Event #1: No-Limit Texas Hold'em
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Buy-in: $200 (+25)
Number of Entries: 833
Total Prize Money: $161,602
After a long first day that saw the elimination of 823 players, ten finalists returned for the final table on Day Two. Don Mullis arrived on the second day with a huge chip stack - $192,000. As for his rivals, only Chris Wehlen, a 22-year-old New Orleans local, had over $100,000 in chips. Mullis and Wehlen would eventually go heads-up and compete for the championship. Seventy-two places were paid. With $161,602 in prize money at stake, players were eliminated as follows:
10th Place: Dennis Perry, $1,780
Only 15 minutes into play, Don Mullis hit a quick and easy parlay. Two players were eliminated when Mullis flopped top set. Dennis Perry, who was very short-stacked, missed his draw and ended up going out in 10th place. Perry, who made it to the final table of the championship at Harrah's Rincon (San Diego) had a short, miserable stay at the final table. It was pouring down rain outside and Perry might as well have stayed in the parking lot without an umbrella.
9th Place: R.L. Thomas, $3,230
R.L. Thomas went out on the very same hand. He missed both a straight and flush draw. Thomas, a 47-year-old poker pro who lives in Pensacola, FL, had to settle for 9th place.
8th Place: Ross Romash, $4,850
Only minutes later, Tony Malcien dropped a neutron bomb on what remained of the final table. Incredibly, he knocked out three players on one hand when his K-Q caught two pair. After the cards and chips were shuffled and stacked and the devastation was over, there were only five players remaining, and it looked as though the final table might end in record time. Ross Romash, age 29, from Golden Beach, FL was short-stacked and went out with A-Q on the killer hand, in 8th place.
7th Place: Vanessa Rousso, $6,465
It's rare that a boyfriend-girlfriend tandem plays together in a poker tournament; it's rarer still when both players make it to the final table. That's exactly what happened with Ross Romash (8th) and Rousso -- who ended up going out in 7th place. Rousso, a 22-year-old law student at the University of Miami, had more chips at the start of the final hand and therefore took the higher payout.
6th Place: Seth Laroche, $8,080
Seth Laroche had top pair with kings but lost to Malcien's two-pair. Laroche, a 21-year-old college student from Houston, received $8,080 for a fine effort. At that point, Don Mullis maintained the chip lead, but Malcien and Wehlen were close behind.
5th Place: Matt Overstreet, $9,695
Matt Overstreet had taken a few beats and was getting low on chips. He made his final stand with Q-J and took another terrible beat when Don Mullis faded Overstreet's all-in raise with J-9, which spiked a nine on the river, sticking a fork in Overstreet. Fifth-place prize money ($9,695) was paid to Overstreet, yet another 22-year-old up and coming poker player.
4th Place: Alex Todd, $11,310
Alex Todd went out next when he was forced to commit his final chips with K-9, which lost to Chris Wehlen's A-K. It was an interesting final hand, because it jolted Wehlen close to Mullis in the chip count. Mullis had A-Q, Wehlen had A-K. Todd was in trouble with a dominated hand (K-9) and needed plenty of help. The final board showed 10=4=4=5=Q. A queen on the river had apparently given Mullis the huge pot, but three spades matched Wehlen's A-K of spades, and the spade flush put Wehlen neck-and-neck in chips. Meanwhile, Todd, an engineer from nearby Kenar, ended up derailed in 4th place.
3rd Place: Tony Malcien, $12,930 After an initial burst during the first hour, Tony Malcien was unable to generate any momentum at the final table. Like a comet, he shined early then fizzled out like cosmic dust. He was slowly grinded down and decided to make his final stand on a semi-bluff. Malcien was dealt 4-5 in the blind and when the flop came A-6-5, he pushed his final chips forward on the outside-straight draw. Chris Wehlen was thrilled to make the call with two pair, 7s and 6s. A seven on the turn gave Wehlen a full house and left Malcien drawing dead for 3rd place.
Runner up: Don Mullis, $22,865
1st Place: Chris Wehlen, $43,567
The heads-up duel between Don Mullis and Chris Wehlen began with the early chip-leader holding a slight 478,000 to 465,000 chip advantage. It took about 10 minutes for Wehlen to seize the chip lead, and then another ten hands or so to end the tournament on the final hand. Wehlen was dealt 9-9 and raised up to 50,000. Mullis had A-8 and moved over the top for 200,000 total in chips. Wehlen thought for a moment, then moved all-in. Mullis was pot committed at this point and made a crying call, and did not like what he saw. The pocket nines were the favorite. Mullis cried out desperately for an ace, but the prayer to the poker gods fell on deaf ears. All blanks fell. The final board showed K=J=6=5=4. Wehlen's pocket nines was the winner, and Mullis was left to ponder what might have been.
View final results.
Tournament reporting by Nolan Dalla / worldseriesofpoker.com