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Coming into a star-studded World Poker Tour final table, Brett Faustman might have been a little, perhaps very intimidated. However, it didn’t show, as he bested 258 other players to claim the 2008 World Poker Open championship.

This tournament featured far less runners than most WPT tournaments again, but as I’ve said before, that can be attributed to the presence of the WSOP circuit in Tunica along with the World Poker Open, and the Aussie Millions all running at the same time or very close to one another.

That’s not to say this tournament didn’t feature its share of story lines, from Hoyt Corkins making yet another WPT final table, to Men “The Master” Nguyen and Freddy Deeb fighting all the way up to the final table, to older pro John Spadavecchia making a great run, or even unknowns Brett Faustman and Gabe Costner jostling with the four pros. There was plenty for any poker enthusiast to find interest in. Could Corkins win another WPT title? Could Spadavecchia make a huge comeback from being the definitive short stack? How would Nguyen and Deeb’s turbulent relationship at the table affect the play? And how would the two unknowns, Costner and Faustman, do against these seasoned pros?

These were the chip counts going into the final table:

Freddy Deeb – 1,345,000
Brett Faustman – 1,282,000
Gabe Costner – 1,181,000
Men “The Master” Nguyen – 729,000
Hoyt Corkins – 395,000
John Spadavecchia – 256,000

With the blinds at 10k/20k with a 3k ante, Spadavecchia barely had a trip around the table left in him. There was no time to waste for the pro from Florida. Unfortunately, the tournament was not his to win. Quickly getting into a race with the other short stack, Hoyt Corkins, Spadavecchia’s pocket sixes couldn’t hold up against Hoyt’s QJ of diamonds, and Spadavecchia had busted in 6th place. He would take home $96,477 for his efforts.

From the past few days through the final table, Nguyen and Deeb had been harping on one another and firing verbal shells about everything involving their poker play, and their heights. The sparring culminated in a massive hand relatively early in the final table.

Deeb raised to 60k from under the gun, “The Master” cold called from the button, everyone else folded. The flop came down T95, with the 95 of hearts. Deeb bet 150k, and Nguyen promptly shoved all in for 641k total. After thinking for some time, Deeb called and showed the A7 of hearts. He was drawing very live against Men’s slowplayed pocket queens. Men had to sweat the turn and river pretty hard, but no help arrived for Deeb, and Nguyen became the chip leader.

A few hours into the final table, here’s how the stacks sized up:

Seat 3 – Men “The Master” Nguyen – 1,449,000
Seat 2 – Brett Faustman – 1,254,000
Seat 1 – Freddy Deeb – 1,026,000
Seat 5 – Hoyt Corkins – 784,000
Seat 4 – Gabe Costner – 670,000

The final table turned into a huge grind after a firework filled first few hours, until Corkins got into the action again. Getting into an over 1.4 million dollar pot with Gabe Costner, Hoyt had AJ offsuit, while Gabe had pocket sixes. Once again Hoyt was in for most of his stack in a race situation. Fortunately, one again he was able to hit a pair, and Costner wasn’t able to hit his two outer, leaving him finished in 4th place. Costner went home with $123,008.

At this point, everyone had in between 1.1 million and 1.5 million in chips, with Corkins in the chip lead. However, with the blinds at 20k/40k, it was a matter of time before a huge pile of chips shifted in one direction.

With the blinds still at 20k/40k, Corkins opened for a 2.5x raise to 100k, Faustman shoved for around 900k total, and was snap called by Hoyt. Hoyt rolled over AK, much to Faustman’s dismay, as he flipped up A4. The 322 flop offered a lot of hope, with chop and gutshot possibilities, but it was the 5 on the turn that truly excited Faustman. No 4 came on the river for a chop, and Faustman sucked out to a 1.8 million pot, and the chip lead.

After a long grind that involved dumping most of his chips to Men Nguyen, Freddy Deeb met his end. Shoving his remaining 460k or so in with 87 of diamonds, he was called by Brett Faustman with AK of hearts. A 664 flop offered some hope to Deeb, but another 6 came on the turn, followed by a 9 on the river, effectively finishing Deeb’s run in the World Poker Open. The former chip leader was eliminated in 4th place, for $168,835.

Despite being a complete unknown and an amateur, Faustman certainly wasn’t playing like that. He was standing strong with a million more than Hoyt, and 1.1 million more than Nguyen at this point. In a final table amidst sharks, he was lording over them. Could it continue? Could he finish them off? With 2.4 million, it certainly looked like he at least had a chance.

Unfortunately, one of his competitors would play catch up. Fortunately, it was at the expense of his other competitor.

With the blinds at 30k/60k, Corkins raised from the button to 220k. Nguyen shoved all in, and was insta-called by Corkins. Nguyen was behind with the KT of diamonds, to Hoyt’s pocket jacks. “The Master” couldn’t hit anything, and was out in 3rd place. He made $241,193.

Going into heads up play, here were the chip counts:

Brett Faustman – 2,715,000
Hoyt Corkins – 2,470,000

The unknown vs. the accomplished pro. With nearly equal chip stacks, and the blinds still at 30k/60k, one would have to put their money on Corkins. With numerous WPT and WSOP final tables, he had everything in his corner.

Heads up play lasted 43 hands.

After being ground down a bit, Corkins was down 2-1 to Faustman. With the blinds at 40k/80k, Corkins limped on the button. Faustman raised to 250k. After some thinking, Corkins called. The flop came down 993. Faustman bet 280k. Corkins shoved over top of Faustman, moving all in. Faustman called after a short while, showing pocket queens. Corkins was way behind with pocket deuces. There was no 2 on the turn and river, and Corkins had fallen just short of winning the World Poker Open. Despite the odds being heavily against him, Faustman overcame everything and took home nearly $900k for his exceptional effort. Corkins collected $458k for his second place finish.