Moneymaker Sucks Out Against Phil Ivey
While many look back at Chris Moneymaker's bluff against Sammy Farha as one of the greatest moments in WSOP history, the reality is that his suckout against Phil Ivey may have been the turning point of the Main Event for the father of the Poker Boom.
Moneymaker raised pre-flop with A-Q and was called by Ivey with nines. On a flop of Q-6-Q, Moneymaker was ahead with trip queens and bet out.
Ivey called and then spiked what seemed like gin when a nine hit the turn. After a 200,000 bet from Moneymaker, Ivey shoved and Moneymaker was crushed to see his trip queens now behind the full house.
Although Ivey was 83% to win the hand on the turn disaster struck on the river as an ace fell to give Moneymaker a better full house and send Ivey out in 10th place.
Had Ivey won the hand odds are that Moneymaker would never have made it to heads-up play and the game of poker would have evolved in a completely different direction.
Three Hands of Insanity
The $3,000 NL Hold'em Event at the 2008 World Series of Poker saw John Phan looking to secure his first WSOP title against Johnny Neckar.
The two skilled pros battled back and forth for well over six hours and then, just when it looked as if the battle would wage all night, the two started flipping for the bracelet.
Phan and Neckar decided to move all-in blind pre-flop. The first time the two decided to play the hand standard with Phan showing Qs-4d and Neckar 9s-7c.
The board ran Ks-Jc-Kh-9h-3c to double up Neckar and give him the chip lead. The pair then played the next two hands all-in blind and even chose to sweat each one of their hole cards.
Phan would win the second hand and Neckar the third in one of the most bizarre sequences of hands in the history of the WSOP.
After three hands of insanity, the players went back to normal play but the match was really never the same again. Neckar continued to gamble and eventually shoved with Qd-Jd but this time ran into Phan's Ah-9s.
The board produced an ace on the turn to give John Phan the first of his two bracelets. However most will remember this event for three hands of insanity that shows you that anything can happen at the World Series of Poker.
Rebirth of a Legend
By the time the 1997 WSOP Main Event began almost everyone had written off Stu Ungar as a lost cause due to his turbulent lifestyle.
Everyone with the exception of Billy Baxter that is. Baxter backed Ungar in the Main Event and Ungar proceeded to play the type of poker that won him the 1980 and 1981 Main Events.
Ungar's performance at the final table was so dominant that WSOP Tournament Director Jack McLelland said the other players were playing for second place.
His words became reality when Ungar's Ah-4c outdrew the As-8c of John Strzemp to give Ungar his third WSOP Main Event title.
Ungar and Johnny Moss are the only poker players to become the World Champion of Poker three times.
Ungar is the only poker player to "win" the Main Event tournament three times, though, as Moss' title in 1970 was by popular vote.
Chip Reese Wins $50,000 HORSE Event
While covering the $1,500 Limit Hold'em Event at the 2006 WSOP, I had a conversation with Erik Seidel. I asked Seidel who he thought would win the then-inaugural $50,000 HORSE Event. Seidel said he picked Chip Reese, hands down.
It had been 24 years since Reese had last won a WSOP bracelet. Reese was primarily a high-stakes cash game player and mainly was only taking up tournaments again because his family asked why he wasn't being shown on TV.
He soon reminded the poker world why he was considered the greatest poker player in history.
Reese made what is considered the greatest final table in the history of the WSOP with Patrik Antonius, Doyle Brunson, Dewey Tomko, David Singer, TJ Cloutier, Jim Bechtel, Phil Ivey and a relatively unknown Andy Bloch all in the final with him.
Ultimately Bloch would take a sizeable chip lead into heads-up play with Reese but was never able to put him away.
Literally every time Bloch had Reese all-in and behind Reese would catch his needed card to win the hand. Ultimately Reese would gain the chip lead and take down the largest prize in poker outside of the Main Event.
This would be his final bracelet win as he would pass away a year later from complications from pneumonia.
Starting in 2008, the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy is awarded to the winner of the event now called the Poker Players Championship.
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