Looked for a while like Antoine Saout and Eric Buchman -- who finished third and fourth, respectively -- were both poised to be there for the tourney’s conclusion on Monday night. But both suffered some misfortune, thereby paving the way for Cada and Moon.
Much will be made of how Cada, whose whopping stack of almost 136 million means he presently has over two-thirds of the chips, survived not one but two all-in confrontations in which he had the worst pocket pair and flopped a set. The first came in Hand No. 195 versus Jeff Shulman. Cada, the table’s short stack at the time with less than 11 million, open-shoved from the small blind with pocket treys only to get instacalled by Shulman who had pocket jacks in the BB. A trey flopped, and Cada stuck around.
Then, once they were down to three-handed, Cada survived in similar fashion in one of the last hands of the night-slash-morning. After Moon folded his button, Cada opened with a raise to 2.55 million from the SB (blinds 500,000/1,000,000). Saout reraised to 7.3 million, Cada thought for a while then announced he was all in, committing his entire 39 million or so. Saout quickly called, showing pocket queens to Cada’s lowly pair of deuces. But a third deuce flopped, Cada’s hand held up, and a little later he’d finish Saout off when his A-K outraced the Frenchman’s pocket eights.
Sometime earlier in the night Cada had survived yet another all in with pocket fours against Phil Ivey’s A-8. So them baby pairs served the baby-faced Cada quite well.
Meanwhile, the not-so-baby faced Moon made several strange plays during the course of the 276 hands played -- already a new record for the longest WSOP Main Event final table in history. (Photo via Katkin for Pokerati.) The forums have already seized upon some of those early hands, such as the early one in which he stumbled into doubling Saout up while holding A-4, or the bizarre one versus Steven Begleiter when he check-raised the former Bear Stearns exec for almost all his chips, then amazingly folded after Begleiter pushed.
(Incidentally, check out this silly article over on Bloomberg about Begleiter’s sixth-place finish. As Change100 noted on Twitter, the author seems to believe the dollar-value of the chips are equivalent to cash!)
As play wound down, there was an eight-hand sequence in which Moon shoved all in three times (Hands No. 249-256), appearing perhaps to be ready to gamble it up once and for all. He wasn’t called on any of those occasions, however. He’d then sit back and watch as Buchman lost most of his stack to Saout in an A-Q vs. A-K hand. Moon would then double Buchman up once, but knocked him out in the next hand (Hand No. 271). That would be the last big one Moon would play, as Cada and Saout’s two big hands shortly followed, and Moon had survived to play Monday with just under 59 million.
If I’m not mistaken, then, Darvin Moon was the only player at the final table never to have had all of his chips at risk -- i.e., not once did he find himself all in and called by an opponent who had him covered. And, in fact, in that interview from July with The Poker Edge, he noted that he’d never once faced that situation during the eight days of play this summer, either.
So out of 6,494 players who entered this sucker, just one can (still) say he’s never been all in with his tourney life on the line.
Have to doubt Moon will be able to continue that streak, though, once he and Cada begin play on Monday. It is possible he could chip up and take the lead without going all in, but it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen. Cada has the edge in both skill and chips, and Moon seems as though he is ready to make it a gambling game, if he can, in order to increase his chances.
Last year heads up lasted over 100 hands, and there were many complaints that ESPN only ultimately showed two of them. This year, there may be only two hands to show. Or just one!
How ever many it is, I know I’ll be watching.