Rafi Amit grabbed his second WSOP bracelet in three years by taking the $1k 2-7 Triple Draw w/ Re-Buys. Ironically, it was the last place he wanted to be.
If Robert Williamson, III is known as Mr. Omaha, then Amit should be known as Mar Omaha.
The Israeli native has only cashed at the World Series of Poker, but what a stellar record for an abbreviated career. 1st in the 2005 $10k PLO for $511,835 plus a 4th in the 2006 $10k PLO ($143,444), and four other cashes including another final table in the $1.5k PLO w/ re-buys would give anyone a lot of confidence for this year's $10k PLO. Due to the quirks of the WSOP schedule, this year's $10k PLO Championship happened to fall on the last day of the Triple Draw event. And Amit happened to reach the Final Table.
Others weren't as fortunate. Chris Fargis, arguably the best known Triple Draw player to the poker public, ran into a buzzsaw from the start. His starting table included John Juanda, Hoyt Corkins, Chris Gentile, Mel Judah, and Joe Cassidy. "If there is one guy I didn't want to see at my table for this event, it was definitely Chris Gentile," wrote Fargis. "He was probably the biggest winner in the big triple draw game we used to play on UB."
Fargis made it through to Day 2, navigating a change to a much softer table: Greg Raymer, Rafi Amit, John Murphy, and Chris Bjorn.
209 players made enough re-buys to create a $721,804 prize pool, and only twenty-four players cashed. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson finished 14th for $6,496. He multi-tabled between the Triple Draw event and the $1.5k NLH tourney, running back and forth between hands to shove his chips at the NLH table then discard his high cards in Triple Draw.
As a refresher, Triple Draw is a lowball game, where aces are high, and straights and flushes count as normal high hands. Hence, the best hand is 7-5-4-3-2. Players may discard up to three times, with betting proceeding after cards are dealt and after each round of discarding.
Amit busted Andy Bloch in 7th ($19,489) to get to a Final Table of six players, depriving the event of a marquee name and top talent. The chip counts at the Final Table:
Jon Shoreman (518k)
Rafi Amit (374k)
Anthony Lellouche (205k)
Eugene Ji (192k)
Lenny Martin (133k)
Mark Bartlog (98k)
English only is one of the indisputable rules of the WSOP, but players excused themselves when they weren't in a hand. Germany, Israel, France, Italy, England, and New York City were represented at the Final Table, and railbirds who stumbled upon the ESPN Feature Table needed a UN translator to understand all the chatter from friends of the players in the stands.
Blinds started at 8k/16k with 16k/32k bets. Triple draw is about position, reading opponents, forcing them to chase top hands, and getting there when you need to. In the small blind, Amit three-bet Bartlog's raise. After Bartlog's call, Amit took one card and bet in the dark. Bartlog took two and called. Each player took one card, and again Amit bet and was called. Amit stood pat, and Bartlog discarded one more card. He tossed the on the board after Amit's bet, and he was down to only a few chips. Ji, Martin, and Lellouche chased him down in a four-way pot, and Martin's J-8-5-4-2 was good enough to send Mark Bartlog out in 6th ($27,068). (Martin photo courtesy of PokerNews)
Blinds moved up to 10k/20k, and another player was gone. Ji was in a big pot with Martin and Lellouche. On the third draw, Lellouche took two cards, Martin discarded one, and Ji stayed pat. With position, Ji had bet after the second draw only to see both players call. This time, he checked behind and saw Martin's 10-7 take the pot. Ji only had 5k, so there was no way he could have gotten either player out of the 240k pot. Lellouche used a 9-7 to best his 10-7 on the next hand, and Eugene Ji was out in 5th ($41,504).
9-8's were fairly standard pat hands against a chaser and usually was good at showdown. Amit regularly bet in the dark to put more pressure on the players, either to get them to fold or to discard 9's and 8's. Lellouche got down to 80k but doubled up twice to move off the respirator. In an atypically tough hand, massive chipleader Lenny Martin and short-stack Jon Shoreman finished with two solid hands, Shoreman's 8-7 hand squeeked out by Martin's 8-6. Jon Shorman finished in 4th ($57,383).
Lenny Martin was a massive chipleader with 1.13m to Lellouche's 270k and Amit's 130k. Amit was all-in once against Martin, but showed an 8-7 to Martin's ace to double up. Amit surged at Lellouche's expense. It was Amit who played the role of the closer, as Lellouche three-bet all-in before the first draw. Amit took one on each draw, and Lellouche took two the first two rounds then one on the last draw. He showed Q-6-5-4-2 to Amit's 8-7-6-4-3. He ultimated needed an eight or seven to survive, but he didn't and finished in 3rd ($84,812).
Amit was itching to jump into the $10k PLO event and played a few hands at the breaks, but it would be a long battle with Martin with a commanding chip lead. They played almost a hundred hands before a winner emerged. On several occasions, Amit tried to broker a deal only to be refuted by Martin.
Amit steadily took chips taking small pots then winning big hands. He looked to be in total control, staying pat and betting in the dark with 9-8's when he needed to or taking pots before the third draw. Blinds were up to 20k/40k with 40k/80k bets. Four times Martin doubled up but couldn't put them together in succession to take the chip lead. The last hand was a dream for the title.
Martin raised and Amit re-raised, with Martin calling. Martin took three and Amit stayed pat and bet with a call. Martin took two and Amit repeated the process of pat/bet, but Martin raised and was all-in for his last 60k. Martin stayed pat, but so did Amit. Martin had to be hoping he'd kept a 9 or 8 when he showed an 8-7, but Amit confidently showed 7-6-4-3-2 for the second nuts. Lenny Martin had put up a great fight (2nd $128,120), but he was no match for Rafi Amit ($227,005). (Amit photo courtesy of ImageMasters)
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