Volume 30 • Number 11 • May 7, 1999
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1999 Champion


Event #11 Results
Texas Hold'em (No-Limit)
$3,500 Buy-in

1. Mike Matusow$265,475
Henderson NV
2. Alex Brenes136,325
Miami Lakes FL
3. Dewey Weum68,165
Winona WI
4. Hilbert Shirey43,050
Winter Haven FL
5. Michael "Pizza" Davis32,285
Hacker Heights TX
6. Pascal Perrault25,115
Vitry, France
7. Noel Furlong17,935
The Currargh, Ireland
8. Jamie Ligator14,350
Miami FL
9. Ken Goldstein11,480
Los Angeles CA
10. Gus Echeverri8,610
11. Rafael Perivoskin8,610
12. Kent Hori8,610
13. James Kerr7,175
14. Joanne Bortner7,175
15. Mike Carson7,175
16. Robin Keston5,740
17. Hasan Habib5,740
18. Ken Jacobs5,740
19. An Tran4,305
20. William Fain4,305
21. Young Pak4,305
22. Billy Baxter4,305
23. Allan Stonum4,305
24. Blair Rodman4,305
25. Tex Flaniken4,305
26. Scotty Nguyen4,305

Total Prize Pool: $717,500
Number of Entrants: 205

Entries to Date: 2,271
Prize Money to Date: $5,789,500

The Final Hand


Mike Matusow, a 31-year-old pro from Henderson, Nevada, lapped the field in the World Series of Poker's 11th event, $3,500 no limit hold'em, by collecting most of the final table's chips in the first 40 minutes. He eventually was overtaken by Alex Brenes, but then he got his second wind and raced across the finish line ahead of 204 entrants to collect $265,475 and a custom WSOP gold bracelet.

The exuberant Matusow, who whooped and hollered each time he hauled in a key pot, was wiping tears from his eyes after his victory. "I suffered one real bad beat," he commented later, "but I didn't let it affect me. When we got heads up I played slow at first to feel Alex out, then basically played my usual aggressive game." The bad beat he referred to came when he flopped jacks and nines against Brenes' pocket kings, only to see sevens pair on the end to give Brenes kings and sevens.

Alex, 35, is a Florida businessman and baby brother of Humberto Brenes, who also finished second the day before. Analyzing his game, he says there was one hand where he wishes he had just called with a small pair rather than come over the top, but otherwise was happy with his play.

At the final table, poker player Ken Goldstein was knocked out on the very first hand. He raised with Q-10 and was put all in by Hilbert Shirey, also a Florida resident and holder of three WSOP bracelets. Shirey had A-10. He won going away when an ace flopped, and vaulted from eighth place to fourth in one hand. "Aren't you glad you didn't come five minutes late?" asked Dewey Weum.

A couple of hands later, Matusow catches fire. First he eliminates Jamie Ligator, the third Florida resident at the table. Ligator raises all in with K-J and is called by Matusow with A-5. With the board showing 10-K-7-10, Matusow is dead to an ace--which he then proceeds to catch, prompting him to jump up and do a little dance. The next hand he raises with aces and isn't called. Then he moves in on the flop in an $80,000 pot and shows kings when Shirey folds. On the next hand, Noel Furlong, a corporation director from Ireland, raises $15,000 and Matusow puts him all in. He has kings again, to Furlong's deuces. He catches a third cowboy on the turn and knocks off another player.

"Aces and kings, aces and kings, I can't believe it," Matusow chants in awe. A moment later he has to settle for pocket sevens, but they hold up and he eliminates French pharmacist Perrault Pascal. In 40 minutes "The Terminator" has knocked out three players and amassed over $440,000 of the $717,500 in chips at the table.

On the next hand, Shirey finally breaks the spell when he makes an all-in call with J-8 to Matusow's Q-J and wins when a 9-8-5 flops. Brenes, who has not been heard from much, finally finds a hand he likes--A-A--and moves in for $37,000. Dewey Weum, a trucker who came in fourth in last year's WSOP championship, decides to gamble with an A-8 suited and pays him off. Later, Shirey gets involved in a pot with Michael "Pizza" Davis, who owns a pizza delivery store in Texas. Davis moves in with pocket nines, but Shirey has aces and the pizza man gets sliced up.

