SPOILER ALERT: Down To Two In WSOP Main Event
November 10, 2021
The final nine players of the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event returned to the Rio yesterday after four full months of hype and build up, and with as much pomp and cirumstance as expected.

Huge crowds lined up early to get into the Penn and Teller theater, including 300 Dennis Phillips' supporters all wearing matching hats and t-shirts. Also spotted in the massive crowd were Ivan Demidov supporters wearing traditional Russian attire, and numerous poker celebrities like Hevad Khan, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan, Phil Gordon and PokerRoad's Barry Greenstein (who spent the day playing tournament reporter for the throngs of fans waiting for updates in his "Barry's live WSOP Main Event blog" located in the PokerRoad forums - the open thread currently sits at an astounding 1,775 posts and 61,986).

At the start of the day's play the table sat like this:

Dennis Phillips (26,295,000)
Craig Marquis (10,210,000)
Ylon Schwartz (12,525,000)
Scott Montgomery (19,690,000)
Darus Suharto (12,520,000)
David "Chino" Rheem (10,230,000)
Ivan Demidov (24,400,000)
Kelly Kim (2,620,000)
Peter Eastgate (18,375,000)

Play began tentatively, as the players seemingly waited for Kelly Kim's inevitable short-stack shove, but Kim appeared unwilling to oblige them, perhaps more interested in sneaking up a few spots in the money.

Chip leader Dennis Phillips started slowly as well, but eventually got involved in a few hands which he probably now wishes he hadn't - first getting pushed out of a large pot by Ylon Schwartz and then losing almost two-thirds of his stack in a multiple raised, pre-flop and post-flop pot worth more than 25% of the all total chips in play for the event. That pot was won by Ivan Demidov as he became the new chip leader, leaving Phillips suddenly in the bottom half of the field.

Although there was quite a bit of action, it took more than 4 hours of play before finally losing the first player ... remarkably that player was not Kelly Kim (who had still barely played any hands). No, the first to go was actually Craig Marquis, after a gut wrenching race involving pocket sevens vs. Ace-Queen. Marquis flopped trips on an Ace-10-7 board but still lost, after Montgomery hit a runner-runner straight. For the ninth place finish Marquis earned $900,670.

After Marquis busted, Kim could not wait any longer, having an "M" well into the poker wraith zone (his stack not even able to cover the pot with the blinds and antes). Kim went out next in an unremarkable hand and picked up $1,288,217, earning an extra 387,547 for coming in eighth as opposed to ninth.

Next to go was pro favorite and friend to PokerRoad, David "Chino" Rheem, after losing a soul-crushing, all-in pre-flop hand to Peter Eastgate. Chino appeared hampered by bad cards for most of the event so finally getting it all in with Ace-King vs. Ace-Queen probably felt amazing... that is until Eastgate flopped a Queen and stomped on Chino's heart. The last big name pro of the event was forced to settle for seventh place and $1,772,650.

Despite Phillips' discouraging start he seemed anxious to prove he was still in this thing, first doubling through Ylon Schwartz and then winning a substantial $10 million plus pot against Ivan Demidov. Phillips seemed to be telling his rabid cheering section that he would not be the next to fall.

That honor would unfortunately fall on Darus Suharto, who went out 6th after the dinner break, losing to fellow Canuck Scott Montgomery, with a dominated Ace-8 to Montgomery's Ace-Queen. Suharto earned a lot of respect and $2,418,562.

Down to five with three more eliminations to go for the day: and it was beginning to appear that Scott Montgomery, despite busting Suharto, may be the next to go. Montgomery lost a big pot to Ivan Demidov when he pushed over the top of him with Ace-Nine only to run into Demidov's pocket Kings and suddenly Montgomery was the short stack. Montgomery's last hand found him with Ace-Three against Peter Eastgate's pocket sixes and the six on the river sealed his fate. Montgomery earned $3,096,768 for fifth place.

Two more to go. And Dennis Phillips, although technically now the short stack, was only one double-up away from being right back in the hunt. He never did double up, but he did win enough small pots to stay in the thick of things until chess master Ylon Schwartz ran into his dimise nearly 35 hands later.

Ylon picked the wrong time to make a gusty play - perceiving weakness on the part of Peter Eastgate when Peter had rivered a set of fives. Ylon claimed a fourth place prize worth $3,774,974.

Dennis Phillips was obviously the overall crowd favorite throughout the final table (which is what happens when you fly in eleven thousand people), and during the course of the evening he fought valiantly, especially after losing so much so quickly early on - but unfortunately this amazing run was soon about to end.

On a seemingly innocuous J-4-3 board, Phillips chose to bluff all-in with 10-9, only to be snap called by Peter Eastgate and his flopped set of treys. Drawing nearly dead with two cards to come, Phillips found himself out in third place for $4,517,773- no small feat against a field that proved itself to be insanely tough.

The WSOP final table will reconvene tomorrow with Ivan Demidov and Peter Eastgate fighting heads-up for poker's greatest prize - a WSOP Main Event bracelet (not to mention the $9 million plus that goes along with it).

To follow this epic heads-up battle head to, or check out the PokerRoad forums, where the PokerRoad family will once again come together to celebrate and critique, as we anxiously await Barry's updates and the discovery of our new 2008 WSOP Champion.

Story by Mark Anderson
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