It may be politically correct to say this, but most women don't like waiting on men. That is exactly what the women still alive in Day 2 of the $5k NLH/LH Championship had to do due to the record field in the $1.5k NLH Event #3. The 2:00PM start became a 5:00PM start for the 95 players left, with Sabyl Cohen leading a strong contingent of women players into play. Cohen entered the day third in chips behind Greg "FBT" Mueller but quickly started losing her chips and exited before the money, as did short stack Liz Lieu, Isabelle Mercier, and Vanessa Rousso.
Lieu's exit was quick but painful after being third in chips late on Day 1 only to see her stack drop to 11.5k in an hour. "I had three tough hands in the last hour," Lieu said. "I raised with queens and had three callers, the flop came A-K, so I lost that. Then in I had J-3 in the big blind. 3 on the flop, jack on the turn, then I get counterfeited on the river. Then I lost the last hand. I feel good about my play, I really feel like I'm playing well." Other notables who finished out of the money included Eric Froelich, Barry Greenstein, Antonio Esfandiari, Joe Bartholdi, Toto Leonidas, Josh Arieh, Hoyt Corkins, and Can Kim Hua.
Greg Mueller built his stack throughout the day and held 300k in chips as the cash bubble approached. Different tables had different approaches to how to play with the money near. Table 72, with Johnny Chan, David Grey, Steven Paul-Ambrose, and Jason "strassa2" Strasser, played lightning fast as if they were being paid by the hand. One table over, Cyndy Violette desperately clung to her last seven blue 500 chips. Her neighbor in the 1s wanted to cash as much as she did and stalled at least four minutes as play was folded to him in middle position two from the money. His efforts ended up squeaking her into the money (45th, $11,658) as short stacks made a quick run to the door.
The focus of the four-deep railbirds was on Johnny Chan. The ten-time bracelet winner and ME Champion in 1985 and 1997 was hoping to move past Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth with his eleventh title. He entered the day very short stacked with 14k in chips. He fought hard to chip up early and sat on 90k by 7:00PM. He never stood up to the aggression of Strasser, picking his spots to play very deliberately. He'd slipped to 30k in chips when the bubble burst. He slowly bled more chips and was busted by Matt Gianetti in 31st ($13,778).
Jason Strasser was the captain table of his strong players. He grabbed the blinds in four of five hands during a limit level before the dinner break but never made the final big push into a dominant stack of chips. He was bounced out in 26th ($15,898).
The mixed format of play saw some big swings in chips. Joe Tehan never had a massive stack but made moves when chips were there for the taking. The former WPT Mandalay Bay champion had his aces cracked by the rivered flush of Tony George late in the evening, and he was out in 15th ($20,137). It was a reminder of what tournament poker is about: top finishes of final tables to grab the big money. So much focus and energy seemed wasted for the $8,479 difference between Tehan's money and Violette's.
Steven Paul-Ambrose entered Day 2 slightly above average in chips with 55k only to take a big hit early when he ran into quad queens. He plays a very patient game and never seemed concerned through the night. When chipleader Greg Mueller was moved to his table, he was one of the short stacks of the remaining players with 65k in chips. Unfazed, the 2006 WPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champion went on a strong tear to finish the day third in chips with 556k.
Mueller's held a dominant chip lead until late when Fred Berger pushed ahead. The 2002 bracelet winner in the 2002 $3k PLH event sits on the chip lead with 942k, and he'll have the emotional support of a New Orleans area still struggling to pull itself up from Hurricane Katrina. The player who has had the strongest recent run however is Kirk Morrison. The Kansan has cashed in four WPT events this year including a final table in Reno and a runner-up finish for $2.0M in the WPT Championship at the Bellagio. His 512k gives him the flexibility in chips to remain patient or attack the final table at his discretion. He has a great chance to add a second WSOP bracelet nine years after his 1998 $1.5k Seven Card Stud win.
The Final Table:
1s John Younger (94k)
2s Jon Turner (88k)
3s Fred Berger (942k)
4s Roger McDow (320k)
5s Greg Mueller (683k)
6s Kirk Morrison (512k)
7s Steve Billirakis (562k)
8s Steven Paul-Ambrose (771k)
9s Tony George (546k)