field of 740 players to take the $2.5k No-Limit Holdem (6-max) title.
Spiderman’s Tobey Maguire was foiled by Plastikman, David Plastik. Short-stacked, Maguire’s A-7o was no match for Plastik’s big slick. The top 70 made the money, and those who busted out but cashed on Day 1 included Tony G, Russell Fox, David Plastik, Farzad Bonyadi , noted poker author Jim McManus , and Tony Hachem . The accountant from Australia has a brother who has played in a few World Series events, notably winning the 2005 WSOP Main Event. That would be Joseph Hachem.
Thirty-three players started Day 2 looking to get to a final table, as the H.O.R.S.E event pulled the glamour and drama away from these tables. They played down to a six-man table, although with such a small number at short-handed tables it was not a day to sit and wait. Phil Gordon , the face of the TiltBoys which includes 2006 WSOP bracelet winner Rafe Furst and Andy Bloch, had cashed three times this year, still looking to put the right combination of hands together for his first bracelet. He’s had some bad beats this tournament, but Day 2 saw him short-stacked most of the day. Harry Demetriou picked off his steal attempt with pocket queens, and Gordon had to wonder what it would take to get to a final table this year (16th, $14,467). By the time Demetriou busted Harold Cohen (7th, $48,507), Australia’s Mike Guttman had the chip lead with $587k, Demetriou was second with $378k, Dan Hicks from Tampa sat third ($321k), Alex Bolotin fourth ($280k), William Chen fifth ($175k), and Nick Pizzolatto was the short stack with $102k.
The final table took a bit more than half the time the H.O.R.S.E. heads-up match lasted between Andy Bloch and Chip Reese. For Demetriou, with several final tables under his belt in big tourneys, he had to feel great about his chances. He made a serious misstep, and it cost him his shot at a bracelet. Ten minutes into play, Alex Bolotin raised to $18k, and Demetriou re-raised to $68k. Mike Guttman came over the top of both and made it $130k. Bolotin mucked, and Demetriou contemplated before he called. The flop isn’t ideal for Demetriou, Demetriou pushed all-in with Guttman called with . Blanks followed, and Demetriou left almost as soon as he sat down, out in 6th ($58,719).
Nick Pizzolatto then proceeded to go crazy as he took five pots in a row with three all-in’s and a double-up with pocket queens. He moved from the short stack to second in chips in about ten minutes. William Chen and Dan Hicks decided to do the same, the all-in much easier than counting out chips. Hicks’ all-in move was called by Pizzolatto, whose pocket sixes were no match for the pocket nines of Hicks. Chen followed with a serious run of his own as he doubled through Pizzolatto followed by two aggressive moves on Hicks. Pizzolatto doubled through Guttman, only to return the favor for Hicks before doubling through Chen. Bolotin then doubled through Pizzolatto. Pizzolatto probably started praying not to get pocket pairs anymore as it would be tough for anyone to take these kinds of swings.
Pizzolatto kept up the pressure, yet again finding a pocket pair. His eights knocked out Bolotin with (5th, $78,292). Guttman knocked out Hicks on the next hand, his always ahead vs. (4th, $107,226). Three handed, Pizzolatto attacked Guttman relentlessly. He won the big pots and left scraps for Guttman. When Pizzolatto took a hand off, it was Chen after Guttman. If Guttman wasn’t reeling then, he certainly was after a red hand with Pizzolatto. On a board of . Pizzolatto took the monster pot with for the nut flush over Guttman's . When the queen paired the board, it probably slowed both players down enough to save some chips for Guttman. His last $400k went to Chen, as Chen’s jacks held up against Guttman’s big slick (3rd, $139,564). Chen had $938k in chips to Pizzolatto’s $905k, so everyone thought they could be here awhile.
Awhile is also known as two hands, because that’s how long they lasted heads-up. After Chen took a small pot, Pizzolatto limped, Chen raised to $25k and was called. The flop came , and Chen bet $40k and was again called. The brought another check from Pizzolatto, and Chen decided this time to take a free card. The river brought the , Pizzolatto again checked, and Chen bet $70k. Pizzolatto then raised it to $200k, and Chen moved all-in. Pizzolatto took little time to call, and turned over the 8-6 for a straight. Pizzolatto should have wished for a 6 instead of the 9, because his worst nightmare came when Chen turned over . The 9 made straights for both men, but they couldn’t have been further apart. Pizzolatto made a brilliant run from short stack to 2nd ($238,280), but William Chen (1st, $442,511) has won more bracelets this year than all authors and professors combined. And by the looks of things, his courses are just getting started.