Yesterday’s final table had some excitement, primarily provided by the eventual runner-up Sam Stein. A.k.a. the “Wrecking Ball.” Or, for those with an affinity for alliteration, “Steamroller.”
Chip leader coming in, Stein made quick work of the short stacks, including hitting a couple of unlikely hands that gave the impression he might well be invicible. Was during that stretch that poker blogger Thomas “GnightMoon” Fuller (Bad Moon Rising) went out in sixth after a helluva run. Indeed, given the swiftness of Stein’s handiwork, it looked like we might be enjoying a short night of it.
The bustouts slowed down as we approached the dinner break, however, and it would end up being close to midnight before we had our winner. Got down to Stein and Tom Marchese -- both a couple of 22-year-olds -- for heads up, with Stein enjoying a big lead. They fought for a while, then came two relatively strange hands in quick succession and suddenly Marchese was the winner.
In both hands, the players had gotten to the river and Marchese had bet, with Stein left to decide whether to call. The first time, Marchese was all in, and the pot comprised something like 3/4 of the chips in play. The board read , and Stein thought for about 15 seconds before calling with just . Marchese only had for top pair, but he was good.
Writing up that one, I had to double- and triple-check with everyone that I had seen the cards correctly. Stein’s hand had been shown briefly and was called out by the announcer. (We were additionally wondering why he showed.) Was one of those head-scratcher hands that can prove a bit challenging for the person trying to report it -- something I wrote about last summer in a post titled “Seeing is Believing.” Did he really just call with fourth pair? He had.
And then he did it again. He did! We all saw it.
In the next one the board read and betting on previous streets had gotten Stein down to a small stack. This time he tanked for some time, then called with . Marchese flipped over pocket tens for a set on the end, and suddenly we were done. Marchese had won the trophy, and the $827,648 that went along with it.
A couple of us immediately evoked the Poker Grump, champion of the deuce-four. I said I thought a good explanation for the call was that Stein must read Grump’s blog.
Actually, the story behind those last couple of calls would be interesting to learn. But even if one is sitting just a few feet away, able to observe every card and bet, there is a lot that happens in a poker tournament that no one sitting to the side can ever possibly see or report.
Hung out a bit afterwards with Otis, Jen, F-Train, and Joe Giron, our photographer (those are his pictures in this post, by the way), and managed to snooze about four hours or so before checking out and getting a cab. I realized when I walked through the doors of the Venetian out onto the sidewalk that I hadn’t left the place since I’d arrived last Friday.
Was a good week for the NAPT Venetian and I’m glad and grateful for having had the opportunity to help out with the PokerStars blog in the chronicling of it. Go back over there today to read Otis & Jen’s report on that $25,000 Bounty Shootout final table.
Meanwhile, I’m gonna see if that coffee has cooled down now. See you on the other side.