Saturday, May 30, 2009

2009 WSOP, Day 3: Sleepers

SleepersAfter nearly a week in Vegas, my internal clock has finally completed the shift to the Pacific time zone and I am getting decent rest each night. So I was wide awake and ready to rumble yesterday as I returned to the Rio to help report on the World Series of Poker for PokerNews. I continue to help report on that Event No. 2, the $40,000 buy-in “Special 40th Annual No-Limit Hold’em Event,” which I will be sticking with this weekend on through to tomorrow’s final table.

The bloggers were again situated in the same spot there in the corner of the Media Box, not too far from the “Orange” section located in the front left quadrant of the Amazon ballroom. That’s where the 89 players reassembled to begin play just after two o’clock Friday afternoon.

It was a good day, reporting-wise. Although we did get some good feedback on the first day’s reporting, I think we all felt the second day went much more smoothly all around. Which is to be expected. I know I felt more relaxed with the writing side of things, kind of settling back into that groove from last summer.

Was looking back through the live blog for Day 2 of the event. A total of 66 players were eliminated from the event on Friday, leaving just 23 to come back and play down to the final table today. We actually were able to report elimination hands for almost every one of those 66 bustouts (all but six, I think), which is kind of remarkable, actually. I remember last year for most events we weren’t really able (or expected) to report every elimination hand until we got down to the last three tables or so, if then.

There’s a lot else in there, too, from yesterday. Let me share just a few other extracurricular items that didn’t necessarily make it into the blog but might be of interest:

How Am I Doing?

Doshi SureshOne phenomenon that seems to take place at every WSOP tournament -- even a relatively prestigious one like this here $40K NLHE event -- is for a player to make an especially deep run who obviously had little expectation of doing so. Yr basic “sleeper” story, if you will. Being a reporter on the sideline, I sometimes will get to interact with such a player as he or she checks in with us regarding his or her current status in the event.

This is always kind of fun and inevitably makes me want to pull for the person to succeed. Yesterday the player filling that role was Doshi Suresh, who lives in Las Vegas and who until this week only had a couple of small cashes in a WSOP Circuit event four years ago. In fact, the buy-in for this tournament rivals his total career tourney earnings (just a little over $60K).

Before play began yesterday, Suresh -- stylishly dressed in a suit and tie -- came over to ask where he stood among the 89 remaining players. He had an above average stack, which put him about 40th or so. He also wanted to know how many places paid (27) and what the payout was for 27th. He checked back with us a couple more times during breaks as the day wore on. He seemed surprised when I told him with 36 players left that he was still in good shape (about 15th), his expression communicating a kind of reserved excitement about the prospects of actually cashing in this sucker.

He made it, and in fact to start today is sitting in right in the middle of the pack in 11th place with 23 left. After play had ended on Friday and all of the players had gone, a couple of gentlemen approached my station and asked if I perhaps knew if a player named Doshi Suresh was still in the event. When I told them he’d made it to the cash, both were ecstatic. “How much... how much?” they asked. “What is the least he can win?” I told them he’d guaranteed for himself a payday of $71,858 thus far, and their smiles widened.

I’m romanticizing all this a bit, I’m sure. Couple of Suresh’s backers, no doubt, gleefully learning they actually were looking to get something back on a highly uncertain investment. Still, kind of cool to witness.

A Different Kind of Sleeper Story

ZZZWe had a one-hour dinner break last night (as opposed to 90 minutes). I believe there were 44 players still in the event at that point, and 43 of them made it back for the first hand of the new level following the break. The only empty seat belonged to Ted Forrest. At first it was thought maybe he misunderstood the length of the break, but after an hour had passed -- and a good 20% of his stack had been blinded off -- people started to worry.

At one point Layne Flack was in the area -- not sure exactly why, but he was enjoying goofing around with the head-turning Lacey Jones while she was trying to do her one-minute update video for the WSOP website. Flack wandered over and started to say how he needed a cell phone... did anybody have a phone he could use? Eventually we figured out he was looking to call up to Forrest’s room to see what was up.

As we moved into the second hour of play without Forrest, we’d just started to get to the point where darker thoughts began to creep into our minds about the missing player. Something had to have happened. We’re approaching the money bubble of a poker tournament in which 27 players are looking to divide up an $7.7 million prize pool here. Had to be something serious, right?

Not really. He had been sleeping. Had settled into the comfy hotel bed for a power nap and didn’t hear the alarm. “Are we in the money?” Forrest asked, rubbing his eyes as he rapidly walked back to the table. Change100 wrote the post about Forrest’s adventure and return, giving it the inspired header “Run, Forrest, Run!”

Moneymaker Misses the Money

Chris MoneymakerNot long after Forrest returned, he began getting involved in pots right away and ended up building a nice-sized stack by night’s end. He’s currently in second place with 2.58 million, just behind Justin Bonomo who has 2.67 million.

Some of those chips Forrest accumulated came from Chris Moneymaker’s stack. Moneymaker started the day with 805,000 (2nd of the 89), and while he never really increased his stack he was sticking around the 600,000-700,000 mark for most of the day until things fell apart for him after the dinner break.

A huge hit came when Tony G won an all-in race versus Moneymaker with A-K versus Moneymaker’s pocket queens. The flop was safe, but a king rolled out on the turn, prompting a Tony G fist pump as he exclaimed “Yeah baby. Feel the powah!” A much-deflated Moneymaker simply stated “you are blessed, sir,” resigned to losing yet another late-tourney race.

Not long after that hand, Moneymaker got it all in with pocket tens only to run into Forrest’s K-K. Moneymaker actually walked away from the table as soon as he saw Forrest’s hand, and was passing in front of us in press row on his way out of the Amazon Room as the community cards were being dealt. Might have been a good thing he left, as both a king and a ten flopped. Would’ve been too much to bear, probably. If the case ten had come, they’d be chasing him down the hall to return, but it didn’t, and Moneymaker was out before the cash.

I was saying yesterday how I couldn’t help but pull for Moneymaker to do well in this one, a sentiment shared by a number of others with whom I spoke. His was the biggest “sleeper” story of them all, really, and we all continue to be affected by it. Additionally, I think a lot of us still identify with him somewhat -- even having scored the big 2003 ME win, he continues to be the underdog. And most of us know what that’s like, I think.

You gotta know ESPN was hoping Moneymaker would make this televised final table. Greg Raymer is still there, and he has a lot of chips, too. Probably doesn’t matter, though, which nine emerge from these 23 -- it’s going to be a stacked FT, no doubt.

* * * * *

Another great shot by B.J. NemethI’d said yesterday I wanted to pass along some links to other sites for following the WSOP. Turned out I was much too busy during our short break last night to do so.

Today I’m thinking I don’t even want to get too involved with trying to compile such a list. Most of you reading this blog know where to go for yr WSOP info, anyway. However, do allow me to point you to one site some of you may not know about -- the photo blog that B.J. Nemeth is compiling over on PokerRoad.

I’m seeing B.J. each day and watching him work as he seeks out the best shots, attempting to narrate via pictures what’s happening at the Rio. That photo above is a greatly reduced shot of one of the tables at Event No. 2 yesterday -- click on the picture to go to the PokerRoad site, then scroll down to see the full image. And go ahead and bookmark B.J.’s page now, why dontcha?

While yr at it, make a note of PokerNews’ Live Reporting page, too (where I’ll be).

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Anonymous BJ Nemeth said...

Thanks for the shoutout! You can always find your way to my WSOP Photo Blog by visiting to I bought the domain solely so I could have a simple redirect when people ask me where to find the photos.

5/31/2009 1:09 AM  

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