The final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker main event was determined on July 15th. With the late-night elimination of Dean Hamrick, the nine remaining poker players were set to return on November 9th for a final table hyped by the media and filled with anxious players.
After four months of anticipation, though not as much media-attention during that time as had been hoped for, November 9th was upon us, and the nine final tablists were at the Rio, friends and family in tow by the hundreds. It was quite the scene outside of the Penn & Teller Theater, with lines snaking around the corners and down the hallways with hopeful spectators. And when the action finally got underway nearly an hour late, the theater was filled with vocal fans and a great deal of excitement all around.
But the day was about more than the atmosphere; it was about poker. The November Nine were finally seated and ready to play with the following chip counts:
Seat 1: Dennis Phillips – St. Louis, Missouri 26,295,000
Seat 2: Craig Marquis – Arlington, Texas 10,210,000
Seat 3: Ylon Schwartz – Brooklyn, New York 12,525,000
Seat 4: Scott Montgomery – Perth, Ontario, Canada 19,690,000
Seat 5: Darus Suharto – Toronto, Ontario, Canada 12,520,000
Seat 6: David Rheem – Los Angeles, California 10,230,000
Seat 7: Ivan Demidov – Moscow, Russia 24,400,000
Seat 8: Kelly Kim – Whittier, California 2,620,000
Seat 9: Peter Eastgate – Odense, Denmark 18,375,000
Once the action began at the table, it took about 35 minutes before the first flop was seen. It was a pot between Ivan Demidov and Scott Montgomery, and after the came on the flop, Montgomery made a 1.1 million chip bet, and Demidov folded.
As players like Montgomery aimed to chip up, it was Dennis Phillips who saw his stacks disappear. He lost a significant pot to Ylon Schwartz early in the tournament, and by the first break, Dennis had lost an even bigger pot to Ivan Demidov. The outcome of the second hand gave Demidov the chip lead with more than 35 million chips, while Phillips sank to the lower end of the leaderboard with less than 9 million.
The player entering the tournament as the ultra-short stack, Kelly Kim, played an extremely patient game for the first few hours. He finally found his spot to call all-in from the big blind to a Demidov raise. Kim had pocket kings to Demidov’s K-10, and the board allowed that pocket pair to hold up and Kim to double. Three hands later, Kim moved all-in again, but he and David Rheem both had A-K. The flop came with three hearts, which looked good for Rheem who had the ace of hearts, but the turn and river were blanks, and Kim and Rheem split the pot.
Suddenly, the focus turned to Craig Marquis , who pushed all-in preflop with pocket sevens, and Montgomery called with . The board came , and Marquis flopped trips to increase his chances of winning the hand. But the came on the turn to give Montgomery more outs, and the came on the river to seal the deal. A bit stunned, Marquis was the first player eliminated from the final table, and his ninth place finish was worth no more than what he received in July, which was $900,670.
Then it was back to Kim, who finally found another opportunity to move his short stack in. He did so from the big blind when he only had 150K behind. Ylon Schwartz, Darus Suharto, and Ivan Demidov all came along for the flop. Demidov led out with a bet, which prompted Schwartz to fold but Suharto to call. Both players checked the on the turn and the on the river. Suharto showed versus the of Demidov, and the former took the side pot. Kim then mucked his pocket fours, a losing hand, and he took leave of the table in eighth place, which was worth a total of $1,288,217.
An earlier hand had Phillips doubling through Rheem with queens that held up over Rheem’s jacks, at which point Rheem fell to 6.655 million. Rheem fell even further but tried to come back, and he started by doubling through Demidov with A-K versus pocket nines. Rheem found a king on the turn, and the save still left him with under 6.5 million. Finally, on the 76th hand of the night, Rheem had fallen to 3.5 million again and pushed preflop. Eastgate called with , and Rheem showed a dominating . The board ran out with the key card for Eastgate on the flop with . David “Chino” Rheem was gone in seventh place with a total $1,772,650 cash prize.
The game went into a state of tumult. Chips were being passed around like candy, well, very expensive candy. Suharto doubled through Schwartz, and Phillips did the same only a few hands later, sending Schwartz down toward the 20 million chip mark. Phillips stayed on a roll and subsequently doubled through Demidov to climb above the 27 million chip count.
Finally, Suharto made his move after an initial raise by Montgomery. Suharto came over the top all-in for 8.55 million, and Montgomery eventually called with . Suharto showed the dominated , and the board only helped Montgomery with . Darus Suharto was ousted from the tournament in sixth place and was awarded a grand total of $2,418,562 for the effort.
Montgomery’s luck wasn’t going to last long. He took a substantial hit from Ivan Demidov. It was Montgomery who pushed all-in after a series of raises between the two, and Demidov called all-in with pocket kings. Montgomery’s A-9 of diamonds did find two diamonds on the flop, but the remainder of the cards left Montgomery hanging and with little more than 7 million chips after the hand. Demidov took a massive chip lead with the hand to get over the 50 million chip mark.
Montgomery then made some moves to gain some ground, but when Eastgate made the call with pocket sixes, Montgomery’s didn’t look so swell. But the flop of gave Montgomery the lead, and the on the turn was even better. Eastgate found out that Phillips had folded a six and had only one out left. And it came, amazingly, on the river with the case . Eastgate won the hand, sending Montgomery packing in fifth place with a grand total of $3,096,768 in prize money.
Four-handed play slowed considerably, though Schwartz held his position as the short stack for awhile. Finally, he and Eastgate saw a flop of , which prompted a check from both players. The turn of brought a bet from Eastgate and check-call from Schwartz. The on the river got action with a check from Schwartz, bet of 4.6 million from Eastgate, and all-in raise from Schwartz for his last 12.4 million. Eastgate called with pocket fives for trips, and Schwartz showed and had to take fourth place in the tournament, which was worth $3,774,974.
With that, Dennis Phillips was the short stack. All of the chip counts were as follows:
Peter Eastgate 64,925,000
Ivan Demidov 52,375,000
Dennis Phillips 19,925,000
Not long after, on the 169th hand of the night, the deciding hand took place. Eastgate raised to 1.5 million, and Phillips called from the big blind to see the flop of . Eastgate led out with the betting with 1.5 million again, but Phillips came over with an all-in raise. Eastgate called immediately with pocket threes, which turned into trips on the flop. Phillips showed for, well, not much. The turn and river were and , respectively, and Phillips was gone back to St. Louis with an astounding $4,527,773 for his deep run in the 2008 main event.
With that, play ended for the evening at just past 12:30am, with the two remaining players preparing to return on November 10th to play for the win. The Dane and the Russian were set to battle it out and take the title to Europe. Chip counts stood as follows as everyone filed out of the Penn & Teller Theater:
Peter Eastgate 79,500,000
Ivan Demidov 57,725,000
Play will resume at 10pm on Monday, November 10th, until there is a new World Series of Poker main event champion.