The final table of the $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo event wrapped up at about 3:30 am Vegas time, and the two things I wanted to happen didn‚Äôt. First, I was hoping the heads-up play would come down to an "intoxicating" match-up between Men "the Master" Nguyen and "Minneapolis" Jim Meehan, simply for pure entertainment value and to force ESPN to change their broadcast plans (this is not on their schedule), as this would have been must-see TV. If you haven‚Äôt had the chance to see the always irreverent and conspicuously inebriated Minneapolis Meehan play before, it‚Äôs quite the spectacle. My guess is it‚Äôs about 75% an act that works to rile his opponents about 99% of the time. He has a WSOP bracelet to show for it as well as numerous final table appearances in major tournaments, including the WSOP. The Master, likewise, knows how to put them away, downing an average of 10 to 15 Coronas per tournament. When asked about his penchant for the piss-colored beer from south of the border, Men claimed it doesn’t give him a headache like other beers and that he especially likes it because yellow is his favorite color (I’d have say that the photo to the right is a much better reason to drink something yellow). When Men gets literally "piss drunk" at the table, it’s always a treat to see him badger his opponents with playful yet calculated comments about how poorly they‚Äôre playing their hands. And while Men doesn‚Äôt need this edge to take down players, it certainly works for him and makes him one of the most colorful characters at the table.
Unfortunately yesterday though, my wish didn’t come to fruition. While Meehan made it to the final table of the $1,500 O8B tournament, the only Nguyen in sight was Minh, not Men.
Shortstacked from the start, Minh was quickly taken out by Meehan (pictured here) who jumped to chip leader position, and held on for some time as he scooped pot after pot. Unfortunately though Meehan went skydiving to the bottom of the stack count–from an altitude of about 180,000 in chips to below the clouds at around 100,000–and without much of a parachute at the end when limits rose to 10k-20k, Meehan was all-in against Jeff Duvall. Meehan’s mediocre Ah-Qh-7c-4h hit a pair on the turn, but Duvall hitched a boat that held for hi, and an ace on the river gave him the scoop and Meehan the boot. Not bad for Meehan though, placing 6th ($48,230) in the biggest O8B tournament ever played.
Finally, here‚Äôs my other disappointment: Atlanta‚Äôs very own John Lukas didn‚Äôt win the bracelet in this event after making it down to heads-up play against Phoenix, Arizona‚Äôs Patrick Poels. When it finally came down to just these two competing for the championship bracelet and the $270,100 first place prize, Lukas had the chip advantage, but the two quickly began trading pots like punches with Poels favoring a 1-2 combo of raises and reraises and Lukas countering by landing big pots. Boxing metaphors aside, Poels gained the momentum over the last half hour and finally the victory after the board rivered him a ten-high straight. Lukas pocketed $139,870 for his runner-up finish and is now the second Atlantan to final table at this year‚Äôs WSOP (Duluth‚Äôs Richard Boutwell finished 9th in event #2).
Top pros also in the money include Carlos Mortensen (13th, $8,680), Michael ‚ÄúThe Grinder‚Äù Mizrachi (35th, $3,375) and Phil Ivey (54th, $2,410).
A side note on Omaha Hi/Lo: If you‚Äôre not playing it already, you‚Äôre missing out on a great game as well as some excellent action online. The play is often loose, the pots are rather big and skill at the table is often lacking. If you want to pick up some pointers on the game, Super System II will get you started off on the right track and even Phil Hellmuth‚Äôs Play Poker Like the Pros has a decent cursory look at the game and the strategies employed by top players. More on O8B strategy another time.