06/03/11 02:39:43 AM PDT
Today, two players had their shot at redemption and revenge. To go back to a moment where they were on the brink of immortality and grasp the chance they had missed years ago. Both "challengers" have had long, successful careers as a professional poker player and their loss did little to hurt their reputation. But having a chance to relive a memory that draws the envy of millions, regardless of anything else, is something that never happens in real life... except today.
Johnny Chan and Sammy Farha were given the chance to face off against the men that beat them for a WSOP Main Event gold bracelet. And while Chan has two already, the one he lost is probably more famous than the ones he won. Farha, on the other hand, never claimed a Main Event title for himself and this was his chance to regain some pride and take down the amateur that took away his bracelet.
First up was Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth Jr. In 1989 Chan was vying for his third WSOP Main Event title in a row; something that had never been done before, hasn't been done since, and given the current climate of poker is a statistical impossibility to ever happen in the future. Hellmuth, with the win, set the record as the youngest Main Event winner in history at the time. It was just his first of 11 bracelets which gives him the all time lead by one... over, you guessed it, Johnny Chan (and Doyle Brunson). Had the fortunes been reversed in 1989, it would be Chan that has a one bracelet lead, not Hellmuth. It's safe to say this duel would be recreating one of the most important heads up battles in the history of poker, and it did not disappoint.
Chan took it to Hellmuth early and never let him get any momentum. Any time Hellmuth scooped a pot, it would be small and Chan would win the next one. Hellmuth had to survive multiple all ins, some from behind just to stay alive. Finally he was able to get some breathing room when the two players got it all in and Hellmuth's held against the of Chan. However, that would be his high point. A few hands later, Chan returned the favor by hitting a 7 outter on the river to double back up and cripple Hellmuth. Unable to recover, Hellmuth busted and Chan got the revenge he had been waiting 22 years to deliver.
If the first match of the day recreated one of the most important battles of all time, the second recreated the most important. When Chris Moneymaker won $2.5 million in 2003, the poker world exploded and it brought a light on this sport that it had never before seen. Had the result been different, the entire poker world as we know it would surely not be the same. Moneymaker is now a household name and Farha's most notable memory to date is that second place finish.
This grudge battle wouldn't take just one match, however. The two agreed to play a best a 3 series; the first would start with the same chip stacks the two had eight years ago, the second would reverse the chip stacks and if a third match was necessary, they would start dead even in chips. The first match didn't go as well as Farha had hoped. He never gained the chip lead and his went down against of Moneymaker. The second saw both players take leads at points in the match but Farha got Moneymaker back when his got there against Moneymaker's after a flop.
The third and final match would prove to be intense. The players, realizing the importance of the moment, began playing much more aggressively, looking to take any chip they could away from their opponent. Ultimately, it would be Moneymaker with the last laugh. On a flop the two players got it all in and Moneymakers Jacks and Deuces were well behind the Jacks and Tens of Farha. It would have been a fitting way to extract revenge for Farha, who lost the bracelet with that very hand, Jack-Ten. But it was not to be. The river was another deuce and Moneymaker doubled. A few hands later, Moneymaker finished him off and denied him of the redemption he had been seeking.
There is still one match left. Johnny Chan will once again face off in a grudge match but this time he will be tasked with defending his title. His challenger, Erik Seidel, is still deep in the $1500 Limit Omaha 8 or Better tournament right now so we will update you as soon as we know when that match is scheduled. If it his half as exciting as the first two were, you won't want to miss it!
06/03/11 01:35:58 AM PDT
On his button, as he almost always did throughout the three matches, Moneymaker raised, this time to 200,000. Farha moved all in for 1,500,000 in his big blind and Moneymaker called to put Farha at risk.
The flop came and Farha picked up some extra outs to split the pot. The turn was the and railbirds began yelling for a ten. The landed on the river and Farha's King-Ten went down, as did his hopes of revenge.
