This was it. With the exception of the final table scheduled for November, this would be the most tense and potentially exciting day of the 2008 World Series of Poker main event. Out of the original starting field of 6,844 players, only 27 remained, and play would progress on Day 7 until only 9 were left.
Each of the 27 finalists was guaranteed a minimum of $257,334 as a payout for making it to Day 7. But the pay jumps were increasing exponentially throughout the day, making the thought process involved in each hand more complicated and every move more critical. It was destined to be a long night, and despite spurts of eliminations throughout the day, it was well into the morning hours of Tuesday, July 15th before the final nine were chosen.
The first of the day came quickly at the hands of Gert Andersen, and Michael Carroll was on the receiving end. Carroll moved all-in with top pair, but the set of his opponent was the deciding factor. A list of the first nine bust-outs of the day and their rewards is as follows:
Judet Toni Cristian
The most disheartening to many poker players and media members was the elimination of Brandon Cantu , who had slowly been climbing toward the top of the leader board over the past few days of the tournament, only to lose essentially lose it on Day 7. Then, Cantu reraised and called an all-in reraise by Dean Hamrick, the latter turning over pocket Aces, and Cantu showing an amazing 10-5 offsuit. Cantu lost and was down to 2.4 million after that hand. He went out several hands later in 20th place, leaving Tiffany Michelle as the most recognizable face left in the field.
At the point that they reached 18 players, the players were reseated for the final two tables to play down. The air in the room became more tension filled, with the players feeling the pressure and the railbirds becoming more vocal when action did take place.
It was Jason Reisenberg who would be the first of the final 18 to go. After the board showed , Reisenberg moved all-in with for trips, but Dean Hamrick called with for the full house. Reisenberg was out in 18th place with $334,534.
And then it happened. Tiffany Michelle had been losing chips throughout the day, and finally, she got involved by calling a raise by Dennis Phillips and a call by Peter Eastgate pre-flop. The first three cards came , and Michelle checked. Phillips bet 1 million, Eastgate called, and Michelle raised all-in for her last 3.8 million chips. Phillips folded, but Eastgate called with . Michelle had to show her inferior , and the and on the turn and river didn’t help. Michelle was out in 17th place with $334,534.
With the elimination of the last woman standing, many hopes for an exciting final table were deflated. There was a notable sigh amongst the members of the media as well as the fans, ESPN crews, and Harrah’s employees. Much of the excitement left the room with Tiffany Michelle.
But the tournament rolled on. And Anthony Scherer moved all-in, which prompted a call from Eastgate. Scherer showed , but Eastgate had . The board came , and Scherer was out in 16th place for a $334,534 prize.
While others were leaving, some like David Rheem were doubling up. Rheem doubled through Chris Klodnicki, then again through Joe Bishop to sit at approximately 12 million. In addition, Nicholas Sliwinksi was able to double through Ylon Schwartz to catapult himself over the 7 million mark.
Owen Crowe had taken a hit by losing a substantial pot to Darus Suharto, and a few hands later decided he had to move. He pushed pre-flop with and was called by Ivan Demidov’s . The board came down , and Crowe was forced to bow out in 15th place, though he hit the pay jump and cashed for $463,201.
Next, Gert Andersen moved all-in from the small blind, and Ylon Schwartz called with . Anderson showed the , and the dealer brought out . Andersen was gone in 14th place with $463,201.
Nicholas Sliwinski had a roller coaster of a day, and he finally put all of his chips at risk after several rounds of betting on the board of . Phillips called with for the flush, and Sliwinski showed for the loss. Sliwinski was eliminated in 13th place for $463,201.
On the other side of the coin, Dennis Phillips had been chipping up. After having given a sizable pot to Scott Montgomery earlier in the evening, he began to get it back with a monster pot involving Eastgate, another pot from Schwartz, and yet another from Montgomery.
Joe Bishop began to take a beating. Two players – Darus Suharto and Kelly Kim – doubled through Bishop to send him on a downward spiral. Finally, he pushed his last 2.4 million into the pot with , and Rheem called with . The board came , and it was all over for Bishop in 11th place and a $591,869 payday.
The final ten players were moved to one single table, and seats were redrawn to play until one more player was eliminated. And it didn’t happen for hours. As the media fell asleep in the press box and the fans begged for action, it took quite awhile to see any significant plays that would decide the game.
Finally, Craig Marquis doubled through Dean Hamrick, leaving Hamrick with 6 million with which to continue play. Hamrick continued to lose chips and eventually moved all-in for his last 3,420,000. Marquis reraised all-in, and everyone else folded. Hamrick showed , but Marquis didn’t give him many outs with . The dealer turned over , and it was over. Dean Hamrick was out in 10th place with a $591,869 consolation prize.
With that, play ended, not just for the night but for the next several months. The nine finalists were processed, awarded ninth place money of $900,670 to hold them over until the final table set for November 9th, and sent off with instructions for the next day’s press conference.
While seat assignments won’t be given until just prior to the November final table, the final table players and chip counts would undoubtedly be as follows:
Dennis Phillips – St. Louis, Missouri
Ivan Demidov – Moscow, Russie
Scott Montgomery – Perth, Ontario, Canada
Peter Eastgate – Odense, Denmark
Ylon Schwartz – Brooklyn, New York
Darus Suharto – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
David Rheem – Los Angeles, California
Craig Marquis – Arlington, Texas
Kelly Kim – Whittier, California
After a 117 day break, the “November Nine” will return to Las Vegas to play out the final table in the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio. Play will begin on November 9th until only two are left, and heads-up play will commence on November 10th. ESPN will broadcast the final table television show on November 11th.