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'Get out of jail' card can't prevent Hellmuth elimination from WSOP

13 July 2008

LAS VEGAS – On a day where Mike Matusow busted out of the World Series of Poker Main Event in 30th place, the WSOP's decision to rescind a one-round penalty levied against Phil Hellmuth late Saturday night dominated talk for much of the day.

Hellmuth, who finished 45th after being eliminated late Sunday afternoon, blew up on the last hand of the night. In the hand, Hellmuth raised 250,000 before the flop and received only one caller in Cristian Dragomir. After a flop of 9c-10c-7s, Hellmuth checked. Dragomir bet 300,000. Hellmuth folded, showing his A-K.

Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth busted out of the Main Event Sunday. He finished 45th. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Dragomir, after being egged on by Matusow and the crowd, flipped over his 10-4 and the crowd roared. But so did Hellmuth.

"Listen buddy, you're an idiot," Hellmuth screamed in classic tirade mode. Hellmuth's tirade continued for several minutes, and Hellmuth was eventually warned and then assessed a one-orbit penalty.

That meant Hellmuth would have had to sit out nine hands and lose around 80,000 chips in the process.

But when play resumed Sunday, Hellmuth's penalty had been overturned and he was in his seat at the ESPN featured table, ready to play.

At Hellmuth's request, the self proclaimed "Poker Brat" met with WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel, Harrah's Regional Vice President for Specialty Gaming Howard Greenbaum and WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack Sunday morning to discuss the penalty, according to a statement released by the WSOP.

"Based on that meeting and an official review of the situation, it was decided that the penalty imposed on Mr. Hellmuth at the conclusion of play last night was excessive," the WSOP statement said.

"Warnings and penalties are intended to correct inappropriate behavior and our rulings should be as fair as possible, given the circumstances," said Pollack in the statement. "In this instance, the punishment did not fit the crime."

"Phil has now been warned and put on notice in a way that he never has been," Pollack added.

On the rail, word of the penalty being rescinded spread like wildfire as play began. And even the players were talking about it.

"He's up to 1.7 million chips right now," said Matusow, who was back playing in one of the outer tables in the Amazon Room on Sunday. "He wouldn't be there if they'd kept the penalty."

Andy_bloch

Andy Bloch is prepared to play the role of poker coach. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

While the drama built around Hellmuth at the featured table, the rest of the field was playing cautiously, feeling its way through the day. After more than a week of extremely aggressive play, the field slowed down as the stakes rose. If a player busted out 79th, he would earn $77,200. Finishing 72nd brought $96,500. And finishing 28th (the field was playing down to 27 players today) brought $193,000.

With so much at stake, most players started looking for solid opportunities to pick up chips while avoiding questionable hands. And with friends and family watching with iPhones in hand to get live updates, the eliminations came at a slow drip.

Andy Bloch was on hand to watch Tony Scherer, a friend from his MIT days. When asked if he had a piece of Scherer, Bloch grinned and answered "Not yet."

It turns out that Scherer has already approached Bloch about coaching him if he reaches the final table.

"I know it's premature, but would you up for some poker coaching for four months?" Scherer asked Bloch.

Bloch said he would be available. And when asked for insight into Scherer's game, Bloch zeroed in on tournament experience.

"He's good gambling for high-stakes," Bloch said. "But he doesn't have much tournament experience."

mike_matusow

Fan favorite Mike Matusow received the loudest ovation of the night when he was eliminated on Sunday by a tough beat. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Matusow received the largest ovation of the night when he was eliminated around 10:45 p.m. Looking trim and fit after winning his weight-loss bet with Ted Forrest, Matusow had been grinding his way up the leaderboard all tournament long. His tournament came to an end when he ran up against Paul Snead. Matusow was holding A-J while Snead had A-9. After tons of pre-flop action, the board came out A-A-5. Both players checked. The turn was a nine. Snead, wearing a N.Y. Jets game jersey with his last name across the back, went all in and Matusow called. The river was a king and Matusow's trip Aces were no good against Snead's full house.

The last player to be eliminated Sunday was Nikolay Losev. He won $193,000 for his efforts. The 27th place finisher will take home $257,334 on Monday.

Notable eliminations: Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Adam Levy, Thomas Keller, Victor Ramdin, Alex Outhred and Jeremy Joseph.

Notable leaders: Craig Marquis, 11.3 million, Dennis Phillips, 11.15 million, Tiffany Michelle, 9.9 million, David Rheem, 6.8 million and Brandon Cantu, 5.23 million.

'Get out of jail' card can't prevent Hellmuth elimination from WSOP is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.