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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | WSOP 2008 Tournaments

A Phantastic Finish – John Phan Wins WSOP Bracelet

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The $3,000 NLHE tournament is the middle ground tournament of the WSOP. It keeps out the amateurs who can only afford the $1,500 and with double the starting chips of the $1,500 it allows for a bit more play and thus the skill level is usually higher. 716 players started this event creating a prize pool of nearly two million dollars and by the time the final table was set these were the remaining players and their chip counts:

Matt Vengrin 1,007,500
Johnny Neckar 796,000
Stewart Newman 398,000
John Phan 396,500
Thuy Doan 369,500
David Singer 334,000
Tony Dunst 333,000
Sebastian Segovia 128,500

Sebastian Segovia came in on fumes and would have to make a move if he was going to have any chance. He found A-K and knew that this was the hand. Unfortunately for him, chip leader Matt Vengrin had pocket queens and he was unable to pair up his ace or king. Sebastian Segovia finished in 9th place winning $39,523.

The natural progression of things would continue as the next shortest stack, Tony Dunst, would be the next player to get eliminated. Vengrin raised in early position and Dunst pushed the remainder of his chips in. Vengrin made a very loose call with 9-8 of clubs and found he was crushed by Dunst's pocket kings. No one ever said poker was a nice game though as the board came 10-8-7 all diamonds to give Vengrin a pair and a straight draw. Dunst had the king of diamonds though so all he would have to avoid is a non-diamond jack or six, or another 9 or 8. He couldn't do so as the turn card was the jack of hearts giving Vengrin a straight. No diamond on the river and Dunst's day was cruelly over. Tony Dunst finished in 8th place winning $54,344.

John Phan had raised and folded pocket pairs three times pre-flop and had fallen into dangerous territory as the short stack with under 200K in chips. A re-steal of a blind raise put him up over the 300K mark again when Phan decided to go with the other side of the coin flip and pushed all in over the top of Johnny Neckar's opening raise with A-Q. Neckar called with pocket 7's. It didn't take long for the drama to end as the flop came K-J-10 giving Phan a flopped straight. No running miracle cards for Neckar and Phan doubled up to over 600K.

Phan's luck with the two over cards continued when he called Thuyen Doan's all in with A-J. Doan had pocket sixes but she would fall behind quickly when Phan paired his jack. No six saved the day for Doan and she was knocked out in 7th place. For her excellent play, Doan received $69,165.

Johnny Neckar doubled up through the chip leader Vengrin with 8's against A-9 and then pulled a big bluff on David Singer to cripple the bracelet winner. On a board of 10-2-2, Singer check raised Neckar who proceeded to move all in over the top of Singer. Singer made the fold and Neckar proudly showed A-4 to scoop the pot. Heck who knows, he might have been ahead, Singer's been known to make bluffs of his own.

Stewart Newman had been relatively quiet at the final table and decided to put all of his chips into the middle with K-Q. John Phan looked him up and was going to need some help as all he had was K-J. Obviously, it was Phan's day though as a jack came right off the top to give him a stranglehold on the hand. No queen and Stewart Newman finished in 6th place winning $88,927.

David Singer was going for his 2nd bracelet of this Series but would come up short as he got it all in on an A-K-3 flop with only a gutshot straight draw with Q-J. John Phan had two pair with K-3 and no ten would come. David Singer finished in 5th place winning $112,641.

It was Phan's turn to show the big bluff next and his victim was none other than the previous bluff shower, Johnny Neckar. Phan made calls of Neckar's large bets on the flop and turn on a board of K-8-7-A. When the board paired the aces on the river, Phan quickly led out for a 100K bet into 550K pot and Neckar just as quickly folded. Phan proudly turned over 10-9 for a busted straight draw.

Alex Bolotin had hung in remarkably and made his move with pocket 9's. Again it was John Phan with two over cards, A-K, that made the call. Again it was Phan eliminating a player as the flop came with an ace and a king. Alex Bolotin finished in 4th place winning $137,343.

Matt Vengrin came in as the chip leader but showed he had a propensity for making some bad decisions. It would be one of these bad decisions that would lead to his demise. Neckar raised to 65K and Vengrin made it 125K more. Neckar moved all in and Vengrin made the call with A-9 despite having over 600K left in his stack. Neckar had A-Q and Vengrin would be eliminated in 3rd place. For his three days of play, Vengrin received $167,973.

Heads up play started with John Phan having 2.3 million in chips and Johnny Neckar having almost 2 million. It was anyone's game. For the next six hours the two would tangle in a classic heads up match that would rank as one of the longer ones in WSOP history. At one point, Neckar took a commanding 3.7 million to 600K chip lead but Phan would fight back valiantly. First he doubled up with A-2 against Neckar's 8-5 suited. The two players got it all in again, this time Neckar had K-J and Phan had A-J. A devastating king came on the flop for Phan and Johnny Neckar was this close to winning his first WSOP bracelet. The river is an ace and Phan's cheering section roars as Phan is saved by the river to avoid elimination and regain the chip lead with 2.7 million to Neckar's 1.6 million.

Suddenly, in a moment of insanity... or comic relief... the two players decided to go all in blind. Yes, that's right. With nearly half a million dollars and a bracelet on the line, the poker professionals didn't look at their cards. Neckar won the first hand with 9-7 against Q-4 to regain the chip lead. The next hand they did it again, this time Phan's 7-4 crushed Neckar's 4-2 as the 7 played. And they did it yet again on the very next hand prompting the floor man to say, “No, we are no longer accepting buy ins for this event.” This time Neckar's Q-4 defeated Phan's K-6 but Phan still had the chip lead at 2.8 million to 1.5 million.

The two resumed normal play but it would only be moments before it was over. Neckar came over the top of Phan's raise and Phan made the call with A-9. Neckar had Q-J of diamonds and it was off to the races. Neckar could not get any help and he would become our 2nd place finisher winning $277,452 for his remarkable effort.

You can say one thing about John Phan. He has fun when he's playing poker and he's not afraid to gamble. It was this fun, gambling side of him that catapulted him to victory and gave him his first WSOP bracelet and the additional bonus of $434,789. Congratulations John on your win!

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