2006 WSOP Tournament of
Champions
Rio Hotel Casino, Las Vegas NV
World Series of Poker
Championship Circuit Results
WSOP  Tournament
of Champions
2006 Tournament Of Champions
Rio All Suites Hotel and casino - Las Vegas
Official Circuit Report and Results
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A Most Deserving Victory!
Mike Sexton Wins Third-Annual
Tournament of Champions

Poker’s greatest ambassador and popular television
commentator outlasts Daniel Negreanu in grueling 17-hour
final table marathon, and takes million dollar first-prize
Party Poker
2006 Tournament of
Champions
       
Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas
Official WSOP Tournament Results and
Report

No-Limit Hold’em
Number of Entries:  27
Total Prize Money:  $2,000,000
Official Results:
Mike Sexton, WSOP Champions Tournament Winner
Official WSOP Photos
provided by IMPDI
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1st Place
Mike Sexton
Las Vegas, NV
$1,000,000
2nd Place
Daniel Negreanu
Las Vegas, NV
325,000
3rd Place
Mike Matusow
Las Vegas, NV
250,000
4th Place
Chris Reslock
Atlantic City, NJ
150,000
5th Place
Andrew Black
Dublin, Ireland
100,000
6th Place
Darrell Dicken
Waterloo, IA
75,000
7th Place
Chris Jesus Ferguson
Pacific Palisades, CA
50,000
8th Place
Kido Pham
Dallas, TX
25,000
9th Place
Daniel Bergsdorf
Umea, Sweden
25,000
Full Tilt Poker
Tournament Report:

A Most Deserving Victory!

Mike Sexton Wins Third-Annual Tournament of Champions

Poker’s greatest ambassador and popular television commentator outlasts
Daniel Negreanu in grueling 17-hour final table marathon, and takes million
dollar first-prize

Las Vegas, NV – The third-annual Tournament of Champions concluded today
at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  TOC competitors included
the top World Series of Poker and WSOP Circuit players of the past year.  The
high-level of competition and intense play makes the TOC one of the most
prestigious titles in poker.  
The special by-invitation-only tournament offered up a total prize pool of $2
million – including a one-million dollar first-prize.  For all 27 players -- the
special event cost nothing to enter.  All prize money was posted by Harrah’s
Entertainment and its corporate partners -- including Sobe Adrenaline Rush
(energy drink) and PartyPoker.net (online poker school).
The invited list of players this year included each of the WSOP Circuit event
winners from August 2005 through June 2006 (12 seats).  Players who made
it to the final table of the 2005 WSOP main event were also included (nine
seats).  The remaining places were filled by individuals selected by Harrah’s
Entertainment and its sponsors (six seats).  Those players ranged from poker
legend and two-time WSOP champion Doyle Brunson, to Sarah Strong, who
beat out 100,000 competitors to win sandwich-king Quizno’s special
promotional qualifying tournament.  However, neither player would survive
past the first day.
With so much prize money and bragging rights for one of poker’s most
prominent titles up for grabs, ESPN, the leader in sports television, was
present to film the entire two-day event for a later broadcast.  
Seventeen of 27 starters busted-out yesterday on Day One.  The ten finalists
returned to the Rio for Day Two.  The final table’s composition was truly
international.  Finalists were born in six different nations, representing four
different countries – the USA, Sweden, Ireland, and Denmark.

Seat 1:                Kido Pham
Seat 2:                Chris “Jesus” Ferguson
Seat 3:                Darrell Dicken
Seat 4:                Mike “the Mouth” Matusow
Seat 5:                Daniel Negreanu
Seat 6:                Andrew Black                                
Seat 7:                Mike Sexton
Seat 8:                Gus Hansen
Seat 9:                Chris Reslock
Seat 10:         Daniel Bergsdorf        

