By Max Shapiro

World Series event #33
$2,500 pot-limit Omaha

The 33rd event of World Series of Poker 2003 was $2,500 pot-limit Omaha, and when the match got heads-up the two finalists were virtually dead even. But even more remarkable was the fact that both players had already won an event. This in turn meant that whichever player won, it would be the fifth time that someone has captured two bracelets so far this year.

That's an unbelievable statistic, and would seem to validate the 2003 tournament structure, where the limits double the first three levels and then inch up with 25 percent increases. This structure, praised by many players as the best they have ever seen, is designed to put a premium on skill. Of course, luck can still play a big part. This was demonstrated dramatically tonight when an amazing draw-out hand between the two finalists decided the match.

There were 120 entrants and 104 rebuys for a $536,400 prize pool. The players started with 27 minutes left at level 10. Blinds were $600-$1,200. With the pot-limit format, the first player entering the pot could limp for $1,200, raise a minimum of $1,200 or come in for a $4,200 bet. This is based on calling the $1,200 big blind and raising the $3,000 now in the pot.

The final table was late getting underway. Phil Hellmuth had won another bracelet the night before, and it took a cleanup crew an hour to remove the confetti, streamers and fireworks, and the banners, posters and photos of himself which Hellmuth had nailed to every wall. Just kidding, of course. As Andy Glazer reported, Hellmuth was quite gracious when he gave a little talk in accepting his record-tying ninth.

Here was the chip count when the final table assembled:

1 Daniel Studer $42,000
2 John Juanda $44,400
3 Robert Williamson $50,500
4 Tony Cousineau $31,600
5 O'Neil Longson $55,800
6 Rob Hollink $39,500
7 Chris Ferguson $47,000
8 Phillip Ivey $88,600
9 Don Moseley $38,300
10. F. Badiemansour $121,500

The players started with 27 minutes left at level 10. Blinds were $600-$1,200. With the pot-limit format, the first player entering the pot could limp for $1,200, raise a minimum of $1,200 or come in for a $4,200 bet. The maximum bet is calculated on calling the $1,200 big blind and raising the $3,000 now in the pot.

Phil Ivey started with the second chip lead, but quickly lost a couple of pots and began going downhill. First out, though was Tony "The Butcher" Cousineau, who got butchered on hand #10. The flop was Q-10-2 giving Cousineu, with Q-Q-J-2, top set. John Juanda and Ivey both had A-K-J in their hands, giving them big wraparound straight draws. A fourth-street nine completed their hands, Cousineau couldn't fill and the two players carved up the butcher, leaving him in 10th place.

The first player to go all in and survive was Switzerland's Daniel Studer, making his second final table. Holding A-K-J-2, he flopped two, which held up when chip leader F. Badiemansour missed his draws to a straight and a flush. Studer was to eventually get down to the cloth and go all in five times before making a remarkable recovery.

A while later, Robert Williamson mentioned that the Preakness was about to be run and asked if anyone would mind taking a two-minute break to watch it. A startled Ivey, who is all business at the table, wasn't having any of it, so Williamson, who had a lot of bets out, just got up to watch when the race came on. "I didn't hit a homerun, just a double," he announced, returning to the table. He made another hit as soon as he sat down, betting the pot of $43,000 on a board of 7-6-3-A, and leaving himself with just $100. Studer, giving him credit for a straight, finally folded, and that's what Williamson showed.

A big pot developed on hand #39. On a flop of 9-7-2 and two clubs, Ivey raised to 8k. Don Moseley called. O'Neil Longson raised to 41k. Ivey then pushed all his $68,300 in the middle, and Moseley did the same with his $24,000. Longson had 10-9-7-4, giving him top two pair. Ivey had A-K-9-9, giving him a set of nines. And Moseley had Ac-Qc-Q-5, giving him a nut flush draw along with his two queens. A jack of clubs and an eight came. Moseley, with a flush, won the main pot. Longson, with a surprise straight, won the side pot. And Ivey was even further depleted.

A break was now called for a special ceremony. Tournament director Matt Savage was awarded the first annual Benny Binion memorial award, honoring him as the initial inductee into the Poker Room Managers Hall of Fame. Several players offered brief accolades. Williamson said that Savage in the last two years had taken the poker world by storm, and he could think of no one who could rise to the occasion the way Savage had. Phil Hellmuth said he admired Savage's guts in not being afraid to face down any player in disputes, no matter how big the name. He also commended him for founding the Tournament Directors Association in an attempt to foster uniform rules. "The World Series of Poker needs you," Hellmuth declared. Steve Zolotow praised Savage's responsiveness to the needs of the players.

