Poker News Round-up
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Poker News Round-up: Week #26
Dario Minieri’s WSOP win last week seemed to spark something of a rush for European players, and immediately after the Italian’s win Sebastian Ruthenberg of Germany won the $5,000 world championship stud hi/lo title after defeating Chris Ferguson heads up.
David Benyamine wins his first bracelet
The $10,000 world championship Omaha hi/lo then produced another European champion which for a while looked as though it may be someone from these shores. The Mob’s Ram Vaswani was chip leader going into the final day’s play with 18 left, but a couple of big pots early on lost to David Benyamine saw Ram’s stack take a serious dent. It was a setback he could not recover from, eventually finishing in seventh but nevertheless a seventh WSOP final table was an impressive performance. Benyamine went on to secure victory in the event and the Frenchman’s first WSOP bracelet was accompanied by just over half a million dollars in prize money.
In the very next event it was Denmark’s turn to win a bracelet when Jesper Hougaard defeated a monster field in another $1,500 no limit hold’em tournament. More final table appearances from Englishmen saw John Shipley take ninth in this event, then Ben Roberts and Michael Greco followed that up with eighth and ninth in the next tournament - $2,000 pot limit hold’em. Belgium’s Davidi Kitai was top dog in this event for just short of a quarter of a million dollars.
Back to back
In amongst the success stories of the Europeans there have also been some intriguing tales from a couple of Americans as well. The $1,500 pot limit Omaha rebuy tournament was, as expected, a pretty wild affair in the early stages. As if Omaha wasn’t enough of an action game already, the scramble to throw money at chipping up early on during the rebuy period saw numerous players moving all in blind every time they had bought a fresh stack. 320 players got through 1350 buy ins between them to build a prize pool in excess of $2.4 million, but even after the rebuy period had ended there was plenty of action. One of those who took a gamble on taking copiouus rebuys was Layne Flack who got through over 20 of them, but he was one for whom that early craziness paid dividends. Having held one of the bigger stacks throughout most of the tournament, Flack sealed victory over a tough final table to signal a return to the big time with his first big score for several years. Many new to poker might not realise just how much Layne Flack has accomplished in the game, but this is now his sixth WSOP bracelet at the age of 39. In fact many believe that he could have achieved a lot more but for heavy drug use just when he appeared to be at his best. After winning two bracelets at each of the 2002 and 2003 WSOPs, Flack’s increasing use of cocaine in 2004 saw him eventually go into rehabilitation, and unsurprisingly the results dried up a little. Like Mike Matusow though, he appears to have now made lifestyle changes that have been rewarded with another bracelet that sees him draw level with the likes of TJ Cloutier on the all time bracelet winners’ list.
John Phan with bling
Flack’s achievement of winning two events at the same WSOP has actually been a regular feature of recent series, beginning when Scotty Nguyen collected Omaha and Omaha hi/lo titles in 2001. Since then Flack, Scott Fischmann, Mark Seif, Jeff Madsen and Tom Schneider all walked away as double winners, and now in the 2008 series it has happened again. If any event was going to provide a double winner, it was most likely to happen in an event with a small field consisting mostly of pro players, which is exactly what happened in the deuce to seven lowball event. One of the less popular poker variants around, this tournament attracted only 238 runners but no lowball tournament is ever easy to win when Billy Baxter is playing in it. Baxter has seven bracelets at lowball variants of poker (as well as lowball wins at Amarillo Slim’s Superbowl Of Poker) and sure enough he was there when the money was reached, but busted just before the final table in seventh. John Phan took the chip lead to the final and appeared to be bossing the table but with three left hit a dry patch and became the short stack. It was at about this time that Phan had a run in with Gioi Luong after Phan accused Luong of various forms of angle shooting, including deliberately mis-declaring his hand in an attempt to make Phan muck his cards. The shouting match appeared to afftect Luong’s composure more than Phan’s though, and when Luong was eliminated by his accuser soon after Phan was once again in charge. With chips again, Phan was able to batter his final opponent Shun Uchida and when he managed to hit a 7-6 low after just one draw, Phan secured another victory at the Rio.
Mr Consistency Jacobo Fernandez
The remarkable trend continues and John Phan is this year’s double winner, although due to the size of this field he doesn’t have enough points to top the player of the year leaderboard. The man who currently sits in first place actually has no bracelets to his name, but Jacobo Fernandez’s consistency has been good enough for the lead – 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 12th and 25th places so far put him just ahead of David Benyamine, John Phan and Barry Greenstein as the series nears its end.
Bristol GCBPT winner Neil Blatchley
Meanwhile there is some activity outside of Las Vegas, and the Gala Casinos British Poker Tour decided that it would still be worth running one of their events whilst everyone’s focus is on the Rio. They were correct as it turns out, and more people turned up for the Bristol leg than the previous one in Nottingham. Champion of the 249 entrants for the main event was Neil Blatchley, who plays in the same home game as Nottingham’s winner Rupinder Bedi. Neil was scheduled to make the trip to Vegas for the tail end of the WSOP anyway, but now has an extra £36,750 with which to live it up in Sin City. The GCBPT moves on to Liverpool next in September, followed by Teesside and then back to Bristol where Blatchly and all other main event winners will be invited back for a shot at the grand final.
The big one is nearly upon us, but in the meantime we still need to find champions for the $50,000 HORSE and world championship Omaha events so there is plenty to look forward to in the forthcoming week. The main event then starts on 3rd July so good luck to any of you reading this who are going to be taking part, and please note – howling like a banshee and shouting “one time” whenever you are in a race is not compulsory for those resident outside the US.
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