The time had arrived. After four grueling and intense days of poker at its highest level, it was time for the eight final tablists to battle it out for the title of $50,000 HORSE champion. And it did not disappoint.
Prestige seems to be the most appropriate term to describe this tournament and the meaning of winning it. The players at this final table knew it, though some more than others. Would Patrick Bueno appreciate the title as much as Erick Lindgren? And nearly $2 million would be made payable to the winner. Does Lyle Berman need the substantial payout as much as Scotty Nguyen?
While some of the questions may never be answered, someone would take the prize and the title when play completed on Day 5. What really mattered in the end, through game performance and title acceptance, is that the poker world would know so much more about the $50K HORSE champion and what it meant to him.
The fans knew the magnitude of this event merely from its buy-in amount and the faces sitting under the ESPN lights at the final table, and they were packed in to see it play out. And the players knew it. While there was some light-hearted banter before the action got underway, the players carried with them a certain seriousness about the task at hand – to beat some of the best poker players in the world, the stiffest competition in this tournament, to claim the title and $2 mil. Everyone was ready.
The starting players, along with seat assignments and chip status, were as follows:
After an introductory ceremony that included Chip Reese’s daughter and his best friend Doyle Brunson, at which the Chip Reese honorary trophy was unveiled, the sizable audience settled in, as did the players. About an hour past the scheduled start time, the tournament was ready to begin.
Patrick Bueno was the short stack at the table, and he was going to be forced into play soon. And he was. He lost a pot to Lyle Berman in the Omaha-8 round, then the two competitors split the next one. It was on the 10th hand of the day that he would have no choice but to act. It was the razz round, and after a raise from Lindgren, Bueno called all-in. Bueno had A-K-4, but Lindgren had 8-7-2, and in the end, Lindgren took it. Patrick Bueno wasn’t afforded much time at the final table as he took 8th place, but he left with a nice parting gift of $230,880.
And then play slowed…tremendously. Aside from some split pots, no one action took place that significantly altered the chip stacks or momentum of any one player. At the point that the 50th hand was to take place, Scotty Nguyen had taken an ever-so-slight chip lead over Erick Lindgren, and Huck Seed had fallen to 800K on the low end of the totem pole. Seed tried to chip up through two consecutive razz hands against Barry Greenstein, but he found no opportunities to build anything of significance. Finally, in a stud-8 hand against Michael DeMichele, Seed got the last of his chips in the pot on seventh street. DeMichele had on the board and showed a flush and a low hand. Seed had 8-9-9-Q showing and mucked the remainder of his cards. He left the tournament in 7th place with an extra $284,160 in his pocket.
With six players left, Nguyen and Lindgren still held down the top two spots on the leader board, and Barry Greenstein was the shortest member of the group with only 750K. And not long after, it was in a stud-8 hand that Greenstein tangled with Nguyen. Greenstein was looking at , and Nguyen had on the felt. Greenstein bet out on fourth through sixth streets with Nguyen calling behind, and the same happened on seventh but Greenstein was all-in for his last 160K at that point. Greenstein showed a 4 in the hole for two pair, but Scotty flipped 7-7-6 for trips. Greenstein was gone in 6th place with $355,200.
As the dinner break approached, DeMichele became the chip leader and turned it into a substantial lead, with Nguyen in second and Lindgren falling to a relatively distant third. Glantz and Berman were the low stacks, each showing just over 1 million.
Back from dinner break, Berman was indeed the short stack but added to his deficit when he lost a pot to Nguyen that was bet by Nguyen and called by Berman on every street, that was until Berman finally folded on sixth street. Several hands later, in a razz situation, Berman was all-in with 7-3-9-10 showing against Nguyen’s A-A-J-7 and DeMichele’s 3-4-5-8. Nguyen and DeMichele had a side pot brewing that grew on every street except for a check-down on seventh. In the end, DeMichele showed a 7 in the hole to make the low, and Nguyen and Berman both mucked. Lyle Berman was gone back to his high-stakes cash games and the WPT in 5th place with $444,000 more than he had this morning.
Glantz was then the shortest stack of the bunch by quite a margin, and though he hung on for awhile, it was time to move during an Omaha-8 hand. Nguyen made the initial raise, which Glantz called from the big blind. After seeing the on the flop, Glantz bet, Nguyen raised with , and Glantz called all-in with . The turn was an and the river was a , and Nguyen caught his flush on the end. Matt Glantz was eliminated in 4th place with $568,320.
The final three saw a change in the chip lead, as Nguyen lost it to DeMichele, though the former wasn’t far behind. It was Lindgren who was severely short-stacked but hunkered down to chip up. But every time he did so, one of the two big stacks would bring him back down a notch. But as the trio crossed the 200 hand mark of the evening, Lindgren was accumulating at an impressive rate and approached the 4 million mark…from less than 1 million only an hour or so ago. And while Lindgren was on a roller coaster with his chips, DeMichele went on a downswing, only doubling up a time or two to save his own tournament life.
Finally, after 4:30am, Lindgren made a big move. In a stud hand, Lindgren and Nguyen bet up to fifth street, at which point, Lindgren was all-in with showing, while Nguyen had available to see. Lindgren ended up with A-8-2 in the hole, and Nguyen had 9-9-K. Erick Lindgren left in 3rd place with $781,440 for his astounding efforts and success in the tournament.
Heads-up play began with the following chip counts:
Nine hands into two-handed play, Scotty showed that his momentum was not faltering, despite the numerous beers he had guzzled or the fatigue that likely set in. He took a sizable pot from DeMichele in a stud-8 hand, and DeMichele left the hand crippled and without much choice but to move soon.
Two hands later, it was hold’em, and DeMichele raised. Nguyen reraised enough to put his opponent all-in, and DeMichele shrugged and called. Nguyen showed , and DeMichele turned over the dominated . The board came , and it was over.
Nguyen had a seemingly gracious and congratulatory conversation with Michael DeMichele, who took second place in this event with a prize of $1,243,200.
Scotty Nguyen was the winner of the 2008 World Series of Poker $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship! After taking quite a bit of time to hug friends and his wife, he accepted the Chip Reese trophy, special WSOP bracelet, and $1,989,120 in winnings.
Throughout his victory speeches to the audience and the awards presentation, Nguyen was overcome with emotion several times, clearly moved by the victory and so very thankful for the support of the fans and his wife. An enormous amount of congratulations go out to Scotty Nguyen, the 2008 $50K H.O.R.S.E. champion!