If you could have predicted that any of the following would get here...
The modern era of Championship final tables - starting with Chris Moneymaker’s - have given us far more unknowns than knowns. Tomorrow’s table is no exception. The survival instincts of pro Lee Watkinson and the phenomenal tenacity of the Russian, Alex Kravchenko (who has been last in almost every chip count for two days) were matched and exceeded by seven former dwarfs who are now seven current giants.
If you could have predicted that any of the following would get here to the sacred felt of the WSOP Championship final table, you would have made a fortune off the bookies.
The top five listed are the chip leaders who could barely be more obscure as a group.
Three of the above new poker ‘names’ have excellent excuses for not being known in your households.
Philip Hilm is the new Great Dane or more appropriately he looks like Prince Hamlet from Denmark. (Do they have any ugly people there?) Tuan Lam is yet another of the seemingly infinite gang of great playing Canadians. And Ray Rahme is South African.
Philip has one minor cash in America two years ago at the WSOP along with a couple of good pays in Scandinavia. No hits this year before the Championship.
Tuan Lam has two microscopic WSOP cashes over the last two years as his total career booty. He will have one gigantic WSOP cash this year. That’s guaranteed. (For all the player’s money finishes, please check the Poker Pages player database.)
The 62-year-old Ray Rahme from Johannesburg has NO CASHES previously reported anywhere in the world. Amazing. How do they do it? Can anyone tell me?
As a contrary example to stress the point, Howard Lederer - trying every year - hasn’t been back to this table since his first visit about twenty years ago. I guess his experience is a detriment.
It’s not as if these relative newbies aren’t tested. Outlasting over 6,300 champs and chumps is no walk in the park for even the top pros. The chumps are more likely to get you (because there are so many of them) on any random hand, out of the hundreds a day played for a week. Fatigue and understandable wool gathering over 12-16 hour marathons would seem to favor the superbly conditioned mentally and physically. Evidently not however. Ray Rahme is my age and I would need a nap like the one I took before writing this. ‘Sorry, hold the tournament for a few hours until I get back, would you?’
Every player here had several incidents of mathematical improbabilities (suckouts) that kept them alive to get to the poker player’s holiest cathedral. But the survivor’s suckouts were probably no more outrageous than those of
What’s going to happen tomorrow? Those of you reading this from Wednesday on know the answer to that question. So I will look like an idiot and predict the outcome to give you a laugh at my expense.
Typically, but not always, the best player doesn’t win. That let’s out Lee Watkinson.
Greg Raymer was clearly the best player the day he won. But is he really better than Dan Harrington for a career? I don’t think so. Not yet, anyway.
Jamie Gold versus Alan Cunningham? That’s a joke.
Evidently Jamie and David Williams are good teachers, however, as neither could outlast their own student-mothers this year.
Going a little further back, John Shipley had a one million chip lead starting his final table. He made one fatal error though. He called off most of his chips with A J against
My next buffoon prediction is that the starting chip leader won’t win this year. So Hamlet Hilm is a toasted Danish. Why do I think the chip leader has no chance? They almost never do. There are few things tougher to do in a poker tournament than go wire-to-wire. From the top there is only one direction…down. And that’s where chip leaders usually go. Jamie Gold last year was an exception to this rule because he had such an enormous starting chip lead. Besides he needed $12 million to have the deck surgically removed from his forehead.
That leaves the historical winners in most tournaments. Whether it is the WSOP Championship or your local $25 entry. Either the starting second, third or fourth chip holders.
Those would be:
If you were to look at thousands of tournament results as I have, something jumps out. Most payers move no more than two spots from beginning to end. As an example, a player starting with the fifth chip stack normally finishes no higher than third and no lower than seventh. These are the standard deviations of final tables. Of course, there are thousands of non-standard results as well. But they are unpredictable by definition.
That’s why John Shipley’s collapse was so stunning and perhaps permanently disabling. In my only major final table (U.S. Poker Championship at the Taj) I started second and finished seventh. Worse, I had to write about my miserable self. In my case it was debilitating. I’ve never recovered.
Okay back to making a fool of myself in predicting, not playing.
I believe that Ray Rahme is too old, like me, to win without a nap.
That leaves Tuan Lam and Jon Kalmar.
Now we are into gut-, coin-flipping time. I’m going with Jon for two reasons. One, Tuan has had his rush and monstrous suckout already. Two, can we have a WPT and a WSOP Champion named Tuan? I don’t think so. What’s your prediction?
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