Event #7 Results
|1. Eric Holum||$283,975|
|2. Ted Forrest||145,825|
|Las Vegas, NV|
|3. Billy "Mac" McGuire||72,910|
|New Orleans, LA|
|4. Hieu "Tony" Ma||46,050|
|South El Monte, CA|
|5. Gustavo Echeverri||34,540|
|6. Dan Heimiller||26,860|
|Las Vegas, NV|
|7. Phyllis Meyers||19,190|
|Las Vegas, NV|
|8. Steve Brecher||15,350|
|9. David Vaillancourt||12,280|
|10. Charles Burris||9,210|
|11. Annie Duke||9,210|
|12. Phil Hellmuth, Jr||9,210|
|13. Fred Sigur||7,675|
|14. Barry Schwartz||7,675|
|15. Walter Threadgil||7,675|
|16. Tony Lantz||6,140|
|17. Lin Wang||6,140|
|18. Russ Hamilton||6,140|
|19. Thor Hansen||4,605|
|20. Ken Goldstein||4,605|
|21. Howard Lederer||4,605|
|22. Larry Perkins||4,605|
|23. Mike Sexton||4,605|
|24. Andreas Dassopoulos||4,605|
|25. Jim Miller III||4,605|
|26. Will Hyde||4,605|
"I had an idea I might win it after I knocked out Johnny Chan very early in the tournament," Holum commented. Although he's won some small tournaments, this is his first win in a major event. "I'm more used to playing in places like Florida, where the pots are limited to $10," he said.
There was no shortage of excitement at the final table, with numerous draw-outs and escapes when the river card came down.
Holum started out with $111,000 in chips behind Dan Heimiller's $172.500 and Hieu "Tony" Ma's $165,00. At one point, early in the action, he moved all in with his last $64,000 but wasn't called, and from that point on was fairly unstoppable.
With blinds at $2,000 and $4,000, Gustavo Echeverri, a Miami rice farmer, was first to risk all his chips with an A-J against Ma's pair of sixes. In what proved to be the first in a remarkable string of lucky catches, Echeverri snagged a jack on the end and raked in a $125,000 pot.
A couple of hands later, Phyllis Meyers called Holum's $22,000 raise and tossed in her last $1,000 chip. Her A-9 held up against Holum's K-Q when the board showed 5-3-3/6-7.
After losing a big pot to Forrest (tens against kings with neither helping), the rice farmer, down to $2,000 and in the big blind, calls Forrest's raise with a mere 5-2 against A-6. The flop is A-3-5, but he's saved on the river again with a miraculous third five.
The first casualty is David Vaillancourt, a CPA who finished fourth in this same event two years ago. He moves in with a suited A-5, but is a big dog when Forrest calls with A-10 and closes the books on the accountant when the board shows 2-8-6-A-K. A moment later there's a classic match-up when Steve Brecher, retired from the computer software business, raises with A-K and is put all in for the rest of his $48,000 by seasoned pro Dan Heiiller, holding pocket queens. On the board, blanks come and Brecher goes.
An hour into the final table, Forrest, with about $300,000, has a comfortable chip lead. Once again Echeverri goes all in with a $20,000 raise against Heimiller, and once again survives when his Q-J of diamonds holds up. Instead, it's Meyers who is next out. She pushes in her last $23,000 with pocket jacks and is called by Holum with K-Q, who then catches a king and queen. "At least I had a decent hand and was able to go out with glory," smiles the ever-gracious lady.
Heimiller, who has watched his starting chip lead steadily decline, raises to $11,000 with A-Q and is called by both Ma and Holum. When Holum bets $40,000 on a flop of A-J-9, Heimiller confidently raises all in for $110,000 more and is stunned to see Holum holds an A-J.
With blinds raises to $3,000 and $6,000, Forrest holds the lead with about $350,000, while Holum has about $225,000. But then the car salesman shifts into high gear and beats Forrest out of a substantial pot with pocket aces to move into a slight lead.
Tony Ma tries to break McGuire when he gets the oil field salesman's last $42,000 in the middle. He holds A-10 against McGuire's A-8, and is visibly upset when an eight floats in on the river. A few hands later, Ma, who won the 1996 WSOP $5,000 limit hold'em event, puts in his last $33,000 with A-7 and is called by Forrest, holding tens in the pocket. Ma can't improve and Forrest ices him with a third ten on the river.
Down to three, the play turns cautious, with a number of unanswered all-in bets, mainly from Holum, who is muscling his way into an ever-larger chip lead. When the blinds jump to $5,000 and $10,000, he has about $440,000, twice as much as Forrest, who in turn has twice as much as McGuire's $110,000.
The end comes for McGuire when he comes over the top with a $40,000 raise against Holum. McGuire holds an A-4 against Holum's J-7 of hearts. Two hearts come on the flop and another on the turn, and the oil man hits a dry hole. One more hand remains. Holum bets out with a 9-4 of diamonds and Forrest, with pocket eights, raises all in for $84,000 more. The board comes 5-Q-7-3, but a nine falls on the end and the car salesman closes a deal for $283,975.
