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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP Journal

Shankar Pillai Takes Shak’s Stack for $3k NLH Event

Shankar Pillai 2007 WSOP
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Shankar Pillai made a big run from way back to beat Beth Shak heads-up and take the $3k NLH Event. Phil Hellmuth had a chance at his twelfth WSOP bracelet until Shak picked him apart at the Final Table.

Some new players cashed for the first time, including Shawn "sprstoner" Glines (76th $5,250), Evelyn Ng (25th $14,608), Taylor Caby (24th $14,608), and Norm McDonald (20th $14,608).

Another strange twist occurred when play reached 10 players. Final Tables are nine players, but with Hellmuth still alive, play was stopped early to ensure that the short-stacked Hellmuth was alive when play started. The 10 players returned Tuesday to the ESPN Feature Table.

Dustin Holmes (1.08m)
Beth Shak (740k)
Brett Richey (738k)
Perry Friedman (723k)
Shankar Pillai (371k)
Luke Vrable (315k)
Jason Song (284k)
Ben Fineman (272k)
Phil Hellmuth (213k)
Daniel Corbin (210k)

Phil Ivey sat next to Dan Shak, the husband of Beth Shak. Hellmuth and Ivey reportedly had prop bets throughout the Final Table, giving Ivey a rooting interest in Shak and the board cards. Daniel Corbin and Hellmuth slid under 200k in the initial round, and everyone was working hard on patience with the full table. Brett Richey might have worked harder. Hellmuth min-raised to 40k, then Richey moved all-in from the big blind. Hellmuth quickly showed his pocket aces, and he doubled through Richey with {7-Diamonds}-{4-Hearts}.

Luke Vrable moved all-in with {9-Hearts}-{9-Spades}, but Ben Fineman came over the top with him covered. He had two red ladies ({Q-Diamonds}-{Q-Hearts}), and they held up to take out Luke Vrable (10th $21,456).

A big hand transpired which showed the hunger in Beth Shak, a hand that had major implications on the Final Table. Daniel Corbin moved all-in with 109k, then Shankar Pillai came over the top for a total of 258k. Shak then moved all-in, sensing an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. She had {A-Spades}-{Q-Clubs}, Corbin was live with {K-Diamonds}-{9-Diamonds}, and Pillai was in the lead with {8-Diamonds}-{8-Spades}. {J-Clubs}-{7-Clubs}-{6-Diamonds}-{3-Clubs} brought Shak a flush draw, but Pillai dodged a ton of cards with {3-Hearts} on the river to almost triple up and knock out Daniel Corbin in 9th ($30,814).

Hellmuth fought hard with his short stack and doubled through Ben Fineman to get healthier. He's had big stacks and short stacks at WSOP Final Tables, confident that his experience would continue to keep him around. Blinds moved up to 15k/30k with a 4k ante, and the short stacks kept doubling up to prolong the next exit. Jason Song doubled through chipleader Dustin Holmes, then a sick hand gave us an open chair.

Brett Richey raised to 80k, then Shak moved all-in from the cut-off. Hellmuth then stood up from his chair and said, "I'm all-in." He and Shak looked giddy, but Richey still had to decide what to do. He had 344k more with 500k in the pot (Shak had him covered). He finally called and turned over {K-Clubs}-{K-Spades}. The other two also had two cards of the same color, and the incredible yet expected cards emerged: Hellmuth with {A-Clubs}-{A-Spades}, Shak with {A-Diamonds}-{A-Hearts}. Only a four-flush would prevent a chop unless Richey caught a straight or set. He didn't and Brett Richey was gone (8th $42,227).

Chip Count
Dustin Holmes (1.16m)
Ben Fineman (930k)
Beth Shak (914k)
Shankar Pillai (852k)
Jason Song (520k)
Phil Hellmuth (280k)
Perry Friedman (230k)

It was an electric crowd, the ESPN stage packed with Hellmuth and the prospect of another bracelet. Regardless of his stack, it almost seemed preordained that he would climb up from the thicket he was in. When he knocked out Perry Friedman (7th $57,063), he was up to 348k. He was still the short stack, but he didn't seem to need many chips to keep plowing along. A few more hands of small-ball poker and it was 515k.

Blinds moved up to 20k/40k with 5k antes, and the players decided to take the small-ball poker away from Hellmuth. He raised to 120k, then Fineman re-raised to 300k, and he folded. He tried to limp for 40k, but Fineman bet 265k to get him out. This was not a tight folding table like you would find at a church picnic. No, this was a quintet of aggressive players that Hellmuth had stumbled into. Shak showed she could hang with the big boys as she jumped to 1.5m and the chip lead.

