Back in the day, before people knew about the Cadillac of Poker, Seven Card Stud was the core game that tested poker's best. The High/Low version this year was the lowest buy-in tourney of the World Series, harkening back to yesteryear. In the end, the dominant new face at this year's World Series was at it again, hard after his third bracelet in as many weeks.
With 788 players paying $1k each, this was the smallest prize pool at this year's World Series. With four players busting out to share two places, 74 players made the cash. Chris "Armenian Express" Grigorian cashed in his first event this year, out in 40th ($2,868). Just in case anyone thought this attracted lightweights due to the small buy-in, here are some of the players out soon after Grigorian: Annie Duke, David Sklansky, Cyndy Violette, Miami John Cernuto, John Juanda, and Tom Franklin. When they finally reached the final table of eight, a newly familiar face had the fewest chips left: Jeff Madsen.
Forgive Madsen, but since the youngest winner of a WSOP bracelet is only 21, he has a lot of poker to play to catch up to his new peers. He's had a top three finish each week of the World Series, 3rd in the Limit Omaha H/L tourney before taking down two No-Limit Holdem events. Stud H/L? Sure, let's give it a try. He immediately went north as others went south. Mark Bershad scooped a pot from Leo Fasen (8th, $17,927), taking the high with two pair and 7-5-4-3-2 for the low. Barshad then knocked out Rod Pardey a few hands later (7th, $25,098). As Madsen fought off elimination from the short stack, Greg Dinkin built on his chip lead, moving from $250k up to $455k. After Dinkin doubled up Madsen who was all-in, he turned his attention on Hoyt Verner (6th, $32,269). Dinkin had a flush to trips for Verner, and with no low he was out. Dinkin moved above $500k in chips for the first time.
Patrick Poels took two pots off of Madsen, moving up to $180k as Madsen slipped down to $150k. Poels then scooped a big pot from Bershad with a 7-high straight and a 6-5-4-3-A low to move up to $270k. Madsen took a bite out of William Edler, and then Poels finished him off. Over the last twelve months, Edler has won over $500k in eighteen tournaments any and everywhere, and his 5th place for $34,439 will further pad his bankroll. The last four players sat at Table 143, in a sea of empty tables with only a few friends and family easing into spare chairs to watch them slug it out. At one point, Mark Barshad sat at $334k only to watch it evaporate. Madsen scooped a big pot with quad 8's to get the ball rolling, then Dinkin finished the job as Mark Barshad finished 4th ($49,479). Play was deliberate and sluggish over next two hours of play, and gradually Madsen's chip stack dwindled. He was forced all-in by Poels, holding nothing more than a pair of 9's and hope. Poels' aces took the high with no qualifying low, and Jeff Madsen was out in 3rd ($65,971).
Poels and Dinkin took a cue from the latter's name, as they dinked and parried hand after hand. Most pots were taken before Fifth Street, but through the hundred minutes of heads-up play, Poels pushed further and further ahead. The final hand was the kind of hand you'd love to be photographed with after winning a title. Dinkin's board read when he moved all-in for his last chips, only a 9 pairing the board and drawing dead for a qualifying low. Poels was ahead, his up cards reading with nothing helping in the hole. The final cards did nothing to change the outcome, and Greg Dinkin was done in 2nd ($102,542). Patrick Poels had the hard-fought victory ($172,091), and he'll head back to Phoenix with his second WSOP bracelet.