At the beginning of the final table, it seemed like Joe Pelton would be in the driver's seat. He had close to twice the chips of his closest competitor, but things changed quickly when Pelton dumped almost two-thirds of his stack in the first three hands. It seemed like Joe had made up his mind to use his chips to try to run over the table, a sound yet risky strategy, but, unfortunately, ran into some big hands early. In the second hand of the night Joe made a move with a weak ace and doubled up Steve Wong who was holding big slick. The very next hand Walnum turned a set of sixes and relieved Pelton of another million in chips.
Pelton obviously has some game. Making it through this field was no easy task, but his inexperience started to show at the final table when he was unable to release some weak hands in key situations. In general, the cards determined today's match to a large degree. It was apparent that some of these guys just weren't used to playing in front of the cameras or with this much money on the line, and many of the chip transactions were due to big hands colliding.
There were plenty of chips on the table and lots of room for playing a longer match. Despite this, the final table only lasted about four hours, which may be some indication that the players were a little over-eager due to how much was riding on their play.
The player with the most experience at the table, Can Kim Hua, came into the day as the short stack and was never able to get his hands on enough chips to make a dent in the bigger stacks. Although he made a stand with a powerful hand, suited A-K, and managed to get all his chips in pre-flop, he ran up against a wired pair of aces and was sent to the rails.
In my opinion, it was Andreas Walnum who played the best game. This may seem obvious since he won, but as anyone can tell you, it's often not the best player who ends up taking it down in these tournaments. He was collected and concentrated throughout the match and picked his spots well. He waited for big hands to take advantage of the loose play at the table and seemed to have a good handle on the texture of the game.
The second place finisher, Steve Wong, also showed the discipline that is so important in these big events. Having won a preliminary event here at the Festa al Lago he was brimming with confidence and knew he had a chance at taking down this title. Steve told me yesterday that he would love to be famous for his card playing, and his performance here today is certainly a major step in that direction.
Despite the lack of finesse play at this final table, it was an entertaining one. With tons of all-ins and big swings in the chip counts, it will definitely make a good episode for the WPT Season 5. We got a chance to see two new up-and-coming stars in Steve Wong and Andreas Walnum, and I'm sure it won't be long until they're sitting down at their next final table.