Said yr humble gumshoe to Change100 yesterday afternoon as we got ourselves situated on press row, readying for the final table of Event No. 2, the $40,000 buy-in “Special 40th Annual No-Limit Hold’em” event.
We were squeezing into our spots there at the left-most end of the row, having gotten our laptops fired up and online. Not a lot of room to maneuver, really, what with all the monitors and cords and other folks also trying to occupy the relatively scant space available to those us covering the sucker. Felt a little like we were on a plane, our items all safely stowed at our feet, our seat backs and tray tables in their upright and locked positions.
Experienced just a little bit of turbulence during the ascent when the site went down momentarily about 20 hands in. But for the most part the flight was smooth and without incident, and we landed safely sometime after 1 a.m., some 12 hours or so after departure. Change100 expertly handled the hand-for-hand reporting, while I did some color and kept the chip counts up to date. The latter task was made much easier by the presence of Mickey, our terrific field reporter, who was there entering hands into the hand simulator along the way. On his day off, too! (Mickey rocks.)
All in all, anyone following that final table on PokerNews should have gotten a fairly close idea what was going on, I’d think.
What was going on? A lot of solid play from Vitaly Lunkin (left), the Russian who ended up winning the thing after surviving three hours’ worth of heads up with Isaac Haxton. Haxton played well, too, although perhaps gambled a couple of times near the end when he didn’t need to. Greg Raymer also made what seemed like an unnecessarily risky play during three-handed that resulted in his getting ousted in third. Tell me what you think.
There was a moment there right after Dani “Ansky” Stern had busted in fourth when Raymer, Haxton, and Lunkin all had almost exactly 8,000,000 chips -- kind of amazing, really, how close they were (like within 40,000 of each other or something). With the blinds 80,000/160,000 (with 20,000 antes), that meant each player had almost exactly 50 big blinds when Raymer raised to 400,000 from the button. Lunkin folded from the small blind, then Haxton reraised to 1.25 million. I don’t recall exactly, but I don’t think Raymer took more than about 10 seconds to push all in over the top. Haxton took a little longer before deciding to make the call.
Haxton turned over pocket nines, and Raymer pocket fives. Haxton’s higher pair held, and since he had Raymer barely outchipped, the Fossilman was out. The flop on that one turned out to be , so you’d have to think had they seen the flop before getting it all in (say, if Raymer just called the Haxton reraise), it is doubtful the hand would have resulted in a 16 million-chip pot.
I’m thinking Raymer was looking to gamble, having decided Haxton and Lunkin were too tough to outplay. He’d even said something about how “it doesn’t get any easier” right after Stern’s bustout. Still, as one of several there pulling for Raymer to seal the deal, it looked at the time like he could’ve found a better spot.
Easy for me to say, of course. I’m not the one piloting the plane.
Didn’t pay too much attention to what was going on elsewhere in the Amazon yesterday. The second Day One of the “Stimulus Special” played out. They ended up with a whopping 6,012 players for that one (more than I’d expected). I’m hearing the numbers are up for the upcoming no-limit hold’em events as well, so the WSOP appears to be sufficiently stimulated at the moment.
I did wander over during the dinner break to sneak a peek at the WSOP Champions Invitational. Only 20 of the WSOP Main Event champs ended up coming out for that one. Some snickers were heard when it got around that the first three bustouts were Jamie Gold, Chris Moneymaker, and Jerry Yang. (Hey, at least Robert Varkonyi still has chips.) Haley is covering that one for PokerNews, so you can follow the updates on today’s final table here.
Two new events get going today, then two more new ones tomorrow. Finally, after starting just four events in five days, the WSOP really picks it up.
At noon today is the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha (Event No. 5), and at 5 p.m. is the $10,000 World Championship Seven-Card Stud (Event No. 6). Gonna have to get over on Full Tilt and make some more Fantasy Poker picks for those two this morning. Speaking of, three of my horses ended cashing for me in Event No. 2 (Justin Bonomo, Brian Townsend, and Sorel Mizzi). Only one of my 15 (Eli Elezra) cashed in Event No. 3, the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better.
By the way, let me congratulate Julie Schneider, wife of 2007 WSOP Player of the Year Tom “DonkeyBomber” Schneider, who outlasted Tom (one of my picks in the Omaha/8 event, actually) and cashed in Event No. 3. Pic comes from B.J. Nemeth’s WSOP Photo Blog. Go over there and see his pics as they’re intended.
A quirk in the scheduling means I’m taking off both today and tomorrow. (Very doubtful I’ll be seeing back-to-back days off again for a long time, if at all.) I’ll come back on Wednesday to pick up Event No. 10, the $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em/Omaha event, from which I’ll be reporting for all three days. Between now and then, I plan to relax some, do some reading and a little writing, and make a return trip to the grocery store. Might try to play some cards in here somewhere. Also, this evening I’m getting together with Tommy Angelo, author of Elements of Poker, which should be a lot of fun. Will likely report back here about that later.
Meanwhile, let’s all get some rest. Need a blanket? A pillow? Just let the flight attendant know and we’ll get you taken care of. And thanks once again for flying HBP.