2006 World Series of Poker
Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas
Official Results and Report
Number of Entries: 1,290
Total Prize Money: $2,967,000
Defending Champion (2005): Farzad Bonyadi
Max “The Italian Pirate” Pescatori Wins His First-Ever WSOP Gold Bracelet
Milan poker pro scores for $382,389 on same day Italy wins World Cup
Las Vegas, NV – When Italian soccer star Fabio Grosso smashed the winning kick past French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez in Berlin’s Olympiastadion to win the 2006 World Cup for Italy, Max Pescatori was half a world away madly celebrating. The Milan-born Pescatori was posted in front of a big-screen television along with dozens of his fellow countrymen in a Las Vegas bar, cheering the Italian national soccer team to victory. Pescatori was so euphoric that he was late for another appointment later that day.
The appointment just so happened to be a seat at the final table in the $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em championship at the Rio. Never mind that a whopping $689,382 in cash and a gold bracelet was at stake for first place. The World Series of Poker gives away millions of dollars in prize money every single day. But Italy wins the World Cup only once in a generation.
Does karma exist? Some players will swear to it. Max Pescatori certainly believes it – especially now. After seeing his beloved Italy win international sport’s most coveted trophy, Pescatori knew that this was going to be his big day. Nicknamed “The Italian Pirate” for his scruffy bandanna-capped buccaneer-look, Pescatori swash buckled through 1,290 entrants in three days and ended up winning his first-ever WSOP title. For Pescatori, the win was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
“I have been playing poker for a very long time,” Pescatori said afterward. “I have won other big tournaments including a few on the WSOP Circuit -- but never at the World Series of Poker. To win this bracelet for me is very special, especially on the same day that my Italy won.”
After 1,281 players were eliminated during the first two days of tournament play, Pescatori arrived at the final table ranked third in the chip count. The early chip leader was Anthony Reategui, fittingly one of two former WSOP gold bracelet winners of the final nine. Superstar Internet pro Terrence Chan arrived second. Colorful poker personality Mike “the Mouth” Matusow (with two gold bracelets) started Day Three in the middle of the pack.
Matt Heintschel must not have been Italian. The private contractor from Escondido, California arrived as the lowest stack and went out on a peculiar hand when his ace-eight was topped by his opponent’s identical hand. Four diamonds came on board and Heintschel held two clubs. His opponent had a diamond, which completed the flush. Heintschel’s fate was sealed. Ninth place paid $66,758.
Terrence Chan’s 55-minutes at the final table were a complete nightmare. Competing at his first WSOP final table, Chan barely dragged a chip and went out with ace-king against pocket fours. Chan failed to make a pair and was eliminated. Chan, who regularly plays in the biggest online cash games in the world (and is quite successful at it), received $74,175 for eighth place.
One of poker’s most animated characters went out next. Unusually subdued for a final table, Mike ‘the Mouth” Matusow was silent much of the time and went broke holding top pair (tens) when his opponent flopped two pair (tens and nines). Matusow later complained that he was not feeling well, which perhaps explained the restrained behavior and sub-par finish. Matusow’s prize money amounted to $89,010.
About two hours into play, Anthony Reategui went on a tear. He busted the next three players. Tri “Chico” Ma was eliminated in sixth place when his ace-queen suited was busted by Reategui’s pocket aces. Ma was drawing slim from the start, and drawing dead by the turn. Vietnamese-born Ma, now living in Houston, earned $103,845.
Reategui’s next victim was Corey Cheresnick. The Florida-based poker pro who also holds a Masters in accounting, went out with ace-eight, which lost to a Reategui’s straight. Cheresnick added $118,680 to his poker bankroll.
Michael Scott Lesle was the next player to enter Reategui’s meat grinder. Lesle moved all-in with king-queen suited, and was called down by Reategui holding ace-five. The chip leader flopped a five and Lesle failed to catch a pair. Michael Scott Lesle, who finished fourth at a WSOP final table back in 2003, took fourth place again this time, earning $148,350 in prize money.
Just when it looked like Reategui might end things quick -- the wind blew, the skies opened, and the storms came. Reategui started off three-way play with a 4 to 1 chip lead over Justin Pechie. Max Pescatori’s situation looked even worse. Pescatori was out-chipped by a 7 to 1 margin.
Big comebacks usually start with seemingly benign beginnings. Max Pescatori’s self-confidence was boosted when he made an extraordinary call against Pechie. On a board showing 10-7-2-Q-10, Pechie made a large river bet and Pescatori thought for several minutes before calling with king-nine – no pair (just king high). Pechie mucked his hand, Pescatori raked in the chips, the crowd started cheering, and the tournament ground rumbled, foreshadowing the earthquake that was later to come.
Justin Pechie went all-in about a half hour later holding pocket sixes. Pescatori called with pocket eights. The ground shook when both players flopped a set. But Pechie’s cheering section went silent when it was realized that the flopped six was no good, since the Italian had also hit his pair. When Pescatori spiked a fourth eight on the river – good for quads – the final nail in Pechie’s tournament coffin was pounded. Justin Pechie, a poker pro from Connecticut, received $206,207 for third place.
The final hour of play was a stunning reversal of fortune. Anthony Reategui, just one lone opponent away from winning his second gold bracelet, watched in hopeless frustration as every major pot of the last 30 or so hands went in Pescatori’s favor. Reategui, the champion of last year’s $1000 buy-in No-Limit Shootout, must have felt like the poor French goalkeeper earlier in the day, desperately trying to fend off Pescatori perfectly-placed shots.
The game winner came when Pescatori was dealt jack-eight suited against Reategui’s queen-ten off-suit. The flop came 10-7-6. Reategui moved all-in with the top pair (tens) and Pescatori called with an inside-straight draw. A blank on the turn helped neither player.
Then, the inevitable Italian thing happened. Before the final chapter in Pescatori’s dream day is revealed, it must be divulges that in the Italian language, “PESCATOR” means fisherman. Max Pescatori was certainly fishing for his tournament life, a nine on the river -- which is exactly what he caught, thus making the straight and ending the tournament. Pescatori reeled in a nine on the river, and the blue-shirted gallery rooting on their fellow countryman broke out in wild celebration for the second time in a day. Runner up Anthony Reategui collected $346,040. Max Pescatori won $682,389.
“Nothing can beat this. For me, this is incredible,” Pescatori said. “I told all my friends that they have to watch for Italy to win (the World Cup) and then afterward to cheer for me on the Internet to win here at the World Series. This is the greatest day of my life.”
by Nolan Dalla
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