We started with 664 people handing over $15k to take their shot at the title seven days ago and, as always, we ended with just one left standing.
After a Day 5 that saw him rise from the ashes up to the chip lead, the newly dubbed Eugene "Katch-a-lot" Katchalov began the final six with $2 million more than his nearest competitor, Jordan Rich. Once again, the Ukranian-born, Brooklyn, N.Y.-raised Katchalov caught cards all night, eliminating all but one of the other five participants at this WPT final table on his way to the $2,482,605 first-place prize.
Play started like it had been shot out of a cannon once the cameras began rolling. The first elimination actually went down on the first hand of the day when Ryan Daut shipped his short stack with ace-jack, running it into Ted Kearly's eights. By the time the board was rolled out, Kearly's quads sent Daut the clear message there would be no repeat of his 2007 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure win.
Jordan Rich came into the day in second place looking to use an aggressive style to take on Katchalov and vault his way into first position. That strategy did not pay off at all. He made an attempt to come after Katchalov early on, but Eugene pushed him off the key pot of the night in a check-raise, re-raise, re-re-raise situation that left Jordan $2 million lighter.
Soon after, the hand that truly made the final four seem like a battle for second place ensued when Rich woke up with jacks facing a Katchalov $300k raise. He bumped it to $1 million, Katchalov shoved and Rich made the call, only to find out Katchalov had caught aces.
Ken Rosen was Katchalov's next victim. The Miami native pushed in against a $300k Katchalov raise and his A♦ 2♦ was ahead of Eugene's 10♦ 7♦. The ten on the river changed that and it was becoming quite clear Katchalov was going to catch cards one way or another.
The most colorful character to have made the final six was the next to go. Throughout the incredibly short day here, David Ulliott was the butt of a few jokes from tournament director Jack McClelland for his well-known skirt-chasing ways, but the outlandish Englishman took it all in stride and was quick with a few barbs of his own.
While the play may have been too fast for TV, it might be worth watching the WPT broadcast of the event just to hear a little of what the Devilfish goes on about. If you can translate the slurry accent, he's quite the entertainer.
In the end though, he felt like he had to gamble to catch up to Katchalov and was dusted off in quick order, open-shoving with ace-ten and running into Katchalov's ace-jack.
Heading into heads-up it looked like a massive mismatch and it was. With his $16.6 million in chips to 75-year-old former football coach Ted Kearly's $3.3 million, Katchalov must have been licking his lips at the possibilities.
It didn't take very long before Kearly, who parlayed a big cash at the seniors event at the Five Diamond into an entry here, made a huge mistake, pushing all-in on a ten-high flop with two overcards in the form of the king-jack and getting the call from Katchalov and his jack-ten. No king came and while Katchalov booked the big win, Kearly still takes home $1,252,640 - not a bad payday.
What a week it was at the Five Diamond. The names on the roster were the biggest in poker and the prize pool the largest outside of a WSOP Main Event and WPT Championship. On the first two days we had Phil Ivey emerge as the odds-on favorite. He ran out to a big lead only to blow it all before the money bubble burst.
Then Daniel Negreanu headlined Days 3 and 4, pushing his way up to the head of the field so that all the smart money went down on Kid Poker making his record-breaking eighth WPT final table. Alas, Negreanu would fall short of that goal.
After it was all said and done, long shot Eugene Katchalov came through and the PL.com crew will be headed out of Vegas fast before the bookies can catch up with us. If we can figure out a way to pay them off we'll see you next time. For now, please keep our location on the down low.