Monday, July 14, 2008

2008 WSOP, Day 45: From the Bleachers

From the BleachersA friend of mine, James, is visiting Vegas for a few days, and a primary reason for his visit was to check out the World Series of Poker. He’s relatively new to poker, having seen it on television the last few years and heard me talking about it now and then. When he learned of my coming out this summer, he decided to take a trip of his own. The timing of his visit was particularly good, as he arrived just as I was putting in my final shift with PokerNews.

Yesterday James and I went over to the Thomas & Mack Center during the afternoon to watch some of that NBA Summer League that’s happening over there this week. We saw one game between the Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets. Not too thrilling, as none of the regular rosters of either squad showed up. Nor did the head coaches, so we didn’t see Larry Brown, the Bobcats’ new leader. Was still fun to watch some hoops.

Afterwards, I found myself once again heading back to the Rio, accompanying my friend to watch some WSOP. I had my credentials with me, but kept them in my pocket most of the time.

We started out taking a spot up in the Milwaukee’s Best Light No Limit Lounge, and indeed we were drinking cans of the Beast with Phil Hellmuth’s picture on the side as we watched the Poker Brat get knocked out of the Main Event in 45th. My main feeling at watching his demise was ambivalence, with perhaps a dash of pleasure as I anticipated some seats opening up below (they did).

I was surprised to have learned about the decision to overturn Hellmuth’s penalty at the beginning of play yesterday. Talk about applesauce. I hadn’t witnessed the tirade that got him the penalty at the end of play on Saturday, so I can’t say one way or the other whether he deserved it. But you can’t just take it back like that. We would witness another player, Joe Bishop, receive a one-orbit penalty yesterday over at the ESPN feature table, although I am not certain what he did to earn it. Whatever it was, he surely didn’t have the opportunity to appeal his case the way Hellmuth had.

After the first break they swapped Tiffany Michelle’s table over to the main stage, and we eventually would watch a couple of levels’ worth of her table in action. This was a period during which Michelle built her stack from approximately four million up to the nine-plus million she has to start play today. She played well, I thought, being aggressive but not recklessly so, and doing a terrific job accumulating the chips when she did hit hands. Had one hand in particular in which she flopped a set of treys and got the absolute maximum out of Cristian Dragomir (sitting to her right).

As a PokerNews colleague, I have met Tiffany and chatted with her a few times, and though I can’t claim really to know her much beyond that, my impression is she’s a friendly, witty person and certainly not hard to root for here coming down the stretch. She’s done the video interviews for PokerNews the last couple of years, and if you’ve seen those you know she does quite well in front of the camera. A lot has already been made of her being the last woman still playing, and, of course, she’ll be a superstar should she make it through today and to the “November Nine.”

Tiffany’s an interesting case, really. This is her first ever Main Event, but she has a lot of tourney experience. And as an interviewer and actress, she’s much more comfortable in the spotlight (I’d think) than most -- or, perhaps, all -- of the other 26 players still vying for the bracelet. So while on the one hand it seems utterly remarkable for her still to be playing here on Day 7, on the other hand it shouldn’t be all that surprising to see her handling herself well here during these final stages of play. (She begins today in 3rd place.)

James and Tiffany MichelleDuring one of the breaks last night I separated momentarily from James to go talk to Tim Lavalli, the Poker Shrink, who along with Amy Calistri is putting the final touches on a book about Mike Matusow. (Matusow went out on a tough hand in 30th last night.) Was glad to meet Tim in person, and I definitely look forward to the book. When I reunited with James, he was all grins as he showed me a picture of himself with Tiffany. Apparently he’d caught her coming out and she had taken the time to pose for pictures with a few folks, and he’d jumped in line and got his own pic.

Remains to be seen whether James got himself photographed with one of the November Nine or not. A lot can happen today, of course. Play gets underway in just a few minutes. Of the remaining players, the ones I was most impressed with along the way were Craig Marquis (currently in 2nd place), David Rheem (6th), Brandon Cantu (14th), and Albert Kim (18th).

James is in town until tomorrow, and I know he wants to go back today to watch some more. I’ll probably head over at some point, too. Dunno when, but I think I probably would like to be there for the very end. Will let you know tomorrow what I saw.

Meanwhile, you can follow along from afar over there at PokerNews.

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Anonymous gtycoon said...

I think Tiffany is my new "favorite" to cheer on in this thing. I have jumped from player to player throughout this whole main event as each one was knocked out. I think that her being female will get alot of coverage, although she got where she is because she has played really well which should be the focus.

7/14/2008 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Pud's Poker said...

I hate how she sold out to Ultime Cheat, sorry Bet, when PokerNews bought her in.

I hope they're successful in legal action as mentioned in PokerNews' press release.

Bet you're looking forward to going home now aren't you mate?

7/15/2008 6:10 AM  

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