1110 players from all over the world took part in the event. From the beginning, it was obvious this was going to be unlike any other event on the tour. As opposed to the rest of the WPTís scheduled stops, this tournament was a "Re-buy" event
, meaning players could replenish their chips as they were getting low, an opportunity which almost everyone took advantage of. Despite the low buy-in cost of $500, the re-buys soon pushed the prize pool up to $235,000
Many of the familiar faces on the tour were knocked out before the last day, leaving only two Americans and 4 international players at the final table. Bringing a commanding chip lead of more than 5 to 1 over second place, the Casinos Europaís owner himself, Don Luis Milanes, was the crowd favorite.
Once again, the play highlighted how fascinating it is to be able to see the players' hole cards with the WPTís hole card cam. In one particular hand Jaime Anteneloff had a 9, J of clubs to Jose Rosencrantzís 8, 3 off suit. Jose stayed with Jaime's bets through the turn, obviously playing the man rather than trying to make a hand. When the river came, showing a possible straight, Jaime checked and Jose came in with a significant raise. Jaime folded and Jose, with absolutely nothing, stole the pot.
Like the active volcanoes Costa Rica is known for, Don Luis is an imposing and unpredictable presence. He readily admits that he is a lucky, rather than skilled, player. For much of the day his luck held out, his chip count remaining fairly constant despite his sometimes reckless play. First R.A. Head, then Anteneloff, then Dewey Tomko, an American, fell to the three Costa Ricans. Then Don Luis's luck finally ran out in the most dramatic fashion.
Hemorrhaging chips, Luis went all in with an A,10. Jose, with a pair of K's, called him. The flop came 10, 10, J, miraculously giving Luis the set of 10's. But the turn came with a K, and the river with a 9, which gave Jose a huge boat to oust Luis.
The 1st Place prize was introduced to the final table in unique fashion, as two beautiful white oxen pulled a colorfully painted cart loaded with cash through the casino floor. The cash was then piled onto the final table between Jamie Ligator and Rosencrantz, the last two standing.
Jamie doubled up on the first heads up hand, but on the very next hand he went all in again with an A,10 and Jose called with a pair of J's. The jacks held up, making Jose the winner of the $108,000 first place prize.
- Thomas Hardy