Aruba Poker Classic
|Dates||Sep 26 - Oct 1, 2004|
|Final Table Date||Oct 01, 2004|
|Number of Entrants||647|
In Aruba, some native folk speak a language known as Papiamento. You'll also hear English, Spanish, and Portuguese. At the same time, the island's official language is Dutch. So, in a land full of languages, it stands to reason that the final table of the WPT Aruba would play host to a lot of talking.
The thing is...five of the six players barely spoke at all. They let their chips do the talking.
Seat 1: Vic Fey, 1,262,000
Seat 2: Layne Flack, 1,548,000
Seat 3: John Juanda, 1,36,000
Seat 4: Mike Matusow, 713,000
Seat 5 : Patrick McMillan 1,328,000
Seat 6: Erick Brenes, 1,417,000
With blinds at 15,000/30,000/3,000, the players sparred for a bit, seeing few hands past the flop. When Mike Matusow open the pot for 90,000 in early position with a pair of fours, he faced an immediate raise to 400,000 from Vic Fey. Fey held a pair of kings.
"That's a lot of chips," Matusow mused, "How many chips is that?" He laid down his hand. In the end, it was an uneventful hand, but one that would signal the beginning of Mike "The Mouth" putting his talk-box to use.
On the next hand, Matusow came into the pot under the gun with A8 offsuit, putting in a raise to 90,000. The field folded around to Layne Flack in the big blind who called with A9 suited. The flop came down T32. Flack checked and Matusow bet out half the pot. Flack called and both players saw an ace on the turn. Again, Flack checked and again Matusow fired out a half-pot-sized bet. Flack flat called then checked the king of hearts on the river. Matusow checked this time and fell into a moment of disgust when he realized Flack out-kicked him.
A couple of hands later, Flack found AQ offsuit on the button and put in a raise. Matusow woke up with AK in the big blind and immediately moved all in. Suddenly the crowd erupted into a chant, begging for a queen.
With mock indignance, Matusow put up his hands and asked, "Where's the love?"
The love come in the form of a board that didn't improve Flack's hand. Matusow doubled up, then mimicked the crowd, chanting "Queen, queen, queen!"
Matusow remained short-stacked, but kept up his coffeehousing.
After Fey raised with AK, Matusow called in position with KQ. When Fey checked the 664 board, Matusow moved all in and Fey folded. "I had it," Matusow chided. "I had KQ. Just remember, nobody remembers who finished second."
On the next hand, in the small blind, Fey again found AK. He raised to 100,000 and Flack called from the big blind with A5 offsuit. Fey again checked when the flop (J95) didn't hit him. Since he had paired his five, Flack bet out 120,000. Fey called. When the turn came down as an ace, Fey moved all in and Flack immediately called, his two-pair besting Fey's top-pair top-kicker. Fey left in sixth place, taking home $105,000.
The blinds moved up to 25,000/50,000/5,000 and Flack raised to 165,000 from the small blind with AK. John Juanda, in the big blind, found A8 offsuit. Apparently incorrectly sensing weakness in Flack, Juanda re-raised to 440,000. Flack moved all-in and Juanda had little choice but to call. It would spell his end. Juanda took fifth place and cashed for 130,000.
In the middle of a nice rush, Flack found a pair of aces and came into the pot for 160,000. On the button, Matusow called. The flop came down K32 and Flack bet out 300,000. Having made top pair on the board, Matusow pushed all-in and Flack called. Crestfallen, Matusow stood, beseeching the poker gods, "Let me get lucky one time." On the turn, the poker gods denied Matusow his luck. Then a king fell on the river. It sent Matusow into a cheering, screaming fit.
"Vindication!" Matusow shouted over the crowd.
The win cut into Flack's chip lead, putting him just a few hundred thousand over Matusow, who sat in second place with more than two million in chips.
After sitting quietly for some time, Patrick McMillan finally got involved. Matusow called from the small blind with T9 offsuit. McMillan checked his option with J8 offsuit. The flop came down 667 and McMillan bet out 90,000. Matusow called with the gutshot straight draw. An eight on the turn made Matusow's straight and paired McMillan's eight. Both players checked. A jack on the river gave McMillan two pair, nearly forcing him to call the 200,000 bet from Matusow.
As the blinds moved up to 40,000/80,000/10,000, McMillan was forced to make his move. Facing a raise to 240,000 from Erick Brenes, who held a pair of tens, McMillan moved all in with AJ. An ace on the flop doubled up McMillan and gave him new life.
McMillan wouldn't last for long. When Matusow entered the pot with a pair of jacks, McMillan moved in from the small blind with A8. Matusow called and McMillan never improved, leaving in fourth place and taking home $170,000.
McMillan's exit left Flack and Matusow nearly even in chips with Brenes in a distant third.
A few hands later, Brenes, holding 22, doubled through Flack who called Brenes' all-in bet with A3 offsuit.
That opened the door for some sparring between the two chip leaders that eventually resulted in Matusow taking a large chip lead. Then, within a matter of hands, Matusow's chip-lead dwindled after he raised some pots with speculative hands and was forced to fold.
Finally, Matusow speculated on a hand that should've paid off for him. In an unraised pot with Q9, Matusow went to battle with Brenes who held 86. The flop came down Q85, giving both players a pair. Matusow bet out 120K and Brenes moved all in. Matusow called with the best hand. The turn, a three, continued the ruse that Matusow was destined for victory. And then came the river, a six, dealing Matusow a horrible beat and destroying his chip stack.
Matusow could only ruefully remark, "It never ends for me, does it?"
A hand later, Matusow got the rest of his chips in with 66 but ended up leaving in third place for $250,000 when Brenes paired a seven.
That left Flack and Brenes to battle heads up. At the beginning, Flack held a 2-1 chip-lead.
Brenes battled back to even after flopping AA3 with an ace in his hand. Flack paired the three and couldn't lay down his hand.
In a day of brutal beats, Flack suffered the biggest indignity of all. After raising pre-flop with a pair of nines, he faced an all-in bet from Brenes who only held a pair of twos. Flack called immediately. The flop was deceptive, putting out A64. Flack appeared to have it wrapped up, until the turn gave Brenes another two. The river didn't help Flack and he left in second place for a $500,000 win.
That left a brief irony for the crowd. Standing in first place at a table that had been overrun with talking was Erick Brenes, a man who spoke almost no English. Of course, when a man wins $1 million, he doesn't need to do much talking.
The money speaks loudly enough.