We're down to the final table after another seven levels of action on the wrong side of the tracks at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana on the World Series of Poker Circuit.
Day 2 of the inaugural $5,150 WSOPC Main Event in Chicagoland saw the top 40 survivors from Friday's starting field of 165 return to the cavernous confines of "The Venue" on the shores of Lake Michigan with visions of prize pools dancing in their collective head.
With the top 18 finishers slated to be paid for their time, fully 22 of the returnees would find themselves doomed to have spent an extra night in the industrial wasteland that is Hammond, Indiana (home of the Calumet Pallet Company and the This Is It topless revue at 3632 Calumet Street, right beside Adriatic Steel), for zero profit.
Bleak prospects, indeed, but that didn't stop the field from Steve Billirakis and Ravi Raghaven, who along with DeWitt enjoyed great success in the day's early going, although truthfully DeWitt was the man leading the charge. Shortly before busting Richey, dude called Ralph Massey's all-in holding Q♥ 6♥ and found himself up against Massey's pocket aces. No trouble though; the board brought a king-high straight for ya boy and though a misguided Massey hollered "Ship it," he was soon corrected and sent sadly to the rail.
Anyways, after that explosive first level, things sort of calmed down, with only five players hitting the bricks in the next sixty minutes of action. That left less than 27 players in the hunt, however, and the field redrew for seats at the final three tables while making a move up onto The Venue's main stage, where the rest of the day's pokering was played out just inches away from a three-story tall TV screen showing the Texas/Texas Tech game and, alternately, a three-story tall Brooke Shields. Good times.
Steve Billirakis Shines
Action continued into the tournament's fifteenth level with another four players hitting the road, the most notable of whom was 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event final table bubble boy Dean Hamrick, who finished second in a tournament in Michigan a week or so ago but couldn't translate his success into more success across the State Line. Hamrick went broke when his top pair couldn't hold against Dustin Woolf's pair and flush draw combination after the Neverwin Poker guru went runner-runner to make the Wheel Straight.
That left 20 players still standing, and after Faraz Jaka and a snake-bit Rocky Pace were eliminated the tournament director settled down his dealers for an extended bout of hand-for-hand action with the money bubble having reared its ugly head.
For the first few rounds of H4H the short-stacks seemingly couldn't miss a chance to double and the bubble period stretched on, something that was undoubtedly great news for the likes of Billirakis and Woolf, both of whom abused their less-experienced opponents by raising nearly every pot and putting anyone who dared to step out of line to a decision for his tournament life.
Eventually, however, the bubble had to burst and it did in head-scratching fashion. Possessed of a nearly average chip-stack and with a player holding less than six big blinds staring at him from across the felt, Adam Jacobs check-called his way to oblivion on a Q-6-4-4-4 board, ultimately calling off the last of his stack on the river and then mucking his tournament life away when Ravi Raghaven showed Q-9.
Jacobs thus left empty handed, and the 18 who survived him were each guaranteed at least $13,794. None of them seemed to be in any rush to leave the stage, however, as it would take nearly a full level for the first payable elimination to occur.
When the bust outs started, however, they came quick, with six eliminations occurring within about ten minutes. Among those to fall was former NBA journeyman Ken Norman, who fell when his A-Q couldn't hold against Gary Leibovitz' K-Q. A K-Q-J-J-J board meant Norman was out in 14th spot and the baller earned $15,765 for a rather impressive performance.
With twelve players remaining the field went on dinner and they'd return to a prolonged period of inactivity during which Dustin Woolf combated the boredom by surveying his opponents about their choice in sweater manufacturer and a succession of short stacks continued to chomp that Doublemint.
Eventually, though, Shane Stokes and Nick Jivkov would bust in 12th and 11th respectively, prompting a redraw for seats at the final table and sparking the day's final phase, during which everyone more or less sat around and waited for short-stack Domenico Caprara to blind himself off, which he did, eventually calling all-in with 9-4 and falling to Billirakis' pocket queens on a tantalizing 10-6-4-Q-4 board.
Thus was the second day of play at the Horseshoe in Hammond concluded and our nine survivors were released upon the "This Is It" revue for a night of debauchery before play at the final table resumes tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. Central time. Billirakis comes in with a substantial chip lead, with DeWitt his closest competitor and Woolf lurking in the middle distance.
PokerListings.com will have all of the highlights, lowlights and long stretches of inactivity from the final table tomorrow, so you should tune in to our website and follow along on your laptop if that sounds like something you might be interested in.
Here are the chip counts and seating positions for the final nine:
|Seat 1||Thomas Koral||351,000|
|Seat 2||George Dietz||174,000|
|Seat 3||Gary Leibovitz||156,000|
|Seat 4||Steve Billirakis||754,000|
|Seat 5||Sameer Al-Dbhany||253,000|
|Seat 6||Ravi Raghaven||213,000|
|Seat 7||Jason DeWitt||651,000|
|Seat 8||Dustin Woolf||491,000|
|Seat 9||Kyle Schertz||325,000|