Posted: Saturday July 16, 2005 8:03PM; Updated: Saturday July 16, 2005 8:03PM
Steve Dannenmann, who knocked out Mike Matusow at the final table, won $4.25 million for finishing second.
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Mike Matusow, the only well-known player to advance to the final table and (we have to believe) ESPN's favorite to at least make it to the final hand, went out first on Friday. Just before 6:30 p.m., Dannenmann went all in against "The Mouth", who had a pair of 10s and called. Dannenmann turned over an A-J.
Dannenmann had pushed Matusow all in right after the flop, which had come 2-3-5.
The turn: 4, giving Dannenmann a straight.
The river: 9, and just like that the most outspoken (read: TV-friendly) player at the final table was gone -- $1 million richer, but gone.
"I was for sure the best player at the final table," Matusow said later, matter-of-factly. Certainly he was the most aggressive. "But you gotta be lucky, man. You gotta be lucky."
The other finishers, their approximate time of elimination, and their prize money, in order:
8th: Brad Kondracki, 7:30 p.m., $1,150,00. Suddenly law school tuition does not seem so daunting for the precocious 24-year-old.
7th: Daniel Bergsdorf, 9:50 p.m., $1,300,000. "The only negative thing about the tournament," the tall Swede said, "is how little rest you get. It starts to affect your play."
6th: Scotty Lazar, 10:45 p.m., $1,500,000. "I don't know, ever since I got back from the dinner break tonight, I made some bonehead moves," Lazar said good-naturedly. "We went for Chinese. Maybe we should've gone for sushi."
Lazar, whose gratefulness at advancing so far shone through, admitted that in the past few days he'd "gotten down on my knees more than once because I've tried to get out of my obsession with self. I'd call up family and friends and say, 'No, I don't want to talk about me. Tell me about you.'"
5th: Andy Black, 2:03 a.m., $1,750,000. Black, who had been the chip leader much of the evening, absorbed two big beats in his final few hours. At 11:30 p.m., Aaron Kanter beat him for the then-largest pot in WSOP history ($15 million) when he flopped a pair of queens.
The coup de grace was a beat on the river by Dannenmann shortly after 1 a.m. Dannenmann, holding A-6 suited spades, went all in after the flop showed 5-6-9 with two clubs. Black, holding 10-9, eagerly joined him. The turn came a 3. The river, for a pot of more than $10 million. An ace! Dannenmann had doubled up and Black was never the same.
4th: Aaron Kanter, 4:45 a.m., $2 million. The 27-year-old Kanter's friends and family, sporting "Team Kanter" shirts that they'd had made on Friday afternoon at the Stratosphere hotel, were the loudest and most boisterous cheering section at the WSOP.
3rd: Derrick "Tex" Barch, 6:11 a.m., $2,500,000. Barch told the media later that after college he'd knocked around Montana, then his native Lone Star State, earning a meager living playing cash games. "Then my dad convinced me that maybe poker isn't the best way to make a living," Barch said.
2nd, Steve Dannenmann, 6:50 a.m., $4,250,000. During one recess around midnight, the just-happy-to-be-here Dannenmann, a full-time C.P.A., went to the bathroom. While inside he announced that he was "the worst player ever to advance to the final table in the history of the WSOP."
Dannenmann was the one true Cinderella story at the final table. He acknowledges that he has played poker for only two years and that "I'm only a Tuesday night player, not even a Friday night player." He never plays online because "it's boring. And you can't sit around with your friends and yell, 'Cocktail!'" Dannenmann kept the Bloody Mary's coming all night on Friday-Saturday.
After being knocked out he pulled a slip of paper from his pocket. On it were instructions he'd written for himself while sitting poolside more than a week ago. The instruction that topped his list: "Have Fun".
1st, Joseph Hachem, 6:50 a.m., $7.5 million. "You don't think about the $7.5 million," Hachem told ESPN's Norman Chad after donning the silver and gold bracelet. "You just want him [Dannenmann] to call. When he does, you just say, 'Thank you.'''
That's it from Las Vegas, gang. My long national nightmare is over. Thanks for reading.