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You can now win entry to the WSOP Main Event every year for ‘life’ on PartyPoker tables! PartyPoker ambassador Mike Sexton recalls one of his favourite WSOP memories.

The 2000 WSOP main event (501 entries) was one that will be remembered for the dramatic finish between Chris Ferguson and T.J. Cloutier.

Dream was about to come true

As they started heads-up play, Ferguson had a 10-1 chip advantage but the old-school Cloutier clawed his way back until they were just about even in chips. Then, they played a massive pot where Cloutier raised, Ferguson re-raised, Cloutier went all-in and Ferguson called.

Cloutier had A-Q and Ferguson had A-9. After a flop of A-J-2 and 4 on the turn, Cloutier’s dream of winning the main event of the WSOP (where he had finished 2nd and 3rd previously) was about to come true. However, the poker gods were unkind to Cloutier as an incredible “9” appeared on the river and the title (and $1.5M) went to Ferguson. As the room was in shock, Cloutier shook Ferguson’s hand and uttered the classic line, “That’s poker.”

My highest finish in the main event

That 2000 tournament was special to me as it was my highest finish in the main event – 12th. I still think what ‘might have been’.

Here’s what happened: We were playing six players at each table. Antes were $2k and blinds were $15/30k. I was in the BB with about average chips ($470k) when the under-the-gun player (Tom Franklin) limped in, the next guy limped in, chip leader Jeff Shulman limped in and the SB called. I looked down at an A-9 offsuit.

I could see $162k sitting out there. I could take a free flop but it looked to me like everyone was trying to see a cheap flop. (Nobody had limped in up to this point.)

Beware of the limper

In my career, I’ve learned to “beware of the limper” – meaning beware of the person limping in under the gun, So, I thought I would raise it $200k more and if Tom Franklin (the under-the-gun limper) came back over the top, I would fold and still have $240k to play with. Well, Franklin folded, as did the next player, but Jeff Shulman, the chip leader, hesitated and then moved all-in! That’s not what I wanted or expected.

I took a deep breath to analyze the hand. The cameras (and players from the other table) came over and I said out loud, “What could you possibly have here but two four’s or two five’s?” I just didn’t put him on a big hand, so I called. Sure enough, he turned up two four’s and I was in a race for my tournament life.

Positively 5th Street

Needless to say, I lost the race and went out in 12th place. I thought I played the hand correctly, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had I just moved all-in instead of raising $200k. Would Shulman have folded?

Had I won that race, I could have been the 2000 world champion. I’ll never forget that I got broke with an A-9, yet Ferguson won the title with it.

On a side note, the guy who finished 5th in that 2000 main event, Jim McManus, wrote the greatest book about his experience at the WSOP called, “Positively 5th Street”. If you love poker, do yourself a favor and read this book. It is FANTASTIC!

PartyPoker’s WSOP for Life and WSOP for Life VIP Race promotions are now running. Are you going to Vegas for life?


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