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Vin Narayanan

Vin  Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the former managing editor at Casino City and has been involved in the gaming industry for over a decade Vin is currently based in Hong Kong, where he runs his own consultant group and works as head of gaming and public relations for Mega Digital Entertainment Group.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

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2008 WSOP Main Event final table is set

15 Jul 2008

By Vin Narayanan

LAS VEGAS -- And then there were nine. After 12 days of poker and 6,835 eliminations, the final table for the Main Event is set.

Dennis Phillips (26.295 million in chips), Ivan Demidov (24.4 million), Scott Montgomery (19.69 million), Peter Eastgate (18.375 million), Ylon Schwartz (12.525 million), Darus Suharto (12.52 million), David "Chino" Rheem (10.23 million), Craig Marquis (10.21 million), and Kelly Kim (2.62 million) will now take a 117-day pause to allow ESPN to air its complete World Series of Poker coverage and allow drama surrounding the final table to build. On Sunday, Nov. 9, the final table will play down to two players. In the late hours of Nov. 10 and early hours of Nov. 11, heads-up play will take place, and ESPN will broadcast a two-hour final table show that same night from 9-11 p.m. ET.

At 3:27 a.m., after 3 hours of 10-handed play, Dean Hamrick finished in tenth place and won $591,869. The ninth place finisher will win $900,670. The first-place prize is $9,119,517.


After more than 15 hours at the Rio Sunday, the featured table erupts as Dean Hamrick goes all-in with ace-jack. Hamrick ran into pocket queens and was eliminated. He finished in 10th place. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

The most dramatic moment of the night came when Cincinnati's Joey Bishop went on tilt and pushed all in on the three straight-hands about 12 hours into the day with 11 players remaining.

On the first hand, he went all in after the flop holding ace-queen with a queen showing on the board. But he ran into Darus Suharto's pocket kings and the kings held up. On the next two hands, Bishop pushed all in with 8d-7d and A-3. He lost both hands, and 12.4 million chips over the three-hand run to bust out of the tournament in 11th place ($591,869).

Tiffany Michelle finished in 17th, giving her the highest finish by a woman at the Main Event since Annie Duke placed 10th in 2000. Barbara Enright's fifth-place finish 1995 is still the best by a woman at the Main Event.

"No one can take that away from me," Michelle said with pride about being the last woman standing.

Michelle also sees a future for herself at the felt, rather than talking about it, which she had been doing as an on-camera host for PokerNews. "I've always wanted to go on the major tournament trail," Michelle said. "And this win (of $334,534) gives me the freedom to do that."

Nicholas Sliwinski, who moved from rural Pennsylvania to Las Vegas three weeks ago, finished 13th. Sliwinski was distraught after his elimination. And when Johnny Chan found out about that, he offered Team Sliwinski (Nicholas wasn't there yet) some sage words of advice.

"He won almost a half-million dollars," Chan said to Sliwinski's sister and assorted college friends. "What's wrong with that? Just get ready for next year."

Waiting outside the Amazon Room to give Sliwinski a big hug was Craig Stein, who was eliminated on Sunday and finished in 39th place. The two have played against each other several times at the Mountaineer in West Virginia.

"I've always trusted my gut," Sliwinski told Stein. "But this time my gut was confused."

As the field dwindled from 27 players down to nine, the common theme touched upon by most of the players who had just been eliminated was playing at their local casino was more difficult than playing at the World Series of Poker.

"There were a lot of bad players here," Michelle said. "So if you played a basic ABC game, you could go really far."

"Play got better once you got deep into the tournament," Michelle added. "That's when the good players took over."


Paul Snead thinks long and hard before calling a bet to create a monster pot. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Paul Snead, who finished in 21st and won $257,334, goes even further.

"The competition at Foxwoods (in Connecticut) is much better," the Kings Park, New York, resident said. "On Day 1, with 20,000 chips and 50-100 blinds, three players from my table were eliminated. It was the first round!"

"You saw that hand," Snead said, referring to a beat he took from Scott Montgomery that crippled him. In that hand, Montgomery bet 800,000 pre-flop and 1.5 million after the flop came out. Snead raised it to 3 million, and Montgomery went all in for another 1.76 million to create a pot of 12.72 million. After thinking about it for several minutes, and having Michelle, who sitting next to him, put him on the clock, Snead called and yelled a shot of triumph as Montgomery sheepishly turned over an ace-high hand. Snead had flopped top pair (jacks) and looked like he was a certain winner when the turn gave him a flush draw. Then Montgomery hit the miracle ace, crippling Snead.

"There are still players in the tournament like that (Montgomery)," Snead said in illustrating his point on how many bad players there were in the tournament.


Michael Carroll hopes his performance in the WSOP inspires more African Americans to play poker. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Michael Carroll, who finished in 27th and won $257,334, echoed Snead's sentiments.

"The folks at Commerce are a lot better," said the Carson, California, poker pro who makes his living playing at the popular Los Angeles casino.

"The cash games there have much better players, like Kenny Tran," he added.

While Carroll was certain that the competition was better at the Commerce, he was still proud of his 27th place finish, and the fact he was the last African-American poker player in the field.

"There aren't a lot of black poker players, because of monetary situations and the fact that you only know what you see," said Carroll, who first started playing poker when he was 10 years old. "Maybe by seeing me on TV, and over and over again on reruns, some (African-American) kids will see me, decide to become poker players and stay off the streets."

"I'm proud of my profession and my industry," Carroll added. "And now that I've made it this far, I can enjoy my 2009 WSOP without having to worry about the money."

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