The 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event is back and the November experiment, it must be said, has worked pretty darn well so far.
This, Day 8 and the penultimate one of the '08 WSOP ME, is sport and spectacle mixed into one glorious mélange. It's 350 of Dennis Phillips' closest friends flown in from St. Louis all wearing the same St. Louis Cardinals hat and white buttoned shirt, chanting Phillips' name with seemingly boundless energy.
It's Jerry Yang finally kicked off the final table with the old "Shuffle up and deal," they cheered louder still.
In particular, Phillips' legions of faithful supporters would not be denied, even as their golden boy, "Poker's chipleader" if you believe the signs, took a nosedive off the starting blocks and quickly surrendered the chip lead to craigmarq packing in the nine spot, good for $900,670 from the prize pool.
Guaranteed at least $1,288,217 now, Kim would waste no time in getting it in with a pocket pair of fours, garnering calls from three players, including Demidov and found himself relieved of his duties as November Niner. Suharto made an ill-advised all-in shove with A♥ 8♣ over the top of fellow Canadian Scott Montgomery's opening raise and, when Monty's A♠ Q♦ turned the nut flush, was out in sixth place.
Then it was Scott Montgomery's turn. The second Canadian at the final table, Montgomery is a maniac at the tables, a ticking time-bomb, and he exploded in epic fashion shortly after Suharto made his exit. First, Montgomery doubled up Ivan Demidov in a massive pot after bluff-shoving with A♦ 9♦ and seeing Demidov call with kings.
Then, crippled, the Full Tilt Poker pro shipped with A♦ 3♦ and got a call from Eastgate, who tabled pocket sixes. Aces on the flop and turn gave Montgomery the advantage, and after Phillips copped to folding one of the remaining sixes, Montgomery needed only to fade the one-outer to survive. He couldn't. The river brought the case six and Monty was out the door, busto in fifth place and earning $3,096,768 for his efforts.
Action continued four-handed for a stretch and then something weird happened. People just started gifting Peter Eastgate their chips under the most bizarre of circumstances.
First, Ylon Schwartz shipped his last $12.5 million on a K-8-2-K-5 river with naught but ace-high. Eastgate, holding pocket fives for the boat, had an easy call (although he made it look difficult), and just like that Schwartz was done, $3,774,974 richer and the tournament's fourth-place finisher.
A few hands later, Dennis Phillips bluff-shoved his way to oblivion, shipping for $15 million on a J♣ 4♦ 3♠ flop with T♣ 9♥ (!!!) and getting a snap call from Eastgate, who with pocket treys had flopped bottom set.
The hand was over by the turn and Phillips' ten-high couldn't improve enough to beat his rival, instead earning him a third-place finish and a $4,517,773 reward.
And then there were two. Eastgate and Ivan Demidov will return at 10 p.m. on Monday evening to play out the battle, with Eastgate holding $79,500,000 of the chips in play and Demidov $57,225,000. Blinds are $300,000/$600,000, so both players are extremely deep-stacked and, barring any unfortunate coolers, it could be a long night.
Long, short or in-between, PokerListings.com will be on the scene to provide comprehensive coverage of the thrilling conclusion to this epic event. Hit us back on Monday night as we finally award the bracelet!