November 8, 2009 by USA Post
The festivities began at noon Saturday. 17 hours and 50 minutes later, and we still don’t know who will be this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event Champion. The “November Nine” has been whittled to the “Monday Night Two,” but oh what a grind it was getting to that point.
In 2008, it took just 169 hands to determine the final two players. By the 169th hand on Saturday, there were still seven competitors going strong in the Penn and Teller Theatre at the Rio hotel and casino.
Before we get into the grueling details, here’s a look at how they began their adventure.
Seat 1 — Darvin Moon — 58,930
Seat 2 — James Akenhead — 6,800,000
Seat 3 — Phil Ivey — 9,765,000
Seat 4 — Kevin Schaffel — 12,390,000
Seat 5 — Steven Begleiter — 29,885,000
Seat 6 — Eric Buchman — 34,800,000
Seat 7 — Joseph Cada — 13,215,000
Seat 8 — Antoine Saout — 9,500,000
Seat 9 — Jeff Shulman — 19,580,000
Everyone was expecting early fireworks due to the three short stacks at the table, but play was cautious and methodical to start and it took over four hours before the first players hit the rail.
Despite an exciting double up with K-Q against Eric Buchman’s A-K, the U.K.‘s James Akenhead lost it all back when his pocket kings ran into Schaffel’s pocket aces. Sitting with a crippled stack, Akenhead pushed pocket treys only to run into Schaffel’s pocket nines. His ninth place finish was worth $1,263,602.
Schaffel’s aces had been kind to him, but how quickly things can turn. When his pocket aces found action against Buchman’s pocket kings, the board brought both remaining kings, giving Buchman more than enough to scoop the pot with quads and sending Schaffel out in eighth place, good for $1,300,228.
The next few hours saw plenty of action, but no eliminations as Joseph Cada saw his stack get crippled and quickly recover. Meanwhile, Darvin Moon went from chip leader to middle of the pack thanks to some questionable plays that may only be explained during the televised ESPN broadcast.
A two-hour dinner break came and went before the madness resumed. On one of the first hands back, Phil Ivey got the rest of his stack in with A-K and found a willing caller in Moon holding A-Q. Ivey has had a bad history with A-Q at other final tables and Saturday was no different as the board brought Moon a queen. Ivey picked up $1,404,002 for his seventh place finish and the packed theatre audience struggled to recover.
The deflated crowd stirred back to life to watch Moon once again come from behind against sixth place finisher, Steven Begleiter. Begleiter opened for a small raise and Moon inexplicably set him all in with A-Q. Begleiter called with pocket queens and was looking strong to double up, but an ace on the river ended his night. The former Bear Stearns executive banked $1,587,133 for his troubles.
Card Player COO Jeff Shulman held steady for quite some time at his original starting stack when he found himself in good shape
to take out Cada. Instead, Cada’s pocket treys cracked Shulman’s pocket jacks to take the wind out of his sails. Shulman never rebounded from the loss and was eliminated an hour later in a race situation. He picked up $1,953,395 for his run, more than 13 times what he earned for his seventh-place finish in 2000.
The final four players spent the next two hours jockeying for position before the biggest pot of the final table to that point went down. Antoine Saout and Buchman got into a raising war and Saout’s A-K held against Buchman’s A-Q to give Saout a huge chip lead and cripple Buchman. About 20 minutes later, Buchman finally succumbed to Moon, pocketing $2,502,787 for fourth place.
With Cada on the short stack, he was caught making a move at the wrong time with pocket deuces, only to run into Saout’s pocket queens. Blessed all final table, Cada’s contingent exploded when the flop brought a deuce. The set held and Saout was left short. About an hour later, Saout’s pocket eights were taken out by Cada’s A-K with a king on the river to end the evening and the Frenchman’s tournament in third place. He’ll take home $3,479,485 as a consolation prize.
Here’s a look at the chip counts going into Monday’s finale.
Joseph Cada — 136,925,000
Darvin Moon — 58,875,000
The action resumes at 10:00 P.M. PST on Monday night as the players begin their heads-up battle to determine the 2009 WSOP Main Event Champion.
For more in-depth tournament details, visit the live updates page from the Card Player tournament team.
Card Player writer Stephen A. Murphy chronicled each player’s elimination as the day progressed. Read their stories in the links below.
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