Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2009 WSOP, Day 27: Eight Arms to Hold You

Eight Arms to Hold YouWas an especially long one yesterday blogging from Event No. 42, the $2,500 Mixed Game, the one in which players rotate between eight different poker games. Fun, though.

Things went relatively well as far as the reporting went, although I’ll confess the tournament became marginally more tedious as most of the “names” dropped out. All of them entered, it seemed, but few made it into the top forty (and the cash). Instead, it was folks like Bob Slezak, Zvi Groysman, Vojislav Petrov, Yuval Bronshtein, Mihail Stoykov, Hank Paloci, and Alex Dovzhenko making the money -- all good players, obviously, but not players for whom I necessarily have a lot of “back story” with which to contextualize what I’m watching.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler went out close to the cash bubble. Nursed his short stack all of the way, then Andy Black took the last of his chips with J-4 against Kessler’s A-10 in a no-limit hold’em hand after the board came 9-Q-6-K-10. Yep, Black rivered the straight, though by that point Kessler was down to about three big blinds, anyway (for the NLHE) round.

When I say the “names” didn’t make it I’m referring to all of those top tier “notables” like Doyle, Negreanu, Hellmuth, Ivey, and so forth. Have gone over this subject before here (more than once, actually) -- that issue of whether or not it is correct or fair for those reporting on these tourneys to favor certain “poker celebs” over others in their coverage -- and I don’t really want to review that topic again this morning. There is most certainly a bias in all reporting that favors these guys, particularly during the first day of an event. But I think when you look at, say, the forty hours or so that are given to an entire tournament, those who make it to the end always get the greater share of attention (which they’ve certainly earned).

That said, there are still some interesting stories among the 14 left. Jon “PearlJammer” Turner is the chip leader, gunning for his first WSOP bracelet. Jerrod Ankenman is right behind him, looking to get a bracelet and start catching up with his Mathematics of Poker co-author, Bill Chen (who has two). Layne Flack has a big stack, and has a great chance at landing his seventh WSOP bracelet. And Rami Boukai, who won an earlier event I covered this summer (Event No. 10, $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha), is trying to become the fourth two-time winner of 2009.

Jimmy 'Gobboboy' FrickeIf I had to say I was pulling for any of the 14, it would have to be Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke, who unfortunately took a hit right at the end of the night in a PLO hand and is the short stack going into the final day. Was so cool to see him cash last night, and also cool to meet and visit some with Gobbomom, who was there to watch for the last 5-6 hours of play.

The mixed game is a pretty curious event to observe and report on. The blinds/antes/limits are now getting big enough in the six limit games (2-7 triple draw, limit hold’em, Omaha/8, razz, stud, and stud/8) that some hands played during those rounds are resulting in some big chip moves, but really it seemed like particularly during the latter part of the night that it wasn’t until no-limit hold’em or pot-limit Omaha that people were getting crippled and/or knocked out.

Michael Binger lost most of his stack to a one-outer in PLO, flopping top set of queens versus a set of jacks and the case jack coming on fifth street. (He was eliminated soon thereafter.) There was another wild A-A-vs.K-K-vs.Q-Q hand in NLHE late last night that produced a 380,000-chip pot. (Ankenman won that one with queens when a third queen came on the river.)

Definitely an interesting test of mental agility to move back and forth between the games, and between the patience and discipline needed for the limit games and the willingness to identify and take appropriate, tournament-life-threatening risks in the pot-limit/no-limit games. And like I say, fun and interesting to observe play out. I’m glad I had the chance this summer to cover this mixed event, if only to mix things up for me as well.

Of course, what also made the day a little more arduous from my perspective was the fact that all day I was thinking about the arrival of Vera Valmore. She lands in just about an hour, actually, and will be here for the next week. Just in time, too. Have been over this topic before, as well -- especially toward the end of last summer -- but it’s not easy being away from her and other family and friends for such a long stretch like this. Probably the toughest part of the gig, all things considered.

But she’ll be here today, probably relaxing poolside from her trip while I’m covering the last day of Event No. 42. Will get to join her by the pool over the next couple of days, which I’ll have off. Before then, though, head over to PokerNews’ live reporting page to see if Fricke can maybe double up early and make things interesting. Gobboboy FTW!

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