Around the WSOP: Phan gets his gamble on

18 June 2008

For all the math, percentages and odds involved in playing poker, the fact of the matter is you don't become a poker player unless you have a little gamble in you. And that gamble was on full display last night in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em tournament (Event #29) at the World Series of Poker.

The final table started about 20 minutes late because John Phan, who thought the final table was starting at 3 p.m. instead of 2 p.m., had to be tracked down. It turns out he was playing in another WSOP tournament in the Amazon Ballroom at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino, and just had to walk over to the final table. Once the cards were in the air, it took about 3 hours and 20 minutes to reach heads-up play, and another 6 hours and 30 minutes (including the dinner break) of heads-up play to crown Phan champion. And it was at about the 6 hour mark in heads-up play between Phan and Johnny Neckar decided to get their gamble on.

John Phan

John Phan isn't afraid to gamble, even if it's for a bracelet. (photo by IMPDI for the 2008 WSOP)

Both players agreed to go all-in in the dark on three consecutive hands in the hope that Lady Luck would end the match. But when that failed to end the match, both players -- with relatively even chip stacks -- resumed play as normal.

Phan later explained his decision to "gamble" for the gold bracelet (moving all-in dark on three hands) by saying, "What can I say? I love to gamble. To me, gambling is what it's all about." Phan, who had never won a WSOP tournament before, also said that his one and only goal is to win the WSOP Main Event.

According to the live coverage provided by PokerNews, Phan actually tried to get Neckar to push all in in the dark about 4 hours into heads-up play, but Neckar refused.

And a little more than 5 hours into heads-up play, Phan ordered about 20 Coronas for his cheering section and said: ""Gonna have to beat you drunk. Not working good sober."

Phan's first-place finish earned him $434,789.

Limit goes Dutch

While Phan was busy trying to crack Neckar, Holland's Rob Hollink took down the inaugural $10,000 World Championship Limit Hold'em (Event #30) and collected $496,931 for first place. Prior to this event, the largest buy-in for any Limit Hold'em tournament had been $5,000.

Andy Bloch finished seventh, making him the player with the most WSOP final table appearances (8) without a bracelet to show for it.

From 1988-2003, Limit Hold'em was the most popular form of tournament poker. And during the 80's and 90's, finding No-Limit Hold'em games was next to impossible. And for many years, Limit Hold'em events drew more players at the WSOP than No-Limit Hold'em events. But since the poker boom, Limit Hold'em events are harder to find. There are only three at this year's WSOP.

WSOP tidbit

Through the conclusion of Event #30, the player with the highest percentage of cashes (minimum of six events played) is Kathy Liebert at 62.5 percent. Liebert has entered a total of eight events and cashed in five.


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