We needed this. Since the IUGEA came down, the poker world has been in a whirlwind of confusion and anxiety, no one certain of what the future would hold. While Justin Timberlake is working hard to bring sexy back to the world, this World Poker Tour event at Bellagio has brought excitement back to the poker world not seen since the WSOP.
The thirty-three players who settled down at Bellagio were focused on reaching the WPT Final Table of six players, and it took fifteen hours of play to reach the sextet in pursuit of the $2.1M grand prize. Sitting atop this group of men is the star of the WPT, Daniel Negreanu. Negreanu has had success outside of the WPT but it is his time on the Travel Channel that fixed his persona on our collective consciousness.
Negreanu came into the day 31st out of the thirty-three players, sitting on only 175k in chips. Within the first orbit, he had moved those chips into the middle of the table, and as his sat beside Marco Johnson's , the board missed everyone and Negreanu had immediately doubled his stack. He steadily built his stack through the night, seeing many flops and using his premier reading ability to make tough calls all night. An example of where is game was: on a board of 9-Q-2-7-K, Cyndy Violette fired 175k into the pot on the river. Negreanu called, and his 7-6 took down the pot.
While Negreanu was building his stack early, some other big names weren't so lucky. Chip Reese
(30th, $50,745) busted out with pocket queens vs. the aces of Mads Anderson. Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi (29th, $50,745) left soon after. Justin "zeejustin" Bonomo, Michael Binger, Mads Anderson, and Joseph Hachem tangled much of the night, including Bonomo doubling through Binger with aces vs. queens then Binger doubling through Anderson's queens. Mack Lee doubled through the 2005 Main Event Champion in style. On a flop of 10-10-8, Hachem bet 120k and Lee called. A deuce came on the turn, and Hachem moved all-in, covering Lee's last 276k. He instacalled, and Hachem showed for trip ten's. Lee's pocket eight's meant a flopped full house, and he doubled up close to 1M in chips with the big pot.
A flurry of activity erupted with the final two tables as the dinner break approached. In a heads-up pot between Michael Binger and Haralabos Voulgaris, Binger moved all-in for his last 300k after the turn showed . Voulgaris called showing and Binger turned over . The river brought Voulgaris to 1.6M in chips and sent Binger home (16th, $67,655). Cyndy Violette doubled her stack from 457k to 1.1M by picking up small pots along the way. By the late evening, she'd dropped back to 600k and moved in with queens only to see Bonomo turn over aces. Violette didn't improve, and again the WPT would be without a female champion (14th, $84,570).
At the dinner break, Negreanu led with 4.0M trailed by Hachem's 3.7M. With Anderson at 1.5M and Voulgaris with 1.4M, Negreanu and Hachem looked to be in good shape as the two six-handed tables played down to a final six. The first casualty came with Voulgaris raised to 120k, Negreanu called, and Fischman moved all-in for 800k. Voulgaris called and Negreanu flipped over his A-Q and folded. Fischman held 8-8 to the A-K of Voulgaris, and a spiked king brought an end to Fischman's evening (12th, $84,570). Hachem sent Fred Goldberg out a few minutes later in 11th ($84,570). All the chips moved to one table as the ten remaining players drew for new seat assignments for the last time. Mack Lee left the final table in a bitter fashion. He moved all-in with pocket queens and Negreanu called with pocket fours. The flop of A-K-2 looked good for Lee, but the 3-5 completed the board and a straight for Negreanu. Lee was out in 10th ($101,485). Mads Anderson moved over the top of Hachem's 180k raise with his final 380k, and Hachem called. Anderson's A-J stayed ahead of Hachem's K-Q, and Anderson breathed a bit easier with his stack up to 780k.
Jim Hanna knocked out Steve Sung (9th, $118,400) when his A-Q out kicked the K-Q of Sung, both holding trips. In a big pot, Hachem bet 170k and Anderson moved all-in for 670k. Bonomo then came over the top, all-in for 1.5M from the small blind. Hachem folded, and Bonomo looked good with his pocket jacks up against Anderson's A-10. An ace came immediately on the flop, and Anderson took down a 1.5M pot. A few hands later, Anderson bet 175k, and Hachem raised to 475k. Anderson made it 975k more, and Hachem mucked pocket queens face-up, queens no good for anyone on this day. Voulgaris became vulnerable after making a big call that didn't work out. Jim Hanna came over the top of a 240k bet by Voulgaris for an additional 650k from the small blind, and Hanna waited five minutes to see if his all-in move would take the pot down or if he would be called. Voulgaris finally called with pocket fives to Hanna's . An ace on the flop took Hanna up to 1.4M.
Bonomo moved all-in and was called by Negreanu, but both held A-K for a chopped pot. Voulgaris then made a steal attempt with but was called by Anderson with pocket 10's. The tens held up, and Voulgaris was out in 8th ($135,315). Two minutes later the night was over, and the WPT had lost the most intriguing player left. Anderson made it 240k to go and Bonomo moved all-in. Anderson called with pocket 7's and Bonomo showed . The board of ended play for the evening, and Bonomo finished in 7th ($152,230). This was his fourth final table at the Five Diamond Classic here at the Bellagio, and his stellar play in December showed that he's an emerging star on the poker scene.
The WPT has a great final table at the Bellagio, with four players trying to capture most of the chips and some of the limelight from the stars at the table, Daniel Negreanu and Joseph Hachem.
1. Daniel Negreanu (4.67M)
2. Mads Anderson (4.32M)
3. David Redlin (2.4M)
4. Joseph Hachem (2.35M)
5. Ed Jordan (2.32M)
6. Jim Hanna (1.28M)