Tuesday, June 08, 2010

2010 WSOP, Days 4-11: Catching Up

Been away from the WSOP for a little over a week, during which time there has already been a fair amount of drama happening over at the Rio. Felt a little weird to be away like that, but in this golden age of wireless, I never felt too detached from what was happening.

(That’s right -- a Thomas Dolby allusion for you there. Sheesh, can it really be true that album is pushing 30 years old?)

When in Lima, I frequently followed the live reporting on PokerNews, then also checked in on those other sites I recommended in a post last week (“Where to Go”).

As is probably the case for a lot of you, I found Dr. Pauly’s daily recaps mandatory reading for keeping up. Kevmath’s posts at Pokerati were helpful, too. And while Wicked Chops’ photos from the WSOP didn’t necessarily help with the “big picture” the way, say, B.J. Nemeth’s photo blog does (also a must-follow), I nevertheless might’ve checked in over there from time to time as well.

Lots of places to go, then, for someone on another continent wishing to satisfy a WSOP fix. Here were a half-dozen stories I found myself following most closely over the last week-plus while I was away.

1. The “Near Disaster” of Event No. 3

Near DisasterAmong the stories from the first week-plus of the 2010 WSOP that got my attention, the first was that “near disaster” (as some have called it) of Day 1b of Event No. 3, the first of the $1,000 no-limit hold’em events, or “The Grand Games” (as one has called them).

I was actually there for that one, reporting on Day 1b, and, indeed, some were sweating it a little there near the end. On Day 1a, 2,601 players showed up and only 276 remained at day’s end. Then on Day 1b -- a day when all seemed to expect at least as many or even more to play -- only 1,744 came out. That meant 4,345 total, which translated to 441 spots paying.

They had to play 10 levels, but they couldn’t allow the 1,744 who showed on Day 1b get below 165 left, or else they’d reach the cash. Can’t do that before consolidating the fields, and so tourney officials were having to decide on the fly whether to stop play short of the end of Level 10 (if needed). Turned out not to be an issue, as there were still about 200 of the Day 1b entrants left when play concluded.

I actually think this story got blown up a little more than it deserved, probably because we were still early in the WSOP and there wasn’t much else to write about yet. Apparently, however, there is a new policy in place going forward to stop play on Day 1a if they get down to 15% of the field, then have the Day 1b crowd stop at the same point so as to avoid any further “near disasters.”

2. The Mizrachi Crunch

The Malachi CrunchSome of us old enough to remember The Golden Age of Wireless are also old enough to remember that “Happy Days” episode in which Fonzie and Pinky Tuscadero enter a demolition derby. They find themselves up against the villainous Malachi brothers. Actually, looking online I am reminded this was a three-parter, with one episode ending on a cliffhanger after Pinky gets caught in the “Malachi crunch” -- i.e., the brothers simultaneously smash her pink car from either side. We had to wait a week to find out, I guess, but Pinky did survive.

Was fairly amazed to see both Michael and Robert Mizrachi making the final table of the $50,000 buy-in Player’s Championship (Event No. 2), with Robert ultimately finishing fifth and Michael earning his first WSOP bracelet. In fact, “The Grinder” knocked out Robert on his way to the victory.

The WSOP site tells us this was the just the third time two family members made a WSOP final table, with the Mizrachis having the best finish of any such pair. In 1995, siblings Annie Duke and Howard Lederer both made the final table of the $1,500 pot-limit hold’em event. Duke finished sixth in that one, with Lederer going out in ninth. And in 2002, brothers Ross and Barny Boatman both made the final table of the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha event, with Ross finishing seventh and Barny ninth.

3. Hellmuth Gets (Sort of) Close

Phil HellmuthPhil Hellmuth finished 15th in Event No. 8, a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event which attracted 2,341 entrants. Close enough to bring out all of the fans and haters. Dr. Pauly summed up the frenzy well in his post titled “Darth Hellmuth.”

Hellmuth was in the Event No. 3 I covered, though only briefly. He arrived very late on Day 1b and lasted about an hour before pushing his signature hand -- pocket nines -- from the button only to run into a big blind player holding K-K. Despite drawing such huge fields, these low buy-in NLHE events are clearly the Poker Brat’s best chance at getting a 12th bracelet.

