Another day, another World Series controversy. When this event with the unique format started, it started with a bang. They call it a shootout; basically it is a winner-take-all sit-n-go, where the single table winner takes the table’s chips and moves on to the next round. With only 600 players, management decided to scrap the full-table format, opting to play the first round as a 6-max SNG to get to 100, and then having Round 2 as a 10-seat SNG.
Harry Demetriou, with excellent short-handed tourney results, was livid that the format would change so easily. He was so upset that he was forced to leave the event. Daniel Negreanu was another unhappy camper. He used a sophisticated algorithm to determine when he could show up late and still have a chance. The math worked with ten players, but with only six he was blinded off too quickly. He did get heads-up but was knocked out without showing up. Atlanta’s Fred Cabral finished his table off in 45 minutes. If he’d been online, he could have fired up a few more SNG’s to kill time. Probably the toughest first table included Erik Seidel, Howard Lederer, and Freddy Deeb. Josh Arieh, Blair Rodman, and Tony G all made it through early. Steve Danneman, Mike Sexton, and Darrell “Gigabet” Dicken stayed three-handed for a very long time. Sexton finally took out Danneman, while his son Keith lost to Michele Lewis heads-up. Other ladies included Kathy Liebert, Evelyn Ng, and Vanessa Sebst.
Day 2 was like the second round of the NCAA basketball tourney, with the added twist of redrawing for the ten-seated tables. The survivors out of this SNG would face a tough road to the final table. Charles Sewell made it through young pro Daniel Alaei, Tony G, and Marcel Luske. David Pham
battled Mike Sexton heads-up, a position Sexton is finding comfortable during this World Series. Pham finally finished off the friendly Sexton. Chad Layne was the last to win his table, and with more chips in play he and Kathy Liebert may have broken the heads-up record.
The unique situation with the Shootout is that no matter how quickly or how long it took to finish your second day, each player started even in the event with $200k in chips and blinds at $2k/4k. It didn’t exactly resemble a PokerStars SNG, but it was similar. As the button completed its fourth trip around the table, David Pham knocked out Jeffrey Heiberg (10th, $16,380). England’s Roland De Wolfe
sent Adam Kagin out a few hands later (9th, $21,840), his always ahead of Kagin’s . The button made one more trip around, and another player left, this time Dustin Woolf. “Neverwin” is the name known throughout the online poker world, but unfortunately Woolf lived up to the moniker (8th, $27,300), short-stacked and out to Jason Dewitt’s big slick.
De Wolfe and Pham took turns knocking out players. De Wolfe played a horrible song for David Bach, his queens hitting a bad note to De Wolfe’s kings (7th, $32,760). Pham flopped top pair to knock out Jason Dewitt who held pocket fours (6th, $38,220).
Charlie Sewell had quietly built a large chip stack, his $575k a rival to Pham’s $600k and De Wolfe’s $585k. In a heads-up hand, Pham raised to $37k and Sewell called. The flop came , and Pham check-raised Sewell with a $100k bet. Sewell moved in quickly, and Pham folded. Sewell showed the pocket fives, which Pham knew were either good or not. Regardless, Sewell now sat on $755k and the chip lead. Meanwhile, Chad Layne sat with only $80k in chips, hoping to either move up a spot or double through so he could have a fighting chance for the title. He moved in twice and picked up the blinds and antes, but Pham called him on his third attempt as did Sewell. Pham bet the baby flop, sending Sewell out of the pot. Layne needed an ace to hit his A-10 to Pham’s pocket jacks, but the cards didn’t cooperate (5th, $43,680). Jerald “Reno” Williamson was out in 4th ($49,140) on the 91st hand. He played eleven pots, with five wins, five losses, and a chop.
David Pham led with $770k, Charlie Sewell was close with $720k, and Roland De Wolfe sat at $550k. The three traded small pots, with Sewell easing to a $130k lead over Pham until the last hand before dinner. Pham made it $40k from the small blind, and Sewell called from the big blind. The hit the felt, and both players waited for the turn card after a check. It was another five, , and this time Pham bet $60k into an $85k pot. Sewell raised to $200k, and Pham called. The didn’t seem to change much, and Pham checked. Sewell eased out another $200k. Pham would either have a nice meal or lose his appetite as he called and flipped over A-Q. He ate well after stacking almost $900k from the pot, Sewell mucking his hand. That put Pham at $1.3M, Sewell down to $432k, and De Wolfe at $281k.
After dinner, De Wolfe doubled through Sewell on the first hand. Sewell did the same through Pham two hands later, with both victors holding small pairs to the callers’ baby ace. That combination left Sewell as the short stack with $300k, and he basically stayed the same for another fifteen hands. Meanwhile, De Wolfe ate into Pham’s lead, and at the same point he’d closed the gap to $725k vs. Pham’s $1M. Was the next hand a misstep? You decide. De Wolfe raised on the button with Pham calling from the small blind. The flop came . Pham checked, and De Wolfe bet $90k, with a call from Pham. The was the turn card, and Pham’s check led to a $250k bet from De Wolfe. Pham moved all-in and De Wolfe instantly called with . Pham couldn’t feel good about the instacall, not until he saw his was way ahead. The led to De Wolfe’s exit (3rd, $65,520).
Three hands later, Pham picked up jacks and called Sewell’s all-in. He turned over , but never improved on a board of . Charlie Sewell had won a $1k Bellagio event, but this runner-up finish was his biggest cash at $124,488. It was David Pham’s second bracelet ($240,222), and he is a player hard not to admire. Since 1992, he’s made his money the hard way, by winning smaller buy-in events. In the last eight years, he’s won a dozen tourneys with a buy-in of $500 or less and been runner-up in the same number. Throw in eight $1k-3k buy-in tourneys in the last four years, and you can see that Pham is a throw-back to the rounder ready to take a seat unpretentiously with anyone anywhere. Now he’ll just have a bracelet on every wrist, so it will be easier to recognize him in your local weekend $200 buy-in tourney.