The World Series of Poker event that has grabbed the headlines this
week was undoubtedly the H.O.R.S.E. tournament (see previous InfoPowa
bulletins) where the creme de la creme of players in several variations
of the game paid $50 000 a pop entry fees for a crack at the $1.7
million first prize, or a share in the $6.8 million prize pool.
143 players fronted up this significant entry fee and the grueling three day endurance event got underway with the most competitive WSOP field per capita yet seen.
Finally, however after a 19 hour session it was down to nine great players at the last table, which looked like this:
David “Chip” Reese - $1,756,000
Doyle Brunson - $1,227,000
Andy Bloch - $934,000
Phil Ivey - $885,000
Jim Bechtel - $841,000
David Singer - $745,000
Dewey Tomko - $438,000
T.J. Cloutier - $351,000
Patrik Antonius - $13,000
The finalists boast a breathtaking collection of achievements - 27 WSOP bracelets and 116 final table appearances.
Final table action began with $10,000 - $20,000 blinds and $3,000 antes.
Patrik Antonius, who was riding a knife edge with a low chip count to start with, had a flash of good luck and boldness initially, but soon exited after he moved all on a J43 board, and his A 4 failed to catch up to Reese’s pocket eights. His ninth place paycheck was $205,920
The legendary Doyle Brunson was next to go in eight place at $274,560, and he was followed at seventh by two-time WSOP Main Event runner-up Dewey Tomko. After raising $100 000, Tomko moved all in over the top of an Andy Bloch $300 000 re-raise. Tomko’s pocket eights put him way behind Bloch’s pocket queens, and, while the 975 flop gave Tomko an inside straight draw, he was out of the game with $343 200 with the K turn and 4 river.
It was Davbid Singer's time to go within ten minutes of Tomko's departure, again the victim of aggressive Reese play. Singer's sixth place payout was still big money at $411 840.
T.J. Cloutier was next. Although he used his no-limit expertise to good effect at the ferocious table, doubling up, and pushing all-in a number of times, he ran out moves when his pocket sevens collided into Bloch’s pocket tens. With no miracle sevens, straights or flushes on the board, Cloutier walked away from the final table as the fifth place finisher with $480 480.
1993 WSOP champion Jim Bechtel also fell victim to Bloch's skill and broke the half a million dollar barrier as he went home with a fourth place cheque $549 120.
Bechtel’s elimination set up a three way match between two members of Team Full Tilt, and a cash game player with no sponsorships. Phil Ivey, Bloch and Reese battled for only half an hour before Ivey, who was a fave to win the HORSE by many, and had been hoping to add a sixth WSOP bracelet to his collection was dispatched by Bloch who called Ivey's all-in bet with a straight draw and a flush draw, hitting the flush on the turn to get to heads up play just before 2 a.m. He collected his third place paycheck of $617 760 and left the table .
Ivey's departure set the scene for the final heads up confrontation between two professional players of consummate skill, and it started a thriller of a marathon match that was to run for just over 7 hours, breaking the previous WSOP record set in 1983.
After hours of tough play which swung back and forth, at the end it came down to a Reese move all-in from the strong position of $6,850,000 to $300,000 chip lead. Bloch made the call and flipped over 9 8. Reese showed the A Q. Bloch picked up a straight draw with the J77 flop, but the 4 turn and 4 river gave Reese two pair with a better kicker.
It was all over....Bloch left with second place and $1 029 600 for his trouble, and a jubilant Reese carried off the $1 716 000 top prize and his third hard-won WSOP bracelet.
"He had me beat four or five times," Reese said after the game. "I just kept coming back. I'm very happy to win, but I feel bad for [Bloch], because he played well enough to win today."
The level of skill and excitement inherent in the H.O.R.S.E format, which enables players to show their poker paces in games other than Hold Em makes this event one of the most spectacular in the World Series of Poker, and this year was certainly no exception.