Former World Champion Chris Ferguson Wins On WSOP Circuit. Dramatic Quad Aces Is The Key Hand
by Mike Paulle
Former World Champion Chris Ferguson Wins On WSOP Circuit
Dramatic Quad Aces Is The Key Hand
You had to know it would take a great hand to beat a great player like Prahlad Friedman.
Chris Ferguson shifted gears so smoothly it was impossibkle for Friedman to notice. After trapping all day and alll night, Chris bet out with the nuts like he was bluffing. These weren't just any old nuts, but the Giant Macadamians. Quad Aces. Ferguson bet 345,000 on the river when the board came A A J A K. It looked for all the world like a split pot at most. Chris had bet it all the way, never checking or slow playing his top set on the flop or quads on the turn. The complete reversal of pattern got Friedman to give Ferguson about 600,000 in chips on this one hand. Prahlad mucked whatever it was that he called with, in total disgust, when he saw the fourth Ace.
A few hands later, 12 1/2 hours and 257 hands after we started to be exact, Friedman went all-in on a flush draw with the 5 4 of Spades. The flop was K J 10 with two spades. Ferguson called the extra 272k with Q J and a pair of Jacks. This was going to be the former Champions night. No spades appeared.
There will be many, many wonderful nights for Prahlad Friedman. Along with Michael Mizrachi and Alex Prendes, Rriedman is the most spectacular young player I've seen since Allen Cunningham and Daniel Negreanu a few years ago.
The GENERATION 20 young guns were 2nd and 5th. Just the start of gigantic careers.
Harrah’s Rincon Championship Event
Number of Entries: 209
Total Prize Money: $1,985,500
1. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson Pacific Palisades, CA $655,220
2. Prahlad Friedman Los Angeles, CA 361,365
3. Chad Brown Los Angeles, CA 198,550
4. James Worth Toronto, ON (Canada) 158,840
5. Alex B. Prendes Miami, FL 119,130
6. Keith Sexton Las Vegas, NV 99,275
7. Robert Williamson III Dallas, TX 79,420
8. Lonnie Alexander Las Vegas, NV 59,565
9. Mark Hanna Cincinnati, OH 39,710
10. Naseem Salem San Diego, CA 27,795
11. Arturo Diaz Mexico City, Mexico 27,795
12. David Levi Las Vegas, NV 27,795
13. Senthil Kumar Los Gatos, CA 23,825
14. Jesse Martin Northboro, MA 23,825
15. Patrick MacMillan St. Charles, MO 23,825
16. Gavin Smith Las Vegas, NV 19,855
17. Tony Licastro Long Valley, NJ 19,855
18. Tony Bloom London, England 19,855
It's hard to get any pelts when there are only two trappers and no furry animals at the table. Chris Ferguson and Prahlad Friedman are grinding away at each other hoping the other will make the mistake that will cost that person the $300,000 plus difference between first and second. Rumor has it that no deal has been struck, so the money and pride are still out there. These are two great players. This has been a terrific Final Table, but 12 hours is long enough. Everyone's dragging but Chris and Prahlad, who look like they just started.
The hand of the level gave Friedman the chip lead he still has. It was an all-in bluff with an unsuited 10 9 and no pair. Prahlad showed the bluff on purpose, but you can't put Chris Ferguson on tilt. Friedman now has the 6-5 chip lead and we are really going to play 8k/16k this time.
Some gambling broke out, unexpectedly, and we are heads up between Chris Ferguson and Prahlad Friedman with Chris a 6-5 chip leader. We didn't go to 8k/16k blinds as we thought, but only to 6k/12k. It didn't stop James 'Krazy Kanuke' Worth from going all-in for 180k, four handed, with pocket 4's. Ferguson is the designated caller. This time Chris had pocket 6's which held up. Worth was a worthy 4th.
Then just now, Chad Brown reraised Ferguson, then called an additonal reraise with the K 9 of Hearts, all-in for about 250k. Odd, after not gambling for hours, these two all-ins right after the break. Anyway, Ferguson had the hand you could expect for a re-reraise three handed, A Q offsuit. Chad Brown caught air and 3rd place. Both Chad and Chris made the first WSOP Circuit Final Table. This time they both did a little better.
We're pulling teeth here, gang. This group has no gamble. 188 hands dealt and we still have four players left. For the poker lover, this is one ot the best Final Tables I've seen, but for the casual viewer it's deadly. Did I say 1:30, I was praying actually. Looks more like 3:30. I'll be lucky to get to San Jose for the finish of the PPT Final Table selection tomorrow.
Alex Prendes is a major poker talent. Three $10,000 events, three cashes. On hand 152 tonight, Alex finally give into the blinds and went all-in for his last 45k with K Q. Chris Ferguson called with A 6 and flopped A 6. 5th with a bullet, one of the greats over the next 50 years, Alex Prendes.
