Monday, June 08, 2009

2009 WSOP, Day 12: Chips Go Flying at the Speed of Sound

A fast final day at Event No. 13A whirlwind of a day covering the last stage of Event No. 13, the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event won by Keven “Stamdogg” Stammen. There were 20 players returning, and the plan was to play it to the end. Thought I was in for another marathon, but we burned through the field in just seven-and-a-half hours (including a one-hour dinner break), and the sucker was over before 9 p.m.

Yesterday I worked again with Tom Bostic who has experience covering the WSOP in the past for CardPlayer as well as more recently helping cover tourneys for the World Poker Tour. He is Tom Terrific on the floor, so we decided he’d stick by the tables while I stuck by the laptop. Thus does the live blog inaccurately suggest I’m the only “author” of the day’s posts, but the fact is I was primarily interpreting and passing along what Tom gave me.

Indeed, only a small percentage of the posts I write on PokerNews are ever solely my own creation, as I am often working from field reporters’ notes or other sources of information. I have done a lot more of my own “field work” this summer already, such as was the case with that funny hand from Saturday when the player check-raised Carter King without having any cards. But really everything a person sees over at PN is produced by a team of reporters, bloggers, photographers, editors, and others behind the scenes helping managing it all.

From my vantage point, I was generally only 15-20 feet from the table(s), looking down on the players from my perch up above the floor. So I could hear table talk and witness other details (e.g., whether a player tanked before making a decision) that I could include in the posts. But I couldn’t see bet amounts or cards, and Tom was on top of all of that.

Fast typerWas struggling for one small stretch with a couple of sort-of-similar player names -- wasn’t a matter of misidentifying players, just an eyes-to-brain-to-fingers thing -- and in fact was starting to think that after working 70-plus hours in five days I’d reached a kind of mental and/or physical limit beyond which I might not be able to function. Got a second wind, though, and the night ended well.

Seemed kind of stunning, really, how quickly it went. Tom was counting hands once we got down to 10 players, and it only took a total of 90 hands to go from 10 to 1. We weren’t counting hands before that, but in terms of minutes played, it took a lot less time to go from 20 to 10 -- something like a little over two hours of play compared to about twice that for the ten-handed final table to play out.

I’m going to estimate, then, that it took about 50-60 hands to go from 20 players to 10. Looking back to the end of the previous day, when we had three eliminations in the last two hands of the night, that means the last 22 players were eliminated in about 150 hands -- about one every seven hands or so. Or roughly 768 miles per hour. (Ha.)

From the reporting side, that’s about as hectic as it gets, since reporting late-game eliminations requires not just a formal post (usually including a picture), but adjustments to chip counts and payout pages, too. That is in addition, of course, to reporting non-bustout hands and keeping the counts updated and accurate, too.

But never mind the intensity of what I’m doing... let’s look briefly at what the players are facing. Could there some explanation in the blinds/antes structure for the rapid end to Event No. 13?

The end of Event No. 13Looking at it strictly in terms of the average number of big blinds each player had during play yesterday, there does not appear to have been any huge jumps here at the end that would have ignited a lot of movement. However, we might point to at least three factors that would help explain why things went so quickly yesterday. (Note: There were actually 27 players left when Level 20 began late on Day 2, but I'm just picking up the analysis here at the end of the night when we were still in Level 20 and had gotten down to 23.)

First of all, the fast-rising antes here at the end probably shouldn’t be overlooked -- they definitely cut into the shorter stacks and got people moving as we progressed from level to level.

Secondly, with 23 players left at average stacks of just 30 BBs, we really were already past the point in the tourney where we should be expecting a lot of all-in shoves.

F-Train is much better than I am at estimating these things, having played in and reported on many more tournaments than I, and he has talked to me (and on his blog) about that 40 BB-mark that seems to be the range where the field starts thinning more quickly. As F-Train puts it, “at some point, the pressure from the blinds will catch up to the total number of chips in play and force players to bust out, no matter how many are left in the field. In my experience, the point that the number of chips in play catches up to the structure for a NLHE tournament is when the average stack is about 40 BBs.”

Before we started yesterday, I didn’t pay much attention at all to the fact that those 20 players coming back had an average of 30 BBs at the beginning of the day -- if I had, I probably should’ve expected the day to go much more quickly than I was dreading it might.

The third factor worth pointing out is the fact that the eventual winner, Keven Stammen, started to push out to a big chip lead once it got down to six or seven players, meaning the “Avg. BB” number for the table is a bit misleading, since the truth was all but Stammen (I think) had less than that.

Have some running around to do today, but I expect I will mostly be sticking close to the home-away-from-home here on my day off. Meanwhile, go over to PokerNews’ live reporting to see how those five ongoing events (Events No. 15-19) are playing out.

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Anonymous Big D said...

Thanks for the post. Sounds like it is a great WSOP. I'm hoping to get there by the end of the month.

6/09/2009 6:01 AM  

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