Really only took three hands for all of those chips to go bye-bye -- less than half and hour, in fact. Nguyen had been laying low for the most part. He had been sitting on a relatively short stack for most of the day, and would fold a lot of hands when up against aggressive opponents. When he bet, he usually had something worth betting (or so it seemed). Then came a huge hand where he took a monstrous pot -- over 8 million -- without a showdown from Tuan Lam. That was around 12:30 a.m. Vegas time, I believe.
Then about 1 a.m. Lam got all that back from Nguyen and then some. That’s when the slide began.
It was a “battle of the blinds” hand, with Lam in the SB and Nguyen in the BB. Action had folded around to Lam who raised to 480,000 or three times the BB. Nguyen then reraised about three times that to 1.48 million, and Lam called. Pot a little over 3 million. The flop was , and Lam check-called Nguyen’s smallish 700,000-chip bet. Both checked the on the turn. The river was the and Lam bet one million. Nguyen raised to 3.5 million -- the kind of raise that looks like it wants a call. Given the way Nguyen had been playing previously, and the way he checked the turn when the second king hit the board, he does look strong here. B.J. Nemeth reported that Lam went “into the tank for about five minutes” and then called. Lam had , and Nguyen had . Lam dragged a pot just shy of 11.5 million.
According to Dr. Pauly, Nguyen was “visibly rattled” by the hand and seemed amazed that Lam made the call.
About ten minutes later -- just one orbit -- Nguyen lost another blind-vs.-blind hand, this time to Philip Hilm who was sitting on his left. In this one Nguyen had put in about a 3x raise from the SB and Hilm called. The flop came and Nguyen bet 600,000 (about a third of the pot). Hilm called. The turn was the and Nguyen checked. Hilm bet 1.2 million (half the pot), Nguyen check-raised all-in, and Hilm quickly called with his . Nguyen only had and was drawing dead.
After that hand, Nguyen was down to 2.3 million or so. After one more orbit -- again from the big blind -- Nguyen chased a flopped flush draw and didn’t get there, and he was out in 11th place.
The AQ-vs.-flopped set of fives was a bit of a cooler, I suppose. Still, Nguyen’s slide demonstrates pretty vividly how careful one has to be when playing from the blinds, even with the big stack near the end of a tourney.
Without Nguyen, the final table is pretty much devoid of familiar faces. Full Tilt pro Lee Watkinson has had some WPT successes, so you might have seen him there. He made two straight WPT final tables during season three. He also made the final table of one of those televised WSOP circuit events (in 2005). Watkinson won a WSOP bracelet last year in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha event. He and Alex Kravchenko, who won this year’s $1,500 Omaha Eight-or-Better event (Event No. 9), will be the only bracelet-holders at this year’s final table.
And I hadn’t realized it before today, but I’ve seen Hevad “Rain” Khan before as well. You might have, too. He’s that dude who about a year ago (or thereabouts) circulated a videotape of himself playing 26 SNGs at once:
Some stories will surely emerge as the drama unfolds on Tuesday. Doubt seriously I’ll purchase the pay-per-view coverage. (I’ll probably do what I did last year and see if I can’t locate a copy afterwards.) Even though the blinds/antes have started ramping up, the final table should take a while. Once Nguyen busted -- after which the players took about a half-hour break -- it took about 2.5 hours for the final ten to play 36 hands. That’s getting close to five minutes per hand. And of those 36 hands, only nine even made it to a flop, most being settled by a single preflop raiser taking down the blinds and antes.
When last night’s marathon session concluded, my “behind-the-scenes” duties for PokerNews at this year’s 2007 WSOP came to an end. It has been a fantastic and memorable experience, I have to say, and I feel very fortunate to have been invited to be part of the team here over the last six weeks. Over that time I have developed a sincere appreciation for the very hard work done by the reporters and staff at PN. Kudos to all of them for a job very well done and best of luck the rest of the way.
Labels: *high society