LAS VEGAS – It was the goal of the people who run the World Series of Poker to generate more drama and excitement for the Main Event's final table by pausing the action for 117 days. Anyone who was inside the Penn & Teller Theater on Sunday and Monday to see the 2008 champion crowned would find it difficult to deny that goal was accomplished.
Here's 10 moments from both inside and outside the rail that we here at Casino City considered to be the most memorable.
10. Craig Marquis eliminated
Marquis was the first player eliminated Sunday, and it came via a
brutal bad beat. Near the bottom of the leader board after four hours
of play, Marquis pushed all in with pocket sevens (7d 7h). Scott
Montgomery called with Ad Qh. The flop came out 10s Ah 7c, giving
Marquis three sevens. A jack came on the turn and a king on the river
giving Montgomery a runner-runner straight to knock Marquis out of the
Kelly Kim had a huge contingent of fans supporting him.Photo by Vin
Narayanan, Casino City
9. Black, black, black!
Kelly Kim had a loud and boisterous cheering section. And no where was
it more noticeable than when he was all-in against David "Chino"
Rheem. Both players were all in with ace-king. Rheem had the ace of
hearts and king clubs. Kim had the ace of diamonds and king of spades.
Three hearts hit on the flop, giving the Rheem a flush draw. But Kim's
fans wouldn't give up. As one, they started shouting "Black, Black,
Black, Black," hoping their wishes would keep Kim in the tournament.
And it worked. A black queen hit on the turn and the queen of diamonds
hit on the river, keeping Kim alive.
8. Demidov-Phillips showdown
After beginning final table action as the chip leader, Phillips
quickly fell to one of the shorter stacks at the table on the 18th
hand of the day. Prior to the flop, Ivan Demidov and Phillips raised
and re-raised their way to an 8.225-million pot. After a flop of 8d
10c Js, Phillips bet 4.5 million. Demidov went all in and Phillips
folded, disappointing the 300-strong group of friends and family who
had come out to support him.
7. The Phillips cheering section
The 300-plus fans clad in white shirts and St. Louis Cardinals hats
helped turn the World Series of Poker into a major sporting event.
Every time Phillips won a hand, his fans would stand up, stomp, cheer,
shout, clap thundersticks and generally do everything possible to make
the Penn & Teller Auditorium sound like a hockey arena.
6. The stars come out
For the poker fan that is into star gazing, the Main Event was
definitely the place to be. Among the notables in the crowd were:
Phil Hellmuth, Hevad Kahn, Grant Hinkle, Evelyn Ng, Barry Greenstein,
Chris Moneymaker, Tiffany Michelle, Maria Ho, Tom "Durrr" Dwan, Nenad
Medic, Jen Harman, Phil Gordon, Cliff Josephy, Robert Mizrahi, Michael
Mizrahi, David Williams, Cyndy Violette, Lacey Jones, Hoyt Corkins,
Daniel Negreanu and JC Tran.
5. Hellmuth/Michelle dissed
When Tournament Director Jack Effel introduced Phil Hellmuth
to the audience for the first time, he was roundly booed.
Effel, acknowledging the boos, joked he wanted to introduce Hellmuth
first so Tiffany Michelle wouldn't feel alone.
4. Fight night at the Rio
In a publicity stunt for heads-up play, WSOP media director Nolan
Dalla dressed up in a tuxedo and in his best boxing announcer voice
(and it was really good) introduced Demidov and Eastgate as prize
fighters vying for the WSOP crown. Showgirls walked the players to the
stage with Rocky soundtrack music blaring. And on stage, Demidov and Eastgate were able
to eye the $9.1 million in prize money as well as the WSOP bracelet.
3. Eastgate eliminates Montgomery
Crippled by a previous hand against Demidov, Montgomery pushed all in
with Ad 3d and Eastgate called with a pair of sixes. Montgomery picked
up an ace on the flop, and one more on the turn to take a commanding
lead in the hand with three aces. But Eastgate hit the case six on the
river to get the full house to eliminate Montgomery and provoke a
raucous "ooba ooba" cheer from his fans.
Eastgate and Demidov eye Lindgren's prize. (photo by Vin Narayanan)
2. Hey, check out the bike!
On the poker table in front of them was piles of cash that totaled the
$9.1 million the winner would get as well as the coveted bracelet. But
the shiny new motorcycle sitting in the corner was what
really had the attention of Eastgate and Demidov moments
before the duo began their heads-up match Monday night. The
custom-made Harley-Davidson motorcycle was about to be given to Erick
Lindgren as part of his winning the 2008 WSOP Player of the Year
award, but judging from the reaction from Eastgate and Demidov, who
openly admired and discussed the bike together, the WSOP may want to
consider adding this kind of machinery to the prize package next
1. The wheel
The wheel is one of the sweetest hands in poker. Winning with an ace-to-five straight often brings irrational joy that just doesn't exist when player win with other hands. So it was fitting that Eastgate won the Main Event and ended his monster rush with a wheel.
On the very first hand after a break, Eastgate ended the tournament when Demedov went all in with two pair, only to see And on the very next hand, Eastgate finished Demidov off. Eastgate limped in on the button and Demidov checked in the big blind. The flop came out 2d Ks 3h. Demidov checked and Eastgate bet 1.25 million. Demidov called and the 4c hit on the turn. Demidov checked again and Eastgate bet 2 million. Demidov then check-raised Eastgate to 6 million. Eastgate called the raise and a 7s hit on the river. Demidov then moved all in and Eastgate instantly called. Demidov flipped up 4h 2h for two pair. Then Eastgate revealed Ad 5s for the wheel and the title.