Players try make it in the money at World Series of Poker


LAS VEGAS (AP) – Bust by bust, the crowd of poker players eyeing the $8.25 million jackpot inched closer Thursday to the lucky group guaranteed to walk away winners at the 2007 World Series of Poker main event.

With the bust of an unlucky tool-and-die man from Strongsville, Ohio, smiles of relief appeared on the faces of many of the 621 remaining players who would claim a $20,320 prize – twice their $10,000 buy-in.

The players were assembled in the same room at the Rio hotel casino for the first time after organizers had to spread out early-round play to accommodate 6,358 entrants. Many bet tough and slowly, hoarding their chips and hoping to hang on long enough to make the money bubble in the no-limit Texas Hold ’em tournament.

At least one major player fell early. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, holder of five bracelets and the 2000 main event champ, started the day with 106,900 chips and went all in after about 30 minutes of play.

Holding an ace and five of diamonds, Ferguson found no help on the flop and was beaten by another player’s pocket queens. Ferguson left the room with a souvenir T-shirt and a cap.

“I wasn’t worried about making money at this point. If I got a little closer to the money then I’d think about slowing down a little bit and trying to sneak into the money,” Ferguson said.

The early chip leader was Copenhagen-born Gus Hansen, dubbed the Great Dane. Hansen started Day 7 on top and led most of the early play.

But as players prepared to take their first break, Hansen was overtaken by Kenny Tran, of Arcadia, Calif., the first to cross the million chip mark with 1.05 million, and Hevad Khan, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with 805,000 in chips.

Hansen slipped to sixth place after about five hours of play.

Entertainment lawyer Jon Moonves, the brother of CBS president and chief executive Leslie Moonves, hung in near the top with 587,000 in chips. Actor Tobey Maguire climbed late in the day to about 240,000 in chips.

Main event first-timer Jeff Weiss was the sort of out-of-nowhere surprise that lures amateurs to the main event tables. The 34-year-old orthodontist from Davie, Fla., was hovering in the top 20 with 530,000 in chips.

Many others weren’t so lucky. Among them was Hoa Nguyen, a 41-year-old Vietnamese restaurant owner from San Jose, Calif.

Nguyen was dubbed “the bubble boy” after last year’s main event when he was the final player to bust out before the cut off, missing the money by one spot. He bounced back, winning this year’s $10,000 entrance buy-in in an online competition off a starting bet of $16, he said.

But this wasn’t his year – again, Nguyen said shortly after his pocket kings were topped by an opponent’s flush.

“I can do better,” he said. “I just want to go home now. I’ll be back next year.”

This year’s bubble burst with the bust of 45-year-old John Sigan, a machinist from the suburbs of Cleveland, who won his entry in the main event from the tournament sponsor Milwaukee’s Best.

While play had slowed to a hand-by-hand crawl, Sigan was dealt a pair of queens. He raised on the button and was called in the blind. A low flop led Sigan to move his remaining 30,000 chips all-in. His opponent hit an inside straight on the river.

“That’s the hand that played out,” Sigan told reporters, after calling his wife to tell her “we didn’t win nothing, we’re out.”

Sigan did win applause and cheers from the remaining players, who got to continue play into the evening. He also will get a chance to play for a free entry into next year’s main event.

Poker News UK

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