I was a little surprised at how tightly Neuville played for much of the night. Having seen him take chances and be bold in other tournaments before -- including online -- I knew he liked to play against the old-man image and mix things up. He and I talked about that very idea back in August, in fact, when I had a chance to interview him at EPT Barcelona.
But alas last night seemed to go in a different direction for the Belgian. Neuville was shown making some tight folds, then got a bit unlucky in a couple of spots including his last hand, although by then he was so short a double-up wouldn’t have helped him a lot, anyway.
Meanwhile the other older player, Neil Blumenfield (aged 61), made me think of Jerry Yang early on when he three-bet with Q-8-offsuit. He did well for himself to maintain a competitive stack all night, although leader Joe McKeehen -- now with over 91 million chips or nearly three times that of the chase pack that includes Ofer Zvi Stern and Blumenfield -- is going to be hard to catch.
Speaking of Stern, his lengthy tanking quickly became the foremost topic of conversation last night.
“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….vi Stern. #November9,” tweeted Joe Stapleton. “Get it Ofer with,” was Remko Rinkema’s take. Meanwhile my constructive contributions included “At this rate, they won’t finish before Tanksgiving” and “Did I just hear a commercial saying if you have an erection lasting longer than four hands to call your physician?”
I saw Kevmath tweet something this morning about the action begin on Stern for something like 55 minutes or so out of the five-plus hours it took to play those 72 hands. All of the commercial breaks during the first two-and-a-half hours (during prime time) also helped lengthen things considerably.
Regarding the Stern commentary (pun intended) on Twitter last night, let me also shout out to D.J. MacKinnon and Jess Welman for a couple of Global Poker League-inspired thoughts. “Wonder how much more exciting this final table would be with a huge cube around it,” speculated MacKinnon, who then offered a laugh-out-loud artist's rendering as a follow-up. “You know what would make this final table so much better?” Jess then asked. “If everyone was standing up.”
That’s my cat, Sweetie, up above, by the way, mesmerized by another hand involving Stern.
Now, of course, the “shot clock” talk has begun again, although as has been the case when that has come up before, I can’t really get behind the idea. Players playing slowly is part of the game, and if other players have a problem they can call the clock to try to speed things up. Obviously Stern doesn’t have to play that way, but just as obviously he has every right to do so.
Phil Hellmuth tweeted something about him receiving a warning at one point, although it might have been the Stern warning (pun intended) was not for his slow pace of play. (Can’t really trust Hellmuth always to know what he’s tweeting about.) Will be curious to see if Stern is influenced at all into speeding up after no doubt getting feedback on what happened last night.
Have to say, though, I enjoyed the show last night, even with the sluggish pace. In part it was because I like watching how well McKeehen has been pushing around others by pushing his chips. But mostly it was because of the tweets, which were a fun way to fill all those pauses.