In yet another hidden final table, sequestered to the isolation chamber Mike Matusow has named "The Box," the bracelet for Event 34, $3,000 Limit Hold'em was handed out . Alex Borteh and Brandon Wong made it to heads-up play with Borteh edging out his opponent in the course of the one-on-one match.
The two started relatively equal in chips but after a series of massive victories which crippled his opponent, Wong was forced all-in on the final hand.
Q♥ 8♥ for Wong needed to improve against the K♣ 6♦ of Borteh but after the board ran 9♦ 9♠ 6♣ K♠, Wong was drawing dead going to the river. I snapped the winner photos of Borteh and, like so many of the young champs here at the WSOP, it was hard to tell that I had the right man judging by the expression on his face.
My list of winners who either can't muster or flat out refuse to smile is steadily growing. Scott Clements was the first, but I was already familiar with his penchant for stone-facedness from his win here last year as well as his victory on the WPT.
Dan "Rekrul" Schreiber was the second who, while not refusing to crack a grin, seemed generally unenthused by his $425,000 payday and managed only a disinterested smirk while having his picture taken for the poker history books. And now Alex Borteh joins their ranks. Borteh's dark hood and luxurious locks did obscure his demeanor but his lack of enthusiasm was still observable.
I ask you, if someone can't enjoy a day on which they outlasted a sea of their peers to take down one of the highest honors in the poker world, as well as a ridiculous amount of bank, what does it take? I promise you, if I somehow get bankrolled in one of these events and, even more improbably, go on to win, you can be sure my name will not join those listed above. As Ben Affleck said in that great movie devoted to hustling, "They say money can't buy happiness? Look at the smile on my face. Ear to ear baby!"
Add the recognition and benefits that go along with all that cash, and I can guarantee I will be one of the most smilingest men in poker! Sorry Age Spets, I know how much the title means to you.
I'd be smiling all the way to the bank, and all the way to the BMW dealership, and all the way to the ... well, you get the picture. In fact, I truly believe it would take a concerted effort on my part not to smile!
Perhaps these players are in such a state of shock from the experience that they are simply numb and will spend the next few weeks with a permanent grin plastered on their face. All we can do is hope.
Later in the evening, following the longest heads-up match so far this year, another bracelet winner joined the unsmiling army that seems to be slowly taking over the World Series. In Event 33, $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha w/ rebys, it took Alan Smurfit more than 167 hands of heads-up play to defeat Qusqar Morad and after doing so, he managed only the smallest of upwardly-turning-lip expressions for my camera.
By all accounts though, Alan Smurfit was thoroughly satisfied with his victory and after a heads-up match of this duration one can hardly be expecting him to jump up and down in excitement. On hand number 167 all the money went in on a flop of J♦ 8♥ 6♣ with Morad's tournament life on the line.
When the cards were rolled we saw it was Smurfit out in front with Q♣ J♣ 8♦ 2♦ against Morad's T♣ 9♥ 9♠ 6♠. The flop had given Smurfit the lead with two pair but the 6♦ on fourth street turned the tables and put Morad out in front with trips.
Alan Smurfit was looking for a jack or an eight on the river and the dealer turned over the 8♣, ending the tournament. Despite the dramatic ending, there was very little fanfare surrounding the victory. Smurfit said a few quick words and went to collect his winnings.
So it was another day at the WSOP, the Mecca of poker. Resplendent with the mammoth prize pools, record-breaking fields, and of course thoroughly restricting media guidelines that you can only find at the biggest event in the world. It's a love hate relationship.