With an almost insurmountable lead after hauling in a 200k pot and busting David "The Dragon" Pham, Michael Simhai had an easy win in the 15th event of Winnin’ o’ the Green 2004, $1,000 no-limit hold’em, at the Bicycle Casino.
It was the high-tech consultant’s first major tournament victory. Tonight’s event lasted nearly 13 hours, and the final table provided onlookers with a full share of drama and excitement.
The table started with $100 antes and $500-$1,000 blinds, 43:59 left. On the first hand, Men "The Master" Nguyen moved in, treating the table to a new expression: "All you can eat, baby."
Fortunately for the table’s sanity, he got to use it only three times. On hand two, Simhai raised with As-2s and Men called with Qh-10h. The flop was Q-4-2. Simhai moved in with his paired deuce and Men quickly called with his paired queen. An ace hit and Simhai ate up all but 4,000 of Men’s chips.
Four hands later, poker player Phi Nguyen three-bet all in with pocket 7s against Computer guy Gary Peck’s A-Q. The 7s held up and Peck was gone. On the next hand, Men pushed in his 4k with Q-10. Massage therapist Vin Elle called with Ad-7d and blew The Master away by flopping two pair.
At the first break, Simhai led with 73k. Blinds were now $800-$1,600 with $200 antes. On hand 26, Greg Wynn moved in for 12k with A-K. Pham raised all in while munching on a banana. "You got a couple of bananas?" asked David Moskowitz. No, he had a couple of cowboys. No ace hit and seven were left.
Moskowitz is the CEO of Hawaiian Gardens, owned by his father, Irving Moskowitz. (Both are also physicians.) On hand 30 he was all in with Ah-Kh against Pham’s Ad-Jd. Pham was getting great cards. He turned a jack to knock out Moskowitz and take the lead. After picking up three more pots, he moved past the 100k mark.
Just before the next level, Simhai made his move by putting a beat on Mickey Mouse, flopping a set of 8s against pocket kings. Simhai now had about 90k, the mouse 10.
After blinds went to 1-2k with $300 antes, Pham’s luck began to vanish. He called with Ac-9c after Mickey Mouse moved in with K-Q. He had the mouse until the river, when a king came off. On the next hand, Simhai raised with A-Q. Vin Elle moved in with pocket 7s and busted out when Simhai made two pair, regaining his lead over Pham.
The pot of the night, and of the entire WOG tournament to date, now came down. Pham made a small raise and Simhai, holding A-A, moved in for a bit over 100k. Pham, with A-Q, made a debatable call. The board came 10-8-2-8-4, Pham was gone and Simhai now owned more than 2/3 of the chips.
Phi Nguyen finished fourth after picking a bad spot to bluff.Holding just 8-6, he re-raised all in on a flop of 7-7-3 against Simhai, who had a 7. Simhai now had 232k to 38k for Mills and 24.5k for Dutch Boyd. The most dramatic hand of the night came down after blinds went to $1,500-$3,000 with $500 antes. The mouse was all in again with Ks-Qs against Simhai’s Ac-9c. He took the lead when a queen flopped. Simhai took it back when an ace turned. And the mouse got all the cheese with a river queen as the crowd of onlookers went wild.
On the final hand, Dutch Boyd moved in with pocket kings against Mickey Mouse’s Ac-9c, losing when an ace hit. The mouse had now made a remarkable recovery from his 10k low point. He had 107k to 187.5 for Simhai, and a deal quickly ended the marathon.
Michael Simhai is an information technology consultant for Fortune 500 companies. He’s been playing poker "a few years," and though he’s had some minor wins at places such as the Bellagio and Hollywood Park, this is his only major tournament victory. Most of his poker time is spent in side games, usually pot-limit hold’em. His style of play, he said, varies; tonight it was solid.
He was never in trouble, and his first big break came when he went against Kathy Liebert with K-J against her A-K at the third table. She went all in on a flop of A-Q-10. It gave him a straight and he knocked her out. Simhai said he was impressed by how well the tournament was run. For example, twice at the final table there was confusion over a missing $100 ante. Both times, tournament director Denny Williams made a phone call, and in moments the security camera tracked it down.