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Best of Vin Narayanan

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Top-10 memorable moments from the WSOP Main Event final table

10 November 2008

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 tournament.

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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.

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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 year.

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.

Top-10 memorable moments from the WSOP Main Event final table 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.