9 Players Left at World Series of Poker

The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; 4:48 PM

LAS VEGAS -- Nine players _ four pros, a former talent agent, an insurance broker, an ad salesman, a recent college grad and a retired businessman _ were all that remained from a field of more than 8,700 hopefuls vying for poker's biggest prize of $12 million early Wednesday.

Around 2:20 a.m., after a dozen hours of play, Fred Goldberg, a 30-year-old general contractor from Hollywood, Fla., bet all his remaining 2.8 million in chips on the only hope he had left: that no other players had decent cards and that he could pick up the blind bets and antes that left a pot of 440,000 chips for the taking.

Unfortunately for him, Richard Lee, the businessman from San Antonio looked down at his cards and saw pocket kings, and called.

"I wasn't happy going to the final table without chips," Goldberg said after being knocked out in 10th place. "I got very unlucky."

Goldberg's queen and three received no help from the board, sending him home one seat away from the final table, but with a $1.15 million payday.

Afterward, the surviving players shook hands and congratulated each other for making it to poker's biggest stage.

Some were youngsters who had honed their skills in one of dozens of Internet poker sites that are based offshore because they are illegal in the United States.

Douglas Kim, a 22-year-old who graduated in May with an economics degree from Duke University, spent $3,000 buying into online satellite tournaments and won the last one available for $650. He'll start work at a financial consulting firm in New York in September, but said he is trying not to think about anything but the cards and players in front of him.

"I just still can't believe it right now," he said.

Dan Nassif, a 33-year-old newspaper ad salesman from St. Louis, qualified for his second World Series main event in two years online. Last year he busted out in five hours. This year, he's guaranteed to go home a millionaire.

"I'm living my dream," he said. "My boss even text messaged me, wanting to know if I was quitting. I told him not to worry, that I wasn't going to."

The 55-year-old Lee said his wife forced him to get out of the house after retiring from running several businesses eight years ago. He returned to playing poker. It was a game he learned at the age of 14 when his father hosted games at their home with local bigwigs.

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