Texas Hold ‘em may be the world’s most popular version of poker, but many consider the game of H.O.R.S.E. to be the ultimate test of skill. Combining Hold ‘em, Omaha, Razz, and Stud into one event provides the top pros with the perfect chance to test their skills across all of poker’s disparate disciplines. These events usually carry hefty buy-ins, and so it was with the $10,000 event at this year’s WPT L.A. Poker Classic. The event concluded earlier this morning, and there was a familiar face at the top of the pile.
Outspoken Vietnamese poker veteran Scotty Nguyen made the headlines at last years World Series with his controversial victory in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. The event was dedicated to the late Chip Reese, who won the inaugural H.O.R.S.E. event in 2006. Nguyen was reportedly drunken and foul-mouthed during his run to victory, with some claiming that he had done a disservice to the memory of one of poker’s legends. His talent though is undeniable, and by claiming the H.O.R.S.E. title at the LAPC he has confirmed himself as one of the finest all-round poker players in the world.
The event itself was, as you might expect, packed to brim with high class professional players. Only 96 players entered, but starting stacks of 20,000 and 75-minute levels meant that this was scheduled to run over three days. The slow clock and low blinds were designed so that only 26 players were eliminated during the first day. Action on Day 2 was much faster, with the blinds beginning to encroach on the smaller stacks. Chino Rheem, who had been chip leader after Day 1, looked like he might be down and out, but recovered to finish the day in second spot. Way ahead, however, was young pro Jeff Madsen, who made a name for himself at the 2006 WSOP where he won two bracelets inside one week.
Only the final 8 would share the $921,600 prize pool, so not even those who made it to Day 3 were guaranteed a payout. The first player to exit the tournament with a profit was John Monnette in 8th. A long break then preceded the next elimination, but eventually Amnon Filippi bit the dust in 7th. Shortly after this Bob Golick ended his run in 6th.
Matt Graham’s elimination in 5th at the hands of Scotty Nguyen almost tipped the tournament into familiar territory for Scotty. His raucous celebrations were in danger of boiling over into another infamous tirade. Thankfully, quick action from tournament director Matt Savage quelled the fire, and the rest of the tournament passed without any unpleasant incidents.
With Scotty holding a big stack, it was Chino Rheem who stepped up to challenge him, eliminating Chris Tsiprailidis in 4th and Jeff Madsen in 3rd. A break was called and the two players decided that enough was enough, and made a deal for the money and the title. Under the terms of the agreement Scotty Nguyen was named the 2009 WPT L.A. Poker Classic H.O.R.S.E. champion.