A Tale of Two Suck-Outs

PokerStars' Steve Zoine just misses $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em bracelet

Poker journalist and one-time WSOP main event final tabler Jim McManus once wrote about facing T.J. Cloutier for the first time. The man's size, snarl, and growl can set the toughest of souls on their heels. McManus at one point told the crowd he learned everything he knew from reading Cloutier's book.

Tonight, it was a different story, but a parallel remained.

Three handed at the final table

Steve Zoine, one of PokerStars W$ buy-ins to the $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em event, found himself facing two grizzled veterans in the form of Cloutier and John Bonetti. Zoine, a solid player but relative neophyte, entered three-way play as the chip-leader and maintained his lead going into heads-up play with Cloutier.

The only poker book Zoine has ever read? I don't think I need to tell you.

Heads up with T.J.

After some back and forth play, Zoine lost his lead and gave Cloutier a massive chip-lead when Cloutier flopped a straight against what I believe was a set (sorry, bathroom break pulled me away from the action).

And so it came to a Tale of Two Suck-Outs.

The first came in the form of Zoine getting all-in with AJ versus Cloutier's pair of kings. The flop was no help, but Zoine turned an ace, doubled up, and got within reach.

The players sparred for some time and eventually went to a 15-minute break with little more action. Then on the first hand after the break, Zoine raised pre-flop, faced a massive raise from Cloutier, then pushed all-in. Cloutier called almost instantly with A5. Zoine flipped over AK.

Zoine figured to be the chip leader when the hand was over. But I watched from a few feet away as the dealer laid out 689 on the flop. Zoine turned to his buddies in the stands and his look was impossible to mistake. It was a look of anguish and near resignation.

He knew what was coming.

It didn't come on the turn, but the seven fell on the river to fill Cloutier's gutshot and give him his sixth WSOP bracelet.

Zoine still cashed his biggest tournament win ever--more than $350,000. When I left him just a bit ago, he was on his way to cash out. With the sting of the bad beat radiating in his cheeks, he still looked happy.

I guess I would be, too.

Nice job, Steve. See you in the Main Event.

In other news...

PokerStars' own Tom McEvoy and Evelyn Ng both cashed in today's $1500 Limit Hold'em Shoot-Out. Not a bad day for PokerStars, I'd say.

So ends this Thursday at the WSOP. The blog is just getting its feet wet. I figure by the weekend, we'll be all wet and swimming for the Main Event.

More on Friday.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker