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Best of Ryan McLane
Baruch wins shootout bracelet in Wednesday's featured final table
Don Baruch won the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout (Event #21) last night, denying bids by Daniel Negreanu and Erick Lindgren to add to their already stellar poker resumes.
This was the first cash in any major poker tournament for Baruch, a 42-year old Florida resident who owns an investment company and plays part-time at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa.
He won $264,000 in addition to his first bracelet.
Negreanu was shooting for his first WSOP title since 2004, but was unable to win a race against the eventual winner during three-handed play. The third-place finish was Negreanu's first cash in 2007, netting him $101k. Negreanu has three bracelets.
Lindgren, one of the best players to never win a bracelet, busted out in eighth place for $12k, his second cash in 2007. Lindgren owns two World Poker Tour titles, but WSOP gold continues to elude him.
Raymer still searching for second bracelet
Greg "Fossilman" Raymer made his second 2007 final table in Event #20 ($2k Stud Hi/Lo), but was unable to shake eventual winner Ryan Hughes during four-handed play..
Hughes, who dropped out of Arizona State University five years ago to pursue a career as a professional poker player, collected $176,000 for his win. Although Hughes has had several six-digit paydays in his career, this is his first major tournament win.
Raymer entered the final table in third position and quickly sprinted out to a giant chip lead. At one point, Raymer had a 2-1 advantage over the rest of the final table, but was unable to top Hughes, who beat him in several key pots to take a lead he would not relinquish.
Still, Raymer is proving his lasting power in WSOP events. Although he is best known for winning the 2004 Main Event and going deep in several large WSOP No Limit Hold'em fields, Raymer has good range, making two Stud final tables this year.
Humberto "Shark" Brenes brought his crazy antics and his card-protector friends to his third final table in 2007, but again came up short. The Casino City WSOP Player of the Year frontrunner finished seventh for $55,000.
While all eyes were on Brenes, most of the money went to first-time WSOP winner Francois Safieddine of Denver, Col. Safieddine has been playing poker for four years, cashing five times in WSOP events including a 15th-place finish in 2005.
Wednesday's win paid Safieddine $521,785. He now has $1.3 million in career winnings despite being a relative unknown to poker fans.
Safieddine defeated John "The Razor" Phan heads up to capture the title. Phan, another young gun who has never won a major title, also finished second in a 2006 event. This was the second 2007 WSOP final table for Phan.
Two top females are making a run at the $5,000 No Limit Hold'em title (Event #22). Kathy Liebert and Jennifer Tilly rank 13th and 29th in this tourney with 85 players remaining. They trail Dustin Dirksen (1st - $379k in chips), Tex Barch (2nd - $240k in chips) and others heading into day two.
Liebert ($160,000 in chips) is looking for her 20th WSOP cash and second gold bracelet. She won a shootout in 2004 and has been winning money in WSOP events since 1997. Her overall career tournament earnings will top $4 million if she can finish better than 47th in this event.
Tilly ($140k in chips) won her bracelet in 2005 when she took down the Ladies Championship. She had two cashes in 2006 and her game has improved considerably in the last two years, thanks mostly to tutelage from her boyfriend Phil "The Unabomber" Laak.
Laak is also still in this event, but severely short-stacked.