Sunday, June 15, 2008

2008 WSOP, Day 16: Rebuy!

Rebuy!Yesterday I helped cover the first day of Event No. 28, the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha w/Rebuys event.

The rebuy period lasted for the first three levels, and the play during that stretch was predictably manic. As Event No. 19 (the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event, the last one I helped cover) had demonstrated pretty much from start to finish, PLO, particularly the tourney variety, is a game for gamblers. Add the rebuy option and a bunch of high rollers with bottomless pockets to the mix, and you’re looking at an all in practically every hand, it seemed.

There were 152 entrants total, including just about every big name you can imagine aside from Sammy Farha and Mike Matusow. In addition to the $5,000 entry fee, those 152 also ended up forking over enough for 483 rebuys and add-ons, making the total prize pool exceed $3 million. That’s an average of over $20,000 per entrant.

As usually happens with these things, some players came with an endless supply of ammo. After the rebuy period had ended, we heard that Daniel Negreanu was in for $85,000. No one was absolutely certain about that figure, but it certainly seemed close to that. Our reporters and I had seen Negreanu rebuying repeatedly, always taking the “double rebuy” option where you could buy 20,000 chips for ten grand once you went busto.

A few others, including Tom “durrr” Dwan, were said to have rebought ten times or more. In fact, when the players were leaving for their dinner break (after Level 3), I overheard Negreanu telling other players “there’s one in for 80, and a couple more for 75 . . . I’m not the only one.” He was excited about the inflated prize pool, to be sure. Of course, he’ll now have to finish in the top eight to see a profit in this one.

I say “the reporters and I” saw Negreanu’s frequent rebuys because for a change I had a very nice location to cover this event, right in the corner of the Media Press Box overlooking the action. This picture (thanks, Pokerati!) gives a good idea where I was and what I saw last night -- right on top of that jaw-dropping Table No. 15 we reported on so frequently.

That table had already gotten some attention from the first hand, when we all noticed Robert Williamson III, Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Sirous Jamshidi, Daniel Negreanu, and Daniel Alaei sitting around it. Then, probably less than half an hour into the proceedings, Phil Hellmuth took his seat in between Williamson and Lindgren, his arrival causing an audible reaction from the players.

As if that weren’t enough, during Level 3, Phil Ivey was moved to Table No. 15, sporting a cool 100,000-chip stack with him. I reported Ivey’s arrival at the table in a short post jokingly titled “The End of the World As We Know It.” A bit silly, perhaps, but all of that betting and frequent instances of players getting stacked had given the whole event a kind of apocalyptic feel.

People started gathering around Table No. 15, some with cameras (including video). Only a few seemed to have the appropriate credentials to be standing within the playing area, but Harrah’s staff were a bit slow clearing the area. The scene never became too unruly, but sitting so close, it certainly seemed as though officials’ control over the event was starting to become a bit tenuous.

In any event, the super-stacked table broke just after the rebuy period ended, and the entire tournament settled into a more reasonable, less frantic pace as players began to be more careful with their stacks.

By the time we got down to 60 players near the end of the evening, I’d done a little quick math and realized that thanks to all of the rebuys and add-ons the average stack was over 100,000. Meanwhile the blinds were only 600/1,200 (in Level 8, our last level of the night). Which meant very few players had to gamble at all, although a few did and we saw Scotty Nguyen, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, Michael Mizrachi, Andrew Black, and Michael Binger all walk out just before the night ended some time after 3 a.m.

That was another thing about our location. We were sitting in a place where anyone who busted had to walk right by us in order to exit the Amazon Room. We ended up witnessing numerous examples of that “walk of shame” some refer to when describing these ignominious departures. Kind of interesting to compare the looks on the players’ faces as they made that trek.

This was a pro-heavy field, so all of these guys had been there many, many times before. Thus the frequent look of resignation and/or acceptance. Only a few seemed especially upset or frustrated-looking. I was impressed with Michael Binger, one of the last to bust, who perhaps appeared relatively more disappointed than some, but still maintained a certain professional dignity as he passed by. A few moments later I got his bustout hand from the reporter and wrote it up for the blog. He’d been ahead on the flop and turn, but lost out when his opponent (Erick Lindgren) caught a needed flush card on the river. Big pot, too. But Binger was cool about it.

You’ve read about the new “excessive celebration” penalty, which apparently has only been enforced a couple of times thus far. Covering these higher buy-in events in which most of the field is made up of seasoned pros, one senses how unnecessary such a rule is to govern their behavior. Even Hellmuth kept in check last night, no doubt influenced somewhat by the professionalism of those with whom he was sitting. (And, perhaps, the general lack of video cameras.)

Going back over in a little while for Day 2. Am looking forward to it. I guess you could say I’m still willing to keep “rebuying” into this here ongoing circus, too.

We’re playing from 52 down to the final nine, so theoretically we could be looking at a relatively short day at the office. Then again, with all of those rebuys and add-ons yesterday, the stacks are pretty deep, so it may take a while.

I’ve had some seriously good fortune in that regard, unlike poor Snoopy and Dana, who seem to have been stuck with every one of those events with the 18 hour-plus days. Doesn’t seem to have negatively affected Snoopy’s spirit or creativity, though, as his blog has consistently demonstrated over the last couple of weeks. (Check it out.)

The F stands for ferocityAnd speaking of fellow bloggers/PokerNews people, big congrats to F-Train for his 33rd place finish (and cash) in the Razz event. (Missed my chance at getting a piece of his action!) Gotta love this picture of Dave that appeared amid the PokerNews reports on the event. I’ve only just met Dave since arriving here this summer, but I think I’ve interacted with him enough to understand the beast-like ferocity of this photo doesn’t exactly capture his usually friendly demeanor. This, friends, is what Razz does to people.

As always, be sure to follow all of the action today over on PokerNews.

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