10th place 2006 WSOP Main Event finisher Fred Goldberg took his first WSOP bracelet, salving the year-long wound from his bustout before the Final Table last year.
In the shadow of the $50k HORSE event, 619 players made their way to the auxiliary tent to play the new event. Players alternated every thirty minutes between no-limit and limit. There were plenty of top players in search of a better chance at a bracelet with the very top names all starting their HORSE event.
Top players who went out early included Eric Froehlich, Mimi Tran, James Van Alstyne, Bryan Devonshire, Thomas Wahlroos, Humberto Brenes, Clonie Gowen, and Joe Sebok. Jeffrey Lisandro busted out of the HORSE event early and made his way to the tent, running his stack up to be near the chip lead at the end of Day 1.
63 players made the money in this event, including John Cernuto (54th $3,549), Paul Darden (29th $4,816), Jeffrey Lisandro (18th $6,464), Phil Gordon (15th $7,309), J.C. Tran (14th $7,309).
Once Amanda Nichols went out in 11th ($8,154), the table was redrawn to play down to nine for the Final Table. It was an exhaustive two hours before Christoph Niesert called an all-in from Brent Roberts. Roberts had queens, and Niesert held A-K, and the spiked ace ended the day close to 5:00AM.
The final table held some intriguing players.
Christoph Niesert (396k)
Michael Craig (338k)
Scott Bohlman (246k)
Fred Goldberg (193k)
Kevin Marcotte (184k)
Rene Mouritsen (172k)
Reza Zand (147k)
Joe Brandenburg (129k)
Karlo Lopez (58k)
Play started with NLH and blinds of 6k/12k. Karlo Lopez was either doubling quickly or busting out. This was his fifth WSOP cash and his second final table, with his top cash 33rd ($274,090) in the 2005 WSOP Main Event. He pushed on the first hand with , and Michael Craig called from the small blind with . was a huge flop for Lopez, but Craig spiked to put him behind again. There were so many outs, but was not one of them, and Karlo Lopez was out in 9th ($12,252). That also pushed Michael Craig to the chip lead of a WSOP Final Table.
Play switched to LH with blinds of 10k/20k and bets of 20k/40k. With limits so high, any pot could be deadly if you were on the wrong side of the hand. Reza Zand with only had 57k and raised until it was all-in with Kevin Marcotte . Neither player connected, and Zand was out in 8th ($16,899). That left everyone bundled together:
Christoph Niesert (335k)
Scott Bohlman (330k)
Kevin Marcotte (307k)
Rene Mouritsen (300k)
Fred Goldberg (230k)
Michael Craig (222k)
Joe Brandenburg (160k)
Every pot was crucial to staying alive. Marcotte raised to 40k in limit, and Goldberg called from the small blind. Both players checked the flop. brought a bet from Goldberg of 40k, and Marcotte called. brought another bet and call, and Goldberg showed for the pot.
Play moved to NLH with blinds of 8k/16k. Goldberg raised under the gun and Joe Brandenburg moved all-in for his 83k from the big blind. Goldberg called with to Brandenburg's . gave the pot to Brandenburg and a crushing blow to Goldberg.
Craig next raised UTG to 40k, and Bohlman moved all-in for 128k total. Craig called with to Bohlman's . Craig spiked his kicker with , but that did him no good. He was down to 80k, then moved all-in three consecutive hands to chip back up to 152k.
They moved to LH with blinds of 15k/30k and bets of 30k/60k. Marcotte had joined Craig on the short stack, but chips were at such a premium that Craig couldn't call Marcotte's raise from the big blind, Marcotte sitting on only another 26k. Chipleader Niesert raised and Craig re-raised for all of his 83k in chips with . Niesert turned over , and Michael Craig was gone in 7th ($22,813).
Craig has converted from a best-selling poker writer to a tournament player, entering numerous tournaments on FullTilt while also playing many WSOP events this year. He walked away from the Amazon Room clearly disappointed that he didn't finish the deal.
Chip counts for the last six:
Christoph Niesert (718k)
Scott Bohlman (625k)
Rene Mouritsen (275k)
Joe Brandenburg (156k)
Fred Goldberg (140k)
Kevin Marcotte (132k)
The three short stacks desperately needed to double up. Marcotte did so through Niesert with a set of deuces, then Goldberg turned on Marcotte for his lifeline.
Goldberg raised to 60k, and Marcotte made it 90k from the small blind. was the flop, and Marcotte bet 30k and was called. came on the turn, and that put Goldberg all-in when Marcotte bet with . Goldberg showed , then the river brought one of his outs, , for the Broadway straight.
Joe Brandenburg tried to make it three for three for the shorties. He lost half his stack to Scott Bohlman then got it all-in with vs. Goldberg. He had to know he had to live cards, but when Goldberg showed it looked like he might double up on desperation play. meant Goldberg was good, and Joe Brandenburg had nursed his short stack all the way to 6th ($30,418).
Play switched to NLH with blinds of 10k/20k. Bohlman made it 50k to go, then Marcotte moved all-in for his 115k stack. Mouritsen then did the same, coming over the top for 355k. Bohlman deliberated then called with . Marcotte had , almost drawing dead, and Mouritsen showed . He hit the flop cleanly with , but it also gave Marcotte four jacks as outs. knocked out Kevin Marcotte (5th $39,289), brought Bohlman down to 60k, and Mouritsen up to 825k and the monster stack. Bohlman survived a few more rounds, but Mouritsen finished the job with big slick vs. his . Scott Bohlman was out in 4th ($54,498).
Goldberg chased down Niesert's with on a board of , and Berlin's Christoph Niesert finished in 3rd ($82,804). It was his first live tournament cash, but it continued a trend of strong German showings. If 2006 was the year of Scandinavia, 2007 is the Deutschland's year.
Both men were even in chips, Mouritsen with 940k to Goldberg's 925k. Play moved to LH with 20k/40k blinds and 40k/80k bets, and the stacks were deep enough to give some heads-up play. Goldberg took six straight pots to build a 1.5m stack to 350k for Mouritsen.
Mouritsen got to the felt once, then went on his own rush to get back to 710k. They switched back to NLH with 15k/30k blinds and Mouritsen's stack back down to 450k. The final hand was one of those in heads-up play almost impossible to get away from.
Goldberg limped from button and Mouritsen checked. popped on the felt, and the bet/raise/shove/call protocol went into effect. Mouritsen looked to double up with the flopped flush with , but dreadfully Goldberg showed . It was the end of the line for Rene Mouritsen (2nd $125,895).
For Fred Goldberg (1st $204,935), it has been a eleven long months of financial security plagued by the second guessing that comes with a near miss.
On the Main Event Final Table bubble with ten players remaining, he made a good decision that went bad. He had Michael Binger covered when he moved all-in, and Goldberg looked at pocket tens and called. Binger had A-Q and spiked an ace, leaving Goldberg shell-shocked. He was left to play shove-bot poker, finally running Q-3o into Richard Lee's pocket kings. Goldberg took home $1,154,527 that evening, but he left with a sore in his gut.
He's no fluke, with a WPT Foxwoods 4th place finish and four other WSOP cashes before this win. He should now be considered one of the rising stars in the poker galaxy.