Wednesday, June 04, 2008

2008 WSOP, Day 5: Storytelling

StorytellingJust got back a little while ago from a long Day 2 of Event No. 4, the Mixed Hold’em event which I’m helping cover for PokerNews. Took about 11-and-a-half hours or so for the 91 players who began the day to play down to the final nine. I’m beat, but upbeat. And definitely excited about tomorrow’s final table, as of now scheduled to be filmed by ESPN.

ESPN must be glad about how this one played out. The only disappointment might be Andy Bloch busting out in 15th. Check out this final nine: David Rheem, David Williams, Justin Bonomo, Erick Lindgren, Howard Lederer, Roland de Wolfe, Andrew Robl, Isaac Haxton, and Pat Pezzin. As was the case with Event No. 1, more than half of these guys have had considerable face time on the boob tube before. An interesting mix of personalities, as well. Should make for some decent drama, I’d think.

Was a good day reporting, though as the night wore on it became clear to me that the nature of our assignment had moved away from the frivolity and fun of the early levels to the more sober task of determining with historical accuracy final rankings and cash awards. Kind of has to be that way. When a tourney nears the cash bubble, tension predictably rises. Once past that landmark, the pressure remains at a fairly high pitch as we scramble to document each bustout hand (we got most, not all) and correctly assign each player’s name its rightful place in the historical record.

The fact is, on Day 2 what was previously a loose compilation of anecdotes has now evolved into a more coherent narrative. It’s the middle, which followed the beginning, and which leads to the end.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a few light moments tonight. For instance, it certainly was a bit of fun writing up this hand:

Mr. Retard Knocks out the Magician
Phil Laak has just eliminated Antonio Esfandiari.

After getting it all in preflop, Laak showed A-A, and Esfandiari A-Q. The board came 9c6hAd3d4h, and Esfandiari was done.

Well, not quite. "Nice hand, scumbag," said the Magician. "You're such a retard."

"That's Mr. Retard to you," Laak replied. Laak now has 36,200.

However, most of the night was enveloped in a more serious atmosphere. Once we were down to a dozen or so players, I spent some time away from my computer standing just a couple of feet from one of the short-handed tables working through a sequence of limit hold’em hands. Some serious drama in a couple of the hands, with players having to make tough decisions. Documented one such hand thusly:

Tension at Table No. 1
An intense limit hold'em hand just concluded on Table #1. Pat Pezzin bet from middle position, Chau Giang raised from the button, and Justin Bonomo 3-bet from the big blind. Pezzin folded, and Giang called.

The flop came 8h9cJc. Bonomo pushed out 10,000, Giang raised, Bonomo three-bet, and Chiang called.

The turn was the 4s. Bonomo quickly bet 20,000, and Giang called.

The river was the 6h. Bonomo again bet, and Giang reacted visibly, quickly standing up and saying "Impossible!" He then took a full six or seven minutes to decide before making the call.

Bonomo showed two black queens and Giang mucked in disgust. He is now severely short-stacked.

If you are familiar with Giang, you know he isn’t the most demonstrative player around, making the emotion he conveyed all the more affecting to witness. Was fascinating to see him agonize over whether or not to call that last 20,000-chip bet from ZeeJustin. To do so and lose meant he’d be down under 40,000 at least (perhaps worse). I may have even underestimated the time he took to make the call. Sure seemed longer, anyway.

(By the way, what do you think Giang had? He mucked his cards without showing, although I thought I spotted a face card once when he rechecked his hand while making his decision.)

Giang was knocked out shortly thereafter in a no-limit hand written up by my partner, Steve Horton. Was nice to have provided a bit of context for the subsequent bustout hand, something that was fairly difficult to pull off when we were in the midst of trying to capture and pass along each and every elimination.

Will stop in here once more before I head out to help cover the final table tomorrow (starts at 3 p.m. Vegas time).

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Blogger Unknown said...

Interesting hand... Giang had to have had either AJ or something like A10c, maybe 108c? Not sure he would've called the river bet with the busted flush/straight and only A high, so that's why I suspect a mega-outs hand with a pair like 108c.

6/04/2008 1:02 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Yea, I was thinking AJ as well (that card I saw might've been a jack). I agree he doesn't call the river there w/o at least a pair.

6/04/2008 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree and say Giang held a J in there. It's the only thing I think he'd call with at that point.

Phil Laak is just hilarious to watch and put him with Antonio, they're just too funny.

Great stuff Shamus!

6/04/2008 7:59 PM  

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