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Top-10 moments from the 2013 WSOP final table

11 November 2013

The 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event officially ended last week when 23-year-old Ryan Riess won the tournament, claiming $8.36 million and the title of world champion. There were plenty of memorable moments from this year's final table. Here are the 10 that I'll remember most. 10. Newhouse's suck out In the grand scheme of things, Mark Newhouse's win with pocket queens vs. pocket kings on the fifth hand of the final table didn't change much. Newhouse, who started the day eighth in chips, was the short stack at the time and still ended up finishing ninth. But the early confrontation set the stage for what ended up being a table with plenty of fireworks and big hands and helped an already fired up crowd at the Penn & Teller Theater get into the action early. 9. Loosli's incorrect raises This mostly ended up being a footnote in the tournament, but on two separate occasions, Sylvain Loosli put out an incomplete raise, and Jack Effel, the tournament director, correctly forced him to put out a minimum raise. The first time, he did it against JC Tran holding pocket kings. The second time, he did it on a bluff against Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, who responded by shoving all in. It's possible that the Frenchman just made the same exact mistake twice in 85 hands. It's also possible that he was shooting an angle; since everyoneknew he made an "accidental" raise earlier in the day holding pocket kings, courtesy of the ESPN coverage that revealed his hole cards (on a 15-minute delay), perhaps they'd think he was doing it again with another very strong hand. I asked Loosli about what happened after he finished in fourth place, and he said it was a mistake and it was time to move on. 8. McLaughlin gets his first walk I can't believe that a player getting a walk in the blinds is one of the top-10 moments from the tournament, but if you were in the Penn & Teller Theater and saw it when it happened, you'd agree with its appearance on this list. McLaughlin had by far the best rail at this year's final table, with dozens of green-clad friends and family members chanting "Larry Walker" at the top of their lungs every time he was in the big blind. They wanted a "walk," of course, hoping to convince everyone at the table to fold and let McLaughlin win the blinds and antes. When it finally happened the 13th time he was in the big blind, McLaughlin's rail went crazy, and he jumped up from the table and celebrated like he had just won the Main Event. It was a highlight of what had been a long slog with six players and no eliminations. 7. Farber's aces beat McLaughlin's kings The six-player deadlock finally ended when two monster hands inevitably clashed, with Jay Farber's aces holding up against McLaughlin's kings. The hand was a pivotal one as it pushed Farber into the chip lead, which he took into heads up play against Riess, and eliminated one of the toughest players at the table. 6. Four eliminations in 15 hands After McLaughlin's exit, the eliminations came fast and furious. In just 15 hands, the tournament went from six players down to two. Tran, who started the day as the chip leader, exited in fifth after a frustrating, card-dead night. Then Loosli busted in fourth, and just one hand later, Amir Lehavot was out in third. For a tournament that's lauded as having the best blind structure in all of tournament poker, it was a stunning turn of events. 5. Farber's six-high bluff Early on in heads up play, Riess overcame the 20-million-chip deficit he faced against Farber and had taken the lead himself. It looked like he might run away with the tournament, and then Farber got frisky with a gutshot straight draw. Holding a mere 6-5, Farber check-raised Riess on a 3-3-7-2 board. He then led out for 24.5 million into a pot of 37.9 million. The pressure got Riess to fold the best hand (he had Q-7) and put Farber back on top. The hand showed that Farber was willing to make a big move and extended heads up play for quite some time. 4. Bill Simmons dubs Riess "Megatron Nowitzki" One of the most fun things about the plausibly live coverage of the WSOP final table is some well-known people live-Tweet the tournament as they're watching it. WSOP officials were boasting about Norm Macdonald Tweeting about the tournament, but it was really Grantland's Bill Simmons that stole the show, referencing Riess' doppelganger and his Calvin Johnson jersey. 3. Riess gets aggressive, slams the door Facing a nearly 10-1 chip deficit, Farber got lucky on his first all-in of heads-up play, hitting a straight to beat Riess' top pair. He used that momentum to build his chip stack back up over 70 million, thanks in large part to a queen-high call Riess made when he was convinced Farber was bluffing once again. But Riess let him get no closer, dialing up the aggression and winning 16 of the final 20 hands of the tournament. 2. Ryan Riess wins The hand itself was unimportant. For the second time of the night, Riess had Farber on the ropes, drawing thin. The ESPN cameras focused on the young man who started playing poker as a teenager in his basement after watching Chris Moneymaker win the Main Event in 2003. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he could sense that this might be the moment of his life. While he had a chance to win it earlier in the night, the emotion was much more palpable this time around. The final card came down, and Riess was mobbed by friends and family. (I was actually a little concerned for his safety -- he was at the bottom of a pretty large pile of people for a few moments.) The crowning of a Main Event champion only happens once a year, and it truly is a sight to behold. 1. Giant panda rushes the stage As memorable as Riess' win was, 2013 will always be remembered as the Year of the Panda. If you merely watched the event on ESPN, you probably only saw the person dressed in a panda costume a few times in crowd shots. But if you followed poker media on Twitter or read live updates, you heard that same person rushed the stage and caused quite a commotion. Because there's a step up from the stage to the final table, and because it was hard to see from inside a panda costume, the guy biffed it pretty hard, tripping on the stage and falling down right in front of the cameras. (ESPN didn't air any of the coverage, in large part because the 15-minute delay allowed them to bypass any camera shot with the panda on stage.) It turns out that the person in the costume was offered a fairly significant bounty for rushing the stage. And he was quickly escorted from the building, as he should have been. But I think the best part was the reaction of security and staff at the World Series of Poker. No one panicked; they simply walked over quickly and apprehended the guy and escorted him out of the building. And the next day? Believe it or not, they let the guy back in for heads-up play, though he was under much closer scrutiny. I loved that they didn't take things too seriously (Effel even serenaded him by singing "Na na na na, Goodbye") and let it be a fun moment, instead of turning it into a major event by throwing the guy to the ground and treating him brutally, like security typically does when a fan rushes the field in a baseball or football game.
Top-10 moments from the 2013 WSOP final table is republished from
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.