Actor James Woods makes bid for WSOP bracelet

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
James Woods

The mix of competitors on the annual World Series of Poker circuit always is intriguing.

There are the amateurs, hoping for fame and fortune. There are the pros, hoping to earn a living. And then there are the celebrities, hoping to earn credibility in poker circles.

James Woods' performance last week went a long way toward earning that credibility, when he made the final table at Event No. 4, a $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament.

Woods, 68, an Emmy winner and Golden Globe and Oscar nominee, finished in seventh place.

The tournament was a unique one, whittling down to 40 players -- and 10 tables. Then, the winner of each of those tables moved on to the 10-man final table.

Metro Detroit's Joe Cada, the 2009 Main Event champion, made the top 40, but missed the final table and settled for a modest payday of $6,180.

He wasn't at Woods' top-40 table.

"No," he said. "I wish!"

After all, getting knocked out by Woods would've been a pretty good story.

At the final table, Woods saw three competitors bust out until he found himself short-stacked.

With just 140,000 chips -- worth less than 10 big blinds -- Woods shoved all-in with pocket twos, and got called by David Peters, who showed king-queen. Before the flop, that's basically a coin-flip scenario. The odds, though, shifted toward Woods after the flop ran out ace-six-three. But the killer blow came on the turn, with a king.

Only one of the other twos in a deck would save Woods, and it didn't come on the river, sending Woods to the rails.

It was the third straight knockout for Peters.

For his effort, Woods pocketed $28,832. The money, of course, means nothing. He wants that coveted gold bracelet, and last week, he came a lot closer than most celebrities -- think Ray Romano, Jason Alexander, Ben Affleck -- have come. (Oliver Hudson once famously lasted one -- one -- hand in a WSOP Main Event.)

Nick Petrangelo won the event for his first bracelet, taking home more than $200,000.

Thinking big

The folks at the WSOP like to think big.

And they hit a home run with the inaugural Colossus Hold'em tournament, which was shooting for a record field -- and got it. With just a $565 buy-in, 22,374 competitors signed up -- making the Colossus the largest live poker tournament ever.

The event also will pay out a record 2,241 places.

As of Monday morning, just 506 players remained -- but one of them wasn't the "Poker Brat," Phil Hellmuth, who might have spent more time tweeting about the Colossus in the lead-up to the event than actually playing in it.

Hellmuth got pocket sevens early in the tournament, and made trips on the flop. He went all in on the turn, and was busted by his opponent's diamond flush.

East Lansing's Adam Lamphere was in fourth place in chips after play ended Sunday, making a strong bid for his first bracelet -- and a $638,880 payday. It's a heck of a followup effort for Lamphere, who had a 41st-place finish in the 2014 season-ending Main Event, worth $186,388.

Close to the money bubble in the Colossus, Lamphere scored a huge double-up, his ace-queen holding off his opponent's ace-jack. A loss there would've crippled Lamphere.

"God is good!" he said. "Hopefully keep the momentum going."

Bloomfield Hills' Christopher Stephan, whose one WSOP cash came back in 2008, was in 25th place.

Play resumes at 5 p.m. Eastern Monday.

Thrilling finishes

The first two events of the 68-tournament WSOP schedule featured thrilling finishes.

The first event, the Casino Employees Hold'em tournament, saw Greg Seiden take a ridiculously huge chip lead -- 3.2 million to 300,000 -- after calling an ill-timed Brandon Barnette bluff. But Barnette, unbelievably, rallied all the way back to win the bracelet and $75,704, reinforcing that in poker, all you need is "a chip and a chair."

The second event, a $5,000 Hold'em Event, Bryn Kenney had a huge advantage entering heads-up, 9.245 million chips to Mike Wang's 1.31 million. Like Barnette, Wang doubled-up right away to get back in play, and then meticulously picked his spots correctly en route to a comeback, bracelet and $466,120, the largest payday handed out so far.

Finishing third in the second event was Artur Koren, who was born in Germany, calls Austria his home country, but also makes a home in Royal Oak. He won $208,177.

Underdog prevails

Heads-up in the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo tournament -- in Omaha, players get four hold cards, but can only use two of them with the five-card board -- the eventual winner was the underdog at the start, too.

Robert Mizrachi, of the famous Mizrachi poker family, ended up winning his third bracelet and $255,022, beating Jacob Dahl with pocket fives for the "high" hand and ace-two-three-five-seven for the "low" hand.

Pocket fives, by the way, is a very poor Omaha high hand.

Of Mizrachi's three bracelets, two have been for Omaha, and the other one was a dealer's choice tournament.