Already a day ago on Day 3, it was after 1 a.m. when we finally made it to 27 with each of the survivors returning on Day 4 to fight for the privilege of being on television and taking home the whopping $1,575,280 first-place prize. Of those 27, eight were sent to the rail in the first hour alone. By 4 p.m. we were down to the final 10, merging to one table as a result, and not long after we had made it to seven.
Since only one more elimination was needed, organizers posed the question to the players of whether a dinner break should be taken. Mike Matusow and Mark Weitzman both voted for the break. Haralabos Voulgaris wanted to play. John Kranyak said he had a date at 7 p.m. and wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. The rest seemed noncommittal. Because a unanimous decision could not be reached the break was declared with action resuming 75 minutes later.
While dinner breaks are known to induce action and facilitate eliminations, that was certainly not the case here. Only adding to the slow progression was the fact that the average stack of $2.4 million was equal to 48 big blinds when things got back underway. It got off to a slow start with few pots making it past the initial pre-flop raise and even fewer making it to showdown. It wasn't until a relatively short-stacked Haralabos Voulgaris moved in and got looked up by Mike Matusow that we had our first chance at attaining that elusive elimination we were all waiting for.
Despite the prospect of his kicking off early, members of the media were all pulling for Voulgaris. No one wanted to see him hit the rail on the TV table bubble. His tournament life was pinned on a frighteningly weak J-8 off-suit but his cards were live as he went to the flop facing the A-Q of the Mouth.
The flop brought an eight, putting Haralabos in the lead, and after the board bricked out he was good for the double. Matusow only shook his head saying, "I can't believe it. I was a 3-1 favorite to win that hand." Voulgaris, already a little fed up with Matusow's antics at the table, responded, "Three to one? I'll sit here and run that hand all night if you want to give me 3-1!" It was Gene Todd who supplied the real odds, 3-2.
Voulgaris had gained a bit of breathing room but was still well below the average stack. He only had to contend with that problem for a few minutes though as he succeeded in doubling a second time shortly after.
John Kranyak, a sick individual who has accumulated chips throughout this event with unbridled aggression and a willingness to gamble, was the one who was forced to ship the chips across the felt to Haralabos. A world champion bridge player who got into poker relatively recently, Kranyak made an extremely loose play which resulted in Voulgaris doubling to over the average.
It began with Voulgaris opening to $135,000 and getting a call from John Kranyak in the big blind. The flop went J♣ 9♥ 6♣ and Kranyak led out for $185K. Voulgaris raised to $600,000 and Kranyak said, "This is a bad move but I'll put you all-in."
Haralabos insta-called and turned over two nines for the set. Kranyak was in terrible shape with K-Q for two overcards and a gut-shot straight draw. The best hand held up and Voulgaris was back in the tournament.
The next player on the most-likely-to-bust list was Heung Yoon. All-in facing a coin flip against John Kranyak with pocket sevens against K♣ 8♣, he was out-flopped and forced to hit a two-outer on the turn to stay alive. As insensitive as it may have been to Yoon, everyone in the room let out a groan of dismay when Yoon turned a set of sevens, doubling him to something resembling a comfortable stack.
In the end it was the loosest player at the table who ended up breaking the seven-handed deadlock. John Kranyak doubled up Heung Yoon, then Mike Matusow, then Yoon once again. Kranyak was left with few chips to work with and ended up all-in behind against Roy Winston. Kranyak's K♥ 9♠ needed to improve against the A♦ 4♠ of Winston.
John paired his king on the flop but an ace on the turn reversed the situation once again. Unable to recover, John Kranyak was out in 7th for $217,280.
For run-downs of these hands and more, please peruse our Live Updates Page which contains all the choicest of cuts from the day's action. At the top of the page you will find the chip counts for tomorrow's final-table festivities; study them well for they will play a part in the way this tournament unfolds.
Mike Matusow made the final table. What more could the producers at the World Poker Tour hope for? After all, it's only appropriate that a final table here in New Jersey would be home to one of the loudest players in the game. PokerListings.com will be in attendance; I kinda think you should be too.