Saturday, November 07, 2009

Moon Begs the Question... WTF?

Hand No. 90, 2009 WSOP Main EventThey are on dinner break at the 2009 November Nine. James Akenhead is out in ninth, followed by Kevin Schaffel in eighth. Of the seven who remain, Eric Buchman is on top, Phil Ivey is starting to gather chips, and Jeff Shulman the short stack. An interesting first 112 hands to follow thus far, with a couple of pocket aces-vs.-pocket kings situations and some other drama here and there.

Not much doubt, though, what hand most of the poker world is talking about over dinner. That would be Hand No. 90, designated by our buddy FerricRamsium on the PokerNews live blog as “Begleiter Shoots the Moon.”

With seven players left, the blinds were 200,000/400,000 and antes 50,000. That means there was 950,000 in the middle when then chip leader Darvin Moon (with a little over 61 million when the hand began) opened with a raise to 1.3 million from UTG. Ivey folded, then Steven Begleiter (who had 24.3 million at the start of the hand) reraised to 3.9 million from the hijack seat. It folded back around to Moon who called. Pot a little over 7.5 million at this point.

The flop came 3s4s2d. Moon checked quickly, then “Begs” bet 5.35 million. Was listening to the audio play-by-play over at Bluff Magazine at the time. Joe Sebok, David Chicotsky, and (I believe) Mark Kroon were at the microphones, and they started getting excited as it appeared Moon was carving out chips to make a check-raise. That he did, to a whopping 15 million.

Then after a bit of a think Begleiter said he was all in. The pot was now over 44 million, and if my math is correct Moon was only looking at something like 5.4 million to make the call. On the broadcast, Sebok and company began to become increasingly incredulous as Moon somehow did not snap-call. Then, amazingly, it began to look like he was even contemplating folding!

And then he did! Andrew Feldman reported a little later via Twitter that Moon held K-Q offsuit -- not sure where he got that, but apparently Moon was doing a lot of talking afterwards, attempting to explain why he gave up on the hand despite facing something like 8-to-1 pot odds to make the call. When the hand was over, “Begs” had a little over 44 million, Moon had slipped to 42 million, and Eric Buchman had become the new chip leader with 51 million.

The hand most obviously recalls the big one between Dennis Phillips and Ivan Demidov from last year’s final table (Hand No. 18) -- you can read details of that one here. You recall that hand, in which some preflop back-and-forthing between Phillips and Demidov created a bloated pot preflop, then after leading with a smallish flop bet Phillips folded to Demidov’s shove, thereby losing half of his stack.

In that hand, Phillips had gotten himself into a tricky spot from out of position, and so ultimately found it necessary to abandon ship. Additionally, since Demidov had a slight chip lead over Phillips when the hand began, Phillips was in danger of being the first elimination from the final table after beginning the night with the chip lead. So he folded, staying alive in the tourney, and while he’d lose some more chips soon after that he’d rebound well enough to finish third.

Phillips most certainly made mistakes in that one, but even so, there was nothing especially bizarre about the hand. Even if he’d misplayed the hand, it wasn’t that difficult to see how he’d gotten himself into an uncomfortable spot by making what could be called “poker decisions” -- in other words, there was a way to follow his thinking that fit within the normal parameters of how hands tend to be played.

But Moon’s fold tonight. That was... well, like out of this world, man.

As Joe Sebok said on the broadcast, Moon could have a Tarot card and a Snickers wrapper and he should still be calling in that spot.

We’ll see on Tuesday whether or not Moon indeed had K-Q offsuit there, but really, it doesn’t matter. Of course the Maryland logger had so many chips prior to that blunder he still is in great shape with 41 million (second behind Buchman’s 51 million). Will be most intriguing to see what Moon is holding the next time he gets involved in a big hand.

Indeed, my main rooting interest at this juncture is to hope both Moon and Ivey stay alive as long as possible, as the tournament will necessarily remain especially interesting as long as one or both are there. ’Cos really, while Moon and Ivey may have almost nothing in common as players, there is one characteristic both share -- you never know what either might do.

Whatever happens, be assured that FerricRamsium and F-Train will be reporting it over at PokerNews.

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Anonymous PokerLaz said...

Wow, looks like Darvin is doing his utmost to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

11/08/2009 7:10 AM  

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