Thursday, April 07, 2011

WSOP Rematches Offer Chance to Look Back

WSOP Main Event rematchesYesterday the World Series of Poker announced plans this summer to host a few heads-up “rematches” from Main Events past. On Thursday, June 2, three such rematches will be staged, and later (on July 26) ESPN will air two hours’ worth of coverage showing what happens with all three.

One of the pairings will feature the 2003 WSOP Main Event finale between Chris Moneymaker and Sammy Farha, the tournament that many believe helped change the course of recent poker history thanks to the amateur Moneymaker’s victory.

With that one the WSOP will have the players play a best two-out-of-three format. In the first match they will start with the same stacks each had when heads-up play began back at Binion’s in 2003, when Moneymaker had the advantage with 5.49 million chips to Farha’s 2.9 million. The second match will begin with the two exchanging stacks prior to the first hand; i.e., Farha will have 5.49 million and Moneymaker 2.9 million. If they split those two matches, they’ll play a third and start with even stacks.

Chris Moneymaker vs. Sammy Farha, 2003 WSOP Main Event final tableI’m not seeing anything in the press release about what the blinds/antes or scheduled structure will be for these matches. In their original heads-up match, I believe the blinds were at 20,000/40,000 (with a 5,000 ante) when they started, meaning they were quite deep (i.e., Moneymaker had over 130 BBs and Farha more than 70). By the way, that original heads-up match back in 2003 lasted for 28 hands.

The second rematch will find Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth reprising their heads-up battle from the 1989 WSOP, won by Hellmuth. This will be a one-and-done affair, with both starting with even stacks.

Johnny Chan vs. Phil Hellmuth, 1989 WSOP Main Event final tableNot too sure how exactly heads up went between those two back in the day (anything before 2000 quickly gets fuzzy when it comes to tracking down WSOP details). But it appears to have been a short battle that ended when Hellmuth -- with about a 2-to-1 chip lead -- won a preflop all-in after his 9s9c outlasted Chan’s As7s.

For the third rematch (another single match with even stacks), the WSOP is soliciting fans to select among four possible pairings of former Main Event heads-up combatants:
  • Johnny Chan vs. Erik Seidel (1988)
  • Greg Raymer vs. David Williams (2004)
  • Jamie Gold vs. Paul Wasicka (2006)
  • Jonathan Duhamel vs. John Racener (2010)
  • Of these, it appears Chan-Seidel is the likely favorite to be selected for the third match. The WSOP is conducting its vote over on Facebook, unfortunately, rather than having the poll on its site, which means I won’t be voting. If I were, I’d probably select Chan-Seidel as the one rematch I’d most like to see of these four. I’m guessing ESPN would not mind if most of those voting think similarly.

    Glancing at other pairings that might’ve been considered, I could see nominating a few others as contenders, including Baldwin-Addington (1978), Ferguson-Cloutier (2000), and Hachem-Dannenmann (2005). One assumes various factors (including player availability) kept those off the list of possibles.

    Incidentally, while I assume the players participating are receiving something for doing so, it is interesting that the press release mentions nothing regarding any sort of cash prize for the winners.

    Perhaps it is just as well that there be no real cash or anything tangible on the line here. ’Cos really, who wins or loses these rematches will matter very little to just about everyone. With the exception of Hellmuth, of course, whom we should expect to speak loudly and often about “defending” his title.

    Rather, these rematches will be more about the spectacle than the sport, mostly functioning as occasions for thinking about and revisiting certain moments in WSOP history -- especially the one that lit the fuse for the “boom” back in ’03.

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    Blogger Jeff said...

    I want Russ Hamilton vs. Hugh Vincent.

    4/13/2011 4:48 PM  

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