WSOP Main Event: The other side of the witching hour

wsop2009_thn.gifWe're not going to lie to you, but as the clock ticks towards 4.30 a.m. Vegas time, and with four players still remaining, we're thinking less about bed and not even breakfast. Where do you fancy meeting for lunch?

At this witching hour, things get a little deranged in the frazzled walnuts that pass for our brains, and a wise decision was therefore made to cut the chat and report this past hour straight. Here's what happened, hand for hand. (Stick with it. The best hand is the last one.)

Blinds at this stage are 400,000-800,000 with a 75,000 ante. All the stack sizes are very similar, with Antoine Saout marginally ahead with about 60,000. All the others are scattered at around 50,000.

1. The button with Darvin Moon and Eric Buchman makes it 2m to play. Joe Cada is the sole caller and the flop comes J♣5♦4♠, which persuades Buchman to bet 3m at it. Cada doesn't like that much and mucks.

2. Cada gets some back. Not many, but some. It's folded to him in the small blind and he raises, making it 2.1m. Antoine Saout, in the big blind, refuses to defend it. Blinds and antes to Cada.


Joe Cada and Antoine Saout

3. Perhaps encouraged by Cada's pilfering of his big blind, Saout follows the pattern when it's folded to him in the small blind. He raises about two million, but Darvin Moon is not so easily moved. He shoves all in (it's about 30 million) and Saout puts his tail between his legs and backs down.

4. Another one for Cada. From under the gun, he makes it his customary two million plus change and no one wants to party.

5. Moon makes it two million pre-flop and Cada comes along. The flop comes 4♥Q♣[10h], which is checked by both players, but Cada finds his betting arm on the turn. He makes it 4,500,000 and, wow, there goes Moon again. He shoves all in and Cada is put to the test. Cada wants a count, and is told that although he covers Moon, he'll need to find about 35 million more to make this call. He doesn't want to do that.

6. Buchman raises pre-flop and Saout wants to play so makes the call. The flop comes Q♥J♦3♠, and Saout check-raises Buchman's 3m tickle. The Frenchman makes it 6,025,000 more and that is good.

7. Joe Cada has the button and makes it 2m to play. No one wants to, so Cada grabs some more blinds and antes.

8. Moon makes up Buchman's big blind and Buchman checks without fanfare. The flop comes 7♠9♠4♦ and Buchman's big blind hand seems to like that. After Moon checks, Buchman bets 1,500,000 and Moon calls. The turn is 8♣, which they both check, and the river is the 8♠. That fills all kinds of potential draws, but both players check it. Moon shows down ace-high and Buchman's four takes it.

9. After Buchman makes up his blind, Cada raises, asking 1,350,000 more than the blind of 800,000. That is that. Buchman folds.

10. Darvin Moon, Eric Buchman and Antoine Saout see a three-way flop. The former of those was under the gun, the middle one on the button and the latter in the big blind. The flop is A♣7♦9♦ and it's folded to Buchman, who bets three million, which Saout calls. Moon has found his voice though in these late stages, and his voice says: "All in!" Wow. Buchman wriggles out the way instantly, but Saout seems to have a decision. The problem is that losing an all in to anyone at the moment will pretty much cost you the tournament. And so Saout lets it go.

Darvin Moon assumes the chip lead once more.

11. Back to normality. Joe Cada raises under-the-gun and wins.

12. Antoine Saout raises from under-the-gun, and Eric Buchman finds the 1,520,000 more it will cost him to call from the small blind. The two of them see 2♠[10h]3♣ dealt and after Buchman checks, Saout c-bets to 2.5m approx. Buchman is more than amenable, and he raises, asking for another 2.7m from Saout if they're going to see a turn.

Aha, that's what you think, implies Saout, with his four-bet, sliding in a tower of beige chips. They're playing poker, ladies and gentlemen. This is poker.


Eric Buchman

Buchman remains defiant and re-re-re-raises (give or take a "re") and this time it's 10m more. Saout gets out of his chair - not leaps, just wriggles a bit - as he ponders what to do next. At this point, it's not the biggest pot of the tournament, but it's certainly the most complicated and Saout gives the conundrum due respect, pondering in deathly silence for a long, long time. Then he folds.

That was the end of that level, and just check out these new blinds folks. Just check them out:

500,000 - 1,000,000 (150,000 ante). That's a million chips for the big blind. A million.

Eric Buchman has reassumed the chip lead.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in World Series of Poker