136 players reached paid just over $10,000 each to create a prize pool of over $1.3 million
. The Final Table had a bit of everything, a WPT third place runner-up trying to make it to the winnerís circle, a champion looking for a repeat win, and an amateur looking to leave his mark.
Hansen set the tone of play early. Bloch, with an A 8 off-suit raised the blinds to $18,000. Hansen, with just a 4 2 off-suit, called. After the flop and turn gave a 9 8 5 10 Hansen bet another 18,000, and Bloch called. The river was a J, a 4-card straight showing, and Hansen, then bet $36,000 forcing Bloch to fold his hand.
Bob Stupak was the first to go. Short-stacked, Stupak went all in with pocket 5ís only to see Bloch turn over pocket Jís which held up. Stupak walked from the table in 6th place with almost $47,000 in prize money.
Next to go was Steve Shkolnik. Steve couldnít afford to wait for a better hand and went all in with a Q 8 of hearts. He was called first by Rentzer, with a pair of 7ís, and then by Hansen with a 5 3 off suit. The flop came 10 3 3. Hansenís set held up and Steve went home in 5th place with just over $53,000. In the next hand, Hansenís A Q held up against David Phamís A 8 all-in bet. Phamís 4th place finish rewarded him with $80,000 for his troubles. Finally, Hansen knocked Bloch out in third-place finish for $125,460.
Hansen was the chip leader, but Rentzer eventually re-took the chip lead over Hansen by a margin of 8:5. The final hand both players had a pair of Aís after the flop, Hansenís second card a 6 which paired, meant that Rebtzerís J was no good and the $800,000 pot went to Hansen, who regained a 3:1 chiplead.
After all of the exciting, it was Hansenís successive strong hands that beat Rentzerís own playable hands, as Hansen became the first WPT repeat champ, and winning more than half a million dollars.
Rentzer came senond and got not only, over a quarter of a million dollars but the $25,000 seat in the WPT finals (usually given to the champion, who in this case already had one).
- Thomas Hardy