Sunday, June 30, 2013

2013 WSOP, Day 32: Heaps of Headlines

A lot happening at the Rio right now, with the WSOP Main Event now less than a week away. Last night I was busy with the last day of Event No. 50, the $2,500 10-Game Mix, and while I was locked in there I was still aware of lots else going on as well.

Event No. 50 rapidly whittled down from 20 returners to a final table of six -- faster than we’d anticipated, in fact. Once we reached that stage, my blogging partner Josh and I had a decision to make.

PokerNews has been doing hand-for-hand coverage at most hold’em and Omaha final tables this summer, though have not done so for non-flop games (e.g., stud and draw variants). For the 10-game mix we had a choice, then, how to approach the reporting, and we decided to do what might be called “round-for-round” coverage of the action.

We knew reporting hand-for-hand was neither feasible nor really desirable, with the stud games in particular being too involved to accommodate that sort of reporting. But we also wanted to try to give a somewhat comprehensive report on how the final table was evolving through the various games. So we each took turns reporting on the six-hand rounds of a given game, providing successive “round reports” that highlighted the biggest hands of each six-hand sequence while updating chip counts frequently.

I liked how it all turned out, and if you read through it all you can see how Brandon Wong eventually moved from the middle to the front, then maintained his advantage to the end including through heads-up play with Sebastian Saffari.

Was kind of funny at first as I had initially drawn PLO, NLHE, and other “easier” games to cover while Josh kept getting stud/8, Badugi, and the like. But after one cycle through the 10 games we found a way to switch off after a bustout so we each ended up reporting on all 10 of the games more than once during the nearly seven-hour final table (including a one-hour break for dinner).

A couple of U.K. players finished in the top three (Saffari and Philip Sternheimer), with the American Wong ultimately prevailing. Had a boisterous rail of supporters at the secondary feature table, too, most of whom were there for Saffari. However, the real “British rail” was next door whooping it up in the mothership over Barny Boatman’s win in Event No. 49, a $1,500 NLHE event.

Boatman, of course, is one of the original “Hendon Mob” along with his younger brother, Ross, Ram Vaswani, and Joe Beevers, a group of Londoners who became early pioneers when it came to getting sponsorships for poker players while also founding the famous forum and what has become a vital database of tourney results. The Mob’s story gets covered somewhat in Victoria Coren’s For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair With Poker (reviewed here).

Lots of joy being expressed in and around the mothership last night at Boatman’s triumph, as well as over Twitter where I’ve already seen dozens of congratulatory tweets aimed toward Boatman. The 58-year-old topped a field of 2,247 to win his first bracelet and a $546,080 first prize.

Indeed, when it came to Day 32 of the 2013 World Series of Poker, the 10-game mix finishing up probably ended up below the fold (so to speak) as there were at least three other more attention-grabbing stories unfolding. Boatman’s win was one. The completion of Event No. 47, the $111,111 buy-in One Drop High Rollers NLHE event was another. And the continued playing out of Event No. 51, the $10,000 Ladies NLHE Championship (with a $9,000 discount for women) was a third.

To be honest, the One Drop High Rollers event barely registered with me these last few days, as I wasn’t assigned to it and thus couldn’t really follow it that much.

I know the turnout of 166 players well exceeded expectations and made it necessary for the event to spill over into a fourth day of play. Antonio Esfandiari appeared primed at one point to follow his Big One for One Drop win from a year ago with another in this one, but fell in fourth. It was interesting to see businessman Bill Perkins break through to take third and notch a big cash in one of these, too.

In the end Anthony Gregg outlasted Chris Klodnicki to take the title and more than $4.8 million first prize, thus again disproportionately throwing out of whack all comparisons when it comes to the bracelet events, their prizes, and their significance. Klodnicki, by the way, has racked up close to $4 million the last two summers at the WSOP without even winning a bracelet. He won $2,985,495 last night after winning nearly $900K for finishing second in the $50K Poker Players Championship to Michael Mizrachi a year ago.

