With the success of High Stakes Poker on the Game Show Network, a new phrase that most players are already sick of is let’s run it twice. It refers to a situation where players agree to deal the remaining cards twice in a hand, normally giving an underdog a better chance to split a pot. Event #26 was scheduled to be a $1.5k Pot Limit Omaha event with re-buys, then it was changed to a $1.5k PLO without re-buys, then it was changed back to a $1.5k PLO with re-buys. The small buy-in events without re-buys are some players’ only chance to scrape money together for a buy-in, so the change back to a rebuy event effectively prevented players from competing. After finally understanding the significant problem they had created, World Series management decided to run it twice, running the event with and without re-buys. While 525 decided to play the PLO without re-buys, 158 players decided to play the re-buy event. Andy Black and Robert Williamson couldn’t decide, so they played in both.
No re-buys didn’t mean lesser players, but some lasted longer than others. Joe Hachem, Cyndy Violette, Scott Fischman, Greg Raymer, Barry Greenstein, Juan Carlos Mortensen, John Juanda, and Freddy Deeb all busted out in the first four hours before the rebuy tournament kicked off. Four players split the 54th place money as the bubble burst, closing in on twelve hours of play. The next hour brought a flurry of departures, including Men “The Master” Nguyen (49th, $1,792), John Cernuto, Kiril Gerasimov (45th & 37th, $2,150), and David “Devilfish” Ulliott (35th, $2,508), who was taken out by David Williams. He and Juha Helppi made it to the final two tables, but their night ended too little and just a bit too early (19th & 20th, $3,583).
Ralph Perry had the chip lead as Day 2 started, $129k to George Abdallah’s $80.5k. Perry may be the best hidden player at the World Series. This was the 12th time he’d made it this far at the World Series since he started in 2000. Three of those ended in 3rd place finishes, including the 2002 WSOP Main Event won by Robert Varkonyi. The 16 players were down to a final table within an hour, and by that time Abdallah had more than doubled his stack to almost $200k for the chip lead. Russ Salzer had his third cash this year after four last year. Two of those were nice chunks of change, $191,610 as runner-up in the $5k Omaha H/L event and $274,090 in 29th place at the $10k Main Event. His 9th place finish was good for $13,333, so he’ll have a few more weeks to look for the big score. Abdallah moved up to $315k before he lost pots to Zhang Luzhe’s set of kings and Brian Kocur’s flush.
Frank Henderson was the only player at the table that knew what it was like to win a bracelet, but it had been a long 17 years since he bested a youthful Phil Hellmuth and a tough T.J. Cloutier for the $2.5k PLO crown. The only time he’d been this close since was a 3rd place in a seven card stud split event at the 1997 WSOP. Tonight, he was out in 7th ($28,665). Ralph Perry shared top two pair with Spiro Mitrokostas on the flop, but a diamond gave him a flush to eliminate Mitrokastas (6th, $35,831). Ray Lynn tried to fight off a short stack; tripling and doubling up to extend play. Abdallah finally sent him home in 5th ($42,998). Brian Kocur did the same to Zhang Luzhe (4th, $50,164), using a straight to do the damage.
Abdallah had the chip lead with $378k, Brian Kocur second with $271k, and Ralph Perry 3rd with $151k had to calculate that remaining stack after he’d doubled Kocur’s full house up. Perry caught river cards on two consecutive pots with Kocur, catching a flush on the river to double up then a straight on the river to eject Kocur in the most brutal of fashions (3rd, $57,330). Perry moved to $419k with Abdallah stuck at $378k when Perry’s river gold struck again. The $300k pot took Abdallah down to $170k, and he steadily built his stack back to $350k.
It was fleeting hope. Pot Limit Omaha is less a game of suck outs as it is a game of outs, and Perry again and again had caught one of his outs on the river. On the final hand, the flop was , and Perry bet $60k. Abdallah moved in for another $137k, and Perry obviously was not very comfortable with a call. His hand was poor, and another $137k would have to be won back. Abdallah eventually talked him into the call, and his showed why: top pair and not much else. Abdallah felt strong as he showed his better for two pair. Abdallah watched the turn of the , and his hand had improved to a better flush draw on top of his two pair. The rivered brought what must be the most awkward scene in poker: Abdallah in celebration mode with his friends as Perry stared at the cards and Abdallah’s chips. Perry had caught a runner-runner straight, and had the wherewithal to sit tight until Abdallah realized the event was over (2nd, $109,644). Ralph Perry had finally taken his first World Series bracelet ($207,817), capturing an event that wasn’t supposed to be held. He’s certainly glad they ran it twice.