The last chip count we got was Friedman 946l, Ferguson 645k, Brown 370k, Worth 110k. The next levell still isn't scary to the big stacks, wheeas the audience and staff are getting loopy with fatigue. 2k ante, 8k/16k blinds.
9:15 Dinner break is about over.
It took nearly three hours to lose two players, then two hands to dump two more. Lonnie Alexander came over the top all the way out the door with A Q in the big blind. Alex Prendes underbet his pocket Aces from middle position and Lonnie bit the hook. When Alex Prendes calls your all-in who might as well put on your coat and hat, you are going home. Lonnie had 4k more so he got to actually go out on hand 67 from the small blind. He lost with an A Q then in 8th to an A Q held by table commander Prahlad Friedman.
Not to be shown up, on next hand, crowd favorite Robert Williamson impaled himself with a raise of the chip leader Friedman. The flop came Q 10 8 with two hearts. Robet may have thought he picked up a tell on Friedman, because when Prahlad made it 50k on the flop, Robert made it 150k. Now he was pot-committed when Friedman went all-in. Williamson only had 75k left and he called with a hand that could beat just about nothing, K Q. Prahlad had a little more than a bluff, trip 8's on the flop. Robert Williamson wasn't the third today, he was the 7th.
That put Prahlad Friedman in nearly total control of this table with nearly half the chips. He went on to raise most of the hands up to the dinner break and climb over the one million mark in chips. Chris Ferguson and Chad Brown look to be playing for second place which isn't too shabby at $354.
No one wants to tangle with Friedman and get sent home on the cheap.
ESPN can have a sigh of relief, they got THAT name off the telecast. Keith Sexton wasn't in a position to play for second. He was the chip baby and he had to grow up quickly at 3k a hand to go back to the nursery. Keith found an A 10 offsuit and in his last few chips from the big blind. Prahlad Friedman was in every hand at this point, so he had the job with 8 5 offsuit of giving everyone else a raise. Of course, you know that the 8 5 was golden as soon as it hit the table. How about this board? 7 6 7 8 4. In other words a complete shutout. Sexton was 6th on hand 76. We since played another 38 hands and are still five handed. The over/under for this marathon is 1:30 or eleven and a half hours in total. That's the WSOP structure and why the players love it.
The last chip count we were given had Friedman with 1,001,000, Ferguson 437,000, Brown 260,000 Prendes 250,000 and James 'Krazy Kanuck' Worth 159,000. For a legendary Internet player, Worth is showing terrific patience.
This is going to be a loooooong night if the first two levels are any indication. Mark Hanna is our only exiter in the last two hour level. Mark missed his chance to audition on TV when repeated requests (by me) to sing went unanswered. His hometown friend Jay emailed me to have Mark sing, but he didn't feel like it. Hanna had the nightmare hand all-in for his last 50k, pocket Kings. Wouldn't you know Robert Williamson had pocket Aces.
Everyone but Keith Sexton and James Worth have lots of chips in relation to the blinds, so it will be a while before we have a winner. Prahlad Friedman is bullying the table with his chip lead and he now has 575k.
We are way out in the country and my Internet connection is very weak, so I may lose you.
As expected, Naseem Salem is the first one out in 10th place. He won his first all-in on hand 9 with Ace high, but Naseem then went all-in again on the next hand with his doubled stack. Salem had pocket 7's under the gun. Alex Prendes had pocket 10's in the big blind. What little chance Salem had was obliterated by a ten on the flop.
No big chip movements in the first level. Next they are playing 500 ante, 3k/6k.
Player profiles courtesy of Nolan Dalla, Media Director
SEAT 1: Alex B. Prendes, Jr. Miami, FL
Chip Count – 158,000
Prendes is a 24-year-old investment consultant from Miami, FL. He is also known as “Fatal” or ”Big Al.” Prendes holds a degree in finance from Florida State University. Remarkably, Prendes has only played three major ‘live’ tournaments in his life, and he has placed in the money in all three. He was 21st at the World Poker Open in January. He finished 29th in the LA Poker Classic last month. This is the first time Prendes has ever played in a World Series of Poker event. We will find out today is a new poker “star” is born.
SEAT 2: Naseen Salem San Diego, CA
Chip Count – 21,500
Salem is a 31-year-old business owner who was born in Baghdad, Iraq. He is married and has three children. Salem owns two supermarkets and now lives in San Diego. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Salem has played a number of small poker tournaments and also plays regularly online. Poker runs in the Salem family – as Naseen’s uncle is the well-known poker pro, Lee Salem. Even with his impressive background, Salem clearly has the toughest challenge of anyone at this final table, since he comes in lowest in chips. We will find out today is Salem can pull of his version of a poker miracle.
