WSOP Main Event: Goliath gone, David suspected

wsop2009_thn.gifLas Vegas is widely acknowledged to be the home of poker, and in the past 50 years it has also grown into the de facto home of boxing. The biggest fights are usually here, with the biggest purses. But last night, the eyes of the boxing world turned to Germany, for a David versus Goliath clash for the WBA heavyweight title of the world.

It's worth doing a quick Google image search for David Haye and Nikolai Valuev to see exactly the extent of this apparent mismatch. At 6ft 3in, Haye, a Briton, is taller than your average man. But put him alongside the 7ft tall Valuev and he looks like a child. He had no chance, was the general consensus. Not even with a slingshot and a prayer.

But lo and behold, Haye prevailed last night. In a close contest, the judges ruled in his favour and he took the crown, felling the mighty. But what does all this have to do with poker, you might ask. This is a poker blog, right?

Well, the news from the past hour is that the undisputed Goliath of our favourite card game, Phil Ivey, has just been slain by our David (read: Darvin). Ivey, universally considered to be in the top handful of players in the world, was a short stack coming into the day, but he was also many commentators' pick to prevail against a less-experienced final table field.

Yet Darvin Moon has just accounted for him, in a hand detailed in our round-up of action from the past hour. It's a little bit more skimpy than previous round-ups, because 20 minutes were taken by a break in play. But the return to the table after that intermission is where we pick it up.

Phil Ivey moved all-in on the first hand back from break and got a quick call from Darvin Moon.

Ivey: A♣K♠
Moon: A♦Q♠

It seemed at that moment that about 1,000 people--some 2/3 of the crowd in the theate--broke into a chant of "Ivey, Ivey, Ivey!" This is what they had come to see: the name pro, the Goliath at the table, the 400lb. gorilla tearing the neophytes limb from limb. Their man had it in good and all he needed was luck to not turn against him.

And then it turned against him.

The board put a queen right in the door and ran out Q♦6♣6♠3♣5♣.

Ivey went out in seventh place and took a big part of the crowd's enthusiasm with him.

Meanwhile, Moon has recouped some of his earlier losses and is scraping back toward the top of the pack,

darvin-moon.jpg

If that hand seemed cruel to everyone, here's something to clear the sinuses.

It could've been so much worse for Joe Cada. Eric Buchman got it all-in with A♣K♣ to Cada's A♥K♥. In the media room, a rep who will remain anonymous said it might be particularly cute if the flop came rainbow and then went runner-runner for the flush.

And so we saw the rainbow flop of J♦4♣7♦. And then...the Q♣.

"If I lose, I won't sleep for three months," Cada cried.

The river...the J♥. Cada survived...again.

In happier times, Team PokerStars Pro sat down with the final table players from PokerStars. Here's part two of their visit.


Watch WSOP 2009 November Nine - PS Players Meet Peter Eastgate Part Two on PokerStars.tv
Howard Swains
@howardswains in World Series of Poker