I suppose from the outside it just felt like another “high roller” event on the schedule, kind of a specialty tourney reserved only for a certain percentage of players at a given festival that have grown increasingly common over the last three years.

Meanwhile, I did get to witness a bit of Day 2 of the Ladies event as it was playing out nearby mine. In fact, on my break I even helped out those reporting on it a little, catching a couple of hands during the rapid sequence of bustouts that found that event reach a final table even before the scheduled end of play for the day.

The $10K buy-in for men did its job, apparently, as after three straight years of a handful of men playing in the event there were none among the 954 who registered this time around. That result helped support what seems like a commonly-held view now that the “ladies discount” idea was probably a good one.

I chatted briefly with WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla yesterday, and at one point in our conversation I noted how no men had played in the Ladies tourney this year. “You won’t have any stories to write,” said Dalla to me, and I nodded. Afterwards I thought how I was kind of tired of writing that story, anyway, and was glad I didn’t have to this time.

Barbara Enright was among those cashing in the Ladies event yesterday, finishing 25th. The Poker Hall of Famer won the Ladies event in both 1986 and 1994 (when it was a seven-card stud tournament), won a bracelet in an open event in 1996 (pot-limit hold’em), and is, of course, the only woman ever to make a WSOP Main Event final table, having finished fifth in 1995.

Also cashing yesterday was Danielle “dmoongirl” Andersen who finished 44th. Andersen is one of the three principal figures featured in the documentary BET RAISE FOLD: The Story of Online Poker, which happens to be having its official release today.

I had a chance to view the film earlier this month, and wrote a review of it for Flushdraw a week ago. I enjoyed it very much, and appreciate the way director Ryan Firpo and his cohorts presented the world of online poker and in particular the experiences of those who have managed to make careers out of playing online.

I actually spoke at length with Firpo at one point over a year ago about the project, in particular about poker’s significant place in American culture. That point that is made early in the film with people like Dr. Pauly, Dalla, David Schwartz, and Jesse May among those helping with the explanation. So even though I’m not really directly involved in the film, I’m still kind of excited for Firpo and the others who are.

As my review points out, the film ultimately becomes more of an extended profile of Andersen and the two other players featured, Tony Dunst and Martin Bradstreet, than a full-blown history of online poker. I say that because there are certain elements of that story that are left to the side, most conspicuously the insider cheating scandals at Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet that had wide-ranging effects on the industry as a whole (neither mentioned in the film).

I think the film is successful in many ways, though, and spell out a few of them in the review. Andersen’s story is the most interesting, of course, getting the most attention during the film’s running time.

Incidentally, last Sunday morning I finished the last edits on my review and after it was posted I went to the Rio to get ready for a day of work. I was climbing the steps in back when I looked up to see Andersen sitting there with her smart phone as she waited to play an event that day.

I introduced myself and told her how I’d just reviewed BET RAISE FOLD and she already knew about it as someone had messaged her. Was kind of uncanny to run into her at that moment after having been watching and thinking about the movie for the previous several hours and days. She was very nice and told me a little about the whirlwind she’s experienced as the center of attention of a film of such particular interest to everyone at the WSOP.

Like I say, the film is being officially “released” today insofar as it will become available online some time this morning, so check out the BET RAISE FOLD site for information about ordering.

I’m back at the Rio later this afternoon for more mixed-game fun as I’m helping with Day 1 of Event No. 55, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Just eight games to deal with in that one, with Badugi and 2-7 NL Draw omitted from the mix.

The $50K event was first introduced as a H.O.R.S.E. event in 2006, subsequently being dubbed the “Poker Players Championship” and awarding a trophy in memory of the first winner, David “Chip” Reese, who died in 2007. Here are the winners, first prizes, and entrants for the first seven of them:

With everything else going on – including the final days of both the Ladies event and the $25K NLHE 6-max. -- the $50K getting started probably won’t make it “above the fold” either for the day. Should feature all the big names, though, and again I’ll be curious to see what the turnout ends up being, especially coming right on the heels of that One Drop High Roller.

Click on over to PokerNews’ live reporting today to follow it all.

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