Matusow, meanwhile, is firing salvo after salvo of unanswered raises and all-in moves from behind his fortress of chips. He backs off, though when Brenes fires back at him and then shows him aces, the third time Alex has held rockets that night. Shirey then bets all his remaining chips with pocket nines. Weum calls with A-7. An ace hits the turn, and now only three players are left.

Next, Brenes makes his lucky catch when a seven pairs on the end and he outruns Matusow's jacks and nines. He hauls in a $92,000 pot and begins to close in on the lead. He then goes up against Weum with A-9 against Q-Q. Brenes raises $16,000 and Weum re-raises for all his chips. The board comes K-9-A/A-2, giving Brenes a full house and a $150,000 pot, while the Wisconsin trucker settles for third place and $68,165.

It's only 6:30 when the final showdown begins. Brenes quickly wins a $100,000 pot and moves into a slight lead when a river king fits in with his K-Q. But after some more careful sparring, Matusow begins moving ahead strongly with a series of all-in bets that Brenes won't challenge.

When the end finally comes, it's almost too fast to see. Brenes raises the pot $16,000, Matusow instantly announces he's moving in, and Brenes calls in an eye-blink. The Costa Rican-born Brenes has pocket 4s. Matusow has A-10. With the board showing K-8-7-J, Brenes is about to win a $100,000 pot and stay alive, but a river10 crushes his hopes. Matusow, whose best WSOP finish was second in Omaha high-low in 1996, has a $265,475 payday and picks up his first treasured bracelet.

The Final Table

Loose Lips Sink Ships

by Andy Glazer

©1999 Andrew N. S. Glazer, all rights reserved. Used with permission. Andrew N. S. Glazer is the author of Casino Gambling the Smart Way available at most bookstores.

I'm nominating a bad beat we saw tonight in the World Series of Poker $3,000 entry fee Pot Limit Hold 'em tournament for a place in the Bad Beat Hall of Fame.

With two tables left, and everyone except Layne Flack (more about this in a moment) owning enough chips to have realistic hopes for a final table appearance, John Bonetti took a beat that was cruel in two very different ways.

Facing New Yorker Michel Bitton, Bonetti had made a modest bet on the flop that Bitton called. The board showed A-K-10. The turn card was an eight, and there was now enough money in the pot for Bonetti to bet all of his chips. Bitton, who looked to have just about the same amount, called. Bonetti announced "I got two pair," and as the dealer turned up a final six, Bitton said "take the pot, you win." Bitton started counting Bonetti's stack to see if he was going to have any chips coming back.

"I'm gonna win?" Bonetti said, turning over 10-8. "I really win?"

"Yeah, I show you," said an obviously sincere Bitton. He had left his unguarded cards face down when he removed the chips which protected them so he could match stacks with Bonetti to pay him off. He turned over Ac-6c, and his eyes widened looked at his cards and the board. He drew his hand to his forehead and gaped for a moment before saying, "Oh my god I'm sorry I have two pair I thought I had A-7." Everyone watching was completely convinced it was an error and not some attempt to be cruel to Bonetti (as I'll discuss in a moment, had it been such an attempt it could have proved disastrous).

Although Bitton had both started better than Bonetti and out-flopped him, the hand's doubly cruel nature shocked everyone. First, to get rivered by the six, one of only six outs (remember, most of the money had gone in on the turn, when Bonetti was the favorite). Second, to be told he'd won the pot, and have the other man counting his chips to pay him, only to have a comment cause him to expose his winning hand.

"If he doesn't ask 'I win, I really win," Bitton said later, "I was throwing my hand into the muck. I was sure I had A-7."

Although clearly unhappy, Bonetti accepted the defeat about as gracefully as anyone could. He sat quietly, probably stunned, as the chips were counted down. It turned out he had $5,000 more than Bitton and so still remained in the tournament, but it was a nightmarish way to lose nearly $100,000. Bonetti never asked for a ruling or complained about the beat.