"It was a tough game three-handed, Holum says afterwards. Everyone was playing solid and trying to pick up antes. But I was really scared to death of Ted Forrest."
For his part, Forrest, holder of three WSOP titles, wishes the heads-up match could have lasted a bit longer.
The largest crowds to date gathered to watch the both the last few tables and the finals of today's $2,500 entry No Limit Hold 'em Championship, and we all know why. No limit hold 'em, especially as played by the world's top players, is a completely different game from our local "no foldem holdem" games, where six people see the flop and someone hanging around with a desperate hand hits a miracle on the river.
We've all heard the cries: "I can't win with Aces, I'm only playing garbage from now on." "All I need to do to lose a big hand is have the lead going to the river." "All night long, they were hitting two-outers on me." So it's only natural that we get excited about seeing top players battle it out when position and power moves control the action instead of the last card.
As the 307 entrants whittled themselves down to the final 27, an all-star lineup was positioned to head to the final table. Among the final 27 were such stars as Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Howard Lederer, Russ Hamilton, Thor Hansen, Mike Sexton, Dan Heimiller, Tony Ma, and Ted Forrest.
And then the quest for the headwaters of the Nile began.
Hellmuth suffered some of the more notable gullywashers. Having already suffered two bites from river rats a couple of tables back, Hellmuth had Dan Heimiller, who had accumulated chips playing fast and aggressively, "right where I wanted him." Hellmuth held A-9, flopped an Ace, and called a bet from Heimiller. The turn produced a Nine and both players checked. The river produced an apparently irrelevant three, Heimiller checked, and called a large bet from Hellmuth. Oops. Dan turned over pocket threes and about half of Hellmuth's chips were carried away in the currents.
"I been waiting for him all night, all night he's been playing fast and he's been on my right and I'm waiting and I finally get him and ARRGGHHH," exclaimed Hellmuth. He recovered his cool quickly enough to say "it's nothing personal, Dan" a few moments later, and a couple minutes later Phil started musing about the wisdom of giving a free card on the turn. Whether the trap was right or not, though, the plan turned out to be all wet.
Heimiller got a taste of his own liquid medicine two hands later when holding KQ and flopping a Queen he lost an all-in pot to a player holding A-7 when a you-know-what fell on the you-know-what.
Four hands later, Hellmuth suffered another tough beat. He led out with a relatively small $6,000 raise, and Annie Duke came back over the top with the last of her $21,000. Heimiller hesitated briefly before going all-in and Hellmuth nearly beat him into the pot. Aces for Phil, Kings for Dan, and A-2 of diamonds for Annie. The flop came 3-4-5 and all Hellmuth had for consolation was a small side-pot from Dan.
Hellmuth's table had gotten too soggy so they re-drew shortly thereafter (well actually the tournament had gotten down to 18 players). Finally separated from Heimiller, he got most of his chips in before the flop against Ted Forrest. The flop came raggedy with a King, Forrest bet the few chips Phil had left, and Hellmuth called. "I have Ace-Queen," Phil announced. "You need help," Ted answered. The helpful Ace arrived on the final tide. Hellmuth doubled through Russ Hamilton a few hands later, somehow managing to have a starting hand hold up, and was back in the sea-hunt.
No Forrest can thrive without water, of course, so it seemed only fitting that a few hands later, Ted bet his last $30,000 all-in and got called by a pair of tens. Ted turned over K-J, the flop came A-9-2, the turn came 6, and a Jack floated by at the finish.
Hellmuth finally washed out twelfth in two confrontations with Tony Ma, only one of which involved a river, and swam over to a nearby table. He sat down and his torso lay half-sprawled across it, his head cradled in his arms, for about three minutes.
"I played my heart out today," he said after rising. "It's so tough to play that hard for hours and hours, wait and wait and wait until you can get your money in as the favorite, and then get crushed on hands like that." Not that it would be much consolation, Phil, but you were about to get a lot of company.
Eleven players remained, and after 40 minutes of maneuvering, two completely dry "classic confrontations" in less than a minute set the final nine and gave some hope for a return to no-limit normalcy.
First, Annie Duke's QQ fell to Dan Heimiller's AK (on the flop), and two hands later, Dan knocked off Charles Burris' AK with a pair of deuces. Nary a river rat to be found... could this mean the final table would resemble what we expect of no-limit poker? Had the tide turned?
When the tournament resumed the next day, the early maneuvering saw pre-flop leaders staying ahead, including a $200,000 pot where Forrest's KK somehow held up against Gustav Echeverri's 10-10. But the band started playing tournament theme song "Moon River" on the very next hand.
Echeverri had started to leave the table after losing the huge pot to Forrest, only to be summoned back when the count revealed he had two chips left. Easy come, easy go, he tossed one of them in as an ante and the second into the pot. Forrest called from late position, holding Ac-7c against Echeverri's 2h-5h. The flop came A-7-5 and Echeverri again began to depart, but a, shall we say, late-arriving five earned him another callback.
