Medical school student Michael Graves won't have to worry about student loans as he beat Theo Tran heads-up to win $742,121 in the $1k NLH w/Re-Buys event.
As always happens at the WSOP re-buy events, it was a rowdy start as players went all-in blind or continuously reloaded. Kirk Morrison bought in for $15k then abandoned the race, and others had stacks of Harrah's chips to at least intimidate anyone trying to make a move. Throughout Day 1, a familiar name and face sat atop the leaderboard: Jamie Gold. He was doing his two-step to perfection: getting people off of hands then having big hands when they didn't believe him. He ran his baby pocket pair into a bigger one late in Day 1 to lose the chip lead, but it had to be encouraging for him heading into the Main Event.
Irishman Bryan O'Connell sat atop the Day 2 chiplead with 230k, and closely behind were two young studs of poker: David Williams (189k) and Danny Alaei (169k). Alaei cashed four times this year but was looking to match last year's bracelet in the $5k Deuce to Seven Draw Lowball event, good for $430,698. Williams also took his first bracelet last summer in the $1.5k Seven Card Stud event for $163,118. That goes well with his $3.5m he won as runner-up to Greg Raymer in the 2004 WSOP main Event. Both made it deep, with Alaei out in 21st ($20,973) and Williams in 14th ($40,333). Other strong players who narrowly missed the Final Table were Jordan Morgan (12th $54,852) and Alex Bolotin (11th $59,692).
Those who made it to the Final Table:
1s Kris Tate (299k)
2s Michael Graves (1.23m)
3s Shawn Hatten (446k)
4s Shawn Luman (668k)
5s Arnold Spee (760k)
6s Theo Tran (1.13m)
7s Thierry Cazals (651k)
8s Isaac Haxton (1.23m)
9s Chad Batista (373k)
Blinds started at 10k/20k with 3k antes, but this event wasn't for the meek. It started as a chip-flyer and continued that way. Haxton had built his stack through all-in moves that worked. He had particularly brutalized Chad Batista yesterday, twice hitting two-outers to survive. He immediately doubled up Chad Batista, his no good to Batista's .
Theo Tran (pictured right) and Thierry Cazals got into a raising war that saw Tran three-bet, Cazals four-bet, and Tran shove with . Cazals called with , and he shouldn't have called the five-bet. He was out in 9th ($72,599).
Arnold Spee's 2005 WPT Reno win for $663,880 made him a recognizable face to the poker public. He had a good chance to add a bracelet to that win, but his lost to Haxton's when a king flopped. Hw won $80,665 for 8th place, his best cash since the WPT win. Tournament poker is one tough career choice.
Blinds moved to 15k/30k with a 4k ante, and Shawn Luman doubled through Haxton with . This time they held up against Haxton's . Haxton then went after Theo Tran in a critical hand. Tran raised with , and Haxton called. flopped, and both players checked. came on the turn, and Haxton bet 150k. Tran called. He checked the on the river, and this time Haxton bet 350k. Tran though for several minutes, put his chips to the side, then pushed them in for the call. Haxton showed for king high and was crippled. He moved all-in on the button with , then Chad Batista called with . He spiked an ace on the flop, and Isaac Haxton was out in 7th ($96,798).
Kris Tate had waited it out as the short stack but made a move with . Michael Graves called with , then Tran re-raised with . Graves folded, and Tate left in 6th ($112,931).
Blinds moved to 20k/40k with a 5k ante, and Batista saw a big hand to double up. Graves raised to 85k, and Batista picked up . He made it 325k, and Graves looked at him and thought for several minutes before moving all-in. Covered, Batista called only to see from Graves. He flopped an ace for good measure, and Chad Batista was done (5th $129,064). As soon as the interview with Batista was over, another man walked out to be filmed.
Graves raised to 120k with , then Shawn Hattem moved all-in with . Shawn Luman lit up when he saw and moved all-in as well. Graves folded, and Hattem went out on a board in 4th ($161,330).
With three players left, Theo Tran held more than half the chips (2.73m) to Luman's 1.43m and Graves' 1.1m. Luman ran to the chip lead as the deck hit him. He picked up A-K twice, as well as queens, tens, nines, and eights in a span of an hour. He then ran into Tran. Blinds move to 30k/60k with a 5k ante. Tran made a very gutsy move that tilted Luman.
Tran limped with as did Graves, but Luman raised from the big blind with . Tran called, and the flop came . Luman checked, and Tran bet 350k. Luman called, then came on the turn. Luman led out 400k, and Tran went into the tank. He deliberated for quite awhile, then went all-in. Luman mucked his cards, and Tran ecstatically showed his queen high bluff.
On the next hand, Graves then moved all-in with jacks to push him out of a pot he'd raised with . He folded that as well, clearly struggling. Luman then raised with , and Graves called with . The flop of hit both men, and Graves bet into the pot. Luman called, then came on the turn. Again, Luman called the bet as he now had a flush draw. came on the river, Graves bet out a third time and Luman called with a lot of hope. Hope doesn't beat two pair, and he had slipped under a million from the chip lead.
Tran was playing very well but not perfectly. Graves bet out 400k on the river of a with , and Tran called with . It is the kind of tough call that helped him a lot, but the two pair gave Graves the chip lead at 3.4m. Graves pushed his edge by raising with . Luman moved all-in with , and he loved it when he saw what he was up against. was the flop, which gave Graves four more outs. - was no help, the was tossed to the felt. That's a straight, and Shawn Luman was out in 3rd ($224,249).
Graves was up 4.2m to 2.5m for Tran, but Tran started chipping away with small pots. Tran almost doubled up until his kicker was counterfeited, resulting in a chopped pot instead. It ended quite suddenly for Tran..
Graves raised on the button with . The flop came , and Graves bet 375k. Tran moved all-in with , and Graves called. came on the turn, and sent Theo Tran into the arms of her buddy Shannon Elizabeth. He was out in 2nd ($387,193).
Another Michael Graves made his name in interior and product design, refreshing the tea kettle with a triangular pot and a bird whistle to let the owner know the water is hot. The aspiring physician Michael Graves ($742,121) will be the only man on campus with a WSOP bracelet, which is pretty hot in its own right.