Limit hold’em… So slow yet so popular, so tough for spectators and media yet so exciting for players. This brings us to another 2008 WSOP final table, this one Event #20 of the Series.
The tournament that began with 480 players took quite some time, as LHE events do, to see the field diminish to the final nine players. As the sun was coming up over Sin City, the last nine were released on their own accord to rest up and return to the Rio about nine hours later to play for the WSOP bracelet.
Players at the $2000 Limit Hold’em final table, with chip counts, were as follows:
There were some very severe short stacks in the group, as well as a few dominant chip leaders. With first place paying out over $200,000, players were destined to be careful and try to pick the right spots to maneuver, but more than anything, there was a WSOP bracelet on the line. Who wanted it most and had the right mix of skill and luck to get it?
One of the shorter stacks decided to push on the fourth hand of the final table. Pre-flop, Hien Tran merely called the raise of Fu Wong. After the flop of , Wong bet, and Tran check-called. The turn of a prompted Tran to bet first and Wong to call. And upon seeing the on the river, Tran put his last 8K in the pot, and Wong called. Wong showed pocket Jacks and Tran merely mucked. Tran finished in 9th place for $18,782.
The next set of hands was a bit of a roller coaster. Daniel Negreanu took a beat from Derek Lerner but soon found his footing. He won a reasonably-sized pot from two opponents and sat at the top of the leader board. Baker, on the other hand, lost his footing as Jeremy Kottler doubled through him, then Fu Wong did the same. His luck didn’t change anytime soon, as Greg Wohletz became the third player to double through Baker.
After his winning pot against Negreanu, Lerner wasn’t able to get anything else going. So, in a new hand, Negreanu raised from the small blind, Lerner raised, and Negreanu called. After the flop of , Negreanu put out a bet and Lerner raised all-in. Negreanu called and showed for middle pair, and Lerner had to show for high card only. The turn and river were , and Lerner was pushed out in 8th place with $25,334.
Wohletz tumbled since the beginning of the final table but made several comeback attempts. He tripled up through Negreanu and David Baker to sit at 174K, but that wasn’t enough and he fell back down to a short stack quickly. In a subsequent hand, Richard Li raised, Ugur Marangoz and Fu Wong called, and Wohletz called all-in from the big blind. After a flop of , Li bet, Marangoz called, Wong raised, and Li and Marangoz called. The on the turn was bet first by Wong, folded by Li and Marangoz. Wohletz turned over , and Wong showed a dominating . The on the river didn’t help, and Wohletz was gone in 7th place with $31,886.
The next significant pot belonged to Baker and Kottler, the former raising pre-flop, and the latter calling all-in for his last 19K. Kottler showed for his tournament life, and Baker showed . The board came , and Kottler was eliminated on the river with $40,622.
Short-stacked Marangoz doubled up through Baker but was still short. However, it was Negreanu who was taking a beating. He lost some chips in two sizable pots with Baker. But he stayed aggressive. He made a preflop raise that Wong called, and after the flop brought , Negreanu bet, Wong check-raised, Negreanu raised again, and Wong called. The turn of the brought another bet from Negreanu and a check-call all-in from Wong. Wong showed , and Negreanu turned up the . The river was a meaningless deuce, and Wong was done in 5th place for $51,542.
As Negreanu was making his way back to the top of the leader board, so was Marangoz. And when Richard Li doubled through Negreanu, it pushed Kid Poker down to third in chips. But it was Li who kept slipping, and after being crippled by Baker, then doubling through Baker, he was all-in after the board showed . Marangoz had , and Li showed . The river was the , and Li was gone in 4th place with $63,335.
During three-handed play, chip counts fluctuated with some serious poker playing. After Li’s elimination, Baker was the clear chip leader with over 1 million, while Marangoz and Negreanu each sat with just over 400K. But as the hands were played, Baker slipped to third, Negreanu moved to second, and Marangoz had the solid chip lead.
Subsequently, a hand began in which Negreanu raised, and Baker called. The flop came , Negreanu bet, and Baker called. The showed up on the turn, and this time when Negreanu bet, Baker raised, and Negreanu called. The came on the river, Negreanu bet, and Baker called all-in. Negreanu showed Q-J for the straight, and Baker was gone just that quickly in 3rd place with a $78,624 consolation prize.
After some solid heads-up play, Negreanu won a monster pot against Marangoz to sit with a chip stack of 1,625,000 against his opponent’s 280,000. From that point, Marangoz could not find a hand to play.
Finally, after Negreanu limped in, Marangoz checked to see the flop of . Both checked it, as they did on the turn. The river brought a , and Marangoz led the betting. Negreanu raised to put Marangoz all-in, and it worked. Negreanu showed for trips, and Marangoz was out in 2nd place for $126,671.
PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu picked up his fourth WSOP bracelet and $204,874 to boot. Congratulations!