Making the day even better, Vera Valmore arrived last night. In fact, she landed at McCarran just about the time the last hand of my tourney was dealt, as she texted me as I typed the final post of the night. Good times! And good timing.
Having only gotten here not quite a couple of weeks ago, I’ve only covered a couple of final tables at this WSOP. And looking at the remaining schedule, those will probably be the only two I’ll do -- Event No. 40, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event won by Matt Jarvis last week, and this $1,500 PLO/8 event won by a young fellow from California named David Singontiko.
They were ten-handed when we started last night, with David “Doc” Sands the huge chip leader with 1.13 million, well ahead of Jeffrey Gibralter in second place. But during the first orbit those two tangled in a huge hand in which Gibralter managed to double through and claim that lead. (Click here to see how they got it all in on the flop of that one.) Sands ended up sliding further and actually finished 10th, a spot shy of the “official” final table.
Sands had struck me as a formidable player who had a great table presence -- very controlled and deliberate with his actions, and aggressive in ways that genuinely put his opponents off their games. He’d won the most memorable hand of Day 2 when he’d bet then-leader Alex Wice out of a huge pot on the river in what was very possibly a big all-in bluff. (Click here to check that one out.) As would happen yesterday with Sands, Wice didn’t recover from that hit, either, and went out in 11th.
Gibralter held his lead until it got down to four-handed or so, by which time Singontiko had pushed in front. When they’d gotten to three, Singontiko had about half the chips, Gibralter a third, and Michael Yee was on the short stack.
I remember watching one hand in which Yee had raised the pot after a flop and Singontiko was deliberating over whether or not to call. I noticed Gibralter, sitting to Singontiko’s left, lean back and kind of wave his right hand forward behind Singontiko, sort of pretend “pushing” him. Clearly he wanted Singontiko to call or raise and hopefully knock out Yee in third, but Singontiko folded. Shortly after that Singontiko knocked out Gibralter, then took care of Yee in just a couple of hands.
A semi-raucous celebration followed Singontiko’s win, during which we learned that not only was this his first WSOP event ever, but he’d worked for several months at his father’s mortgage company for $10/hour to save up the entry fee. He immediately phoned his dad after the win, and we were all pretty affected watching him kind of caught between laughing and tearing up as he told his father he’d won.
Reminded me of the scene at the end of Matt Jarvis’ win, too, where he had a lot of supporters there and was able immediately to share with others in celebrating his win.
I’ve covered several events where the winner had no one at all there to support him. Always feels kind of awkward and strange when that happens, with the winner sitting in silence, having those photos taken and going through all of the other post-tourney machinations with no one else around.
Speaking of supportive rails, Day 3 of Event No. 53, the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship, takes place today, and one of the things I remember most about covering that one last year was how every player at the final table had a group there to cheer her on. I’m off today, but Vera and I might actually stop over just to peek at how things are going there later today. Just 14 players remain, Karina Jett among them, as well as one of the dudes who entered -- Jonathan Epstein -- currently in seventh. As I made clear last summer, I’m not too happy about the guys entering the Ladies event, and so also am not thrilled to see one go deep like this. But I’m focusing on the positive today.
Of course, most eyes will be on Day 2 of Event No. 55, the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship (an eight-game mixed event until the final table when they’ll only play NLHE). I’ll be joining the coverage of that one on Tuesday. Kind of surprised to see 128 entrants over there (116 played last year). Again, the WSOP keeps attracting increased fields in practically every event.
Poker’s doing okay, it seems (for now, anyway). Yet another reason to cheer.