By Simon Young
The day started with so much promise for PartyPoker qualifier James McManus. He had 2.4 million chips, was set up on the feature TV table with Phil Hellmuth, and looked set to go deep in a tournament that he was leading at one stage yesterday.
The Irishman had displayed some spectacular power poker throughout the marathon event that started with 6,844 players at the Rio in Las Vegas. He got his money in when it mattered, and rarely needed to hit his cards to catch up.
But it all ended in just under an hour today with a missed open-ended straight draw with Q-J after a 9-10-3 flop. He may have thought he had overcards as well to add to his outs, but his opponent, Andrew Rosskamm, had A-A and James could not improve, busting for a bumper $96,500 payday.
Poker is full of ironic twists. Last night we were informed Phil Hellmuth would be forced to miss the first nine hands at the table this morning as a penalty for having one tantrum too many last night. As is his style, Hellmuth had a meeting with tournament bosses this morning, and the decision was bizarrely reversed.
It was this reversal that was the beginning of the end for James, who lost 400,000 to Hellmuth during the first orbit. If Hellmuth’s suspension had stood, the hand would never have happened and James may have got off to a quieter start. Instead he ran into Hellmuth’s top two pair.
Soon after another big pot went against James. Facing a 70,000 raise, he re-raised pre flop by another 155,000. The two players saw an A-4-5 flop and James led out with 275,000 – call. Both players checked the 9 turn and the Q river, and James was forced to muck when shown A-6.
Again he was forced to fold when Tim Loecke check-raised his 165,000 flop bet with K-2-3 on the felt. By now our man had lost three big pots and was reeling, and the final blow came when he ran that straight draw into aces.
James McManus, left, $96,500 and Stephen Kenna, $64,333
“I just could not get it going after losing those pots early on,” he said. “But it has been a great tournament.”
He finished as our highest-placed PartyPoker qualifier, 11 spots ahead of fellow Dubliner Stephen Kenna, who took home $64,333. The pair live just 20 minutes’ drive from one another, and even won through to Vegas in the same weekly qualifier on PartyPoker. While both are naturally disappointed not have gone deeper, they will be well satisfied with their performance once the dust has settled.
Congratulations to them both.