Players returned to the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event final table after dinner break with fresh faces. The seven remaining players were fully aware that they may be in for a long night, as the first seven hours of play only resulted in two eliminations. The two-hour break gave players a chance to relax, unwind, enjoy some food, and likely a few naps. But upon their return to the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater, play continued as if nothing ever happened.
The chip counts for the remaining players, after seeing James Akenhead eliminated in ninth place and Kevin Schaffel in eighth earlier in the day, were as follows:
| Darvin Moon ||41,250,000 |
|Phil Ivey||14,900,000 |
|Steve Begleiter ||38,100,000 |
|Eric Buchman ||54,725,000 |
|Joe Cada ||10,700,000 |
|Antoine Saout ||28,725,000 |
|Jeff Shulman ||7,175,000 |
And as a reminder, of the $61,044,921 originally in the prize pool from the field of 6,494 players, the prizes left to be doled out sometime in the late hours of November 7 (or the morning of November 8) were as follows:
1st place: $8,547,042
2nd place: $5,182,928
3rd place: $3,479,670
4th place: $2,502,890
5th place: $1,953,452
6th place: $1,587,160
7th place: $1,404,014
Just before play resumed, a few minutes were taken to publicly honor the newest inductee to the Poker Hall of Fame, Mike Sexton , as other inductees were present to pay their respects to the “Ambassador of Poker.” Sexton then announced the “shuffle up and deal” directive, the players were reintroduced to the audience, and everyone seemed ready. With Level 36 in play, the blinds were at 250,000/500,000 and the ante at 50,000, and play started with the 113th hand of the night.
Moon started the action by taking the first pot with a raise from the small blind, which prompted Ivey to fold his big blind.
|Darvin Moon ||63,925,000 |
|Eric Buchman ||53,250,000 |
|Antoine Saout ||51,725,000 |
|Jeff Shulman ||15,525,000 |
|Joseph Cada ||10,350,000 |
Exactly ten hands back from the dinner break found Shulman ready to move his short stack. He did so after Cada raised to start the action. Shulman then pushed all-in for just over 7 million chips, and Cada took a great deal of time before finally making the call with . Shulman showed the dominating . The board again brought drama, as it had so many times earlier in the evening, when it brought a flop and turn. Cada found more outs, but the on the river merely allowed Shulman to double. Cada was left with only 2,275,000.
The very next hand found Buchman putting in a raise from the small blind, enough to put Cada all-in from the big blind, and Cada made the call. Buchman showed , but Cada had the best hand with . The board produced , which gave Cada a little more room to breathe, though 4.8 million was still the undoubted short stack at the table.
A few hands later, it happened again. This time, however, Ivey was the initial raiser and Cada pushed all-in. Ivey stared at Cada, measured out the necessary chips to make the call, riffled them, and finally made the call with . Cada turned over , and the race was on. But the pocket pair held up through the reveal of the board, giving Cada another double-up. And his new stack of 12,500,000 was then ahead of Ivey’s 10,300,000.
For the next hour or more, Cada and Ivey continued to battle for the chance to get out of last place on the leaderboard. And when Cada took a pot from Ivey with K-Q on a queen-high board, Ivey mucked and found himself sitting on only 8.6 million.
Nearing the 11pm mark, a new level ushered in 300,000/600,000 blinds and a 75,000 ante. And it wasn’t long after that that the game took a turn.
On a flop of , Begleiter put in a significant bet of 6.3 million. Saout check-raised all-in for 14,925,000 more, which seemed to disturb Begleiter. He eventually made the call with for middle pair, but Saout called with and the flush draw. And the turn brought it with , giving Saout the chance to breathe. The on the river changed nothing, and Saout doubled to not only stay alive but jump into the chip lead with 52.7 million.
An interesting hand developed between Cada and Buchman that resulted in Cada being all-in with and Buchman with . Though the first four cards brought some sweat for the flush with , the on the river gave them a split pot.
After a break for the entire theater, it was the first hand back that brought a significant change to the dynamic of the table. And it involved Ivey.
Ivey was the first to act and pushed all-in, as he calmly - and almost with a grin - pushed all-in. Everyone passed until action went around to Moon, who made the call holding . Ivey looked solid with , but the flop was no good when it produced . The on the turn and on the river sealed the deal, and Phil Ivey accepted his fate as the seventh place finisher, which was worth $1,404,014.
The room grew quiet for a few moments, as the realization set in that Ivey would not win the 2009 WSOP. But cheers soon came from the supporters of the remaining six players, as they all moved up on the payout sheet and came just a bit closer to claiming the championship title.
Phil Ivey = 7th place ($1,404,014)
It should be noted that Ivey chose to say a few words to the ESPN cameras before exiting the Penn & Teller Theater, but when it was expected that he would arrive in the lobby to answer questions or simply say a few words to the throngs of media that hoped to get a few moments with the superstar, everyone was left waiting…and waiting. Ivey chose not to speak to the media and simply left the building, presumably via a non-public exit.
Not long after Ivey departed, another big hand developed rather quickly. Begleiter led out to start the action, and Moon raised all-in from the big blind without much hesitation. Begleiter snap-called all-in for his tournament life and gladly showed , and Moon turned over . The dealer started with an innocent flop of and followed it up with a harmless . But as Moon’s luck would have it, the dropped on the river, which catapulted Moon back up to the chip lead with a stack of 63.9 million chips. And Steven Begleiter was eliminated in sixth place with $1,587,160.
