Tournament director John Arthur blamed Monday's 18-hour debacle on an error with the schedule posted on the Internet, claiming that he'd asked whomever he'd put in charge of posting the schedule to enter 60-minute levels to coincide with his $20,000 starting stacks. Instead, players were given 75-minute levels, and due to the Internet-people's promise of a seven-level Day 1, Day 2 swelled to such marathon lengths that the sun was rising on Tuesday by the time the field was reduced to its final nine.
Putting aside the issue of why Mr. Arthur didn't double-check his tournament schedule as it was published on the Internet to make the necessary changes before our 18-hour debacle ensued (as well as any questions about the merit of playing only seven levels on Day 1, or say, the question of why the TD didn't just change the schedule), the "live" (and by live we mean, as always, delayed by one hour, or "not live") broadcast of the final table meant that players would have to return midway through the afternoon to fulfill someone's contractual obligations to the broadcaster. This made for a very tired final table playing in suboptimal conditions with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. Lol donkaments.
Anyway, after Vincent Procopio bit the dust at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the field took a bit of a nap before the final nine returned to play down to the champion at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. Leading the charge (or the slow, sleepy stagger) was Eric Buchman with $870,000, followed by last year's third-place finisher, John Racener, with $780,000. Also in contention was last year's fourth-place finisher, Feming Chan, as well as South Jersey legend Joseph "Joey the B" Brooks and budding Circuit all-star David Fox, who'd final-tabled the WSOPC event in New Orleans just weeks before.
For the final table, TD Arthur decided to roll back the blinds to $20,000/$40,000 with a $5,000 ante, but with an average stack size of $542,222 and an exhausted field, even two-hour levels couldn't prevent Day 3 from becoming a push-fest very quickly. Indeed, post-flop play was more or less unheard-of as the action progressed under the mood lighting in Ballroom B at Harrah's.
Sam Skolnik was first to bust, heading out on the second hand of the day when he got all-in for his last $70,000 and was called by Eric Buchman and David Fox. After a K♠ 8♣ 7♦ flop Buchman bet out to isolate, showing 9♠ 8♥, and Skolnik was in great shape with K♥ 3♣. The board finished out 6♠ 5♣, however, and Buchman hit runner-runner to consign Sam to the rail, out in ninth place for a $23,712 score.
A few hands later, Joseph Brooks open-shoved from the small blind and Mike Nelson called all-in from the big blind with A♠ Q♥ to Brooks' A♣ 9♠. The way the tournament was running, the second-place hand had to be the favorite and Brooks held the internuts, watching the board come A♥ 9♦ 3♠ 8♠ 4♠ to send young Nelson to the rail in eighth place for $35,568.
A few more open-shove/folds later and the methodical Adrian Velez made his exit. The young Queens native open-shoved from the hijack with A♣ T♣ and Buchman made the call with A♦ Q♥. This time the best hand did hold, as the board came 9♥ 8♣ 6♦ Q♦ K♠ to send Velez home in seventh place for $47,424.
Then it was time for more suck-outery, as David Fox found himself the victim of such unspeakable brutality that reading this paragraph out loud will literally kill you. Fox got all-in pre-flop with a pocket pair of red aces and Eric Buchman turned up Q♠ J♣ and was way behind. Until the flop, which came T♦ 9♦ 8♠ to give Buchman the nut straight and Fox the night terrors. The turn was the Q♥ and the river the 2♥ and Fox was eliminated in sixth place, the beneficiary of a $59,280 salve to his wounded psyche.
After a few double-ups, Thomas Patrick "Bernie" Fee found himself simply open-shoving almost every hand. Most of the time he took down the blinds and antes to the raucous cheers of his support section, but things got real when John Racener came all-in over the top of one of Fee's little moves, holding K♥ Q♥ to Bernie's A♦ 9♥. Once more the internuts came through, as the board came A♥ 8♣ 2♥ Q♣ J♥ to give Racener the heart flush and send the man with many names to the rail in fifth place for $71,136.
After what had happened to David Fox, you might have thought players would be content to simply open-fold pocket aces and wait for monsters like trey-deuce before entering pots, but John Racener had other ideas. He played it safe by simply limping in from the small blind and seeing Joseph Brooks check behind, and then lowered the boom on Brooks after the B hit top pair on a ten-high flop, with all the money eventually getting in after some bickering and re-raising. The board finished out with neither a ten nor a five (the B's kicker) and Brooks was out in fourth place for an $82,992 score.
At that, the surviving three players hit the hallway for some maths, talking amongst themselves and eventually hammering out a deal. We don't know what it was so we won't report on it, but suffice it to say the chip counts were almost identical for Feming Chan, Eric Buchman and John Racener so it wouldn't surprise us if everyone made out with an even baseline figure and played for a bit of extra cash and the title.
Either way, once the players had returned from their break it didn't take long for things to end. Feming "Not Johnny and Not Terrence" Chan was crippled in an A-10 vs. JJ situation with Eric Buchman and shipped it for his last $75,000 shortly thereafter. Buchman and Racener both called and checked down a A♠ T♣ 9♠ 4♦ 9♥ board, with Racener turning up K-9 to take down the pot and send Chan to the rail, where he ostensibly collected $106,704, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.
Heads-up play thus began, and though Buchman held a 2-1 chip lead on his spiky-haired rival, that lead quickly evaporated as Racener dominated the mano a mano contest. Racener won every hand of the short battle, doubling-up with K-6 after Buchman put him all-in with J-6 on a K-J-8 flop (the board finished 5-10), and then getting the last of his rival's stack when Buchman shoved with A♥ 9♣ to his own A♣ K♥.
The board ran A♠ K♠ 7♥ Q♦ 9♦ and Racener, who last year kick-started his professional poker career at this event with a $190,000 haul for third place a few days after his 21st birthday, had earned his first major tournament victory, one day after his 22nd birthday. The Floridian with the blinged-out watch earns a WSOPC ring, a $10,000 entry into the WSOP Main Event in July and the right to put $379,392 on his income tax form, while Buchman will only be taxed for $208,666. Congratulations to both finalists and for next year, here's to double-checking your schedules before you post them on teh internets!