Saturday, June 12, 2010

2010 WSOP, Day 15: No Time

No TimeThe rumors were true. Yesterday was, in fact, my birthday. Third straight year I’ve spent the day here in Las Vegas, helping cover the World Series of Poker.

Funny, in a way. A birthday comes around and reminds one of the passage of time. Another year has passed. Perhaps the occasion encourages some sort of self-assessment. One of my colleagues here also just had a birthday this week and was telling me about having wanted to accomplish more than he had by the age he had reached. (He was half-joking, but I laughed and kidded him a bit, anyway, having crossed his milestone myself some time back.)

However, when live blogging an event such as I was doing yesterday for Event No. 19 -- the final day of the $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw Championship (No-Limit) -- one tends to lose track of time completely. Was so engrossed in the task yesterday that when it was over I had no idea we’d actually crossed midnight and the birthday was over.

By spending the birthday working in the Rio, then, I guess I’ve found a way to combat any potential fretting about time passing. Too damn busy for it. Got no time.

2010 WSOP Event No. 19 final tableTook a little more than two weeks -- thanks largely to that excursion to the southern hemisphere last week -- but I finally made it to a WSOP final table to cover the end of Event No. 19. Andy Bloch bubbled the eight-handed not-really-the-final-table-final-table. And Daniel Negreanu then went out in eighth, leaving John Juanda and Erik Seidel as the biggest names among the final seven.

Seidel was short and went out in sixth. Juanda was also low in chips, but fought back and had the chip lead briefly with four to go before suffering an especially rough half-hour of play to depart in fourth.

I am definitely a Juanda fan, both for his play and his sense of humor, of which one gets to see flashes when up close. But generally most never get to witness his wit because of his generally soft-spoken, reserved-seeming demeanor.

There were a couple such moments last night, but probably the funniest in the tourney came on Day 2 in hand in which Juanda had Negreanu all in before the draw with 15 players left. This was the cash bubble (14 paid). Juanda had raised, Negreanu pushed all in, and Juanda called. He was standing pat, and when he saw Negreanu’s hand (Kid Poker had a wheel draw and was drawing one), Juanda quipped, “Well, we’re in the money now!”

Pretty funny (I thought), but in a subtle way. As it happened Negreanu caught perfect and made his wheel, and the bubble remained intact. (Here’s that hand.) And it took Negreanu until halfway through the next hand to respond to Juanda’s wryly-delievered trash talk, at which he laughed loudly.

(By the way, I am aware of and following the whole Pokerati-Negreanu thing, but as is becoming kind of a theme here I just don’t have time to address it all. I will say that Negreanu gave those of us covering Event No. 19 late on Day 2 a sort of preview of that follow-up blog post of his, explaining to us that he never meant to criticize those of us doing the legwork, but to lodge a broader complaint about the “system.”)

Of course, the big story last night was David Baker -- a.k.a. “Bakes” or “WhooooKidd” -- taking the sucker down to win his first bracelet. Played brilliantly, it seemed to me, both on Day 2 and last night, and it was certainly exciting to see his girlfriend, Maria “Maridu” Mayrinck there to cheer him on.

If you remember, last week Baker made the final table of the $50K Player’s Championship (Event No. 2), at which he finished sixth, and Maridu was in Lima, Peru for PokerStars playing the LAPT event I was covering. She really wished she could’ve been at the Rio to sweat David then, so obviously it was fun to see her there and witness all of the excitement and joy the two of them got to experience last night.

Prior to the end there, Maridu had been playing in another tourney, the $1,000 buy-in Event No. 22, the Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship, though I believe she is out now. That is the one I will be covering that one this weekend (Days 2 and 3).

The battle of the sexesA ton of buzz yesterday regarding that one, as I’m sure you heard, in particular regarding the fact that about a dozen men played in the event. While this sort of thing has previously happened several times at other ladies-only tourneys elsewhere, this was -- as far as I am aware -- the first time it has happened at the WSOP.

And man oh man did everybody have an opinion about it.

As I say above, I’ve been up to my eyeballs of late and so really didn’t have a lot of time yesterday either to think about the significance of the men playing or to read some of what others have been writing about the subject. I still haven’t, though I plan to take a look at some of the posts and articles I’ve seen have popped up over the last 24 hours or so.

My first reaction to the news was instinctive. I didn’t think men should play in the ladies event. I ended up enjoying a nice dinner with Jen Newell last night during my break -- my colleague for those “He Said/She Said” articles we’ve done over at Woman Poker Player -- and our conversation helped me examine a little further some of the reasons why my initial reaction to the news was negative.

I still have to think it through some more, though. It is an especially complicated situation, fraught with a number of issues, and I have friends whose opinions I respect coming at it from all angles. Don’t want to try to engage this one, then, without having a little more time to consider it all.

Actually getting to report on the event today and tomorrow will certainly give me more to consider. Plus I have some friends still in the sucker -- including Michele Lewis, Jessica Welman, and Bellatrix -- which’ll add a little extra excitement for me personally. They are among the 136 players returning today (from a total field of 1,054).

If you want to see how the ladies-and-a-few-men event continues to play out, head over to PokerNews’ live reporting of Event No. 22 later today to see how I’m spending my time.

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