Andrew Black arrived as the chip leader, with a commanding 2 to 1 chip lead
over his closest rival, Daniel Negreanu.  One unfortunate player would be
forced to make an unpaid appearance at the final table.  Since only the top-
nine finishers received prize money, the unlucky tenth-place finisher had the
cruel misfortune to make it to a final table, yet walk away penniless.
That unlucky tenth-place finisher turned out to be Gus Hansen, one of poker’s
most feared and respected top professionals.  “The Great Dane” arrived with
the second-lowest stack stick and went out quickly.  Despite his success at
tournaments elsewhere, Hansen has yet to win a WSOP-related event and
seems way overdue for a breakthrough victory.  Hansen exited to a round of
applause from the crowd and sighs of relief from the remaining nine players,
who were guaranteed prize money once the nine finalists were set.
Daniel Bergsdorf was the next player to be eliminated.  About an hour into
play, the Swede who finished seventh in the WSOP main event last year,
moved all-in with pocket kings after the flop came J-9-8.  Unbeknownst to
Bergsdorf, opponent Daniel Negreanu had flopped a monster hand, holding
queen-ten -- good for a straight.  Bergsdorf failed to improve and finished in
ninth place, which paid $25,000.  
Kido Pham, who won the Bally’s WSOP Circuit championship held in Las Vegas
last year, went out next.  Pham was low on chips and tried to steal with a
weak hand.  Andrew Black made the call, caught a pair, and ended Pham’s
dream of becoming a millionaire.  Eighth place paid $25,000.
One of the tournament’s most decisive hands occurred mid-way into the
finale.  The hand completely altered the fortune of at least two players, and
set the stage for the remainder of the tournament.  Daniel Negreanu was
dealt pocket kings and called an all-in re-raise by Andrew Black, holding ace-
king.  It’s rare in tournament poker to see a confrontation between the two
largest chip stacks, but this is precisely what happened.  The kings held up
and Negreanu rocketed up into the chip lead for the first time.  In an instant,
Black’s humongous chip stack went from a castle to a farmhouse.
Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, the 2000 world poker champion and five-time WSOP
gold bracelet winner, was low on chips throughout play.  He finally busted-
out when his pocket sixes were flattened by Darrell Dicken’s pocket eights.  
Neither player improved, so the higher pair won.  Ferguson collected $50,000
for finishing seventh.   
“At the end, it was necessary to make a move,” Ferguson later explained.  “I
made a move and got called by a better hand – it’s that simple….I’m not
really happy with seventh place, but you can’t win them all.”   
The WSOP Circuit champion from Harrah’s Rincon, near San Diego, went out
in sixth place.  On his last hand, Darrell "Gigabet" Dicken moved in on a semi-
bluff with a diamond flush draw.  Mike Sexton had top pair (kings) and called.  
Dicken failed to catch a much-needed diamond, and picked up $75,000 for
two days of poker playing.
Andrew Black, who suffered a brutally disappointing experience at this final
table, became the tournament’s next fatality.  With his massive chip
advantage at the start, Black certainly expected to finish higher than fifth.  
But he could not overcome the big loss to Negreanu.  Black went out on a
flush draw with king-nine suited, but missed.  Mike Matusow anxiously
scooped up and meticulously stacked Black’s final chips, making the mystical
Irishman the latest final table outcast.  Black’s prize amounted to $100,000.
East Coast poker champion Chris Reslock won the WSOP Circuit main event
at the Atlantic City Showboat, held last year.  He held tough at the final table,
finishing fourth, despite arriving as the player lowest in chips.  On his final
hand, Reslock was dealt ten-nine and flopped a pair of tens.  Daniel
Negreanu also flopped a pair of tens, with a king-kicker.  The higher side-card
played, and Reslock was busted.  The former Atlantic City taxi driver rode
away with a ‘fare’ amount of cash -- $150,000 for fourth place.
Trickled down to a trio, it was fitting that the three TOC finalists were among
the most well-known poker personalities in the world.  Although quite
different in background and temperament – Mike Sexton, Daniel Negreanu,
and Mike Matusow have all captured the public’s imagination and attention in
very dissimilar ways.  The verbal fireworks that many in the standing-only
crowd were anticipating went off almost immediately.  Matusow consistently
baited his favorite target, Negreanu which only encouraged a combative and
comedic rebuttal, more often than not leaving the entire table in stitches.  
Even the calm and collected Mike Sexton broke up a few times, making it
seem like the audience was watching a modern-day performance by poker’s
version of “the Rat Pack” rather than an intense multi-million dollar
tournament.
After trading chips back and forth for over an hour, the next major
confrontation took place when Mike Matusow admittedly made a mental
mistake and “slipped.”  Matusow’s fateful hand started off innocently enough,
with Mike Sexton making a standard raise with pocket sevens.  Matusow had
A-4 and re-raised all-in.  Sexton contemplated his decision for a time and
finally decided to call.  Judging by the look of despair on his face, Matusow
knew he was in trouble.  Predictably, the sevens turned out to be lucky for
Sexton, and the defending champ was out.  Matusow’s share of the prize
money amounted to $250,000.
