Ralph Schwartz overcame chipleader Phil Ivey then took out Bill Gazes heads-up to top a high-quality field in the $5k HORSE event.
The $50k HORSE event was the hit of the 2006 WSOP.
The victory by Chip Reese over Andy Bloch restored order to the poker world in the aftermath of the megafields in the Main Event, as arguably the best play in the world won the best event in the world.
The $5k event this year brought a small field of unparalleled quality out as every initial table was filled with the stars of poker as well as top online HORSE players. With 10k in chips and low blinds, it was small ball poker for a long, long time.
Twelve players remained at the end of a grueling Day 2. The dozen played three hours to reach a Final Table. The chip counts of the last eight:
Phil Ivey (481k)
Robert Mizrachi (382k)
Ralph Schwartz (332k)
Alexander Jung (314k)
Bill Gazes (147k)
Thom Schultz (112k)
Yuebin Guo (116k)
Jeff Campbell (38k)
Play started with Razz (ante 2k, bring-in 3k, bets of 10k/20k). Jeff Campbell didn't last long on such a short stack (8th $20,755). Thom Schultz and Yuebin Guo weathered several all-in's during Seven Card Stud, but Schultz couldn't make it through the Hi/Lo version (7th $28,877). Alexander Jung then got short and went out after two Omaha Hi/Lo hands to depart in 6th ($37,901).
After seventy hands, Ivey had held his chip stack steady, but Yuebin Guo and Ralph Schwartz had rushed into the chip lead.
Yuebin Guo (570k)
Ralph Schwartz (560k)
Phil Ivey (460k)
Robert Mizrachi (230k)
Bill Gazes (90k)
Back to Razz (ante 5k, bring-in 5k, bets 20k/40k), Bill Gazes went on a nice run to move up to 400k in chips. In the process, he knocked out Robert Mizrachi with an 8-7-6 high to Mizrachi's 9-high (5th $49,632). Stud turned into Ivey's undoing.
It only took a few hands going deep to rid him of his chips. His table demeanor is often one of indifference, and he appeared to be quite bored at the Final Table. Surely that wasn't the case, but the small field and the flatter payout structure left a pro like Ivey most interested in the WSOP bracelet rather than the payout. Guo took him out with a pair of queens on the board, and the odds-on favorite for the bracelet was gone (4th $65,424).
Guo held the chip lead at 800k, with Schwartz (650k) and Gazes (320k) in pursuit. With the bets so high, any significant hand had big repercussions. Guo came up short in several successive hands of LHE, and it was Schwartz who was up to 900k and the chip lead. His slide continued in Omaha, and Schwartz took out the one-time chip leader Yuebin Guo in 3rd ($99,264).
Schwartz held a 1.35m lead vs. Gazes at 550k. Schwartz took three of the first four heads-up hands to push Gazes to the brink. Finally, Schwartz raised on the button and Gazes called. The flop was . Gazes bet and was raised, and his call brought . Gazes checked, and Schwartz bet. Gazes called with his last chips, and came on the river. Schwartz showed for the turned straight and the title. Bill Gazes mucked K-K-7-6, but he did well to scramble all day and finish 2nd ($153,408). It was his best finish since a 2005 $1.5k NLH 3rd place result.
Ralph Schwartz took home $275,683 for the title, by far his best WSOP result in his second cash. The Wall Street money manager plays in high stakes cash game, and he'll now have a new client: himself.