The six players who started the final table came with backgrounds as diverse as their style of play. From the young aggressive Gus Hansen
, to the older, more conservative Chris Bigler.
The event, was No Limit Texas Hold 'em it was staged in the main ballroom of the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. Bigler came to the final table low-stacked with $136,000 in chips. Hansen, a former professional backgammon player, came to his first final table in the enviable position of chip leader, with just over $1 million. John Hennigan, Kasem "Freddy" Deeb, John Juanda and Scotty Nguyen rounded out the field, most of whom were evenly matched with about $500,000 each.
Nguyen, by far the most experienced tournament player in the group, set the tone early by coming out hard and fast. Always confident, Nguyen boldly predicted before the tournament that he would win it all. With the World Poker Tour's unique "Hole Card Cam", which shows the players hidden cards, the audience for the first time ever had the chance to see just how brilliant some of Nguyen's early reads were. Before the end of the game, however, it was Hennigan and Juanda who took turns combining their immense skills and a modicum of luck to win a number of big pots, each at different points taking the chip lead from Hansen.
But Gus Hansen's aggressive play and his own streak of luck kept him in the chip lead for most of the tournament. He had a particularly heated rivalry with Deeb, who seemed to dislike Hansen's style of play. "He played very bad," Deeb complained, shaking his head after losing a series of big hands on bad beats. "I would like to play this game with him every day for the rest of my life."
The Fast and Furious play exhibited all day and continued right to the end. The last two men standing, were playing heads up with cash on the table, the audience was treated to only two hands before Gus Hansen beat John Juanda in stunning fashion. To take home $556,480.
The final standings and prizes were as follows:
1st Gus Hansen - $556,460
2nd John Juanda - $278,240
3rd Freddy Deeb - $139,120
4th John Hennigan - $83,472
5th Chris Bilger - $62,604
6th Scotty Nguyen - $48,692
- Thomas Hardy