We've been ragging on the scheduling of this event all week long, but the truth remains: there is really no reason for this tournament to have been given six days to play out. Mystifying though it may be, however, the extended schedule has resulted in a languid pace to the tournament, with civilized hours of play and relatively short days.
Monday saw the tournament's organizers aiming to reduce the field to a final 10, but after the dual elimination of Raj Patel and Steve Weinstein on the final hand of the night, the survivors numbered only nine by the time play wrapped at 7:30 in the evening.
With a number of short stacks still lingering, it wouldn't have taken long to play out the final three eliminations needed to determine Wednesday's TV final table, but with the WPT camera crews not scheduled to arrive until Tuesday another day of play was deemed necessary.
Consequently, the field returned to action at noon Eastern on Tuesday for their final few hours in the Sunset Ballroom before the tournament reconvenes to the WPT soundstage mid-week. Leading the final nine into the penultimate day was chip leader and all-around big baller Erik Seidel, with Ted Forrest and online pro Adam "AKat11" Katz lurking near the top of the leaderboard.
At the other end of the spectrum were short stacks Michael Farris, Natale Kuey, Frank Cieri and Adam Bari, each of whom entered play with just about half the chip average and who'd jockey among themselves to avoid being one of the three finalists to bust before the mood lighting. Of them all, Bari probably had the most motivation to stay alive, having embroiled himself in a bit of an online feud with Adam Katz before the tournament and seeming to develop something of a rivalry with Katz on Day 4 of the tournament.
After some tentative play to start the day, Michael Farris found himself first to hit the road after he moved all-in over the top of Robert Richardson's open-limp and saw Richardson look him up with sevens against his own K♠ T♠. Farris was racing, and although he picked up a flush draw on the turn could not bring it home, instead busting out in ninth place for a $40,378 result.
Allen Bari's mini-rivalry with Adam Katz would then come to an end as the New Jersey native saw his tournament life expire after he shoved with A-Q and ran into Katz's pocket kings. Katz would flop top set and that would more or less do it for Bari, who won a WSOPC preliminary event in Atlantic City last month for $72,000 and adds another $48,450 to his coffers for this week's efforts.
The ignominious title of Final-Table Bubble Boy would go to Natale Kuey, who labored throughout the day on fumes but who managed to parlay his tenacity into a $71,061 score for his seventh-place finish. Kuey's last hurrah saw him racing with big slick against Ted Forrest's pocket sixes, and when Forrest turned the Cloven-Hoofed Set, the game was over and the day was done.
So our final table is set, and it's not without its interesting elements. Erik Seidel, whose multiple strong performances in the last 10 months have underlined his status as one of the best poker players in the world, dominated play on Day 4 and enters the final table with the chip lead. With $3,280,000 to his name and the blinds at $15,000/$30,000, Seidel has a lot of room to work with and, as we saw at the Aussie Millions in January, will likely use the deep stacks to his advantage, relying on patience and post-flop supremacy to grind out a victory.
Second in chips is Ted Forrest ($2,347,000), who at most other WPT final tables would find himself in the marquee position as Most Ballingest Player. Forrest has been playing with Seidel for most of the last two days and told PokerListings yesterday the Full Tilt pro had been pushing him around for the duration, so the matchup between the two pros should be the focal point of the final table.
Forrest has also developed something of a friendly rivalry with Andrew Katz, who comes into the final table third in chips with $2,311,000 and who spent most of Tuesday engaging Forrest in superficially friendly banter. Katz is all bluster and good TV, but behind that relaxed image lies an immense poker talent and with almost a million dollars on the line tomorrow it will be interesting to see how Katz and Forrest's history affects the dynamic at the final table.
Rounding out the final six are Andrew Barta, who lurks with about the average stack, as well as the two short stacks in Frank Cieri and Robert Richardson. Barta took first for a cool half-million in a $5k event at the Borgata in June and so clearly has the final-table chops to make himself the wild card on Wednesday, while Robert Richardson and Frank Cieri will both need to make moves in order to make a lasting impression onstage tomorrow.
The stacks are still relatively deep compared to the blinds, however, so on paper it could be anyone's game. You have to figure the deep stacks favor the pros, though, so don't be surprised to see Forrest, Katz and Seidel duking it out for the $967,390 and exclusive PokerListings.com interview as you tune into the PL all day tomorrow.
Action begins from the final table at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time and your not-so-humble PokerListings narrators will be on-scene and online from 4:30 onwards, providing you with comprehensive coverage, catty commentary and other things that start with "C" that we can't really think of right now. We can, however, promise that we'll be driving the pain train all the live long day, so get on board or get run the what over.
Check out the Live Tournaments section for all the gory details!