2007 World Series: Part 7 – Final Table Coverage

July 18, 2007

The four remaining players are a contrast of behaviors at the table. Alex Kravchenko may have had a facial tic or slight move of his lip, but that was probably seven or eight years ago. He sits erect and upright. When he makes a move, it is a sudden action after a silent wait. He stands behind his cards when he moves all-in, dour faced and sullen.

Jerry Yang has both hands in front of his mouth and studies his opponent intently before acting. That could be thirty seconds or five minutes. He often stands up to make raises, his small stature making it difficult to reach over the oversized poker table.

Raymond Rahme looks like a great character actor in an old British period film. He crunches his face together, leans back, crinkles his forehead. He’s delighted to be here, taking pictures of the cash or heading to his supporters.

Tuan Lam is playing quite deliberately four-handed. His distinctive features are his bushy, spiky hair and his unique sunglasses with their white rims. He pushes up his sunglasses occasionally when faced with a big decision or if he’s out of a pot; otherwise, he stays hidden behind the lenses. He looks ten years younger than his 40+ years, and the hip shades add to the effect.

Kravchenko and Tuan sit together at 16.5m, behind Yang with 65.7m and Raymond with 28.8m. The blinds are 200k/400k with a 50k ante. 800k in the pot is a big target, and Yang has been attacking Tuan to his left relentlessly. Tuan has changed gears from Sunday, playing much tighter with Yang’s big stack at the table. With an M of 20, Tuan still has plenty of time to move in any direction. He just hopes it is into the pot soon, pulling chips into his stack.

Rahme has been far more active, picking up 4 of the last 11 hands before the ninety-minute dinner break, including one big 5 million re-raise from the big blind to Yang’s button raise of 1.5 million. He told us two hours ago he would mean business when it got four-handed, and he is playing it out accordingly.

He has, however, been in a little tit-for-tat skirmish with Alex Kravchenko. On one hand, Rahme in the big blind called Kravchenko’s 1.1 million raise from the under the gun. The flop came A-7-2, Rahme checked but then went all in to Kravchenko’s 1.1 million bet, causing the Russian to fold.

On the very next hand Rahme made it 2.1 million from the small blind, and Kravchenko, as if in retaliation for the previous hand, moved all in for 9.7 million, from the big blind. PokerStars’ Rahme thought for a good few minutes before mucking his cards.

This morning, nearly everyone involved in covering this event had planned to be here until daylight on Wednesday. Now, with more than half the final table gone, some people are already re-booking their flights. At this point, though, it’s impossible to say how late we’ll be here. Dinner break arrives in just a few minutes. That will delay us a bit. After that, the stress of playing for eight million bucks and the kind of deals being a world champion offers may just slow everything down.


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