Andy Glazer then spoke and offered a baseball analogy. Who was the greater centerfielder, Willie Mays or Joe DiMaggio? he asked. Many fans would vote for Mays for his circus catches. But DiMaggio, Glazer pointed out, would have made prior calculations and made the same catch seem effortless. "Matt makes the job look easy when it's not," Andy said. And Diego Cordovez praised Savage's ability, character and work ethic.

Savage thanked all the tournament players for attending and said he would like to be back next year. (This seems to be up in the air, because the somewhat ambiguous Horseshoe press release states: "The Poker Managers Hall of Fame will honor the World Series of Poker tournament directors, who will be chosen each year from cardrooms around the country to serve as overseers of this most prestigious event."

Immediately after the ceremonies, Ivey was unceremoniously excused from the table. On a flop of J-9-7, he bet all in holding A-J-10-4, giving him top pair with an ace kicker and an inside straight draw. The lone caller was Rob Hollink, who had two pair with A-K-J-7. It held up, and Ivey finished 9th.

Blinds now were $1,000 and $2,000. The approximate chip count read:

Badiemansour $118,000
Don Moseley $115,000
Rob Hollink $70,000
John Juanda $70,000
O'Neil Longson $65,000
Robert Williamson $55,000
Daniel Studer $50,000
Chris Ferguson $22,000

Badiemansour, one of three Europeans at the final table (he is from England, Hollink is from Holland and Studer is from Switzerland), increased his chip lead to about $155,000 when he bet a pot of Qs-9s-2s and got no calls. A few hands later, when Hollink bet 17k on a flop of A-10-3, Badiemansour forced his out with a 50k raise, and now had close to $200,000.

Chris "JESUS" Ferguson, meanwhile, had been dwindling. The year 2000 champion, who was making his sixth final table this year, was playing patiently, waiting for a premium hand. He finally went with aces in his hand and doubled up after making a $6,000 all-in call on the flop. Still very low chipped, he went all in a few hands later, got lucky and hit an inside straight draw to outrun Hollink's pocket aces.

Hollink finished eighth on the 65th hand. He was in the big blind with Ks-10s-Q-8 when a flop of Js-7s-6 gave him draws to a flush and an inside straight. He bet $7,500 all in, only to see a queen and a then a seven gave Studer sevens full of queens. The approximate chip count now was:

Badiemansour $190,000
Moseley $90,000
Longson $80,000
Ferguson $60,000
Studer $70,000
Juanda $55,000
Williamson $20,000

When blinds went to $1,500-$3,000 a few hands later, the relative chip positions were about the same, with Williamson now down to 13k. He lasted through one all-in encounter, but not long after went all in with a small flush draw and open-end straight draw on a flop of 10-5-3. Juanda had him covered with a bigger flush draw, but his two pair, fives and threes were enough to do the trick and Williamson cashed out seventh.
Williamson had won the $5,000 pot-limit Omaha event last year.

Ferguson remained on the thin edge, going all in himself twice more. The first time he check-raised Moseley, who folded after thinking for several minutes. The next time he got an unusual chop against Juanda, when both players had pocket kings that played.

Returning from a break at 9:45, players sat down to blinds of $2,000-$4,000. The chip count now stood at:

Badiemansour $170,000
Studer $104,000
Longson $102,000
Juanda $84,000
Moseley $65,000
Ferguson $35,000

Three hands into the new level, Ferguson made a maximum raise to 14k from the cut-off seat. He may have been on a pure steal, because all he had was 8-6-5-4. Studer immediately slopped all his chips in with A-A-8-5. Committed now, Ferguson called for his last 28k, perhaps thinking he could make a straight with his low cards. "JESUS" didn't have a prayer, because the board came K-Q-2-Q-9, and he was excommunicated in sixth place.

Continuing to go all in, Studer showed resilience - and no small amount of luck. When the flop came Q-10-9, he bet, Juanda raised and Studer three-bet it for 42k more. Holding A-J-8-7, he had flopped a queen-high straight. Juanda, with A-K-J-9, had flopped a king-high straight. But when a queen and king came, both players had an ace-high straight and they split.

