What could have been a great final table turned out to be a pretty damn good one. Poker fans were likely disappointed when Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey busted in the money but short of the final table, but the final table was still one that would have most poker players cowering in fear. The seating assignments and chip counts for the final table were as follows:
Seat 1: David Oppenheim (Las Vegas, Nevada) 508,000
Seat 2: Alexander Kostritsyn (Moscow, Russia) 495,000
Seat 3: Jim Paluszek (Bensalem, Pennslyvania) 413,000
Seat 4: Erik Seidel (Las Vegas, Nevada) 273,000
Seat 5: Vassilios Lazarou (Las Vegas, Nevada) 259,000
Seat 6: Minh Ly (Las Vegas, Nevada) 424,000
Seat 7: Fu Wong (Chandler, Arizona) 429,000
Seat 8: Eric Brooks (Bryn Mawr, Pennslyvania) 359,000
Erik Seidel was going for bracelet #9 but he was not the lone bracelet holder at the final table as Vassilios Lazarou had two, both in 7 card stud. Lazarou was not going to get his 3rd, however, as he was the first player to exit when after Alexander Kostritsyn crippled him and David Oppenheim finished him off. Lazarou finished in 8th place winning $48,269.
Kostritsyn has burst onto the poker scene of late. The 21 year old recently won the Aussie Millions defeating none other than Erik Seidel to take the title there. At the beginning of play today, it was all Kostritsyn as he took his starting stack of 495K and built it up to nearly 1.5 million giving him over a one million chip lead on his next closest opponent. It was Kostritsyn who would take out David Oppenheim, who had started the day as the chip leader, when he took his pair of fives and flush draw against Oppenheim's pair of queens. Kostritsyn received a five on 7th street and Oppenheim finished in 7th place winning $59,408.
Jim Paluszek could never get anything going at the final table and the Terminator known as Kostritsyn knocked him out with two pair when Paluszek could receive no help for his A-Q-8 starter. Paluszek finished in 6th place winning $74,260.
Eric Brooks started play very conservatively but then won a huge pot off of Kostritsyn when his full house crushed the Russian's queens and nines. After the hand Minh Ly looked at the kid and said, “Queen nine? You call him with Queen nine?” Brooks was up to nearly one million in chips after the hand.
Try as he might, Erik Seidel could never get any momentum going and it was fellow professional Minh Ly who knocked him out when Ly's aces bested Seidel's lowly pair of fives. Seidel finished in 5th place and won $92,825 for his efforts.
It was then Fu Wong's (wasn't that a movie?) turn to take chips off of Kostritsyn when he called bets on every street with merely a pair of aces. Kostritsyn only had a pair of jacks and could not believe his eyes when Wong turned over his cards. Complaining to the rail would not get back the chips though as Wong was now the chip leader with nearly 1.4 million.
Minh Ly had been battling with Kostritsyn throughout the final table, determined to take chips off of the young poker pro. In the end though it would be Kostritsyn who would get the last laugh as he hit a straight to knock out the Las Vegas resident. Minh Ly finished in 4th place and took home $118,816.
Brooks took another huge pot off of Kostritsyn when the two tangled in a raising and betting war. It was 5th street and Kostritsyn was showing while Brooks was showing K-Q-10 rainbow. Kostritsyn led out and was instantly raised by Brooks which caused Kostritsyn to make it three bets. Brooks called. 6th street gave Brooks another queen and Kostritsyn a king. Brooks led out and Kostritsyn called. On 7th street Brooks checked and unable to resist the temptation, Kostritsyn bet. Brooks check raised, a move that confused the youngster but he made the call anyway. Brooks turned over K-Q-x for a full house and Kostritsyn slammed his cards down on the table claiming he had trip 9's. Brooks was up to nearly 1.5 million after the hand while Kostritsyn fell to 375K. Brooks would take out Kostritsyn minutes later. Alexander Kostritsyn finished in 3rd place and added another $163,372 to his blossoming bankroll.
A hand that would change all the momentum saw a series of raises between Brooks and Wong on every street. When the cards were turned over all Brooks had was a pair of kings but much to everyones surprise, the lone pair was good as Wong mucked his hand. Brooks would end the tournament a couple hands later when he hit a flush on 7th street to best Wong's trip fours. Fu Wong finished in 2nd place and for his excellent play will be taking home $259,910.
Eric Brooks came in as the least experienced tournament player at the table but picked off bluff after bluff to bully his way to victory. Perhaps even more impressive than the win itself is the fact that Brooks will be donating the entire proceeds from his win to the Decision Education Foundation, a charitable foundation that teaches the science of decision making to children. Eric Brooks is the $10,000 World Series of Poker Seven Card Stud winner and in addition to his bracelet will be donating $415,856 to the Decision Education Foundation. Congratulations Eric on your victory!