Day 24 saw the total prizes awarded for the 2008 World Series of Poker eclipse the $80,000,000 mark. At the final table in Sunday’s Event #38 $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold ‘em nine players sought a share of the prize pool and provided fans with a thriller of a finish that featured a marathon 5.5-hour heads up match with 10 lead changes. Day 24 also had the players from Event #39 ($1,500 No Limit Hold ‘em), inviting their friends and family to jam the rails inside the Brasilia Room to cheer them on in hopes that they make final table glory. Two new events started – Event #40 ($2,500 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball) and Event #41 ($1,500 Mixed Hold ‘em). Each of these two new events provided some memorable notes and quotes from some of poker's most elite.
Event #41 ($1,500 Mixed Hold ‘em Limit / No Limit)
A 731-player field took to the felt for the 5 pm event to have a little taste of the best of both worlds; limit and no-limit. Every 30 minutes players had to make the adjustment from being able to risk it all to just raising one bet at a time. The event provided some exciting moments when Phil Hellmuth went on another one of his patented tirades, this time against David Plastik. After Plastik made an over-raise, Hellmuth went all-in with pocket kings only to be called by Plastik who had a shorter stack and A-K. When an ace appeared on the flop Hellmuth began calling Plastik “a live one” and found himself crippled and shortly thereafter out of the tournament. Other eliminations include Event #38 final table participants Ayaz Mahmood and Lee Watkinson. Also finding the rail on Day 1 were David Benyamine, Max Pescatori, John Juanda and Issac Haxton. Top pros moving on to day two of play include the aforementioned Plastik, Jan von Halle and brothers Allen Le and Nam Le. They all will be seeking the first place prize of $219,217.
Event #40 ($2,500 2-7 Triple Draw Low-Ball Limit)
Event #40 presents a game not commonly played in most casinos – triple draw low-ball. The object is to make the worst hand possible with three shots at drawing. The best hand is 7-5-4-3-2. The event attracted some of the biggest names in the game including two players known for their lowball game expertise, Billy Baxter and Mike Wattel. Baxter has seven WSOP bracelets – all in lowball while Wattel recently recorded his fourth top-10 finish in the Razz event. Both players were among the 30 players to survive from the 238 players that started the day. Just like Event #41, this event featured a classic Hellmuth moment, this time with rival Shawn Sheikhan. After losing another pot Hellmuth and Sheikhan engaged in a debate over “the Poker Brat’s” place in the game.
“Chan, Brunson, you name ‘em. All of them will tell you I’m a killer, a stone cold killer,” claimed Hellmuth, to which Sheikhan couldn’t help but fire back. “They’ll say you’re a No Limit camera player Phil, that’s it though. We can bet on that.”
Not long after that exchange a short-stacked Hellmuth found himself all-in against a single opponent. On the third draw Hellmuth stood pat and his opponent drew one. Hellmuth revealed Q-7-6-5-2 and his opponent turned over a 7-6 low to eliminate Hellmuth from his second tournament of the day. Sheikhan couldn’t help but serenade Hellmuth as he left the tournament area.
“You teach me hold’em and I’ll teach you triple draw Phil,” Sheikhan yelled as Hellmuth hustled out of the tournament area. “You were supposed to draw there by the way Phil.” Sheikhan then turned his attention to the remaining players, “The greatest of all time stood pat with a queen-high!”
Event #39 ($1,500 No Limit Hold ‘em)
The second day of play in Event #39 ($1,500 No Limit Hold’em) brought 218 players back to the Brasilia Room in hopes of making it to Monday’s final table on ESPN360. Past bracelet winners Humberto Brenes, Barry Greenstien, Hasan Habib, Minh Nguyen and Thom Werthmann all started the day with a chance to add to their jewelry collection, but only Werthmann was able to navigate through the field laced with amateurs to make it to day three. With 1.6 million chips, Werthmann takes with him to the final table the chip lead but is closely followed by David Woo, Michael Polcari, Paul Kerr and five other gentlemen hoping to start a jewelry collection and treat their friends and family to a great night on the town with part of the $631,656 top prize.
Not surprisingly Werthmann feels his previous bracelet win gives him an leg up on the rest of the field.
“I think it’s most definitely an advantage,” said Werthmann. “The field this year (in comparison to 2005) is probably much better too.”
Event #38 ($2,000 Pot-Limit Hold ‘Em)
The only final table of the day featured two men with bracelets in Lee Waktinson and Robert Cheung taking on a field that included the former British soap opera star Michael Greco and six other gentlemen seeking their first taste of the WSOP winners circle. With the combination of each player having a relatively small chip stack and the blinds being quite high, eliminations in this tournament were fast and furious as in the first three hours of play, seven of the nine players had hit the rail including Watkinson and Cheung.
The heads up showdown featured an aggressive Davidi Kitai facing off against fan favorite Chris Bell, who had the likes of Gavin Smith, Gavin Griffin, Erick Lindgren and a host of other pros on his rail. Bell started off with a 1.5 to 1 chip lead but lost a monster pot early on to give the advantage to Katai. For the next couple of hours these two poker pugilists traded swings and pots as each player claimed the lead five times for themselves. Katai took the lead for good on hand #240 with pocket queens and never looked back. It was 47 hands later when Katai had Bell all-in and his A-Q held up against A-J giving Katai his first ever gold bracelet and the first ever bracelet for a player from the country of Belgium.
With this win, Katai became a national hero and $244,456 richer.