“I got tired.  I played spectacular most of the day.  I was in ‘the zone,’ but I
slipped,” Matusow admitted afterward.  “On the final hand I pressed too
hard, and I lost.  Mike played amazing poker.  I’ve played against him a
thousand times.  He made the right call.  I am the first to say I was defeated.”
As ESPN cameras rolled in a post-tournament interview, the normally
bombastic Matusow reserved his harshest criticism for himself.  “I wanted to
defend my title so bad,” he said.  “It sucks, especially because I am the one
who screwed up.”  
If Matusow was feeling exhausted as the tournament entered a third
unscheduled day, he had no inclination of the unexpected test of mental and
physical dexterity that was to befall the two finalists.  When heads-up play
began, Mike Sexton enjoyed a slight chip lead over Daniel Negreanu –
1,488,000 to 1,212,000.  The duo would duel for more than five hours,
initially trading the chip lead back and forth.  But as the night grew longer
and morning came to light, it was Sexton who was both more aggressive and
appeared to catch a more favorable run of cards in the tournament’s later
stages.  As the clock inched toward 4 am, Sexton had improved to a 3 to 1
chip lead and the end seemed eminent.
But poker tournaments are often impossible to predict.  One hour later,
Negreanu reversed Sexton’s advantage and seized a 3 to 2 chip lead.  With
all but the most hardcore poker aficionados still conscious, a late break from
the action revealed the exceptional desire to win burning within the two
former poker champions.  Negreanu approached the press table and candidly
stated, “Whoever wins this tournament will really have something to be
proud of.  There has been some great poker played here over the last
several hours.”
No one could, or would, dare argue.  In fact, it became obvious that both
players essentially played mistake-free poker for a total of 17 hours.  In the
end, one critical yet erratic hand, two cards randomly passed between the
arched fingers of two phenomenal players would ultimately make a champion
out of one player and the other a heartbroken victim of chance.
That hand took place when Sexton was dealt king-queen.  Negreanu was
dealt queen-jack (two diamonds).  After the flop came K-8-4 with two
diamonds, Negreanu (on a diamond flush draw) moved all-in and Sexton
(holding top pair) called.  Two non-diamond blanks fell on the turn and river,
and Sexton regained the chip lead – this time about 4 to 1 over his
adversary.  Negreanu was unable to recover from that devastating blow.
Then, the clock struck six.  With both players visibly weary from the dusk to
dawn duel of staying power, the final hand of the TOC was dealt at 6:07 am
PST.  Negreanu, with queen-jack moved all-in with two overcards and a
straight draw after the flop came 10-8-4.  Sexton, with pocket aces, could not
move his chips into the pot fast enough.  An ace on the turn seemed to be a
big card for Sexton, but it actually helped Negreanu considerably more.  He
picked up four additional out (four kings to make a straight).  But an eight on
the river paired the board, giving Sexton a full house – aces over eights –
and his first WSOP-related victory in more than 17 years.
Tt was tough to see if Negreanu was more disappointed or fatigued
afterward.  The three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner expressed no regrets.  
“It was really tough – there were a lot of great of players at this final table,”
said Negreanu.  “Looking back, I really do not have any regrets about the
way I played my hands.  I must have missed just about every big draw I had,
and that cost me in the end.”
Mike Sexton’s victory was well-deserved for many reasons.  Sexton won his
only WSOP gold bracelet back in 1989, in the game of seven-card stud eight-
or-better.  But due to the demands of his celebrity as a poker commentator
on television, Sexton has not been able to play in as many tournaments as
he would like.
“I am so happy to win,” a choked up Sexton said in a post-victory interview.  
“To win the million-dollar prize and this title means everything to me.  But to
be perfectly honest, there is nothing quite like that feeling when you win your
first (gold bracelet) at the World Series of Poker.  To come back again all
these years later and win this tournament, especially against such
tremendous competition, in addition to defeating a great champion like Daniel
Negreanu after five hours, really makes me proud.”
At the start of the tournament, Sexton – the eternal goodwill ambassador –
pledged half of his TOC win to charity.  That means a collection of Sexton’s
favorite charities will split a whooping half-million dollars.  “I have been
blessed with so much good fortune,” Sexton said.  “I really want to give
something back from the game that has been so good to me and has taught
me so many things.”
The win for special for at least one more reason.  Back in 1998, long before
the current poker craze, Sexton had a grand vision for an exclusive yearly
poker tournament which would only feature the greatest poker champions.  
That tournament, both in name and concept, eventually became the
“Tournament of Champions.”
Nearly a decade later, Sexton would win the very tournament he helped to
inspire.
“When I first helped to create the TOC concept, it was really ahead of its
time,” said Sexton.  “I am thrilled to see (Harrah’s Entertainment) take that
idea and create its own World Series of Poker-version of the TOC.  Of course
to actually play in it and win it – well, that’s justice.”


by Nolan Dalla
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