2007 World Series: Part 12 - Final Table Coverage

It was the hand of the tournament so far.

Jerry Yang had raised to 2.6 million and PokerStars' Raymond Rahme re-raised 6 million more. Yang called. When the flop came J-8-A the South African checked, Yang bet 10 million and Rahme moved all in over the top for 17 million more.

Yang looked like he had been caught. He paced back and forth, muttering to himself, ignoring the crowd's whispers. "There's a friggin' lot of money in there," he said.

We on the rail started to note things. Raymond so rarely made this kind of move. It seemed almost certain he was good and had sprung a deadly trap.

Raymond sat up on his knees, his ESPN microphone transmitter hanging off his belt. He leaned across the felt, his face the same mask of seriousness it had been since he put in the re-raise. And then something odd happened. Raymond started talking. From our spot about twenty feet away, we couldn't hear what he said. Regardless, Raymond's voice seem to startle Yang.

Yang immediately stopped his lion's pace and sprang for the table.

"What?" he said. It was if he could divine the secrets of the universe if Raymond would just repeat himself. Raymond obliged.

And there began a one-minute conversation that we couldn't hear. When the ESPN broadcast comes out, we knew it would be one of a few things we'd be waiting for. Whatever Raymond said, it seemed to set Yang onto a different course.

We turned to each other and agreed Raymond wanted the call. The leaning forward on the table, the spontaneous talking--they seemed like reverse tells and Raymond was hoping Yang would step into the trap.

Later we learned from Tuan Lam what Raymond said:

"Make your decision."

Tuan Lam said, "As soon as he said that, I knew he didn't have it."

That was surely what Yang thought as well, because it was just a couple minutes later that he muttered, "Alright, I call."

The crowd was already on its feet. Now it surged forward. It took about ten seconds for the hands to be revealed, but when they were, Yang pumped his fist, and we knew we were wrong about Raymond. He didn't have a set. He didn't have AK with the heart flush draw. He had a pair of kings, needing a king or runner-runner to win. Yang held A5.

The turn was a 3 and the river a 2, and Rahme's sensational run at the World Series was over.

With that Raymond Rahme busted in third place of the World Series of Poker Main Event after his pocket kings were cracked by Jerry Yang's A-5. After a day when he see-sawed in chips - up to 30 million at one point, and down to 15 million at another - Rahme goes home with $3,048,025 having fought to the bitter end.

"Emotionally I will get over this in about ten minutes," he said. "Quite simply, I made a mistake, the only one I think I have made in the whole tournament. But I am happy with myself and how the tournament went. I said I wanted to go for the bracelet once we were down to four players, and I think I did that."

At 62 - and the oldest player to make the final table - you could forgive the father-of-six for being physically exhausted. "No, I feel physically 100% - I feel 40, not 62. And, yes, I shall be back here next year at the age of 63!"



His exit propelled Yang to a huge 104,445,000 in chips to Tuan Lam's 23,025,000. With Yang's relentless aggression we should have a new champion soon.

That leaves the one remaining PokerStars player left in a quest for the bracelet.

***

Tuan Lam was standing in the airport booked to Vietnam. His luggage was loaded on the plane, but something stirred inside him. "I just felt like I needed to play in the Main Event, and so I decided to head to Las Vegas instead." After he finally convinced the airline to remove his luggage, he headed to the Rio to play in the WSOP $10k No Limit Hold-Em Championship.

He was shaken when he left to eat at the dinner break. "My confidence was low, but when I won with the K-Q hand, it was back. I kept playing my best game from there. With the A-5 hand, I got lucky. But I play short-handed and heads-up a lot."

Tuan jumped from his chair when Jerry Yang made his incredible call of Raymond's all-in, reveling in the moment amidst his friends and family. They went outside beside the temporary tent to have some peace before the battle ahead. "Jerry is aggressive, he raises and puts pressure on. I understand this, and I can play with him."

He is at a significant chip disadvantage, no question. He may not win the bracelet tonight. Tuan has significant experience in this situation, so he won't be intimidated and he won't have many, many heads-up battles to draw from.

He's ready to battle Jerry Yang for the most cherished title in all of poker.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in