Adeeb Harb loves poker in April. He won his World Series bracelet in April 1996, beating Noli Francisco for the Omaha 8 or Better title. Ten years later, he left Barry Greenstein as the runner-up of the Five Star $5K NLH event last year. Now Harb has taken half a million dollars by winning this prestigious event in consecutive years.
294 players generated a prize pool of over $1.4M in Event #11, a foreshadowing of the mega-prize pool which will be built this weekend at the WPT Championship . The Fontana Lounge was buzzing with excitement as railbirds watched the Final Table of Event #10 as the $5K swung into action.
The fifteen-hour days for survivors of the Day 1's sound rough, but everyone hoped to bag chips and head to bed when 3:00AM came around. 27 players cashed, and the bubble burst before the night was over. Two runners-up from earlier events made it into the money.
Scott Clements (24th, $8,050) and Kathy Liebert (23rd, $8,050) busted out shortly before the end of the evening, and they each will tell you that the cashes so late in Day 1 are tough pills to swallow.
David "Devilfish" Ulliott entered Day 2 with chip lead (463k). Some might think Ulliott was invented as part of the WPT programming, but this charismatic Englishman has cashed in poker tournaments over the last fifteen years. He won his WSOP bracelet ten years ago, and he is particularly fond of the Bellagio, having won an event here last December worth $266k.
Paul Darden entered Day 2 on the short stack and was out quickly (22nd, $8,400). Barry Greenstein had his sights on a return visit to the Final Table and took out WSOP ME 4th place finisher Allen Cunningham (20th, $8,400). Ulliott knocked out another dangerous player, High Stakes Poker regular Freddy Deeb (15th, $14,005). Greenstein battled without a lot of ammunition much of the day, eventually knocked out by Noah Schwartz (12th, $16,805). With Finland's Joni Sointula's exit (11th, $16,805), they rearranged chairs for the Final Table.
Greenstein's chips didn't stay with Schwartz for long after his exit on a very tough hand. Adeeb Harb raised in early position, then Ted Lawson moved all-in for a total of 160k. Schwartz called, then Harb re-raised enough to put Schwartz all-in, another 150k. It was a very tough spot for Schwartz, and he eventually called with the same hand Richard Lee busted out with from the Main Event Final table, pocket jacks. Lawson had moved all-in with A-Q, and Harb looked good to knock out two players with his pocket queens. An ace came on the flop, and Lawson tripled up while Schwartz went to the cashier, out in 10th ($16,805).
Tim West knocked out short stack Dallas Wottlin (9th, $22,405) and Ulliott sent Paul Lee home (8th, $28,010). Mack Lee flopped a full house to double through Harb, then Tom Schrieber made a read that didn't work out. Holding , he moved over the top of Lawson's pre-flop raise. Lawson made the call with , and Lawson's queen played to finish the tournament for Schrieber (7th, $35,010).
Chris Birchby took out Tim West (6th, $49,015), then the action slowed considerably. Birchby picked up pocket kings and played them fast, moving all-in after Harb raised with A-9. Birchby doubled up with the cowboys, but a misstep later with another big hand sealed his fate.
With blinds at 15k/30k and a 5k ante, Birchby, Harb, Lee, and Lawson all limped to see a flop. The flop came , and Birchby bet 100k. Harb called, then Lawson moved all-in after Lee folded. Birchby quickly called and Harb mucked. Birchby turned over his slow-played pocket aces, but Lawson held for three of a kind. Birchby didn't catch his one-outer, and this hand will haunt him for some time (5th, $63,020).
Almost twenty hours of great play over two days, then what can only be described as a lapse in judgment ended play for Ulliott. Ulliott raised to 70k, then Lee moved all-in for another 140k. With 5-4o, Ulliott made the call, and Lee was elated as he turned over Q-10. He needed his cards as a 10 and a 4 hit the flop, but Lee doubled up to 400k. As has happened at so many Final Tables, the two tangled again soon after, as Ulliott again called an all-in by Lee. This time his pocket sixes were up against Lee's . Lee paired his jack to eliminate Ulliott (4th, $84,035).
An hour of three-handed play finally left Lee with little room to maneuver. He raised from the small blind only to see Lawson move all-in for all his chips. Kojak needs a lot of help in the best of times, and these weren't the best of times for Lee. His K-J was dominated by Lawson's pocket jacks, and Mack Lee's best run in two years was over (3rd, $147,040).
Adeeb Harb prevailed over Ted Lawson (2nd, $294,085), a final battle between two great players without much name recognition among the public. Seasoned pros around the Bellagio know who they are. Lawson has had a great 2007 so far, as the WSOP bracelet winner adds this finish to the $384k he picked up as runner-up at the Wynn Classic in March. Adam Harb hails from Long Beach, Mississippi, a town still digging out of the wake of Hurricane Katrina. His second consecutive victory in the $5k NLH event ($501,635) guarantees one thing: he'll be back next April to try for a third.