Steven Begleiter = 6th place ($1,587,160)
With five players remaining, the chip counts were as follows:
|Darvin Moon ||58,850,000 |
|Joe Cada ||135,950,000 |
It wasn’t long before Cada made a move. Shulman started the hand with a raise, but Cada reraised all-in from the small blind. Shulman decided to call with , and Cada showed the inferior . But the flop came , and the already-boisterous Cada crowd nearly lost their minds. The on the turn changed nothing, and the on the river ended the hand with a Cada double-up and Shulman knocked down to just over 7.5 million.
Cada made another move, beginning with a simple raise preflop, but when Moon reraised all-in, Cada couldn’t call fast enough with . Moon showed , and the theater watched the board bring to allow Cada another double-up, this time through Moon and toward a chip stack that boasted of more than 45 million chips.
Short-stacked Shulman was also looking for a spot to shove all-in and decided to do it preflop for his last 6,250,000. Saout was the caller and showed , but Shulman was ahead with . And the flop hit Shulman to give him an even greater edge with . The on the turn gave him two pair, and the on the river simply ended the hand. Shulman succeeded in his endeavor and stayed alive.
As the clocks passed the 1:30am mark, it was announced that the blinds went up to 400,000/800,000 with a 100,000 ante. And it was more than an hour and the passing of the 200th hand before a much-needed break and an increase in the action.
With Shulman still on the short stack, a return from a 3am break prompted him to push all-in with . Saout called with , and the flop brought just what the Frenchman needed with . That left Shulman with outs that were included in the straight draw. But the turn card and river card didn’t complete that straight. Saout raked the chips and became the table’s new chip leader, while Jeff Shulman accepted his fifth place elimination and the $1,953,452 that went with it.
Jeff Shulman = 5th place ($1,953,452)
Buchman and Saout began to clash, and several occasions found raising wars leaving one or the other with decisions that would affect their tournament lives. At one point, on a flop, Saout bet nearly 3 million, Buchman raised to 5 million, Saout reraised 6,225,000 more, and Buchman reraised another 10 million, at which point Saout folded. And so the early morning went for the competitors.
Not long after the blinds went up again, this time to 500,000/1,000,000 with a 150,000 ante, Buchman and Saout tangled again in a series of preflop bets that found Saout all-in. Buchman was the instigator and turned up , but Saout had him dominated with , and the flop supported that with . But it was the on the turn that solidified it, and the only made it so. Saout’s trips garnered him enough chips to sit with 89.2 million, while Buchman had less than 10 million behind.
Then it was Buchman’s turn to make moves.
First, Buchman pushed all-in preflop with , and Moon called with . The board came completely in favor of Buchman with . Buchman successfully doubled up.
And Buchman attempted it again on the very next hand. When Moon started the action with a raise, Buchman reraised all-in with his still-short stack. Moon called and showed , and Buchman flipped over . The dealer slowly gave them a flop, but it was the on the turn that gave Moon the better hand. The on the river changed nothing, and Eric Buchman was gone from the table in fourth place with $2,502,890.
Eric Buchman = 4th place ($2,502,890)
The players took an unofficial break and breather, but it was the first hand upon returning to their seats that action went down again.
Cada raised from the small blind, which prompted a reraise from Saout in the big blind. Cada came over the top with an all-in move, and Saout called. Cada showed , but Saout proudly showed . But in the same fashion that Cada and the cards have been working together all day/evening/morning, the flop came to give Cada the set. An innocent came on the turn and the on the river gave Cada the double-up right into the chip lead.
Staying aggressive, Cada then put Moon to the test on the next hand, but the latter folded and gave Cada the pot. But then it was Saout who pushed forward and took the next two hands with aggressive pre-flop play.
On the 275th hand of the morning, after it had already been announced that the event became the longest WSOP final table in history, Cada was back in action. And it was Saout who pushed all-in right away, but Cada called without apparent hesitation, Cada showed , and Saout had to head into a classic race situation. The flop came , which left Cada with fewer outs, as did the on the turn. But the fell on the river to give Cada the win with the pair of kings, and Frenchman Antoine Saout was eliminated in third place with $3,479,670.
Antoine Saout = 3rd place ($3,479,670)
Mixtures of emotions hit the Penn & Teller Theater at 6am. The French fans, friends, and media were disappointed that their chance at a first French WSOP champion was squashed, and Saout was visibly frustrated and disappointed at the loss.
But two players and the fans who were still in the house at the early hour were ecstatic. Joe Cada clearly had the most obnoxious but loyal fans, and he was set up to be the youngest player to ever win the 2009 WSOP Main Event should he accomplish the feat. Darvin Moon would also have the chance to be a part of poker history in the best way possible should he win. And as the theater staff began to clean and cover equipment, players were completing interviews while their entourages were discussing the many ways to possibly celebrate as the sun came up over Las Vegas.
The chip counts when action stopped were:
Play was set to resume for the heads-up match on Monday at 10pm to continue until a champion was crowned. And all of the action of the final table will air on ESPN on Tuesday, November 9 for the masses to see.