06/03/11 01:24:04 AM PDT
After Farha limped his button at 40,000-80,000 blinds, Moneymaker made it 255,000. Farha moved all in and Moneymaker quickly folded. Farha has check-raised or limp-raised a lot today, especially in this third and final match. The only time we have seen his hand is when he had top two pair on the flop and Moneymaker got there on the river. Maybe Farha has the hands, or maybe he just has a good read on his opponent.
The very next hand Moneymaker raised his button and Farha pushed all in which got Moneymaker to let go of his hand. This rush for Farha could prove vital as the blinds start sneaking up on him.
06/03/11 01:14:59 AM PDT
On the button Moneymaker raised to 140,000 and Farha defended his big blind.
The flop came and Farha again check-raised Moneymakers 150,000 bet to 400,000. This time, however, Moneymaker didn't back down. He reraised to 750,000 and forced the action back onto Farha. After some thought, Farha announced he was all in. Moneymaker called and the hands were turned up.
Moneymaker flipped over for top and bottom pair but Farha had the hand he busted with eight years ago, Jack-Ten. This time it was the . Moneymaker started the hand with about 3.1 million which meant Farha had him covered and was two cards away from extracting revenge with the very hand that cost him the bracelet. All he had to do was avoid two outs. The turn came a harmless but the river was much more nasty. The fell and Moneymaker now controls a commanding chip lead.
Farha is not out of it, sitting with about 2 million in chips, but he has a long climb ahead of him if he still has hopes of getting revenge.
06/03/11 12:59:01 AM PDT
These two great champions in their own right are playing on the brand new ESPN stage located in the Amazon room. Most final tables will be played here as it offers great seating for spectators, a good setup for the media and an open area in front for the rest of the room to see the action.
Two men who were just walking by decided to use that opportunity to taunt Moneymaker calling him a "fluke" and that Sammy should win it because Chris "didn't deserve it."
Moneymaker just turned his head, smiled and gave them a thumbs up. I guess it's not as easy as you think to be the reason most of us are here today.
06/03/11 12:54:13 AM PDT
Moneymaker raised preflop to 125,000 and Farha called from the big blind.
The flop was and Farha this time opted to check-call Moneymakers 125,000 chip bet.
The turn was the and again Farha check-called, this time for 250,000.
The river was the and Farha decided to lead out for 300,000 which induced the fold from Moneymaker vaulting him to 5.1 million. He won the next hand as well and is now sitting with 5.8 million to Moneymakers 2.6 million.
06/03/11 12:47:29 AM PDT
After Moneymaker had chipped up to about 4.5 million the following hand took place.
On a board, Farha checked to Moneymaker who bet 400,000. In what has been a reoccurring action for Farha, he reraised all in for 3.5 million. Moneymaker seemed pained by this move and thought for a few minutes. The two competitors and friends exchanged words about the hand but it didn't seem to take the knot out of Moneymakers stomach. Eventually, he let go of the hand and slid back down to 3.8 million.
06/03/11 12:35:57 AM PDT
After a short break, the players are back in their seats and ready for the rubber match. Each player will start with 4,195,000 this time and we will reset the blinds to the level in which they started.
06/03/11 12:27:41 AM PDT
On a board, Moneymaker bet 375,000 before Farha once again reraised all in. This time Moneymaker snap called and turned over which had a solid lead over the of Farha.
Moneymaker was in primed position to double up and take a near 2 to 1 chip lead but it was not to be. He avoided the five outs on the turn with the but the hit the river and leg 2 in this best of 3 match-up is given to Sammy Farha.
06/03/11 12:23:34 AM PDT
With the blinds now 8,000-16,000 with a 2,000 ante, Farha limped his button and Moneymaker raised to 460,000. Farha called and the two saw a flop. Farha check raised Moneymaker's 400,000 chip bet all in. Farha had Moneymaker covered by just a few hundred thousand and the 2003 Main Event winner let it go.
06/03/11 12:10:32 AM PDT
Farha was continuing to grind down Moneymaker, doing his best to never to give him a good chance to win a significant amount of chips.
On Moneymakers double up hand, Farha limped his small blind to 100,000 and Moneymaker made it 400,000 to go.
