Sixteen years after his first cash at the WSOP, Blair Rodman chased down the chipleaders at the Final Table then outlasted Amato Galasso to take the $2k NLH bracelet.
2,038 players made it to the Rio Friday to kick-off the $2k NLH event. 198 players cashed, including Rene Angelil (173rd $4,080), Kirk Morrison (111th $4,822), Tom McEvoy (93rd $5,378), William Franceschine (78th $7,233), David Chiu (61st $10,571), Jennifer Tilly (30th $18,546), and TJ Cloutier (17th $25,593).
A mix of top pros and players making a deep run joined the Final Table.
1s Mark McKibben (643k)
2s David Schnettler (267k)
3s Klein Kim Bach (1.12m)
4s Joe Pelton (681k)
5s Blair Rodman (712k)
6s Steve Crawford (1.50m)
7s Amato Galasso (1.17m)
8s Anna Wroblewski (1.14m)
9s Roland de Wolfe (961k)
Blinds were 15k/30k with a 4k ante. On the third hand, McKibben was one of the short stacks but had plenty of chips to wait for a hand. Crawford raised, then McKibben moved all-in from the small blind with . Crawford quickly called with , and he caught an unnecessary full house with the to knock out Mark McKibben in 9th ($42,655).
Wroblewski was the aggressor early, playing half the first twenty pots. She called Rodman's short-stacked all-in with , and he turned over . An ace spiked on the flop, and he survived the desperation shove.B
Blinds moved up to 20k/40k with a 5k ante, so each pot started with 100k waiting for someone to take. David Schnettler needed more chips and shoved with from the cut-off, hoping to dodge the button and blinds. Rodman called with from the big blind, and Schnettler was out in 8th ($55,637). On the next hand, Pelton raised with Rodman re-raising from the cutoff to 345k. Pelton moved all-in, and Rodman deliberated and finally called with . Pelton showed , realistically as good as Rodman could hope for. The flop of brought no help to Rodman, but on the turn sent Joe Pelton home in 7th ($74,183).
With six players left, the chip counts were:
Steve Crawford (2.1m)
Blair Rodman (1.91m)
Amato Galasso (1.28m)
Roland de Wolfe (1.16m)
Anna Wroblewski (1.01m)
Klein Kim Bach (670k)
Wroblewski and de Wolfe lost half their chips in the next couple of rounds, and Amato Galasso raised from the cutoff. De Wolfe moved all-in with and Galasso finally called with . It was a sick way to go out as the board of shipped the pot to Galasso. Roland de Wolfe shipped out in 6th ($98,293).
A quick succession of knockouts left a line at the cashier and a heads-up match. Steve Crawford (5th $135,384) had fallen to 670k and made a move with and was busted by Kim Bach's . Anna Wroblewski (4th $192,876) moved all-in with , and again Kim Bach picked up . Kim Bach caught a full house of nines over threes to knock out Wroblewski. That brings her tournament winnings in 2007 to $702k, a dominant run in the first half of the year.
With each player holding roughly 2.8m, a huge hand got play down to two. Rodman called 60k from the button, and the blinds came along. The flop came , and the blinds checked to Rodman. He bet, and Kim Bach called after Galasso folded. came on the turn, Kim Bach checked, and Rodman bet 375k. Again, a call, and the river was . Kim Bach checked, Rodman moved all-in, and he called with for the baby full house. Rodman showed for the real boat, and Klein Kim Bach sailed away in 3rd ($289,314).
Rodman had Galasso outchipped, 5.55m to 2.6m. Blinds were 40k/80k with a 10k ante, leaving plenty of play if they wanted to take their time to find a winner. They did. This was a hundred-hand battle. They played deliberately, with small pots, limps, and walks in the blind. Galasso won four of five big pots with a straight, a flopped set of kings, and a turned full house to switch the stacks with Rodman. Galasso was the first over 6m as Rodman slid to 1.85m.
Rodman (photo courtesy of ImageMasters) stabilized the game but languished at the 4m chip deficit. Seventy hands into their heads-up battle, Rodman made a big move on a draw. He'd chipped up to 2.4m and limped from the button. Galasso checked, and the flop came . Both checked, and got the action going. Galasso bet out 300k, and Rodman moved all-in. Galasso called with , putting Rodman on a weak draw. He was right, and Rodman showed . The gave him that flush and 4.9m, now the leader over Galasso's 3.2m. He quickly gave the chip lead back to Galasso then just as quickly doubled up with pocket tens over Galasso's pocket fours.
Rodman slowly and steadily rebuilt his chip lead by winning small pots. After so much struggle, the end came quickly in a trap gone wrong. Galasso limped from the button, Rodman moved all-in, and Galasso quickly called with . Rodman showed and needed a lot of help. It came, compliments of the dealer and the flop. brought the chance to chop if a deuce hit, but ended the match and the tournament. Amato Galasso finished 2nd ($448,808), his first tournament cash and a massive one.
For Blair Rodman, the $707,898 was more than twice his biggest payday. It was the bracelet he cherished, though. The co-author of "Kill Bill" had not only slayed the field of 2,038 players, he had driven the demons of so many World Series events without closing the deal.