At the head of the pack coming into Day 2 was Shane "Shaniac" Schleger, whose $191,000 in chips put him ahead of a field that was heavy on the pros (with Kenny Tran, Billy Baxter, Justin Marchand and Kimberly Lansing of the poker media and three other women, one of whom (Van Nguyen) is wife of famed poker pro Men "The Master" Nguyen. The Master would celebrate his wife's final-table appearance by downing a Corona and then sneezing foam all over Linda Johnson, no lie.
Short-stack Scott Ross would be first to go from the final table and Amnon Filippi would go next, busted after playing poker philanthropist to the rest of the table and finally succumbing when Billy Baxter rolled over the Impala (6-4) to crack the Amnonymous One's J-9 with a six on the flop.
Tragedy then struck the poker world as fan favorite Kim Lansing, perennially short-stacked throughout the final table, got it all-in bad with K♦ T♣ against Baxter's A♣ J♣. The flop brought hope for the WPT's video hostess, coming K♥ 8♥ 7♥, but after the turn was the Q♠ the river was the T♠ and Baxter had rivered the broadway straight to send Lansing home in eighth.
With only one elimination left before the money, you may have expected play to tighten, but with $30,000/$60,000 blinds and an $890,000 average stack, "tight" wasn't in these players' vocabularies. After a few double-ups and close calls, the climactic hand of the evening occurred when Debby Perkins moved her last $300,000 into the middle on the button and saw Beverly Kruskol call all-in from the small blind.
Sitting on queens in the big blind, Billy Baxter called both all-ins and saw his opponents turn up pocket eights (Kruskol) and A♦ 5♣ (Perkins). The board came 5-2-2-9-J and the queens held, eliminating both Perkins and Kruskol and bursting the money bubble. The double elimination meant that for the first time in WPT history the final table will begin five-handed instead of six. It also meant that both Kruskol and Perkins would split the $5,000 sixth-place prize, with each woman taking home $2,500 for her time.
The final five players will return to the WPT soundstage tomorrow, with $100,000 and a truckload of swag at stake. Action begins at 5 p.m. (PST) and PokerListings.com will be on hand throughout the proceedings to bring you up-to-the-minute coverage as well as snarky commentary and "witty" photo captions all the livelong day. Tune in or we'll bombard you with Dancing with the Stars reruns.
Here are the seating positions and chip counts for Monday's final table:
|Seat 1||Billy Baxter||$1,250,000|
|Seat 4||Ethan Ruby||$910,000|
|Seat 3||Justin Marchand||$815,000|
|Seat 2||Van Nguyen||$760,000|
|Seat 5||Elias Madias||$710,000|