Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Travel Report: Sands Bethlehem DeepStack Extravaganza Main Event, Day 3

We’re done in Bethlehem. Chris “SLOPPYKLOD” Klodnicki indeed won the event after having ended both Day 1a and Day 2 as the chip leader.

The ending was a little like what I saw in Macau last month at the Asia Championship of Poker Main Event insofar as the final two players decided against playing out a lengthy heads-up match, instead agreeing on a deal that allowed them simply to end the tourney with a non-competitive final hand.

It was a little surprising, though not nearly as much as had been the case in Macau where the two players involved had battled for six hours before making their deal, whereas here the decision was made prior to the start of heads-up play.

I mentioned yesterday how the final day of the tournament was scheduled to be relocated up in the Sands Poker Room in the casino after having played out in a conference room the first three days. That first location had been brightly lit and mostly quiet, aside from a bit of noise coming late in the evenings from the Vision Bar nightclub down the hall. The casino, however, was dim and quite loud, which made for a very different environment in which to work.

The poker room has 30 tables, and the remaining 16 players were seated at a couple in the back and thus comfortably away from cash games and the traffic surrounding them. We had a nice setup, too, at a nearby table, giving us easy access for reporting and a solid wi-fi connection to the internet. But we were right next to the circular bar situated in the center of the casino and near the slots and other table games, which wasn’t necessarily ideal as we were close enough to smokers to be affected.

There were slot machines ringing, money wheels clicking, people talking, televisions blaring, and music pumping throughout the night, all producing an unceasing cacophony around us as the tourney played out. The players didn’t seem to mind too greatly, and I don’t think the noise interfered too much with their being able to communicate at the table, although there was certainly less chit-chat along the way.

Once the short stacks were knocked out and the final table began to shrink down to the last few players, the pace slowed as everyone became especially deep. After playing 60-minute levels on Days 1a and 1b, then 75-minute levels on Day 2, they played 90-minute levels on the final day, which further slowed things down. By the time just three players remained, the average between them was more than 90 big blinds.

Three-handed play between Klodnicki, Edward Pham, and Richard Allen was highly competitive, with all three leading at one point along the way. Then Allen ran queens into Klodnicki’s aces to lose nearly all of his stack before soon being eliminated in third, thus setting up Klodnicki and Pham to make their choice to deal rather than duel.

Was a little anticlimactic, although as was the case in Macau those of us covering the event weren’t too disappointed not to see the final pair battle on for another few hours. We were already edging up toward 2 a.m., and with the stacks so deep they really could have gone on until dawn, as they might well have done if some set-aside money or a bracelet was on the line. But they decided otherwise. Such deals really are part of the game and could be regarded as a natural extension of the ongoing “negotiations” (advertising, selling, buying) that happens in every hand played.

I believe plans are in place to stage more events at the Sands Bethlehem. I hope there are more, as I think the destination is quite accommodating and players might well enjoy checking out the venue and participating, especially those who are based on the east coast and can’t always get out to Vegas and California on a regular basis.

Was great fun working with Mickey Doft and Joe Giron again reporting on the event for PokerNews. There they are to the left on either side of Klodnicki who is standing in between holding up the big comedy check at night’s end.

Also appreciated the support given us by David Urie (the Sands poker room manager), Mark Valentine (who handled marketing), and the entire staff who were especially helpful to us as well. Fun meeting all of those guys, too.

Turning my thoughts homeward now, though, and looking forward to a little rest from all the traveling. Back to the airport I go.

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