For the second week in a row, a player with $Zero in career tournament earnings wins a major event. Zachary Hyman (don't go there, Mike) of San Francisco overcame the best final table lineup in years Sunday night. Is experience overrated? It seems so.
Who'd Zachary beat, you may ask? Chopped liver like J. C. Tran, as Eric Hershler did last week at the LAPC?
No, more like filet mignon. Six of the nine players at the Wynn Classic final table were household names. Well, names in my household anyway. Tournament veteran Ted Lawson was the sixth added to the formidable list above.
There hasn't been a non-invitational final table this loaded since BM (before Moneymaker) happened in 2003. Not even at the World Series or a WPT.
So how does someone who's never held cards in front of so many of his heroes avoid shaking with fright? Beats me. I'd have been so terrified I'd have had my knees knocking as an audible tell, and I've been playing poker for over fifty years. That's how scary these faces are. Maybe Zachary didn't know who they were. Nah! Not possible. The crowds hanging over the railings only a few feet away from the tables made sure all the famous players were recognized.
At the gorgeous Wynn poker room last night, there was a throwback event to what poker championships used to be like before the internet ballooned the fields with strangers. We reporters used to know everyone at a final table, hard as that may be to believe now. Huge and well known poker egos would put up $10,000 to make some walking around dough, get major bragging rights among their peers, and BRACELETS. Don't ever forget the bracelets.
Like Hershler last week, Hyman won with a mind-bending rush at the end from well back in the pack (7th in chips starting the final table). A rush which included some Jamie Gold-like flops and lovely treats like pocket aces in the big blind short handed. Nothing serious. Like Hershler before him, Hyman kept out of all the fire fights that sent the stars away. Then he got hot late to take the trophy.
Unpredictably, at the start of this table, the giant reputations all left first. Chau Giang started the walk on the plank, then Johnny Chan, followed by Michael Mizrachi, Scott Fischman, and lastly, Mike Matusow. These poker poobahs all did a conga line to the exit, uninterrupted by any one of the three players you never heard of. Of the last four that remained in quest of the $749k first prize, three weren't names in any households but their own.
Speaking of old school - Johnny Chan, specifically - the first prize in the inaugural Wynn Classic was greater than the $700,000 Chan won for his 1989 second WSOP Championship in a row, a feat engraved in memory by the film Rounders.
Just in case you may be thinking this was a cakewalk to the final table for the six disappointed pros, below is a partial list of the notables who didn't even make it to Day 3 of this extravaganza. On Day 2, the field was pared from 81 to 27.
Hopefully my fellow blogger on PokerPages.com, Jon Eaton, won a satellite and didn't have to part with ten large. Maybe he'll give us a story of his experience in the next few days.
As I said, this was a star-studded turnout of professional tournament players beaten by a newbie.
Day 3 started like this for the last 27 paying 18.
Chau Giang 279,800
John Racener 266,700
Chris Moore 244,000
Johnny Chan 232,000
Mike Matusow 218,800
Michael Mizrachi 199,800
Danny Fuhs 189,800
Sam Grizzle 185,900
Dapo Fadeyi 158,800
Toto Leonidas 157,200
Mike Carson 155,900
Allen Nguyen 152,000
Doug Mackinnon 149,300
Zachary Hyman 134,700
Sang Yu 132,700
David Levi 111,400
Ted McNeely 97,800
Joe Cappello 96,600
Scott Fischman 96,000
Cliff Josephy 94,200
Larry Wright 73,000
Robert Cheung 58,000
Stewart Spear 28,300
Thomas Fuller 27,300
Allen Kessler 24,500
Ted Lawson 23,500
The Day 3 bloodshed was likewise fatally famous. These people paid $10,000 to play an extra day for nothing.
19. David Levi (bubble boy)
In order to keep my quota of hate mail replenished, I was going to tease the internet players about Darrell 'Gigabet' Dicken dusting off 133k and second place after Day 1. And Cliff 'JohnnyBax' Josephy just missing the money. I was going to suggest that the online millionaires are still having trouble winning consistently in live tournaments.
But thinking about these two newbies, Eric Hershler and Zachary Hyman, I'm convinced that they must have learned to play so well online. Someone who has never played in a poker tournament couldn't beat these tremendously experienced and successful pros their first time out, could they?
The Wynn Classic payout
1.Zachary Hyman San Francisco CA $749,033
See you next week for HERE AND NOW.
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