WSOP Main Event: Short stack fight back

wsop2009_thn.gifLet's go back to the end of the last post, and remember what Daniel Negreanu said during the break: "Expect this level to be really nuts," said the Team PokerStars Pro. He knows a thing or two about the game does Kid Poker. The Penn and Teller Theater did indeed go nuts in the past hour, and there was a distinct British accent to the whooping.

James Akenhead came into the final table as the short stack, he got even shorter through the first level, but in one dramatic hand he is back and fighting, thanks to a miraculous three outer. Akenhead had stolen two sets of blinds and antes with his three-million-ish stack but when he shoved again things didn't quite seem such plain sailing. Steven Begleiter called the 4,015,000, two spots to Akenhead's left, but it wasn't done yet: Eric Buchman re-raised, moving a total of 12 million into the middle.

Akenhead, already all in, could do nothing more. And Begleiter seemed furious that he was being forced to fold this one by the bigger stack to his left. But fold he did and the cards were exposed. Akenhead's hopes were hanging by a thread. He had Q♥K♣ and Buchman had K♠A♥. It looked good for Buchman all the way through flop and turn: 2♠3♠J♦K♥, leaving Akenhead drawing to three queens. But sure enough, out it popped: Q♣ on the river sending the British contingent wild.

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A dejected Eric Buchman

And the action wasn't done yet. Two hands later we saw a hand that has us still shaking our heads. Antoine Saout came in for a raise to 850,000 and Darvin Moon called. The flop came down K♠J♥2♣. There begna a flurry of betting. Saout led, Moon raised to 3.2 million, Saout re-raised, Moon pushed for 7.5 million more and Saout called. Saout had flopped two pair with J♠2♥ to Moon's...ace-high with A♥4♦. Though Moon turned a wheel draw with the 3♦, Saout made a boat on the river with the 2♠ and doubled up.

Prior to all that, they had already been mixing it up. Joe Cada and Saout were embroiled in the first pot of note in this hour, with Cada's aggression eventually prevailing. Cada, on the button, raised to 750,000 and Saout called from the small blind. They were alone to a flop of 5♠6♣8♠ and Saout seemed to like it, betting around a million. Cada was going nowhere and called to see a turn of Q♠. That scare card slowed down Saout, who checked, and then was forced to fold when Cada bet 1,475,000 at it. One up for Cada.

Saout didn't allow the set-back to affect him for too long, though. The very next hand, he moved all in over the top of Eric Buchman's 750,000 opener. That was good. And then he did something similar again. Kevin Schaffel raised to 750,000 and Saout added another two million. Schaffel wasn't up for that and folded. Saout clawed back everything he had at the start of the orbit, and a little bit more.

The late double up through Moon gave Saout even more, and brought him past 20,000 for the first time. The short stacks are fighting back, leaving Kevin Schaffel and Phil Ivey now at the bottom of the pile. Take a look at the chip counts page to see how all those thrills affected the stacks.

In other news around the room:

Clothes do not make the man. We're nearly certain there's someone--and likely more than a few someones--out there who has one a lot of money on PokerStars while wearing no clothes whatsoever. That said, when it comes to the WSOP final table, there's a thread in this story about the threads on the fans' backs.

In the past couple of years, we have seen a a rising tide of fans who support their man sartorially. The most famous case was Dennis Phillips' Army of Clones who invaded the Penn and Teller theater in 2008.

While no player here has reached Phillips' level of rabid support, several of the remaining nine have clone entourages. With all due apologies to our LAPT and WCOOP correspondent Change100 (who writes the best poker fashion reports on the net), here's a quick breakdown of what and who people are wearing today.

  • Kevin Schaffel: Eighty people on the rail, most of whom are wearing t-shirts with a cartoon of Schaffel and the legend, "Schaffel Up and Deal." Indeed.

  • Antoine Saout: A boatload of French supporters wearing their man's name on a bright blue shirt and matching Dario Minieri-esque scarf.

  • Darvin Moon: Several supporters wearing t-shirts with one of Moon's most famous quotes on the back: "If I win, I win. If I lose, I lose."

  • Joe Cada: Army of supporters in maize-colored t-shirts bearing their man's name and the University of Michigan "M" (not to mention the always fashionable PokerStars.net logo).
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    While clothes may be no big deal for the players, you should see how Joe Cada and Eric Buchman warmed up for the final table. Crazy kids.


    Watch WSOOP 2009: Eric and Joe go karting on PokerStars.tv

    Brad Willis
    @BradWillis in World Series of Poker