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WSOP09 $1500 LHE Shootout Final Table
CEO "Rocket Boy" 06.28.2009

When I heard who was at the final table of Event 50, the $1500 Limit Hold'em Shootout, I headed straight there. History could be made at the this event. What history? Well, let's see here...

- Two players could win their second bracelet of 2009: Greg Mueller and Marc Naalden. Mueller had already won the $10k World Championship Limit Hold'em event, and Naalden the $2k Limit Hold'em event. If either one of these guys won, he would become the fourth multi-bracelet winner of 2009.

- Millie Shiu could become one of the few women to win a WSOP bracelet in an open event. She finished second to Crystal Doan in the 2004 Ladies' Limit Hold'em event, an event that was aired on ESPN.

- David Williams could win his second WSOP bracelet. He final-tabled in 2008 in the $5k Mixed Hold'em event and won the 2006 $1500 7 Card Stud event.

The limit Hold'em shootout is unique: you advance only if you beat everyone at your table. This moves things along much faster than the normal tournament format of balancing tables as bustouts happen. And we all know how long limit tournaments can take.

A very determined Greg "FBT" Mueller with six players left

From 6 down to 2: Mueller is Unstoppable

I didn't show up until final table play was down to 6-handed, and I won't even try to give detailed hand info. I leave that to the pros! (For all the hole cards and hand-for-hand action reporting, check out the excellent coverage at Poker News and Card Player.)

But for most of the final table play, Greg Mueller just flat crushed the table. David Williams knocked out the 6th and 5th place finishers (Flaminio Malaguti and Matt Sterling). Then Mueller knocked out Williams on a huge hand. He turned a set of jacks to crack Millie Shiu's pocket rockets and bust David.

David Williams in his signature thinking pose

Millie Shiu, to her credit, played extremely well and never tilted. She might have been steamed by getting her aces cracked, but she didn't show it. She had won a big pot earlier when her AA held up, so hey, that's poker. Limit poker requires you to make hands, plain and simple, and she just didn't get the cards to win this thing. Greg busted her to get down to heads-up.

Milie Shiu played well but didn't quite get there

Heads-Up: Momentum Shifts to Marc

There was no money presentation before heads-up play began, and there didn't need to be. It's all about the BRACELET. Greg Mueller or Marc Naalden would gratefully accept the first place money, of course. But they were both going for their 2nd bracelets. Their 2nd in 2009 as a matter of fact, and oddly enough, their 2nd bracelet in a limit event.

So no money was dumped onto the table. The beautiful WSOP bracelet sat there on the rail all by itself like a shining beacon. The golden light at the end of the tunnel. Or the raw meat tossed between two starving tigers.

Greg had built up huge momentum going into heads-up play. He had a massive 3 to 1 chip lead and it seemed like the table was leaning toward him so chips could roll into his stack. But that stopped almost instantly 1-on-1.

Marc relentlessly out-carded Greg until he was the dominant leader. His Dutch fans, including Noah Boeken, chanted and hooted when he won every pot. Greg sat there in pain, winning the occasional small pot but losing massive pots with hands that are usually good heads-up. Top pair beaten by trips. Two pair beaten by a straight. Marc made a full house with 74 offsuit, made the nut straight with J10, and made Greg visibly frustrated.

Greg flings chips at Marc

Marc flings chips back at Greg

If this were a no-limit event, Greg might have busted long before the break. Sustained cold-decking is fatal in big-bet poker, but this is limit. Action happens fast since there are rarely any life-or-death decisions for all your chips. I told Greg I wanted him to win as he was madly texting during the break, and he was gracious enough to say "Thank you".

Greg Stops Running Into Monsters

I literally crossed my fingers and hoped that saying "Good luck" to Greg wouldn't jinx him. It didn't. He lost a few more pots, then gradually he started winning. Now, his middle set was good. Middle pair no kicker was good. Even ace-high was good, for a massive pot.

Their stacks evened out, then Greg took the lead again. And never gave it back. He played the same strong game that got him to heads-up: fearless, decisive, and absolutely determined to win.

Greg busted Marc when his K5 flopped top pair crappy kicker vs. Marc's K2 top pair crappier kicker. The crowd cheered for him, he asked his friends and fans to stand behind him for the victory celebration, and man did he look happy and relieved.

Greg Mueller with both his bracelets and all the chips

Congratulations to Greg "FBT" Mueller FTW! You played great and had the discipline and skill to get it done despite that horrendous stretch of heads-up hands.

Next blog: $50K HORSE days 3 and 4...

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