Friday, November 05, 2010

Nine Lives: WSOP Main Event Resumes Tomorrow

Nine Lives: WSOP Main Event Resumes TomorrowBig day tomorrow in the poker world, as the 2010 WSOP Main Event final table finally resumes after nearly four months of anticipation.

In less than 24 hours, the nine survivors from the field of 7,319 who started this year’s ME will sit down at a table in the Penn & Teller Theater in the Rio to begin the process of determining a winner.

I’ve written a lengthy preview of the final table for Betfair poker that was posted today: “2010 WSOP Main Event: Nine Players, One Bracelet.” There I talk about all nine players, including recounting some of the details of how each made it through to tomorrow’s final table.

Thinking back to this summer when I was there at the Rio reporting on the Main Event for PokerNews, the two players among the final nine whom I ended up covering the most were Michael Mizrachi and Filippo Candio.

As a familiar face with a long history of tourney success, Mizrachi predictably got a lot of attention from the very beginning of the Main Event. Thus was his long journey from Day 1 documented fairly closely, a journey that was marked by his having to endure with a below average stack most of the way.

I was over at the feature table on Day 4 -- the day the cash bubble burst -- and Mizrachi was seated there for much of that day. He played only a few small hands, and really, when they finally did make the cash, it did not seem likely that he’d be around much longer. But he hung on, and by the middle of Day 6 had gathered enough momentum to move into the chip lead.

That was the day Mizrachi played what I thought was one of the more impressive hands of his tournament (write-up here).

Duy Le (who’d finish 13th) had opened with a raise from middle position, Getty Mattingsley (who’d go out in 101st) three-bet from the button, and Mizrachi called from the small blind. Le called as well, and the flop came 8sTh4s. All three checked. The turn was the Kh, and it checked to Mattingsley who bet. Both Mizrachi and Le called.

The river was the 5s, potentially completing a couple of different draws. Mizrachi checked, and when Le made a bet of 500,000 (about two-thirds of the pot), Mattingsley folded. But after thinking for a while Mizrachi decided the bet looked fishy and made the call, turning over pocket sevens. Le had but Jd9d, and Mizrachi suddenly was up close to 4 million and among the leaders.

There’d be other important hands for the Grinder, of course, but that one seemed to indicate he was playing some especially solid poker, reading others well and suddenly looking as though he really could make it to the final table.

Candio I happened to cover over at the feature table on Day 4, then again at the end of Day 6 when he won that huge all-in versus Manuel Davidian. Here’s the write-up of that one, if you’re curious. I also wrote a little more about that hand in a post here, too, discussing in particular the emotions the fiery, unpredictable Italian player had displayed.

Of course, the wildest hand Candio played would come on Day 8 -- the one versus Joseph Cheong in which he got his entire stack in very bad, then managed to score a runner-runner straight to survive. Here’s that one, as it was shown on ESPN earlier this week:

Jawdropping, ain’t it?

Candio’s frenetic, limb-flailing response makes it appear as though he’s been shot through with a bolt of electricity there.

But look at Cheong. Such calm. Remarkable.

Clearly chip leader Jonathan Duhamel, John Dolan (also with a big stack), John Racener, and perhaps even Mizrachi are favorites among the betting crowd this weekend. But that Cheong seems a pretty damn cool cat. Who -- unlike Candio -- doesn’t look like he needs nine lives. Gotta give him a decent chance, too, I’d think.

Will be fun to follow, for sure.

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