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WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic 2009, Day 5
CEO "Rocket Boy" 12.18.2009

We've Got Our TV Six
What a day! 10 unfortunates were knocked out within reach of the holy TV table grail today in under five hours. One player plummeted from a massive chip lead all the way to busto. And another rose up from the felt to become a real threat to win.

John Juanda aims a searing staredown at Curt Kohlberg

The number of hands left in this tournament is dwindling, and the blinds are ramping up. So sometimes it's worth taking the worst of it when you have a chance to eliminate an opponent. Especially when you're short-handed, as the two remaining tables were.

For example, Curt Kohlberg called Mike Sowers' all-in with J-10 suited. Sowers showed pocket 3s, so it was a race. Kohlberg rivered a straight to eliminate Sowers in 13th place. I didn't see all the hands, so go to World Poker Tour for their excellent live updates.

It wasn't a good day for small pairs or slightly dominant non-pair hands. Lee Salem, who was dead last in chips at the start of play, had somehow managed to survive for a few levels. Finally, he shoved preflop with A2, Chad Batista called with KQ and made trip kings to bust Salem in 12th. A little later, Eric Hershler busted when his A10 failed to win vs. Josh Arieh's KJ. But hey, it's poker. Happens every day.

The start of final table play, 10-handed. What a nightmare lineup!

Hero to Zero and Vice Versa
But what doesn't happen every day is plummeting from chip leader to busto or rising from the felt to become a threat to win. Two vividly different players had very memorable days. For very different reasons. Kurt Kohlberg, who had started the day as the chip leader, continued accumulating chips on a seemingly unstoppable rampage to victory. At one point he surely had about 25% of the chips in play when there were still 10 or 12 players left. It was as if everyone else's chips were magnetically attracted to his stack.

Yes, there were slow periods of waiting out the short stacks. But after short stack Salem busted at Kohlberg's table, the chips started flying. And it started to all go wrong for Kohlberg. I didn't see any of the big pots he lost (again, get all the details at World Poker Tour). But by the time the final table 10 were set, he was way down in the chip count. He busted out in 9th.

The other notable trajectory today was that of Scotty Nguyen. He was 15th out of 16 in chips at the start of the day, and after seeing some of his play yesterday, I didn't think he would last long. But no, he doubled up, then tripled up, and is now in a very close 2nd place behind chip leader Faraz Jaka going into the TV table. Nguyen started with just 389K and now has 4.5 million. Unbelievable!

3-way All-ins
The day's raging action was punctuated by two 3-way all-ins, and Tournament Director John Nieznanski earned his pay refereeing both of them. The first involved John Juanda (A6), Chad Batista (22), and Scotty Nguyen (AA). Juanda declared himself all-in without pushing his chips forward. Batista didn't see or hear this, and shoved. The action came to Nguyen, Batista revealed that he didn't know Juanda had shoved, and Nguyen called with his pocket aces. And he apparently taunted Batista for being inattentive. Oops.

Batista yelled at Nguyen for being rude when he was all-in for his tournament life. Nguyen yelled back that he should have been paying attention if it was that important. TD Nieznanski managed to get them to shut up for a moment while the board cards were dealt, and in the end Nguyen won it all. He tripled up, Juanda busted in 11th, and Batista was severely crippled.

My take on it is that players competing for a $1.5 million top prize should pay attention to what's happening at their table. I'm sure that Batista would have snap-folded with his deuces if he had known Juanda had already pushed and had the first-in vig.

But I also think that taunting isn't kosher when folks are all-in in front of you and you wake up with aces. It's not a punishable offense without f-bombs or the like, but it's very bad form. But oh well. Scotty hasn't exactly covered himself with table etiquette glory in the past year and a half. One of the final 6 players, who I decline to name, told me "Nothing surprises us any more" with respect to Scotty's behavior.

The final hand of the night: a snap-call-all-in-preflop three-way

Anyway, there was another 3-way all-in and it ended play for the day. Shawn Buchanan (QQ), Joe Cassidy (KJ), and Josh Arieh (1010) all quickly moved in preflop. I think the total elapsed time between the three all-in declarations was about 10 seconds. There was a fair bit of excitement at the table, because this hand would determine who made the TV 6 for this WPT event. TD Nieznanski had to step in and shush everyone for the board cards again, and suddenly we were done for the day.

Buchanan's queens held, Cassidy was eliminated on the TV bubble in 7th, and Arieh took a big hit. Tomorrow's TV tablists will be: Faraz Jaka, Scotty Nguyen, Daniel Alaei, Shawn Buchanan, Josh Arieh, and Steve O'Dwyer. This is another incredibly tough lineup, and I'm looking forward to seeing the action tomorrow.

The lovely and talented Amanda Leatherman interviewing Daniel Alaei while Jeff of Poker Road records it all

Josh Arieh talks to Kristy Arnett

Still life at Aria's brand spanking new Baccarat Lounge

Tomorrow: WPT day 6: the TV show taping...

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