Friday, July 01, 2011

2011 WSOP, Day 31: In Which I Lose to Joe Hachem in Chinese Poker

Chinese Poker1,400th post here, folks. Damn does the time fly.

Was another full day yesterday at the World Series of Poker. Work-wise, I was helping cover Event No. 51, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha/8 event. But it seemed like every moment -- even during the breaks -- was crammed with activity for your humble scribbler.

The days are invariably long here. Or so my watch says. But I’m keeping so busy, they seem to fly by. I sit down, get the laptop fired up, and next thing I know they are announcing it is time to bag up chips.

PLO/8 events are always kind of curious to cover, both because the game is kind of a strange one and because the players who enter it come to it with such wildly varying degrees of expertise. One of those games where it is probably the case that only a small percentage of the players are genuinely well-versed in PLO/8 strategy, yet a high percentage believe they are stronger at the game than everyone else -- and willingly say so, too.

Anyhow, the day went by rather fast as the field rapidly shrunk from a whopping 946 down to just 134.

Along the way I finally met Alex Outhred, a.k.a. @alexpokerguy, who is playing in the event and returns today to an above-average stack. I think I first became aware of Alex in 2007 when he turned up as a contestant on that show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” where I believe he won a big chunk of change. Then in 2008 he made a deep run at the WSOP Main Event, finishing 54th.

I know also that Outhred has spent some time on the poker media side of things, too. If you follow him on Twitter, you know he’s a very sociable, friendly guy with lots of interesting, funny, and provocative things to say. Was fun to follow him in the event yesterday, too.

On the dinner break I ran into the Ante Up! guys, Chris Cosenza and Scott Long, each of whom I’d met separately at previous WSOPs before. Their poker podcast -- one of the first -- continues to run weekly, and their Florida-based magazine, started about three years ago, has recently gone national.

We chatted about a few things, including how I kind of saw something similar in the paths we had all taken, career-wise. Like me, both Chris and Scott had full-time jobs outside of poker (for them, in journalism), then saw their interest in the game take them into a new profession -- taking an avocation, as they say, and making it a vocation.

When the night was over I stopped in briefly at the Gold Coast bowling alley to visit with some of the bloggers as well as Heath Chick and his wife. They are in town for a few days to play a couple of events before taking a trip to New York for what sounds like it will be a fun vacation. Was great catching up with them.

Joe HachemOne other memorable moment from yesterday to share. During one of the breaks I was sitting to the side with Ben Ludlow (with whom I was covering Event No. 51) and Harley Stoffmaker (another blogger who was off yesterday), when Harley pulled out a deck of cards and suggested playing some Chinese poker. As he dealt, Joe Hachem -- who was playing in our event -- passed by. “Joe, you want in?” called Harley, and the 2005 WSOP Main Event champ said he did.

We set our hands, the champ took the top and middle while I managed to make the best bottom with kings full. “Pass the sugar,” he said, and then ran around the Pavilion room holding an Australian flag aloft.

Okay, perhaps that isn't quite what happened. But I now have something in common with Steve Dannenmann, although he won $4.25 million for finishing second to Hachem while I won a story.

Incidentally, we were playing with Harley’s Full Tilt Poker deck of cards, and did get a chuckle about having the PokerStars pro play with them. Lot of buzz at the Rio about the Full Tilt Poker shutdown on Wednesday, then the news of FTP being sold to a group of European investors (reported in the Los Angeles Times) which most seem to be taking as signifying U.S. players will finally be getting their funds back. I’m too buried in everything else at the moment to follow the story closely, so it has been primarily just tweets -- and not too many deets -- for me regarding what is happening.

Today it’s back for more PLO/8 for me. The Ladies Event begins today as well, and I may go over there during my breaks to see how Day 1 of that one goes, too.

Looks like another packed day ahead. Should go by quickly -- especially good because tomorrow Vera Valmore will be arriving to visit for a few days.

Gonna try to slow down some while she’s here, though. Don’t want time to fly by too quickly during those days, for sure.

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