By Ian Hiaring, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer
A special event this year at the World Series of Poker piqued the interest of many poker fans. Three of the most notable heads-up finishes in Main Event history would be played again. For Johnny Chan it would be a chance to avenge his 1989 defeat at the hands of a young (and pimply faced) Phil Hellmuth who denied him the chance to win a record third consecutive Main Event bracelet.
For Sammy Farha it would be chance to dangle the unlit cigarette from his mouth, and take another shot at the accountant turned poster child for the poker boom, Chris Moneymaker. When they met at the 2003 Main Event final table it was the moment the poker boom started, and online poker became wildly popular not only in the United States, but across the world.
Thursday night the rematches were played under the bright lights and the glare of the ESPN cameras much like they were back in 1989 and 2003. A third rematch between Erik Seidel and Johnny Chan was scheduled as well, but Seidel was running deep in the $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo event, so their match will be scheduled for a later date.
In the first match Johnny Chan took control early and never let Phil Hellmuth gain any traction. Hellmuth earned a short reprieve when he doubled up with A-9 offsuit against Chan’s K-10 suited, but any momentum Hellmuth gained was lost just a few hands later when Chan hit a 7-outer on fifth street to cripple him. Just a few hands later Chan put the finishing touches on his victory and earned at least a small amount of revenge for winning the rematch.
Next up was a rematch of what many consider the most important heads-up battle in the history of the Main Event. Chris Moneymaker has enjoyed a small amount of success playing professionally over the last eight years, but he hasn’t been a fixture at the top of tournament leaderboards by any means.
Moneymaker’s rematch against Sammy Farha would be a best of three series. In the first game the players would start with the same stack sizes as they did when they entered heads-up play back in 2003. The stacks would be reversed for the second game, and if a third game would be necessary, the players would start with even stacks.
The first game went to Moneymaker in rather quick fashion. Farha never held the chiplead, and he lost when his A-10 was outdrawn by Moneymaker’s A-8. The second game was a bit tighter for much of its duration, but eventually Farha evened the score when his A-7 drew out against Moneymaker’s 8-8.
The intensity was kicked up a notch for the third game and aggressive play seemed to be the standard as the two were fighting for every chip possible. One key hand saw Moneymaker river a full house to take away a pot from Farha who was ahead the entire way with a better two-pair. A few hands later, Moneymaker finished off the crippled Farha and deny him his revenge.
We’ll bring you action from the much anticipated grudge match between Erik Seidel and Johnny Chan, which has yet to be scheduled.
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