SEAT 3: Robert Williamson III Dallas, TX
Chip Count – 123,000
Williamson is one of poker’s most popular players – both as a public figure and with his fellow competitors. He is a true ‘renaissance man’ who devotes totally himself to whatever he does – whether that be enjoying fine wine or betting sports, two of his favorite pastimes. Williamson, age 34, was raised in Houston, graduated from Angelo State University with degrees in finance and real estate, and now lives in Dallas. Williamson has been just as successful outside of poker as in it. He has owned restaurants, been a real estate developer, and served as a consultant. However, he can now be found attending most major poker events. Williamson won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet in 2002 for Pot-Limit Omaha. He also has several final table appearances at the World Series to his name. Williamson is a recent newlywed and would like nothing more than to win the top prize.
SEAT 4: Chad Brown Los Angeles, CA
Chip Count – 365,000
Third in chips coming into the final table is Chad Brown, from Los Angeles. Brown has worked as an actor and recently served as a poker commentator for a tournament tin Las Vegas. Eventually, Brown found poker to be a far less risky endeavor than acting – or perhaps just another extension of it. Indeed, Brown has top finishes at the LA Poker Classic, the Bellagio Five Diamond Classic, and many other major tournaments.
SEAT 5: Mark Hanna Cincinnati, OH
Chip Count – 76,500
Mark Hanna was the chip leader after the end of Day Two, but now comes in facing his biggest poker challenge ever. Nicknamed “Big Daddy from Cincinnati,” Hanna currently serves as President of the ‘Experience the Difference’ Corporation – which manages over 12,000 websites. The 50-year-old executive and part-time poker player won a No-Limit tournament at the Queens Poker Classic in 2000 and is now devoting even more time to his game. For the last 8 months Hanna has been traveling around North America in a luxury motorcoach, playing poker wherever he goes, accompanied along the way by his wife and three terriers.
SEAT 6: James “Krazy Kanuck” Worth Toronto, ON (Canada)
Chip Count – 199,500
The Krazy Kanuck is the only foreign-based player at today’s final table. The 26-year-old Canadian is both a writer and poker player. He has finished in the money two times previously at the World Series of Poker. But most of his income comes from playing poker online. By his estimation, Worth has won over a hundred online poker tournaments. We’ll soon find out if Worth is really a “Krazy Kanuck” and whether he can translate those online skills into his first major win in a live poker tournament.
SEAT 7: Lonnie Alexander Las Vegas, NV
Chip Count – 186,500
Alexander is a 47-year-old professional poker player who once worked as a car salesman. Although he was born in and attended college in the state of Wyoming, Alexander is nicknamed “Montana.” Now engaged, Alexander lives in Las Vegas. But there’s nothing confusing about his poker ability or ambitions. “Montana” Alexander has a number of smaller tournament wins to his name and hopes today for his biggest payday ever.
SEAT 8: Prahlad Friedman Los Angeles, CA
Chip Count – 475,000
Today’s chip leader was involved in one of the World Series of Poker’s rare political controversies. In 2003 Friedman -- who once attended Cal-Berkeley as a student -- let everyone know his views on war and the current Administration when he caused an uproar immediately after winning a gold bracelet for Pot-Limit Hold’em. Indeed, Friedman is never one to shy away from a conflict or fight for what he believes in. The 26-year-old poker pro has been playing high-limit stakes, $200-400 and up, for nearly five years, and is clearly one of the game’s best and brightest young players. Not everyone with agree with his politics, but the verdict is unanimous that Freidman is one of the favorites to win this event.
SEAT 9: Keith Sexton Las Vegas, NV
Chip Count – 104,500
Sexton, a 55-year-old real estate investor turned poker pro and sports bettor, was born in Ohio and now lives in Las Vegas. He has played at the World Series of Poker seven times and has made it into the money a number of times, also. His best finish was second in an event about ten years ago. When asked what person had the most influence on Sexton in teaching him the game, he answers with great respect and reverence – his mother. Sexton will need all the support he cane get at the final table. He comes in eighth in the chip count.
SEAT 10: Chris “Jesus” Ferguson Pacific Palisades, CA
Chip Count – 387,000
Ferguson is the 2000 world poker champion. He is one of poker’s most instantly-recognizable faces. Known simply as “Jesus,” Ferguson clearly has divine poker talent, illustrated by 36 cashes, five gold bracelets, and nearly $3 million dollars at the World Series of Poker. Jesus holds a PhD in mathematics from UCLA and says his ambition is to eventually become a professor of game theory at a major university. If he does that and quits playing poker, he’ll surely be taking a big cut in salary.
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