Katja Thater became the first woman in three years to win a WSOP bracelet excluding the Ladies Event. It was a surreal Final Table as Paul "Eskimo" Clark seemed to suffer another mini-stroke, causing tournament officials to head to a dinner break early.
341 players signed on to the $1.5k Razz event. Razz is a Seven Card Stud game, with the lowest poker hand winning. Aces are low, and straights and flushes don't count. The best hand is the wheel (A-2-3-4-5). Jennifer Harman cashed for the first time this year, but she nursed a short stack late into Day 2. She went out in 22nd ($4,422).
The most bizarre scene in recent poker memory occurred later in the evening. Paul "Eskimo" Clark was one of the chip leaders, his friends cheering him on the from the rail. Suddenly, he slumped in his chair, and his right arm became hindered. He eventually went to the floor, and paramedics were called. WSOP officials sent the players to a dinner break, and Clark laid on the floor as he was evaluation. He refused to leave the Rio, and instead headed to grab a cigarette and some chicken wings.
He eventually made to the final table, although not the chip leader. The players voted whether to continue play as scheduled or come back Tuesday for Day 3. Six of the eight final tablists voted to return Tuesday, so play ended for the evening. O'Neil Longson held a monster chip lead. The chip counts to start Day 3:
O'Neil Longson (385k)
Larry St. Jean (171k)
Denny Axel (123k)
Katja Thater (117k)
Paul "Eskimo" Clark (88k)
Mark Vos (84k)
Thomas Daubert (54k)
Men "The Master" Nguyen (35k)
As players unbagged their chips, Harrah's officials asked Clark to speak with them. The unconfirmed rumor was Harrah's officials gave Clark direction regarding the ramifications if he had another "mini-stroke" and became incapacitated.
Mark Vos rushed over from his few hands in the $5k NLH HU event. The event started 2 ½ hours late, so Vos had to basically shove immediately so he could head to the Final Table. He lost his HU match, but he won the first Razz hand. He hoped it would be a good omen of things to come.
It was O'Neil Longson who was the clear favorite at the table. He won this event in 2005, as well another bracelet in the 2003 $5k Deuce to Seven Draw. With such a big stack, he would be tough to beat.
Men "The Master" and Daubert doubled up, and the Final Table was on. Thater and Daubert tangled, and Thater came out on top with a 7-4-3-2-A with Daubert's 5-2-7-2-Q-8-x. She doubled up, then Daubert tripled up when Vos bet out his 4-3-5-A. He caught A-A-Q, no good against Daubert.
Many of the hands quickly went the high card bet the bring-in, a low card raised to complete, and everyone mucked. It was when baby cards were dealt to multiple players where things could heat up.
Thater bet the bring-in, Men completed, Daubert bet his last 14k and was all-in, then Thater re-raised to put Men all-in. He called with 17k. The board came out as follows:
Because of the smaller stack, Thomas Daubert was out in 8th ($10,473), and Men "The Master" Nguyen left in 7th ($14,197).
Katja Thater showed the table that she was ready to play aggressively when the time was right. She caught a on the river to take a nice pot from Danny Axel with 7-6-4-3-2 to Axel's 9-5. A seemingly inconsequential hand occurred when Vos bet vs Thater's . She mucked, and he showed two more threes that were down. It may have given her some subconscious tell on Vos.
In a huge hand, Longson brought-in with , St. Jean completed with and thater raised with . Clark called with as did St. Jean. The board eventually was this:
St. Jean ()
Thater and Clark bet like mad, with Thater capping on fifth street and Clark three-betting all-in on sixth street. Thater couldn't catch a 5, 6, or 7, and Clark doubled up for the chip lead to 255k. Thater dropped down to 90k.
Thater accidentally went all-in after Vos bet out on the river. Vos eventually mucked.
Clark held 8-7-5-4-A and eventually sent Mark Vos out in 6th ($18,386). Clark then doubled up with the wheel (A-2-3-4-5). Stacks fluctuated wildly between Clark, Thater, and Longson. St. Jean and Daubert played extremely tight, only playing hands when they had solid starting hands.
Clark teetered on the brink of physical health, but Longson literally had nine lives when involved with Thater. He survived with this:
Thater didn't let the hand slow her down as she took out Danny Axel (5th $24,204). Longson doubled through her again with a final river card.
She took a big pot from St. Jean, her 7-5-4 good against 7-6-5. Thater took a nice pot from Clark, then St. Jean grabbed two pots to keep him afloat. Thater finally finished off Paul "Eskimo" Clark (4th $31,186) with a 7-6 vs his 8-6. Clark finally could do no better than a king-high as the cards bricked for him.
St. Jean had played extremely tight at the Final Table, but he caught the right cards to survive until the end. Thater took a chance vs Longson to get heads-up. With a up to start, Thater brought in then called. She made her hand by sixth street, and by then O'Neill Longson was drawing dead (3rd $46,547).
She did the same on the final hand. In a nerve-wracking hand, Thater brought in with showing to St. Jean's . She completed then called St. Jean raised and was called. The final board was as follows:
St. Jean ()
Thater bet and was called on fourth and fifth street, then St. Jean raised his last 25k on sixth street. With a paired three and a mystery in front of her, she finally called. She hit her on the river to take down the title and knock out Larry St. Jean (2nd $73,311).
Katja Thater stayed composed in the aftermath of becoming the fourth German to win a WSOP bracelet and the first woman since Annie Duke won in 2004. Her $132,653 may be on the small side here, but there is no one who can argue with the heart she has nor the fiery competitiveness she shows.