Later in the morning I met up with my buddies Chris Cosenza and Scott Long of Ante Up (the magazine and podcast). I’ve met each of those guys more than once before at previous WSOPs, but I think this was the first time we were able to sit down for more than a few minutes to chat.
Long time readers know that when I first started writing the blog I would often talk about poker podcasts to which I was listening, with the weekly Ante Up show being one of only a few regular ones to discuss.
Since those early days, Chris and Scott launched a monthly magazine to go along with the podcast, and if you visit their website you’ll discover they have a lot more going on, too, including frequently hosting Ante Up cruises where folks can play poker and visit various destinations.
Speaking of the Ante Up cruises, I told them how yesterday I was helping cover the final table of Event No. 47, the $1,500 PLO8 event, and Scott mentioned how one of the players, Steven Loube (last name rhymes with “robe”), had been on a few with his wife. Loube was second in chips to start the day, having enjoyed a serious rush near the end of Day 2 to catapult to the top of the counts.
As it happened, Loube would win the event yesterday, a turn of events I think even he would admit was a bit improbable. After all, as he let us know during the course of the day, this was his first ever WSOP event! He also mentioned how the most he’d ever won before in a poker tournament was a $50 gift certificate (“good for food, but not for liquor”).
Loube mostly sat tight during the early going as the short stacks fell. He did get involved in a big three-way hand at one point in which he made a big fold on the flop in what was really a tricky spot. As it happened, if he’d stayed in he would have won the hand and a lot of chips, but it probably was prudent not to have taken the risk at that point.
Loube also had a hand in which he made a somewhat serious blunder, calling a big bet on the river thinking he had a flush when in fact he did not (he had misread the board). His reaction was great, though -- suitably self-effacing, maybe a little embarrassed, but you could tell it probably wasn’t going to send him spiraling into tilt mode.
There was other evidence along the way that Loube was the least experienced at the table, especially once it got to four-handed (which lasted an especially long time, about five hours). He more than once noted how tired he was, suggesting he’d never played so much poker in three days before. He had Advil with him, too, and I believe popped a couple along the way to help ease the pain caused by having to concentrate so long and so intensely.
If I were to have bet on who would win with four left, I would’ve picked either of the other three players -- Timothy Finne, Roch Cousineau, or Cam McKinley -- over Loube. But the amateur hung in there, and once McKinley was eliminated and the blinds jumped up, the gambling began in earnest.
Three-handed didn’t last very long, not enough time for your humble scribbler to toss out a line about Loube being caught between a “Roch” and a hard place (as he most definitely was). Cousineau was soon ousted, and it was down to just Loube and Finne.
I wasn’t pulling for anyone in particular as I watched -- I really never do with these things -- and in fact like Finne a lot both as a player (this was his fifth WSOP final table) and a personality (lots of grinning, humorous and friendly comments). But it was kind of cool to witness the excitement of Loube and his supporters after he’d won.
The 34-year-old personal injury attorney was pretty humble about it all afterwards, too. When one of his buddies said something about him playing all of the rest of the events now, he immediately shook his head. “No way, this is way too tough,” he said, obviously worn out by the long tourney journey, an adventure as exotic as any cruise or other vacation he has ever taken, I’m sure.
When watching and reporting on these suckers, it is definitely a lot easier to identify with guys like Loube than, say, those high rollers at the final table of Event No. 45, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship won by Michael Mizrachi yesterday. Just easier to relate to someone for whom the money is that much more meaningful, and the experience perhaps that much more special, too.
I like that picture Joe Giron took yesterday (see left) of Loube under the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that hangs above the stage in the Pavilion room, one of many cool ones Joe snapped. Kind of underscored the excitement of the day for Loube, as does that kind of anxious-seeming smile on his face.
I can relate to that fatigue Loube felt yesterday, too. “Every time I meet you, you always seem exhausted,” said Chris to me yesterday morning early on during our visit. Indeed, we’ve only ever met at the WSOP -- when I am in the middle of working these lengthy, uninterrupted stretches -- and so I understood what he was saying. It is a long, long journey.
Today it continues for me with Event No. 51, the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship, which I’ll be covering from start-to-finish. Am looking forward to doing so. Two years ago I helped cover the second and third days of this event. I was not on it last year when once again more men played and one even made the final table.
I’m curious to experience the first-day vibe of this tourney, and perhaps enjoy some more of that feeling of poker being special and fun. Kind of thing keeps you cruising along, you know? Even if you’re a little tired, and the waters a little rough.