A mere two hands later, Echeverri again got all his chips in pre-flop against Forrest, this time holding A-7 against Ted's A-Q. After a ragged flop and an Ace on the turn, Echeverri continued his quadricep exercises by rising to leave, only to catch a Seven on the final card (I couldn't bring myself to type "river" again; oops, just did it anyway).
Suddenly Echeverri had $40,000 in front of him, and after two straight days of "chip and chair" comebacks, the crowd was buzzing about the possibility of a third.
Three players exited during the next relatively sane hour, including crowd favorite Phyllis Meyers, who has been making a habit of getting into the money in big tournaments this year, but the fun resumed when a moderately short-stacked Billy McGuire bet all-in with A-8 offsuit. Tony Ma called instantly and turned over A-10 suited. The flop came K-7-3, the turn produced a Queen, and the r _ _ _ r delivered an eight. A three-outer had just cost Tony an $80,000 pot, and the normally unflappable Ma pounded the table and looked to the heavens for an answer to the question everyone was asking: "What in the name of the Mississippi is going on around here?"
Echeverri made the next fatal mistake, trying to go all-in as the favorite when he got his $35,000 in pre-flop against chip leader Eric Holum, who held K-10. The upset came on the flop this time when a 10 hit, and Echeverri was gone. Despite his repeated attempts to leave before being eliminated, Echeverri's final two chip managed to let him climb the ladder from 9th to 5th.
A-10 and A-8 squared off again soon thereafter when the two chip leaders, Holum and Forrest, battled over a $100,000 pot. Ted held the A-10 and led through the first four cards. Probably the dealer should just have pushed the pot to Holum before dealing the last one but went through the formality of dealing out the eight.
"Jeez!" exclaimed Ted, who had now been soaked thrice in two hours. Despite this he was still very close to the chip lead. Three tough beats and he still had a huge pile of chips. Maybe there is some skill in this game after all.
Tony Ma exited when his A-7 somehow failed to overcome Forrest's pair of tens (Ted actually caught an unnecessary 10 on the river; perhaps the poker deities had gotten confused and thought Ma held A-Q).
Although it has been traditional in this Series for the final three to take a quick break to celebrate their high in the money finish, Forrest, McGuire and Holum just played on after Ma's exit. The next regular break came at 7:00, and while the others went to stretch their legs, Holum walked over to the gold bracelet, which Tournament Coordinator Bob Thompson had laid on the table. Holum picked it up, turned it over, and draped it over his wrist with a wistful expression. With the chip counts now standing at Holum, 436,000; Forrest, 222,000; and McGuire, 111,500, the relatively unknown Holum clearly had good reason to start dreaming.
"To be honest, I didn't think I had a chance at the bracelet when we started the final table, even though I was in third chip position," Holum said. "It was only when we got three-handed that I started thinking it could happen."
McGuire exited next when he foolishly got his money in as a big favorite, picking off Holum's Jh-7h steal attempt with Ac-4c. When two hearts came on the flop, everyone in the room knew what the river card would be, even McGuire, whose cry of "Ahhhhhhh" on seeing the flop would have fit nicely in a horror movie (The Texas Hold 'em Chainsaw Massacre?).
Yes the river was the Ace of hearts, although to be honest most of the drama went out of it when a heart came on the turn. The poker deities had sent instructions for the river card and we can just assume the turn was random chance.
Although Holum was now in an enviable position, holding a chip lead of $663,500 to Ted's $104,000, he still felt uneasy.
"I tried to keep it three-handed as long as possible," Holum explained. "I didn't want to play McGuire heads up because he might have changed his style to something I couldn't figure out, and I was just afraid of Forrest's game" (with good reason, as Ted owns three World Series bracelets, three Series seconds, and numerous other big tournament titles).
Given some of the dramatic turnarounds we've already seen at this Series, and given Ted Forrest's scary poker resume, Holum might have had, on any other day, good cause for his worries. But this was no ordinary no-limit day.
A couple of hands after eliminating McGuire, Holum got a chance to avoid the long heads-up battle he feared, and took it. He bet $20,000 and Ted came over the top with his last $100,000. Holum called with 9-4 suited. Forrest held pocket 8s. If Forrest could survive one overcard, he would be one double-through away from chip leader status.
The flop came Q-7-5, a 3 showed on the turn, and the wettest final in anyone's memory concluded with the inevitable Nine on the river. Eric Holum, a self-described "decrepit gambler" ("slots, craps, sports, I love 'em all," he said) from Billings, Montana, a former prop player who now plays high stakes poker only three times a year, got to put on the bracelet he'd caressed at the break, and when he did, he asked Bob Thompson about it.
"What's this made of?" he asked. "Solid gold," came the answer. I guess we have to assume he was wondering if it was waterproof.