"One of the worst feelings I've ever had during a tournament," he confided later, "but that's poker, what you gonna do?"

Assistant Tournament Director Tom Elias, a gentle giant of a man who has been running most of the first day finishes with a competent, clear style, later relayed how close Bitton came to losing the hand.

"Bonetti was halfway home when Bitton said 'take the pot,' Elias explained. "There are a lot of rules that come into play in a situation like this. If another player, or even a well- meaning or curious spectator, had said, 'turn over your hand' or 'show your hand,' Bitton's hand would have been dead. Once Bitton says 'take the pot,' only two people can make Bitton's hand live again. Bitton could have done it himself, by turning his cards over (as he did) or Bitton could have asked the dealer to turn his cards over. No one else.

"If Bonetti had had some kind of ally or partner at or near the table, and that person knew the rules, he could have saved Bonetti," Elias continued. "All he had to do was ask to see the hand and that, combined with Bitton's statement, would kill Bitton's hand. Or if someone had seen Bitton's cards and wanted to help and had said 'show your hand,' Bitton's hand would have been dead."

That explains why, at least under World Series rules, Bitton (or anyone in his position) would have been foolish to attempt to torture Bonetti with the "take the pot" statement. Making such a statement puts your hand at the mercy of anyone in the area, even the railbirds.

"In low-limit side games, especially something like a low-limit Omaha game, I could see making a different ruling," said Elias. "You get a new player in the game, he's looking at the board in a confused manner, and someone tells him to show his hand, I might not rule against him if he'd said something not quite so clear-cut, like 'I think you win.' You have to take into account the totality of the circumstances. Here you had a clear statement, not 'I think you win' but 'take the pot.' More importantly, this was not a low-limit side game, but a World Series tournament where everyone is presumed to know how to play, and you want to avoid people taking shots at each other."

This kind of situation offers a dramatic example of why many players feel there is a need for uniform rules, although as Elias points out, even perfect uniform rules wouldn't eliminate the need for good judgment.

"There's an important and obvious concept that you want the best hand to win the pot," Elias continued, "but there are other rules that can outweigh that. There's the 'one player to a hand' rule. You don't want someone getting help, especially late in a tournament when players are tired, everyone has to stand up for himself. A slight difference in what was said, how it was said, where the cards were... rules are very important but they're always going to have to be interpreted.

As an example of another tough call, Elias relayed a story from an Omaha high-low tournament several years ago. "At the showdown, one player said 'I got kings,' and the other player threw two of his four cards into the muck," Elias said. "I had been watching the game for a while and had a feeling, so I told the player who'd announced 'kings' to turn his hand over. He said 'it doesn't matter, his hand is in the muck.' I told him to turn his hand over. He didn't have kings--he was making exactly the move I thought he'd been making--and his hand couldn't beat the two cards that were left in the other player's hand. So I gave the pot to a player with only two cards left."

The tournament moved on, and although Bonetti doubled up a couple of times, eventually he got knocked out, and left as gracefully as he had accepted the bad beat. As for the aforementioned Layne Flack, his final table position may well have been influenced, in those strange karmic ways of the universe, by another casual comment. Yesterday, when Layne ventured near the final table of the Limit Hold 'em event, Tournament Coordinator Bob Thompson used his microphone to announce, in a kind of rhyming comic tribute to this rapidly rising star, "Mr. Flack, when are you coming back?"

"What?" Layne asked, a little caught off guard at hearing his name announced over the P.A. system.

"I said, when are you coming back to visit us here at the final table?" Thompson explained.

"Tomorrow!" Layne assured with a vengeance, and departed.

Well, Layne will be showing up at the final table all right, although he was off by a day. There will be $561,000 in chips on the table when the nine finalists sit down at 4:00, and Layne will own more than half of them, $289,500 to be precise.

Be careful what you say, it seems. The universe is listening.

Internet coverage of the 1999 World Series of Poker is brought to you as a service of ConJelCo with the full and active cooperation of Binion's Horseshoe. ©1999 Binion's Horseshoe • some portions © 1999 ConJelCo