Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 WSOP, Day 47: Thinking Poker

At the main feature table on Day 5 of the 2011 WSOP Main EventI was stationed over at the two feature tables yesterday -- the ones being shown on ESPN2 on a half-hour delay -- and thus spent the day racing back and forth between them catching hands. Ended up being a very busy day for me, and kind of interesting, too, as I was able to get an up-close look at the ESPN production team at work as they managed the broadcast.

If you happened to have watched yesterday, you saw a lot of high-level poker being played on both tables. Among those seated at the main feature table yesterday were Jean-Robert Bellande, Daniel Negreanu, Carter King, Allen Cunningham, and Sebastian Ruthenberg.

The secondary table -- where my access was less ideal -- was probably exciting to watch as well, as start-of-day chip leader Manoj Viswanathan managed to lose his entire stack before the dinner break, then Ben Lamb (who it seems has been at the top of the counts all summer, regardless of the event) came over after dinner to terrorize the table.

My favorite part of the day, however, was probably the dinner break when I had the chance to sit down with Andrew “Foucault” Brokos (of the Thinking Poker blog) and Nate Meyvis for a nice meal at Gaylord Indian Restaurant there in the Rio.

Thinking PokerI’d been a fan of Brokos’ blog for some time, and finally had the chance to meet him the day before. Was a great treat to get to spend a little more time getting to know both him and Meyvis, both of whom were (and are) still alive in the Main Event.

Brokos has incredibly cashed in the ME five of the last six years, his best finish being 35th in 2008. This marks Meyvis’ second straight year of cashing in the ME as well. Brokos returns today to a stack of 1.572 million (a touch above the average with 142 players left), while Meyvis has 900,000 even.

Brokos has a philosophy degree and Meyvis is working on one, and so despite the fact that I was the only one of us not alive and with chips in the WSOP Main Event, we still had a lot of common ground between us (poker, academics, writing, teaching, Two Plus Two). Definitely fun to spend time with such smart (and witty) people, although I find myself getting to do that quite a bit whenever I spend time in the poker world.

I found myself marveling a bit at how cool they both were about their current status in the event. Brokos, of course, has been in this position several times now, which obviously helps immensely when it comes to handling the pressures of going deep.

Shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, really, to see guys like Brokos, Jean-Robert Bellande, and Joseph Cheong making it to Day 6 yet again. Indeed, just glance up and down the list of the 142 remaining players and you see a lot of familiar names, guys who have time and time again negotiated large fields to make final tables and/or win these suckers. While most of us are merely playing the game, these guys really are “thinking poker” all the time, and with much greater depth than is the case for most.

Check back over at PokerNews today to see how Brokos, Meyvis, and everyone else fares. And remember ESPN2 is airing many hours of coverage every day now (on a half-hour delay), so check in over there, too, if you can.

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