Farha called and the two saw a flop. Farha checked to Moneymaker who fired out 400,000 before Farha quickly moved all in. Without much thought Moneymaker called with and was ahead of the flush draw of Farha. It was tough to tell exactly what Moneymaker said to Farha when he called but it appears Moneymaker believed his Ace high was currently ahead.
With Farha actually being a slight favorite to win the hand, the turn made Moneymaker a big favorite all of the sudden, taking the lead as well as seven of Sammy's outs. Farha bricked the river again and Moneymaking takes a slight chip lead.
06/02/11 11:47:28 PM PDT
We have just raised the blinds to 40,000-80,000 with a 10,000 chip ante. Moneymaker still has about 2.2 million and is in good shape for now but with the speed of the blinds he will need to find a way to pick up chips in the next 20 minutes.
06/02/11 11:42:32 PM PDT
It should have been a surprise to no one that the Chan/Hellmuth matchup produced a lot of limping on the button, even with less than ten or five big blinds. In fact, Chan didn't three bet the entire match that lasted over 60 hands.
It is even less surprising, however, that Farha and Moneymaker have been mixing it up quite a bit. Each raises his button consistently and each has also three bet numerous times. Sammy Farha just four bet Moneymaker who quickly folded and has now worked his way to 6.4 million.
06/02/11 11:39:25 PM PDT
Moneymaker raised preflop and Farha defending his big blind. The two saw a flop of and was checked twice. The turn card inspired Farha to bet 200,000 which Moneymaker called.
The river was the and this time Farha led for 375,000. Moneymaker called but mucked his hand when Farha showed for Queens and Deuces.
He is now nearing 6 million chips.
06/02/11 11:34:09 PM PDT
With 310,000 already in the pot on a board of , Moneymaker fired 275,000 into Farha who called. Moneymaker showed the for trips and has chipped up to about where he started this leg of the match.
He won the next pot as well and is now sitting with 3.1 million.
06/02/11 11:27:08 PM PDT
There have been a few preflop raises and continuation bets that have worked for both players. Right now, however, Sammy Farha has been the aggressor more often and has chipped up to almost 6 million.
The blinds are still low though and there will be a lot of freedom to play for at least the next 20-30 minutes with the current stack sizes.
06/02/11 11:18:22 PM PDT
For the second match the two players will reverse chip stacks and pretend that Farha had the chip lead when they battled back in 2003.
However, that didn't stop Moneymaker from scooping the first pot and already digging out of a hole that Farha has now twice unsuccessfully done.
06/02/11 11:05:21 PM PDT
Farha, with a short stack, was able to get all of his chips in the middle as a favorite preflop. He held the against the from Moneymaker.
The board ran out . Everyone, including Farha and Moneymaker let out a bit of a gasp came with an eight spiked the turn. But that's poker and just like that Moneymaker takes a 1-0 lead. It appears we are on a short break before we begin the second leg of our best of 3 match. In the next one, Farha will start with a near 2 to 1 chip lead, just as Moneymaker had in the first leg.
06/02/11 10:45:38 PM PDT
There are not nearly as many people in the stands for this match and they are much quieter. In addition, the tournament director on the stage with the microphone isn't announcing every street of action like he had been for the Chan/Hellmuth match so the room is overall more peaceful than earlier.
However, the past few hands, a couple of the railbirds have begun to try and engage the players. One spectator just shouted to Farha "It was a bad fold Sammy. It was a bad bluff and a bad fold." referring to the hand that MoneyMaker bluffed Farha off the best holdings during the original heads up match. The comment seemed to be in good fun but neither of the players reacted that positively to it.
06/02/11 10:41:02 PM PDT
Preflop, Moneymaker raised to 125,000 on the button and Farha called.
The flop came . Farha checked to Moneymaker who continuation bet 150,000. Farha raised to 400,000 and this time it was Moneymaker who just flatted in position.
The turn was the . Farha bet 400,000 and Moneymaker again just flatted.
The river was the . This time Farha checked, as did Moneymaker who showed , good enough to ship the pot and take a near 3 to 1 chip lead.