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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

World Series Of Poker: Gold Holds Glittering Lead

9 August 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Expecting a record field for the World Series of Poker championship event, Harrah's Entertainment ordered several thousand specially manufactured green $100,000 tournament poker chips for use in the $10,000 no-limit Texas hold 'em tournament.

As Tuesday's session drew to a close at the Rio, most of those unique chips were in possession of former Hollywood agent Jamie Gold.

He'll put those chips back into action Thursday afternoon, when he hopes to walk away with poker's ultimate crown and a $12 million payday.

Gold, of Malibu, Calif., was the chip leader for the sixth consecutive day with $25.9 million just after midnight as the final 10 players from the record field squared off. Only one more player needed to be eliminated to end the session.

With a total of $82.5 million up for grabs and $87.7 million in chips in play, multi-million-dollar pots became the norm throughout the day. Gold vacuumed up chips like a Hoover and was personally responsible for six of the day's 18 eliminations.

Gold began play with $13 million. By the 7:30 p.m. dinner break he had more than $31 million stacked in front of him, more than a third of the chips in play.

The first chink in Gold's armor came after dinner when Sweden's Erik Friberg went all-in with a pair of 10s and held off the chip leader. Friberg doubled up, taking a little more than $3 million from Gold's stack.

Poker professional and four-time World Series bracelet winner Allen Cunningham of Las Vegas, the last well-recognized player in the field, was in second place with $17.7 million in chips.

Cunningham, who began the day in the middle of the pack with about $2.6 million, quietly climbed into contention. Seated next to Gold much of the day, Cunningham used his seating position to his advantage.

Poker pro Phil Gordon, who will be one of the broadcasters on ESPN's pay-per-view telecast of Thursday's final table, said Cunningham was able to play off Gold's energy, sitting back and playing slowly.

"Allen is a very patient player and he's also the only player I recognize," said Gordon, who played in 12 World Series events this year. "The players are very inexperienced in tournament play and making some very crazy moves. Allen is in a great position and he's playing to his style. I'd give him a big advantage."

Richard Lee of San Antonio was in third place with $9.6 million.

The championship event, which began July 28, will have an off day today.

Tuesday's play was a bit slower than previous days as 27 players began the day at noon. By 3:30 p.m., it was down 18 players and two tables.

Around 6:45 p.m., when Gold eliminated Sweden's William Thorsson with pocket kings, tournament announcer Jack Effel told the remaining 12 players from an original field of 8,773 they were all millionaires.

The 10th-, 11th- and 12th-place finishers each took home $1,154,527, the most money ever won by a player who didn't make the final table.

Leif Force of Tallahassee, Fla., who busted out in 11th place just before 11 p.m., called his buddies back home right after the announcement to tell them he would be collecting more than $1 million.

"It's pretty awesome and I was just trying not to make any silly moves," said Force, looking like he'd be more comfortable on a surfboard than at a poker table. His long blond hair and scraggly beard invoked many comments from spectators.

Ireland's John Magill finished 12th. "It's kind of bittersweet, but I thought I played well," he said.

David Einhorn, who finished 18th, said he would donate his $659,730 in winnings to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for the study of Parkinson's disease. Einhorn, a 37-year-old hedge fund manager from New York, said his grandfather suffered from Parkinson's and he decided to donate anything he won to Fox's foundation.

World Series Of Poker: Gold Holds Glittering Lead is republished from