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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP Journal

WSOP Event #38 $5k No-Limit Deuce-Seven Draw

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The field for this event was a concentration of top poker talent. Combine a high buy-in with rebuy then play a game no one plays and you'll have a cocktail where only the best will show up. Eighty players started the event with the descriptive name: 2-3-4-5-7 being the best hand, aces are high, straights and flushes count, players are allowed to draw, and the stakes were no-limit. A bit of chaos reigned to begin the tournament, with Ted Forrest and Chau Giang only joined by one other player, Johnny Chan debating the betting rules allowed in the game, and one player under the assumption that aces were low. William Chen had a great ongoing dialogue with Barry Greenstein, the newly minted two-time bracelet winner picking up hints at the table as well as cures for writer's block from Greenstein. With only seven players getting paid, a lot of time would be invested before any return could be expected.

Day 1 ended with a couple of very familiar foes in 1st and 3rd chip positions: David Williams and Greg Raymer. Veteran Mickey Appleman sat in 5th. With a bracelet in this event in 1992 plus a 4th place finish in 1995, Appleman would be one to watch. Twenty-one players started Day 2, and Johnny Chan was the first to leave compliments of Mike Matusow. Williams busted Appleman to reach a final table of eight, one away from the money. Williams held the chip lead with Raymer in 2nd. None of the eight players were focused on limping into the money, but Layne Flack ended up the bubble boy courtesy of Phillipe Rouas. With Flack all-in before the draw, both players stood pat, meaning no cards would be dealt. Rouas' 9-8-7-5-2 was good enough to take the pot and move the remaining seven players into the money.

Deuce-to-Seven Draw is a simple yet complex game, with a player looking to get lucky with a draw, bluffs commonly thrown out to hide the strength of a hand, and players making tough decisions whether to hold on to marginal cards or draw for something better-or much worse. Through it all, David Williams was a juggernaut. He eliminated Allen Cunningham and Eliyahu Levy on the same hand, Cunningham betting, Levy moving all-in for $40k, then Williams raising another $40k and Cunningham calling half his stack. Each player took one card, and then Cunningham moved in for his last $84k. Williams called and showed 8-6-5-4-2. Cunningham (6th, $58,202) held 8-7-6-5-2, losing by the slightest of margins, and Levy (7th, $34,921) paired a 4 to lose the main pot. After a long dinner break, Williams took out Greg Raymer. Raymer was all-in, and each drew one card before showing their hand. Raymer was ahead with a 9-high to Williams' 10-high, but another 9 ended Greg Raymer's quest for his second WSOP bracelet (5th, $93,124). Daniel Alaei forced a fold from Phillipe Rouas, then showed the 7-5-4-3-2 nuts as he stacked the chips. On the next hand, he held 7-6-5-3-2 to knock out Men "The Master" Nguyen in 4th ($128,045).

Williams had over $600k to $375k for Rouas and $200k for Alaei. The final hand before the three moved to the ESPN table, Williams discarded three after stating that he was dealt quads to Alaei's one draw. The three cards were good as he took the pot with a 9-high. These three battled for almost 3 ½ hours before Alaei finally busted Phillipe Rouas (3rd, $162,967). As hard as it is to believe, Rouas said that he'd only learned the game an hour before the event began from one of the tournament directors. He has no complaint with the quality of the floor managers after they pointed him to the right direction for this great finish.

Williams had a decided chip advantage, $810k to Alaei's $350k. The American poker public has gotten to know Alaei through his play on High Stakes Poker from GSN. Quiet, unassuming, and studious, he's given every impression that he's a solid, fierce competitor. He showed it heads-up with Williams, another top young pro. Evelyn Ng, a good friend of Williams, sat five feet away from Williams until WSOP staff put her to work announcing the hands. She announced to the audience that both Alaei and Williams claimed that neither had played Deuce-to-Seven before this event. A new strategy may emerge for next year's World Series: top pros backing total strangers who've never played poker before, hoping to replicate the magic of these three.

Williams maintained a comfortable chip lead through eighty hands. Alaei moved in several times, only for Williams to fold. Williams raised to $80k, and then Alaei moved in for another $245k more. This time Williams called, and there was a good chance the event would end at 3:30AM. Each player drew one card, and Williams was ahead with a 9-4-3-2 to Alaei's 10-8 high hand. The 10-8 high ended up the best hand, and Alaei took the chip lead with $650k to Williams $500k. It took ninety more minutes to find a champion. These two battled heads-up so long and so hard, and Alaei's 8-6-5-3-2 ended up a monster winner. David Williams ($256,091) had his second runner-up finish at the World Series to go along with the bracelet he won this year. For Daniel Alaei, his fifth cash this year proved to be the one that counted ($430,698). He'll no longer be the young guy on TV-now add the WSOP bracelet winner to his resume.

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