Not long after, Studer again went against Juanda. A flop of Q-10-A gave Studer a set of queens. First to act, he checked and called when Juanda bet 18k. When a deuce came on the river, Studer checked, Juanda bet 60k and Studer check-raised and moved in. It was a good trap play. The only problem was that it was set over set, and Juanda's set of aces was bigger. Studer was now down to only about 35k, while Juanda took over the chip lead after what was the key pot of the final table to date.

Six hands later, Studer raised to16k and Moseley raised all in. Moseley had tens and flopped a set. Studer had sevens and flopped a set. It appeared as if Moseley had survived, but he then took a horrendous beat. Studer, continuing to run lucky, hit a one-outer on the river and made a fourth seven as Moseley ended up fifth.

The once-struggling Studer now had about 130k and continued to climb. After he bet 36k on a flop of 9-8-3, Badiemansour folded and Studer moved up another notch or so. The count now showed:

Juanda $235,000
Studer $160,000
Badiemansour $100,000
Longson $85,000

With blinds of $3,000-$6,000, the chip counts hadn't changed much. A few hands into the new level, the initial chip-leader, Badiemansour, was now lowest-chipped with about $70,000. When O'Neil raised the pot with K-K-A-3, Badiemansour decided it was now or never and moved in with K-Q-4-4. The board completely missed everybody, and O'Neil's cowboys were enough to lasso Badiemansour and leave him in fourth spot.

At a rough count, Juanda now had about 300k, O'Neil about 200k and Studer 60k. Three hands later, Studer, on the button, bet all in on a flop of Q-J-7 holding 9-9-J-4. Longson called with A-K-Q-7. Longson, with queens and sevens, was well ahead of Studer's jacks and then a river ten gave him a straight, as Studer finished third.

It was now 11 p.m. and the two were pretty even. But the first hand after they got heads-up changed everything. On a flop of 7-6-4, Juanda had made a seven-high straight holding J-9-5-3. Longson had 8-7-5-3 and had made an eight-high straight. Juanda bet 9k, Longson came over the top for 30k more, Juanda raised the pot, which was 90k and Longson moved in. Juanda called for a little less than Longson had. A four on the turn didn't change anything, but an eight on the river gave Juanda a nine-high straight.

O'Neil was down to $38,000 and a huge underdog. On the next hand, Longson folded when Juanda bet the flop, and now was down to 20k. The hand after that, Longson had 10-10-J-4 to Juanda's 9-9-K-6, and was one more bad beat away from being knocked out. A nine came on the turn, giving Juanda a set of nines. That was it. An eight came on the river, and Juanda picked up his second bracelet this year, his third total, and first-place prize money of $203,840. Longson, with two bracelets, including one this year in deuce-to-seven, collected $101,920 for second. One card, that river eight, had cost Longson more than $100,000 and a gold bracelet, but he showed no emotion as he got up.

Afterwards, Juanda said he felt under pressure to win another bracelet this year because so many of his fellow players were picking them up. On the key hand, he said he knew that Longson might have had the higher straight. "But he's so aggressive he didn't have to have the nuts. He could have had two pair or been on a straight or flush draw."

Well, Longson did have it, but in the end it did not matter. And, in an historic World Series, Juanda wins his second 2003 bracelet, thus joining Johnny Chan, Layne Flack, Chris Ferguson and Phil Hellmuth. Not bad company.

Final Official Results

1. John Juanda Marina del Rey, CA $203,840
2. O'Neil Longson Las Vegas, NV
3. Daniel Studer Switzerland $50,420
4. F. Badiemansour England $32,180
5. Don Moseley Houston, TX $21,460
6. Chris Ferguson Pacific Palisades, CA $18,780
7. Robert Williamson Dallas, TX $16,100
8. Rob Hollink Holland $13,420
9. Phillip Ivey Atlantic City, NJ $10,720
10.Tony Cousineau Daytona Beach, FL $8,580

11th and 12th: $8,580: Marciano Elie, France; Jon Brody, Davie, FL.
13th-15th, $7,500: Dave Colclough, England; Surinder Sunar, England; Donnacha O'Dea, Ireland.
16th-18th, $6,440: Sam Bonifield, Keller, TX; Lonnie Heimowitz, Monticello, NY; Jacky Chitwood, Celina, TN.


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Copyright 2003