Most have heard that some Native Americans believe having one’s picture taken steals one’s soul. The idea is usually linked to the fact that Crazy Horse apparently never allowed his picture to be taken. For some reason, Pauly’s account of a fan of Hellmuth (or “Hellmouth”) taking the Poker Brat’s picture from the rail made me think of that.

“The more photos he took” of Hellmuth, writes Pauly, “the more powerful he became.” Make of that what you will.

4. For the Nguyen; Men Lands Seventh Bracelet

All You Can EatMen “All You Can Eat, Baby” Nguyen won Event No. 10, the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud World Championship event, outlasting an amazing final table that included (in order of finish) Brandon Adams, Steve Billirakis, Nikolay Evdakov, Joe Cassidy, Michael Mizrachi, Vladimir Schmelev (who finished second to the Grinder in the $50K), and Sirous Jamshidi. That’s Men’s seventh bracelet, won in a variety of poker variants (hold’em, O/8, stud, lowball) -- interestingly, all fixed limit games.

I remember covering one of the early events last summer in which Men cashed. It was Event No. 19, the $2,500 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event (won by Brock Parker). Nguyen eventually finished 16th in that one. Just after the cash bubble burst, he stopped me to tell me he’d moved within one WSOP cash of Phil Hellmuth’s record, but a quick check with Nolan Dalla showed he wasn’t quite there yet. (This year’s WSOP Media Guide has Hellmuth with 75 WSOP cashes entering this summer’s Series, with Men in second with 65.)

Besides competing with Hellmuth for cashes and bracelets, Nguyen rivals the Poker Brat in the number of haters he has, too. I’ve heard the same stories all of you have, and as a result am necessarily reserved about celebrating Nguyen’s accomplishments. Still, seven bracelets is nothing to sneeze at.

5. Cool Britannia

U.K. Playing CardsThe British are coming, apparently. And winning. Lots of success for U.K. players here early on. First, Praz Bansi won Event No. 5 ($1,500 NLHE). Then in Event No. 6, the $5,000 NLHE Shootout event, Neil "Bad Beat" Channing and Stuart Rutter both made the final table, finishing second and third respectively. Then James Dempsey took down Event No. 9, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event.

Again, check out Pauly’s discussion of this one. Also, be sure to add Snoopy’s Black Belt blog to your regular reading for more on the Brits.

6. Dwan’s Song

Tom in DurrrrlandProbably the biggest story from the first 11 days of the WSOP was Tom “durrrr” Dwan nearly taking down Event No. 11 ($1,500 no-limit hold’em). Indeed, if Dwan had won the event rather than finishing second, this one might’ve ended up the story of the entire WSOP this summer.

That’s because -- as you’ve no doubt read elsewhere -- side bets on Dwan winning a bracelet this year apparently amounted to something in the neighborhood of $8-$10 million, meaning his winning would’ve scored him a payday that will possibly be even bigger than that enjoyed by the person winning the Main Event.

Terrence Chan wrote an interesting post about how the side bets essentially meant the final heads-up battle between Dwan and eventual winner Simon Watt of New Zealand amounted to the biggest game in poker history. (Thanks to the Black Widow of Poker for pointing me to this one.) According to Chan’s estimates, if one takes the side bets into considerations, the real-dollar value of the blinds were something like $55,000/$110,000 at the end.

Interesting stuff, although I’d add to the commentary that while the blinds may have had that significance for Dwan, Watt -- whom I presume wasn’t on the other end of any of Dwan’s bracelet bets -- obviously wasn’t playing quite so high.

Those are the biggies thus far. That's the way it seemed from 4,000-plus miles away, anyhow.

Have also been following F-Train’s posts about the total numbers of entrants thus far at the WSOP. (Here is the most recent one of those.) And while I haven’t heard anything tangible about our having passed the June 1 deadline for banks and other financial institutions to start complying with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, I’m braced for some sort of news on that front, too.

That's better. Will probably take a day or two before I feel completely back in the swing of things, but I’m looking forward to rejoining the fray. More stories to come!

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Blogger Pauly said...

Thanks for the link love. Welcome back.

6/08/2010 3:31 PM  

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