Volume 31 • Number 16 • May 9, 2000
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2000 Champion


Event #16 Results
$2,500 Buy-in
$2,500 in chips
1. Michael Sohayegh$160,000
2. Hasan Habib$80,000
3. Bobby Kirkwood$40,000
4. John Bonetti$24,000
5. Sang 'Jimi' Lee$18,000
6. Ron Stanley$14,000
7. Hassan Kamoei$10,000
8. Demos Kalivas$8,000
9. Howard Lederer$6,400
10. TJ Cloutier$4,800
11. Blair Rodman$4,800
12. Vince Burgio$4,800
13. Arthur Young$4,400
14. Phillip Gordon$4,400
15. Yuegi 'Rich' Zhu$4,400
16. Paul Phillips$4,000
17. Barry Bindelglass$4,000
18. Larry Reynolds$4,000

Total Prize Pool: $400,000
Number of Entrants: 160

Entries to Date: 3,163
Prize Money to Date: $6,728,000


By Mike Paulle

We all started somewhere. For most of us, our first tournament win was a $20 buy-in event at our local cardroom. We didn't have any idea what we were doing, the deck ran over us, and we proudly took home a little trophy. Maybe first prize was a couple hundred bucks. Well, you can't win a lot of tournaments until you win your first one. And our winner last night won his first one’--at the World Series of Poker.

There were 160 entrants in the $2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo for a total prize pool of $400,000. 2 tables were paid, a total of 18 players.

There were some pretty big name at this Final Table, but there almost was one more. The justifiably celebrated TJ Cloutier flopped the second nut flush, Ron Stanley flopped the nut flush to take most of Cloutier's chips. TJ then went out 10th.

Coming back on Monday afternoon, Las Vegas bar/restaurant owner and well-known high stakes player Bobby Kirkwood had a slight chip lead over 'The Lion,' 3-time bracelet winner John Bonetti. Forget about it! This was supposed to be a two-man race. The only other player even close in chips had never won a tournament before.

THE FINAL TABLE 48 mins left of 80. The blinds are $1,000/$2,000
PlayerHometownChip Count
Seat 1 Bobby KirkwoodLas Vegas NV$76,500
Seat 2 Michael SohayeghNew York NY$68,000
Seat 3 Demos KalivasLas Vegas NV$7,500
Seat 4 Hasan HabibBell Gardens CA$43,500
Seat 5 Sang 'Jimi' LeeDowney CA$39,000
Seat 6 Hassan KamoeiIndio CA$40,500
Seat 7 John BonettiHouston TX$70,500
Seat 8 Howard LedererLas Vegas NV$12,500
Seat 9 Ron StanleyLas Vegas NV$42,000

Waiting for pocket Aces to go all-in worked for Demos Kalivas, so Howard Lederer tried it. Nothing serious! Howard only flopped top set and turned the nut flush redraw. With a zillion or so outs, Lederer left in 9th chopped up by a rivered, gutshot straight for high by John Bonetti and a Michael Sohayegh low.

With 9th gone, Demos Kalivas didn't have to be the first one out. Unlike Lederer, Demos' pocket Aces held up twice to keep him alive. The blinds got him before he could get them a third time. All-in for the big blind with a four flush, A 10 6 4 of Clubs, Kalivas checked out 8th when John Bonetti made the nut flush in Spades.

Evidently, Kalivas was the only one of the short stacks who knew how to play pocket Aces. Hassan Kamoei was next to try them all-in on his small blind. Kamoei also got an Ace on the flop, but with a dangerous 4 5 as its partners. Sure enough, Ron Stanley flopped a wheel with the deuce trey. Pocket Aces with a flopped top set got cracked yet again. Welcome to Omaha Hi-Lo!

In one of the gutsier plays of the night, Jimi Lee went all-in on a draw right before Ron Stanley would have to be all-in for his big blind. "I wasn't going to wait just to move up one spot," Lee said. When Lee's draw got there, it left Ron Stanley in 6th. 'The Carolina Express' has broken his Final Table drought, however, that started after his 1997 loss to Stu Unger in the $10,000 Championship. Ron's A K in the big blind lost to a flopped pair of 10's held by John Bonetti in the small blind.

By hitting his draw earlier, Sang 'Jimi' Lee made an extra $4,000. Going all-in under the gun for his last 6 chips, Lee turned a straight but with the wrong color card. Lee's straight card was also Michael Sohayegh's flush card. Michael also had a better low. Sohayegh bloodied Lee in 5th, but Sang didn't have to entertain for his supper.

This table had all the earmarks of another John Bonetti cruise to a bracelet. John was stroking, he had the chip lead and was dominating in his usual way. Then, suddenly, something happened. Michael Sohayegh started catching card after card in big pots with Bonetti. When John mentioned it to Michael, Sohayegh said, "You have to play them when they are coming," "You're absolutely correct," Bonetti returned graciously. And they kept coming for everyone but John, so much so, that Bonetti was driven all the way to the felt in 4th. A killer hand for John was against Hasan Habib. With a 7 7 2 on the flop, Habib had a full house then rivered an A 5 low. John survived one all-in with the nut straight but they caged The Lion the second time with a flush by Sohayegh and a low by Kirkwood.

Three-handed the chips were almost exactly even. Bobby Kirkwood said later, "It was time to gamble." He turned down a deal that would have guaranteed him an extra $50,000. Bobby Kirkwood plays big so he knows what can happen. His cards went dead immediately. Kirkwood took the expressway to 3rd place. All-in when he flopped a Jack high Spade flush, Bobby rapped the table for Michael Sohayegh who flopped the Ace high Spade flush.

Head up, the tournament virgin Michael Sohayegh had a 2-1 chip lead over a seasoned poker professional Hasan Habib. We've seen more startling upsets in WSOP 2000 than any year in recent memory. Jennifer Harman over Lyle Berman. Phillip Ivey beats Amarillo Slim Preston. Now someone who's never won a tournament against someone who can't remember how many tournaments he's won. If this fight were being booked, Habib would still be the favorite as a 2-1 chip dog. But every dog doesn't have his day. This was Michael Sohayegh's day. As expected Hasan took over the chip lead in a 2 1/2 hour heads up marathon, but unexpectedly Habib couldn't hold on to the chip lead. Relentlessly, the cards kept coming for Sohayegh. A flopped set of 6's, a higher straight over Habib's straight. Funky lows. When Michael check raised Hasan after a second King hit the turn, Habib only had $80,000 left. The same thing happened a little later when Habib had pocket Aces. On the last hand of the night, Sohayegh flopped trip 2's. The dream night of a lifetime had arrived. Michael Sohayegh, a New York City Real Estate Broker, beat 159 of the toughest Omaha Hi-Lo players in the world to win the first poker tournament of his life.

Internet coverage of the 2000 World Series of Poker is brought to you as a service of ConJelCo with the full and active cooperation of Binion's Horseshoe. ©2000 Binion's Horseshoe • some portions © 2000 ConJelCo