Finally, we're down to the final nine millionaires
Posted: Friday July 15, 2005 4:17PM; Updated: Saturday July 16, 2005 8:08PM
Mike Matusow has kept things light at the World Series of Poker.
SI.COM'S JOHN WALTERS AT WSOP
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LAS VEGAS -- Finally, a table Dr. Evil can appreciate. After eight days and 90-plus hours of poker, 5,610 players have been eliminated from the 36th annual World Series of Poker's main event. Nine players remain, all seated at one table. Every one of them will earn at least $1 million dollars later today. The champion will take home $7.5 million.
"You realize how many times lightning has to strike in order for you to be sitting here?" asked Mike Matusow just after midnight Thursday, when there were still 10 players remaining. The final hand was not played until just after 3 a.m. Ayhan Alsancak of Sweden, who began the day -- nearly 12 hours earlier -- in 27th or last place, went all in against Aaron Kanter of Lodi, Calif. The pot was worth more than $1.2 million. Kanter, who seemed to catch every out on the river that he needed all day, caught an 8H on the river this time to hit a flush (Alsancak had gone in with pocket queens) and send everyone home for the eveni -- um, morning.
Alsancak returns to Scandinavia $600,000 richer.
Nine players remain. I'll handicap Friday's final table (play begins at 4 p.m. PT at Binion's Horseshoe Casino), ranking the players according to poker's nine top hands.
Kondracki, a Cornell alum, just finished his first year of law school at the University of Pennsylvania. If he did not have the fewest chips remaining -- $1.18 million, half the next lowest player -- he'd be ranked higher.
Whenever he lands three of a kind, I call it a Kingston trio.
8. Two Pair: Daniel Bergsdorf, Umea, Sweden ($5.27 million)
Three Swedes made it to yesterday's round of 27, but now Bergsdorf is the only Swede in the pot.
7. Three of a Kind: Scotty Lazar, Studio City, Calif. ($3.37 million)
"I almost feel protected. Like I'm meant to be here," Lazar, not the only player at the final table who provided an evasive answer when asked to give his "day job." "Can you believe this? In a strange sort of way, I do."
6. Straight: Joseph Hachem, Melbourne, Australia ($5.42 million)
The "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!" cheer has now officially jumped the (great white) shark.
5. Flush: Kanter, ($10.7 million)
Kanter, who according to friends "has no other job" besides playing poker, enters Friday as the chip leader. He should be the favorite, but he just caught too many outs on the river Wednesday for me to believe he'll be that lucky twice in a row. An attractive young woman held an "I [HEART] A.K." sign yesterday. She either adores Kanter or Big Slick (the Ace-King hand). Unless that's Kanter's nickname, then she adores both.
4. Full House: Andrew Black, Dublin, Ireland ($8.14 million)
Black, who resembles actor Paul Giamatti, was the chip leader for much of last evening. Good-natured and just a tad eccentric (he wears his sunglasses upside down), Black is a crowd favorite.
3. Four of a Kind: Steve Dannenmann, Severn, Md. ($5.46 million)
Even his surname has quad N's. Dannenmann, an accountant, is the only man at the final table who looks as if he is familiar with the term "rush hour."
There's a 9-to-5 look about Dannennmann, but he has played as savvy as any regular at the Tropicana. He also plays like a gentleman, congratulating fellow players after they take down a huge pot but in an understated way. A mature and likeable player, Dannenmann has become a fan favorite.
I won't be a bit surprised if Tex, who wears a gaudy necklace -- putting the "bling" in gambling -- adds a bracelet tonight. He's done almost nothing wrong all tournament. Tex arcana: His high school football team in McKinney went to state his senior year and he graduated from the University of Montana.
1. Royal Flush: Matusow, Las Vegas ($7,410,000)
The Mouth has walked the walk all week as well. When the 10 remaining players sat down at the final table last night, tournament director Johnny Grooms facetiously thanked Matusow for "providing the entertainment" during the WSOP.
Funniest moment of Thursday: Matusow bets into a hand and then says, "Guess I picked the wrong year to quit doing drugs."
His mother, seated just off the rail, wanted to assure the media that the Mouth was just kidding. "He hasn't touched that crap for three years."