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Hellmuth, Mizrachi add spice to World Series of Poker

2 July 2008

LAS VEGAS -- What was supposed to be a sleepy little day at the World Series of Poker turned electric, with Phil Hellmuth pursuing his 12th WSOP bracelet and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi chasing his first.

The dual-bracelet chase took place at adjacent tables in the Amazon Room at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino. On the featured stage, with fans in the bleachers and the Milwaukee's Best Lounge surrounding the action, was the $10,000 World Championship Pot Limit Omaha tournament (Event 50).

On the secondary stage was the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, and the two scenes could not be more different.

Smyth

Marty Smyth (above) ruined Michael Mizrachi's day by winning the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha World Championship (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

The Omaha game felt like an international soccer game, with hordes of fans stomping and cheering when their player won a hand. Chants of "Grinder, Grinder, Grinder" could be heard at times throughout the room as the crowd tried to will Mizrachi to victory. When Belfast's Marty Smyth took a hand, his supporters would sing "You can't beat the Irish." And when Canada's Peter Jetten won a pot, his fans would chant his name.

At the H.O.R.S.E. tournament, the mood was distinctly less festive. The fans, who easily out numbered the Omaha crowd, were there to watch Hellmuth win his 12th bracelet. His wife, mother and a father were in the crowd. But the one-time chipleader was struggling to fend of the juggernaut called Tommy Hang and the determined James Schaaf. Fans standing two and sometimes three deep behind the ropes at the secondary table quietly asked each what game were they playing next, who was leading in chips and how was Phil playing. Everyone was there to root for Hellmuth, nervously pulling for him on every hand.

In the end, "The Grinder" was the first to fall. Peter Jetten knocked him out of the tournament when his pocket aces held up after the flop. Then Smyth knocked out Jetten when flopped a king-high straight and hit the flush on the river. And after Smyth won, the chants of "Ole, ole, ole, ole" reverberated through the rafters and filled the poker room.

The song was so loud that players stopped by press row to see what had just happened, and to check in on the progress of Phil Hellmuth.

While Smyth was celebrating his triumph in Pot Limit Omaha, Hellmuth was in survival mode at the H.O.R.S.E. game. He was the short stack in three-handed play after knocking out Esther Rossi. But he couldn't dodge any more bullets, and was knocked out when Tommy Hang's queens held up in Omaha.

Hellmuth's third place finish earned him $93,168. Mizrachi's third place finish earned him $331,279.

Smyth took home $859,532 for winning the Pot Limit Omaha championship. And Schaaf ended up winning in the H.O.R.S.E. tournament in the wee hours of the morning to take home $256,412.

Hellmuth, Mizrachi add spice to World Series of Poker 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.