Eli's win was, by far, the shining moment of today's World Series action as he and 1998 Main Event Champion Scotty Nguyen had a few beers together on the felt. The audience was getting in on the fun too - it was a rowdy crowd, what with Andy Bloch serving up free beer in the Milwaukee's Best No-Limit Lounge. And of course - where there's Scotty, there's always a party. Baby.
In the final hand of the match, Scotty was all-in after the first deal and was in the lead with (7-7)-A. Elezra had (K-Q)-T and was looking for some kind of straight.
Nguyen held the lead all the way to sixth street with (7-7)-A-2-T-Q, but Eli had some hope with (K-Q)-T-7-3-J. The ace of spades came on the river, and he climbed on top of the table, proclaiming his win.
With his Broadway straight, Eli was the studly champion and made a nice $198,984 - which meant little to him, compared with the bracelet. It was that piece of gold jewelry that really mattered. After he shared a warm embrace with his old pal Scotty, Eli proudly put the bracelet on, and through his drunken glow you could see the pride and glory shining through.
But Eli wasn't the only one who made good news today. Upon my arrival to the media room, I was told of Justin Timberlake sightings! But it seemed to be just a rumor, as no one in my five-foot radius had actually seen him. Sources say he may be playing in the Main Event, so maybe we'll get our JT fix in July. Until then, PokerListings.com's team of reporters will play it cool and not be all excited.
As I write this, the $5,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament is slowly whittling its way down to the final table. The bubble finally burst and now the action is kind of speeding up, but not really. There are still 20 players left, and quite a few eliminations to go. David Benyamine, Sam Grizzle, Phil Ivey, and Gavin Smith are still game - but Doyle Brunson busted out not so long ago in 22nd place.
The $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em tournament has worked its way down to the final nine, and Travis Rice is in the lead with $1,284,000 in chips. Play will resume tomorrow at 2 p.m. Las Vegas time, and PokerListings.com will be right there to deliver the goods.
But a day at the WSOP would not be complete without "The Zoo".
Event 27 saw a total of 2,315 entrants today, which is kind of overwhelming, but pretty normal for a $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em tournament. The lower buy-in is attractive to amateur players, and a lot of pros like to play as well.
But as we worked our way through the day the faces became less recognizable. Big names like JC Tran and Andy Bloch, and popular figures like Rene Angelil and Jennifer Tilly hit the rail early on in the day. Soon, the tournament room just became a sea of hooded, tired men in their shades.
And among those men, one particular lady was holding on strong. Sabyl Cohen is going into Day 2 of the tournament and is third in chips; she will start tomorrow with $118K in chips. David Williams is one of the few remaining pros in the tournament, and he will start tomorrow with $68K.
So the night is becoming day, and the Rio is dying down a bit. The see-through cubicles containing electric-wind-powered flying money have been shut off, and the Poker Kitchen is serving up some stale nachos.
Oh! Good news just came in. We are ending the H.O.R.S.E. tournament tonigh at 4 a.m., whether or not we've reached the final table. It seems, the WSOP has decided that sleep is an important factor in good poker. See you tomorrow, same place, same time.