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PLO: The Sweet Sixteen of the WSOP
Event 33, $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha with re-buys - stuck smack in the middle of a 55-event schedule crowded with headline grabbing Hold'em and H.O.R.S.E. tournaments - slipped quietly under the radar of most fans milling about the 2007 World Series of Poker today. They missed a good one.
If you know college basketball, you know the real climax of the college season isn't usually the National Championship. Or the Final Four.
It's the Sweet Sixteen. With the field pared down to the best of the best and the best of the underdogs, the big name schools have both everything to lose and everything to prove.
The underdogs are loose and aggressive and not yet completely overmatched.
Which makes for some of the most enjoyable and captivating games of the tournament.
Pot-Limit Omaha is kinda like your World Series equivalent.
When Event 33 - $1,500 PLO with re-buys - kicked off yesterday with a star-studded 293-player field and a short three-level re-buy window, it was clear the action was going to be loose, fast, and entertaining.
And it delivered. With late arrivals, blind calls, non-stop table banter and re-buys by the dozen, it was like being at a friendly home game, except with all your best friends happening to be the best in the world.
Michael Binger. Chau Giang. Eli Elezra. Humberto Brenes.
Julian Gardner. Phil Ivey. Josh Arieh. Ram Vaswani. Joe Hachem. Erik Seidel. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. Sam Farha. Michael Mizrachi. Greg Raymer. John Juanda. Barry Greenstein. Gavin Smith. Scott "the Bracelet" Clements, already a PLO winner at the 2007 WSOP.
A dream field, with just enough amateurs to keep things interesting. Action was fast, challenging and engaging. And by the time play worked its way down to the final four tables today, here's what was left:
2006 Main Event third-place finisher Michael Binger, 2005 Main Event runner-up David Williams and the Devilfish side-by-each at one table. Lindgren and Cunningham across the felt at another. Chan and Chau back-to-back at adjacent tables. Mike Sexton and Ram Vaswani side-by-side.
The Devilfish proceeded to survive at least six all-ins after being dead on the flop, dropping down to his last six thousand before doubling up "with a few bread crumbs" from the player on his left.
He warned the table a few more of those and he was back in business, and then promptly did so. Binger was down to the "bread crumbs" himself before winning a few small pots and then doubling through Williams for $48,000, his hands shaking with adrenalin as he flipped over his cards.
Williams, previously with a fairly healthy stack, tilted a bit, blowing off his chips steadily from there and barely making the final 27, eventually busting out in 24th. Giang, the cash game legend, ran up his chip stack to well over $300,000 with sophisticated betting and the obvious advantages of years of experience.
Players bounced back and forth from each table, checking the action and bantering like they were happy to be there.
With no cameras, no hype and unfiltered, immediate access to some of the best - and best known - players in the game, it was everything the World Series, from a fan's perspective should be.
Action winds down to the final table tonight, and you can tune in tomorrow for all the details in the PokerListings.com Live Tournaments Section.