Monday, April 15, 2013

Travel Report: 2012-13 WSOP-C Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event, Day 2 -- Giving Away Chips, Rocks

Just one day remains in the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Harrah’s Cherokee. After a couple of relatively reasonable noon-to-midnight days for the first two Day 1 flights, we had our marathon session yesterday in order to ensure a reasonable final day today.

There were a total of 856 entrants, from which 201 players made it to Sunday’s Day 2. They managed to play all of the way down to just 11 players yesterday, pushing through 10 one-hour levels then two more 75-minute levels to get there.

Was a long grind, with play starting at noon and not concluding until a quarter to three. Rich and I got there an hour early and left about an hour after play concluded, and there was only a half-hour dinner break in there, too. So we basically stuck close there in the Event Center, eating hot dogs, sandwiches and other snacks at our desk to sustain ourselves throughout the day.

Poker-wise, the quick exit of start-of-day 2 chip leader Rick Hensley was easily the most out-of-the-ordinary aspect of the day. Hensley began Day 2 with more than 400,000 at a time when the average stack was around 85,000. He’d knock out an opponent on the second hand of the day to push up even further to about 460,000, then he somehow managed to lose all of those chips before we even made it to the first break of the day (after two hours).

Hensley’s rise the night before had come almost as quickly, as he’d gone from about 120,000 to 401,400 pretty much during the final hour of play. But he’d gotten those chips by gambling big and hitting several hands in rapid succession, and the same strategy -- which included lots of limp-calling and check-calling, no matter how big the bets -- would fail him to start Day 2.

I came upon one hand in which he’d lost close to half of his stack to an opponent who held pocket aces, eventually learning that he’d called an all-in shove on a 2-3-4 flop holding but 7-6. When he finally busted, he sort of jovially said “Hensley’s out!” before leaving, reporting his own exit before we could. Sort of seemed a little like someone sitting down at a blackjack table, determined to play until he ran out of money, no matter what.

Just one woman made the money -- Claudia Crawford (who finished 36th). Greg Raymer cashed as well, getting knocked out in 29th by Daniel Weinman, one of those who has made it to today and who looks capable of winning the event. As is his custom, Raymer signed and dated the fossil he had been using as a card protector, then gave it to Weinman before leaving. But Weinman didn’t seem overly fazed by the gesture.

“This dude just gave me a rock,” he told a friend on the rail after. He then gave it to Rich.

With 11 left, some of the shorter stacks aren’t too much ahead of what Hensley had at the beginning of play yesterday with 201 left. Unsurprisingly given the makeup of the field, there are a few older players who’ll be making the final table, although again the younger guys who are left -- especially the big chip leader, Hugh Henderson of South Carolina -- have to be the favorites to have the best shot of winning the $250K-plus first prize today.

The ESPN guys have arrived, including Bernard Lee, and so they’ll be live streaming the final table with commentary over on the WSOP site and perhaps ESPN3 (if you can access it). I know the poker world is mostly attuned to Melbourne this morning -- or this evening, in Australia -- as Daniel Negreanu leads the WSOP APAC Main Event final table and appears on the verge of winning. But when that wraps up in a few hours, click on over to PokerNews and/or check out that live stream if you’re curious to see how things play out at Cherokee.

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