That’s what a dealer said to me prior to the start of yesterday’s Event No. 19, the $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw Championship (No-Limit).
He had told me he’d only dealt the rarely-spread game once before, and was only half-joking, I think, when noting how he hoped not to slip into the usual routines of hold’em during this event.
Yesterday probably counts as my first superlong day of the WSOP, given that I was up early in the morning, went in to cover an event starting late in the afternoon, and didn’t get back to the home away from home until after 4 a.m. So I was up 20-plus hours, which’ll happen now and again with this gig.
I had gotten to the Rio early for the event, and when I’d mention to people I was on the 2-7 more often than not I’d get sympathetic noises or nods in return, the draw events being for some folks less than desirable to cover.
But I like a diversion from the flop, turn, and river. And with this event -- one that draws (pun intended) just about every top level poker pro one can imagine -- there was constantly something of interest to engage the mind. I’m not going to list all the stars here; go take a quick peek at the chip counts to see how incredibly stacked this field was. You’ll get an idea looking at that list how every single table had four, five, six, or even seven players those of us who are fans of poker would know.
Think about all the bracelets won by the players entered in this event! Not a stretch to claim Event No. 19 to be the real Tournament of Champions.
With all the immediately recognizable names in the field, the chip leader is a fellow named Homan Houshiar, a Canadian player who told us near night’s end that this was only the third or fourth time he’s played deuce-to-seven. You’ll hear stories like that with these less popular games, sometimes. As with the dealers, not all of the players who play an event like this -- even a $10,000 buy-in version of it -- will come to it with a great deal of experience.
Many remember the tale of how Jennifer Harman won a bracelet in this same event in 2000 having never played the game previously, and only receiving a five-minute tutorial from Howard Lederer prior to the event. Indeed, for much of the middle part of play yesterday it was a young player named Stephen Chidwick who’d raced out to the chip lead, and we learned from Maria “Maridu” Mayrinck that he’d only learned the game during the afternoon from David “Bakes” Baker yesterday afternoon!
Donnie and I handled the blogging, with Neil helping us in the field. By the end of the night the three of us had actually managed to enter about 80 of the players’ names into the counts, and were able to keep them all fairly well updated during the latter four levels of play. (During the first four levels players could still use their three allotted “add-on” chips, and so the counts -- while updated -- were not so indicative of how things were going since the chip counts page didn’t show how many of the add-on chips a player had left.)
Probably the funniest hand I witnessed yesterday was one in which Chris “Jesus” Ferguson cheekily raised and stayed pat after being dealt quads. (See the hand write-up here.) Table cracked up afterwards, with the usually stolid-seeming Ferguson laughing the loudest.
There were a lot of other interesting moments during the day as well, not all of which were related to the play.
One was when the dealers quizzed Erik Seidel at the end of the dinner break about the whereabouts of the visor he wore at the 1988 Main Event final table. (That's pic to the left is from Seidel playing that final hand against Johnny Chan -- who busted in Day 1 of Event No. 19 yesterday.)
Seidel said he thought his wife might have thrown it out somewhere along the way, but he agreed with the dealers it would be a hoot if he were to show up wearing it at at some future final table. He will be returning for Day 2 today. Maybe if Seidel makes it back tomorrow he’ll consider some sort of orange visor reprise.
Speaking of hats... during the dinner break I ate in the Poker Kitchen where I saw Jeff Lisandro with a couple of people who appeared to be a salesman and an assistant (I’m not sure). Last year’s WSOP player of the year was trying on hats -- an assortment of bowlers that evoke that Prohibition-era gangster image his style sometimes evokes.
I could only assume he was looking to purchase one or more. He’d put on one, walk across the hall to the restroom to check it out in the mirror, then return to try another. All looked equally cool to me, but then I would like that hard-boiled style.
Mike Matusow was talking a lot at his table, as he is wont to do. Was relating in great detail to the table the screwing he received at UB where he was cheated out of millions, a story he’s told elsewhere more than once.
Billy Baxter is in this event, too. Naturally. He holds seven bracelets, all in lowball events, a fact of which just about every other player seemed aware. Many came over during play -- there was a lot of talk and visiting between tables all night -- to acknowledge “Mr. Lowball” (as John Juanda called him).
Tom “durrrr” Dwan is in this one, too, and at one point early on appeared to have successfully crossbooked action with Baxter. Both players return to similar, above-average stacks today that put each in the top ten.
Have to say I wouldn’t mind at all seeing Baxter make it deep in this one. But then, there are a lot of players I’m pulling for here. Hard not to feel like a fan with such a field.
If you want to follow the action from Day 2, skip over to PokerNews for updates as they play down from 72. The goal today is to reach a seven-handed final table today, although they’ll stop before that if it gets too late.
But if it does go late, we’ll handle it. Will happen now and again with this gig.