Bada-Bing! Binger Takes Tahoe

17 November 2008, Created By: Martin Derbyshire
Bada-Bing! Binger Takes Tahoe
With better than $5.6 million in career tournament earnings, a good healthy portion of which comes from his third-place finish in the biggest tournament in poker's history, it feels strange to say, but Michael Binger won his first major title at WSOPC Tahoe tonight.

When things got going in front of the raucous Harvey's crowd just after 1 p.m. PST, Binger came in as the favorite with the big $400k stack.

But this was no Jamie Gold-style wire-to-wire act for the 2006 Main Event final tablist. In fact, right from the get-go, it looked like Ty Stewart's day at the Lake.

Stewart started out busting two-time WSOP and WPT winner Scott Clements in short order. Clements came in short and when Stewart flopped broadway, presumably against some kind of Clements ace, Scott check-called his way out the door ninth.

Binger tried to keep up, busting Bill Boyce next when he bet enough to put Boyce all-in on the flop holding a weak ace with a gutshot and backdoor flush draw. Boyce snap-called with his sevens as an overpair to the board, and when Binger sucked out an ace on the turn, he was out eighth.

Ty Stewart
Running good is better.

But we returned to our regularly scheduled programming, The Ty Stewart Show, immediately thereafter. A relatively unknown cash-game player in his first major tournament, Ty spent the next hour or so getting hit so hard by the deck it was bound to leave a mark.

Stewart raised pre-flop with a pair of low suited two-gappers, and when Travis Erdman woke up with kings behind him, "Tahoe" Travis performed the obvious repop.

Erdman, who was making his incredible third final-table appearance in a row here at WSOPC Tahoe, obviously runs good among the tall trees and fresh mountain air. But just as it did in his previous fifth- and ninth-place finishes, his ability to dodge disaster eventually wore out.

Stewart flatted, then flopped a spade flush, and because he had the redraw, Erdman went with it. In the end, Travis bricked out, passing his bottle of Tahoe run-good sauce on to Ty on the way out seventh.

We were about to go on the first break of the day when Stewart proved unbeatable again in what would become the sad ending to whiny run-bad king Allen Kessler's Tahoe dreams.

Allen Kessler
Sad but true.

Facing a small Tay Nguyen raise, Stewart looked to put some pressure on the short stack when he shipped his massive $500k stack all-in over the top with two sevens, but Kessler woke up with rockets in the small blind.

He called all-in, Nguyen dropped out and just for a moment, Kessler looked good to double. But alas, it's Allen Kessler we're talking about, and everyone who knows him could sense he was about to get cracked again.

The flop didn't touch Ty and the turn brought another blank before a river seven sent a dejected Kessler reeling to the rail.

Lord knows what Kessler did to piss off the Poker Gods, but they are definitely not big fans of The Chainsaw. In fact, sadly, he came down to rail latter parts of the tournament, whining about the beat and criticizing Stewart's play the whole time, no doubt angering them anew.

Tay Nguyen
Didn't Nguyen.

Nguyen was gone next, short-shoving with two unders to the easy-calling Mike McClain's aces, but McClain was just borrowing chips that obviously belonged to Stewart.

A few hands later, Stewart limped suited connecters and called a McClain pre-flop raise. He flopped an open-ender, turned a straight on a jack-high board and, when McClain pushed with queens, beat him to the pot with the call.

Drawing dead, it was another "agony of defeat" moment for the 2004 WSOP Main Event ninth-place finisher, as he stepped out fourth.

Jake Solis had chips coming into the final, but had not played very many hands by the time it went three-handed.

He got active at this point, though, and managed to steal a bit of Stewart's mojo when, even though Ty had flopped trips and had Solis all-in, Jake's nut-flush draw came through.

Jake Solis

Solis was worn down to the nub a few hands later, though, and when he shoved facing a Binger raise, both Michael and Ty called him down and checked it down.

Solis had eights, but Binger made queens, and off to heads-up we went.

The Tahoe crown, a ticket for the 2009 WSOP Main Event and a $180k+ first-place prize hung in the balance and thanks to the Solis hand, heads-up began with Binger just a few hundred thousand shy of Stewart's $1.1 million stack.

Both avoided confrontation in the first few hands before Stewart took a stranglehold on the match. He caught cards and bluffed at the right time, and after pushing Binger off what he claimed was a big pair on a straightening board, he had a 3-1 chip lead.

It actually got to the point where Ty Stewart had $1.7 million in chips to Binger's $200k before Michael finally got off the mat. Suddenly Binger caught a pair and won a pot.

Michael Binger

Then things really turned around when he pushed Ty off an even bigger pot, shoving his ever-growing stack in.

All of a sudden, Binger was back in it. He got caught in a move with queen-high, but still managed to pair his crappy kicker and it held, at which point he grabbed the lead.

It looked like Ty's bottle of run-good sauce had run out as Binger bowled him over until finally putting an end to WSOPC Tahoe, calling Stewart's second-pair shove with the top one.

What started just two short days ago with 132 in one of the most beautiful places in the country was down to just one. There were big stars, big trees, big mountains and a big win for Binger in an unforgettable time in Tahoe, proving once again it's one of the best stops on the circuit.

And with that, leaves the Lake and our wonderful friends with the WSOPC and Harvey's Lake Tahoe Resort & Casino, already making plans for our return.






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