It was a hand for hand circus. Hellmuth doubled through Holmes, who then did the same to Fineman. Next, Hellmuth raised UTG to 120k, and Shak called in the big blind. {Q-Spades}-{10-Diamonds}-{6-Hearts} brought her all-in, and Hellmuth called for his last 305k with {A-Clubs}-{10-Clubs}. If he was good or could win this pot, he would have a great chance to take his second event down. Shak showed {K-Hearts}-{Q-Hearts}, and that brought Hellmuth to a dead stop. The {9-Hearts}-{2-Spades} ended the day for Phil Hellmuth (6th $76,464), and he shook his tablemates hands as he left with his wife.

It didn't slow down. Shak sat on 2m in chips and watched Jason Song immediately double through Dustin Holmes with queens vs tens. Song then called Ben Fineman's short stack all-in, his pocket nines holding up to send Fineman to the cashier (5th $100,431). Down to four that quickly, three players had Shak in their sights.

Beth Shak (2.06m)
Jason Song (975k)
Shenkar Pillai (900k)
Dustin Holmes (900k)

After half a dozen hands, Pillai and Holmes tangled with equal stacks. Holmes raised on the button to 115k, and Pillai called from the big blind. {Q-Diamonds}-{4-Spades}-{3-Clubs} led to a check from both, then {5-Clubs} also led Pillai to check. Holmes bet 150k, then Pillai raised to 320k. Holmes shoved, and Pillai beat him into the pot with {A-Spades}-{2-Diamonds} for the wheel. Holmes was in deep trouble with {A-Diamonds}-{4-Diamonds}, hoping for a deuce to chop. It didn't come, and Dustin Holmes was done (4th $141,516).

Pillai had pulled even with Shak in the process (each with 1.98m) with Song third in chips with 1m. Shak quickly took 400k away from Song on the last hand before the dinner break. She had the chip lead, and the bracelet was so close to her. Katja Thater was closing in on her Razz bracelet, so it could be a historic night for the two women.

With blinds at 30k/60k with a 5k ante, Shak continued to chip away. She reached 2.9m while Song slipped to 500k. He sang as he doubled through Pillai, both hovering around 1m after the hand. He inched toward Shak as he got up to 1.2m after re-popping Shak Pillai then took a big bite out of her to level the field again. He raised/re-raised/all-in'ed her with pocket aces, and her eights were no good.

Pillai grabbed a big pot from Song. In a battle of the blinds, Song raised to 200k and Pillai called. {5-Hearts}-{4-Diamonds}-{2-Diamonds} came on the flop, and Song bet 600k. Pillai moved all-in for 1.21m, and Song sat for three minutes before mucking his cards. With the pot, Pillai had the chip lead at 2.1m over Shak with 2m and Song at 475k.

The blinds inched up to 40k/80k with a 10k ante. It was the twelfth time that Song had been in the big blind with these two players and it was his last. He was down to 375k and moved in with {Q-Clubs}-{5-Hearts} after Pillai raised on the button to 200k. Pillai reluctantly called with {A-Diamonds}-{A-Spades}, and three jacks on the board sent Jason Song to a solo career (3rd $212,274).

Pillai had a slight chip lead (2.55m vs Shak's 2.41m). They sniffed each other for seven hands then butted heads like two rams. Only one stood alone at the end.

Pillai raised on the button to 180k, and Shak made it 735k more. He called, and the flop came {10-Clubs}-{8-Hearts}-{3-Hearts}. Shak moved all-in, and Pillai spent several minutes deliberating. He was torn between thinking he was good with his {A-Diamonds}-{8-Diamonds} and getting up the nerve to call virtually all of his chips off. Reads, previous hands, all of those things really boiled down to two things: was he ahead, and could he call. He finally decided that the answer to both questions was yes, and Shak showed {K-Diamonds}-{8-Spades}. She was way, way behind; in fact, she was way behind. The {7-Spades} brought her to three outs, and {2-Clubs} ended her run.

It was the third WSOP cash for the runner-up ($328,683), moving her into #1 in the WSOP career earnings for the Shak household. Her husband Dan was a proud cheerleader, as his three cashes have totaled $64k.

Shankar Pillai has a much better WSOP record than anyone in the field, even Hellmuth. His career earnings of $527,829 came in this event, his first WSOP to ever play in. He's won every WSOP event he's entered, and not even Hellmuth can say that.

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