J.C. Tran began in front and Amir Lehavot had the lead briefly early on, too, but for the most part there wasn’t a lot of craziness at the top of the leaderboard as the night wore on. Overall the play appeared quite solid, too, if a little conservative at times, with both Farber and Riess playing well and appearing plenty deserving to be facing one another for the bracelet tonight.
McLaughlin seemed to be struggling with some bad fortune even before that last cooler that knocked him out in sixth. Tran also didn’t seem to pick up too many decent starters which made it hard for him to gain momentum before he went out fifth.
This is the third year they’ve shown the entire final table this way on ESPN’s networks. The presentation hasn’t changed much from year-to-year. I still like Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, the latter cracking me up a few times last night including when he noted how “at the Last Supper -- which was a tough final table -- nobody was wearing sunglasses.”
Antonio Esfandiari does a nice job, too, with the explanations of the action and his reads, and in my opinion has figured out a way to be clear to a wide audience while also avoiding dumbing down the analysis. Kara Scott’s exit interviews and the other segments profiling players all worked well, too.
Meanwhile the less said about the break segments with Phil Hellmuth the better. The very first comment he made saw him failing to recall a player’s name, misremembering the order of hands, and referring a player going all in for “eight million dollars” on a hand when he shoved for 7.3 million... chips.
The “One Billion Hands” stuff during those segments was kind of hastily introduced as well and thus didn’t get presented very clearly. Didn’t help that during the first segment the hand discussed saw Hellmuth insisting a call was correct when the data being shown suggested otherwise, thus leaving everyone uncertain what any of it was supposed to mean. (By the way, for a more thorough and interesting discussion of the OBH stuff, check out Episode 52 of the Thinking Poker Podcast with OBH guru Dave Thornton.)
Most disappointing last night, though, was the panda pratfall on the main stage not being shown on ESPN. It was 1:30 a.m. here on the east coast, and those of us following Twitter saw everyone there in the Penn & Teller Theater suddenly begin firing off excited messages about the person in the big panda suit (there to support Farber) rush the stage and fall face first before being escorted away. Nolan Dalla wrote more about this hilarious break in the action on his blog today.
But for some reason ESPN -- showing everything on a 15-minute delay -- saw fit to excise that bit of goofiness while letting Hellmuth fall on his face repeatedly!
Wrote a little more about last night’s action over on Learn.PokerNews today, including a bit of strategy talk if you’re curious -- see "The Panda and the Beast: Farber and Riess Remain in 2013 WSOP Main Event." Meanwhile I’ll be up again tonight to ride this sucker to its conclusion.