Day 5 at the 2008 World Series of Poker Europe meant Day 2 of the Series' £2,500 H.O.R.S.E. extravaganza, a tournament that attracted 110 of the meanest, most ballingest poker players on the planet.
Pros like Hellmuth, Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, David Williams, Andy Bloch, John Juanda and Jeff Madsen made the trek to London for a piece of the action and a special WSOP bracelet bonus round.
Fifty-six of their ilk survived six levels of play on Monday's Day 1 and returned at 2 p.m. Tuesday with the unenviable goal of playing down through the money bubble (16 players get paid) and all the way down to the eight-handed final table.
They wouldn't quite make it there - by the time action in the Empire ground to a halt at around 4:30 in the morning, 11 players still remained, with many of the big names having bowed just shy of the final table, denying observers a second-straight star-studded final day on the H.O.R.S.E.
That Joe Beevers, Bronshtein, Alexander Kravchenko, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Jennifer Harman and Kirk Morrison, the latter two of whom engaged in a furious three-way battle with eventual champion Thomas Bihl over the rights to the first WSOPE bracelet ever awarded, as well as £70,875 in spending money.
This year there's an extra £6k or so at stake and the fight for that coveted WSOP bracelet will be that much fiercer. But before we sail any further on our spaceship of hyperbole, here's how we got this far:
The action kicked off promptly at two on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, just as pint-sized PokerListings.com reporter Rod Stirzaker was hauling himself out of bed after a night spent chugging bourbon and watching the British version of Cops in some shady North London tenement flat.
By the time poor Rod had arrived, breathless, on the tournament floor of the Empire Casino in London's Leicester Square, Barry Greenstein, Jeff Madsen and Bruno Fitoussi had already been eliminated, Greenstein in somewhat ironic fashion after getting spiked by an ace on the river in a hand with John Phan.
The eliminations would continue at a steady, if not particularly fast, pace throughout the day, as Mike Matusow and Brandon Cantu joined the procession to the exits.
Meanwhile, Negreanu and the two Phils continued their dominance at the top of the chip leaderboard, with Hellmuth playing de facto court jester, single-mindedly accumulating chips while his Big Ben-sized ego deflected the catcalls of the rest of the field and, at one point, an extremely drunk and profane Padraig Parkinson from the rail.
By the time the field broke for that trademark two-hour dinner break only 30 of the lot remained, and in the after-dinner rush six more would hit the bricks, including Paul Jackson, Andreas Krause and Chris Bjorin.
That left three tables, and with only two to be paid you'd expect the action to slow to a pace unbearable, but if anything the field began to pare down its numbers at a quicker speed than before. This was partly thanks to Full Tilt pro Lederer, who did his part by eliminating Barny Boatman and Gus Hansen in the same Stud hand.
Meanwhile, Max Pescatori would jump up to the top of the chip leaderboard after making quad aces in a battle with Sherkhan Farnood. The Italian Pirate looked primed for a deep run, or at the very least a cash, but Farnood would get the last laugh a few rounds later, busting Pescatori in Stud/8 after making an A-3-4-5-6 low and eight-high straight to send Pescatori to Davey Jones' locker.
Pescatori's elimination would burst the money bubble, guaranteeing the rest of the field at least £4,812 in prize money. David Williams and Marc Goodwin would take advantage of that guarantee right away, going broke almost immediately in 16th and 15th place, respectively.
Fourteenth place was Kid Poker territory in the Kenny Blankenship Painful Elimination of the Day. Negreanu got it all-in in an Omaha/8 hand with bottom set and a legitimate low draw against Ivey, who'd flopped the nut straight. The turn and river bricked out and Kid Poker couldn't make either the low or a boat, instead busting out and earning £5,500 for his troubles.
Isaac Haxton would bust in 13th and then Phil Hellmuth was out in 12th. The Poker Brat spent the day seemingly fed up with the state of poker around him, at one point even going so far as to tell 2008 WSOP LHE bracelet winner Negreanu that he didn't understand the game.
Ironically, it was Hellmuth who would demonstrate a lack of understanding, trying to raise all-in pre-flop for more than the max bet in a LHE hand against Sherkhan Farnood and eventually succeeding in convincing Farnood to put him all-in holding pocket threes to the Brat's A-K.
The flop brought a king but the river brought a three and the Brat was out in spectacular fashion, victimized, he said, by one of the worst players he had ever seen and leaving a trail of tearful dealers in his wake. Stay classy, guy.
Hellmuth's elimination left only 11 players alive as things wound down after seven levels of mixed-game action on Day 2. Among them are Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Yuval Bronshtein, the aforementioned Farnood and Jeffrey Lisandro.
Action will resume at 2:30 p.m. and continue until someone's got gold on their wrist. PokerListings.com will take you to the finish line, so get some sleep and then strap yourself in as the pain train rolls along. We out.
Here are the chip counts for the final 11 players:
|Raul Paez||Barcelona, Spain||17,500|
|Erik Albinsson||Falun, Sweden||43,000|
|Sherkhan Farnood||Dubai City, Dubai||141,500|
|Ivo Donev||Lochau, Austria||78,000|
|Jeffrey Lisandro||Salerno, Italy||82,500|
|Mark Gregorich||Las Vegas, Nev. (U.S.A.)||62,500|
|Howard Lederer||Las Vegas, Nev. (U.S.A.)||208,500|
|Yuval Bronshtein||Atlanta, Ga. (U.S.A.)||133,500|
|Phil Ivey||Las Vegas, Nev. (U.S.A.)||114,500|
|Jeff Duvall||London, U.K.||112,000|
|Spencer Lawrence||London, U.K.||88,500|