Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 WSOP, Day 44: Unwind

RelaxThe schedule for the World Series of Poker Main Event possesses a certain aesthetic appeal. Six days of poker, then take the seventh day off. Then six more. They’ve followed the same pattern the last couple of years, and I think it works fairly well.

Kind of resembles Wimbledon, with the early rounds taken care of during the first week, a day off for all, then the good stuff leading up to the final at fortnight’s end. Of course, with the WSOP ME we then have to wait another four months for the final, the climax here being the determining of the November Nine.

Was chatting with Jennifer Shahade a little last night about the schedule. She’s playing in the Main Event, and has made it through to Day 3. “You’ve been in the Main Event for a week,” I said. When I told her I kind of liked the format she noted how it wasn’t the best for players. Indeed, make it through the first two days and you’ve had to pay for a week’s worth of Vegas.

And on top of that, you’ve won nothing at all yet.

The day off was fun and relatively restful. After I spent the morning writing, the Poker Grump and I hit the Palms buffet mid-afternoon where I enjoyed an improbable mix of entrees and desserts while we talked about his Main Event experience and other topics.

Later came the WSOP Media tournament, which also provided a lot of entertainment. Like last year, about 130 participated, and it was fun to meet and talk to a number of folks I’ve mostly seen while criss-crossing between tables over the last three weeks.

AlCantHang was trying to sell his action on Twitter prior to the event -- which was inspired, given this was a freeroll. Al was actually the first to be eliminated, for which he won a small golden statue of a toilet. Had his pocket aces cracked by the mighty K-3. I wasn’t able to better my third-place finish of a year ago, finishing up around 40th or so after a couple of hours of play.

Annie Duke played, too, giving everyone copies of her book Decide to Play Great Poker. After covering her in numerous tourneys in the past, I finally met Annie a few days before, and so it wasn’t a first meeting when early on she was moved to my table to sit on my immediate left.

2011 WSOP Media tournamentWe joked around a bit, but didn’t get involved in any big hands. Once I opened from the cutoff as a sort-of-steal (had K-10), she reraised from the button, then a player pushed all in from the blinds and I got out.

Once the blinds and antes had risen to a certain point, we were all relatively short, essentially in push-or-fold territory. Somewhere in there Annie was all in with pocket jacks once against the player to my right who had A-4 or something and survived. As it happened, I’d later be all in with J-J against the same guy -- this time with A-9-suited -- and he’d river the flush to send me out.

I stuck around some after getting busted, but left prior to the tourney’s conclusion, finding out later that Annie actually won the sucker, defeating Zimba (a.k.a. @PokerCurious) heads up. F-Train final tabled, finishing seventh.

Next came some more pub trivia at McFadden’s. We had a big group there, and so formed two teams. I played with Absinthe, Katkin, Ebhizzle, Poker Grump, F-Train, and Timtern. Meanwhile, at the next table the squad was comprised of Andrew Feldman, Oskar Garcia, Lance Bradley, B.J. Nemeth, and Gary Wise (who arrived yesterday). Our team won, they took second, and a group including Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, and Jeff Madsen took third.

AlCantHang and Nolan DallaI ended the night hanging out for a while at the Gold Coast bowling alley where the WSOP staff and all the interns were having a great time, as were a number of other media types. Al had a neat come-from-behind bookend to his day there, picking up a cool hundy off of WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla after nailing an improbable spare by clearing nine pins on the second ball.

The bowling alley is where I spoke with Jennifer. I spotted a few other ME players there as well, trying to relax as they readied for the mental challenge that awaits them today.

It’ll be a grind. It always is. Some of the days may be relatively short. Indeed, I’m hearing today’s Day 3 may only go four levels. However it goes, they’ll try to manage it so as to get to 27 next Monday (Day 7) and nine on Tuesday (Day 8). Most of the players will only be at it another day or two; a select few will be there to the end. Meanwhile, pretty much all of the media -- including your humble scribbler -- have six more days of work ahead.

So it was good to rest. Play some cards. Be challenged to remember Oscar Wilde plays and the name of Spongebob’s starfish friend. To unwind. ’Cos everyone is gonna get wound up good and tight here over the next six days.

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