Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2009 WSOP, Day 28: Intense

The Human Function CurveKind of a weirdly intense vibe yesterday at the Rio.

I worked the last day of Event No. 42, the $2,500 Mixed Game event won by Jerrod Ankenman. Ankenman is the somewhat lesser known co-author of The Mathematics of Poker with Bill Chen. Chen, of course, won two WSOP bracelets during 2006, shortly before the appearance of their book, and thus when the book came out many simply referred Chen as the book’s author, neglecting to mention Ankenman.

But Ankenman was already an accomplished player then, and in fact had finished runner-up in a $3,000 limit hold’em event that summer to Ian Johns. Ankenman had had Johns all in at one point during heads up, but ended up losing. He also took second in last year’s $10,000 World Championship limit hold’em event to Rob Hollink. So now he’s finally got his.

Jerrod Ankenman wins Event No. 42Was pretty cool afterwards as all of Ankenman’s buds, including Chen, Greg Raymer, Terrence Chan, Sabyl Cohen-Landrum, Gavin Griffin, and others were there to root Ankenman on and eventually congratulate him on his victory. I heard him giving some interviews afterwards, and he definitely is both a smart and funny guy who is easy to like. And he played especially well, I thought, showing a significant edge in the six limit games (2-7 triple draw, hold’em, O/8, razz, stud, stud/8), though being willing to gamble and take intelligent risks, too, in no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha.

Covering the tourney was interesting. Folks came over now and then during the three days to watch. Yesterday LJ stopped by to say hello and observe a few hands, after which she joked with me how the 8-game event didn’t seem as exciting to watch as one would think. (Speaking of mixed games, LJ finished an amazing 10th place in Event No. 31, the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E.) I told her it kind of came in waves -- some very uneventful stretches followed by some seriously exciting hands/sequences.

Really the whole event was like that, including the last day when they played down from 14 to one. Lengthy periods where nothing seemed to be happening, then highly-charged moments full of action and big chip swings and/or eliminations. And the funny thing was, the intensity level didn’t seem to be connected necessarily to the games being played. Sure, we saw more big pots develop more quickly in the no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha rounds than in the limit games, but there were dry patches in NLHE and PLO, too -- and some seriously high-stress hands (resulting in big pots) in the other rounds as well.

Probably the most intense hand from my perspective was a 2-7 triple draw hand between Eric Crain and Layne Flack in which after a long session in the tank Flack ended up breaking a 9-5-4-3-2 on the last draw -- everyone saw what he’d had ’cos when he finally decided to give up the nine he showed it -- and unfortunately picked up a jack to replace his nine. He checked, then Crain (who’d raised him previously) surprisingly checked behind and turned over 9-5-4-3-2 -- in other words, the very same hand Flack had given up on. (Flack was no happy camper after that one, let me tell you.) That hand basically turned the tide for Flack, knocking him back down to a below average stack and helping ensure his departure in seventh place.

And from the reporting side of things, it occasionally got pretty intense as well, especially when it came to narrating those O/8 and Stud/8 hands where one has to keep track of a dozen or more cards. Was good working with Don Peters who was great help managing the occasional information overload with which we sometimes had to deal.

Miami John CernutoOf course, when I speak of the intensity and stress of playing a poker tournament or reporting on it, I speak in relative terms, as we all now there are more important things in life. We were reminded of that fact yesterday when word made it over to the Amazon Room that Miami John Cernuto had collapsed at a table over in the Brasilia while playing the $2,500 razz event (Event No. 44). At first it was thought he’d had a heart attack, although it isn’t clear now what exactly happened. He has been hospitalized and while suffering some internal bleeding is apparently stable for now.

The razz event was stopped for about an hour, and, as I say, hearing people asking each other about what was going on did help lend that strange vibe to yesterday’s proceedings. Luckily for all of us, Dr. Pauly has finally returned to the Rio after his extended musical interlude from the WSOP to help us sort through this stuff. Read Pauly’s take on “The Miami John incident” here.

What’s up next? Well, Vera is here. And I have two days off in a row, and so she and I will likely be enjoying them poolside. We’ll probably be catching a show of some sort tonight, then maybe even get outta Vegas tomorrow for a bit. Taking another cue from Dr. P, in a way, though my break from poker will just be two days, not two weeks. Gotta relax now and then. No way around it.

And while you’re taking your break from life’s many stressors, be sure to head over to PokerNews’ live reporting for all things WSOP.

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