Covering the WSOP is like climbing Mt. Everest. Most inexperienced climbers spend too much energy reaching the summit that they forget to realize they have to climb down. That's when most of the accidents occur, when you are tired and making poor decisions that often end up costing you your life. I view the start of the main event on July 6th as the summit and the following 12 days as the descent. I didn't always think about the series in those terms until just recently.
We have reached the conclusion of the second week of the 2007 WSOP. I'm surprised that we got this far. On all accounts. We almost had our first death, a bunch of people we never heard of before won bracelets, Hellmuth took down #11 (as won Texas Dolly $400K in the process), and Jeffrey Pollack has not been lynched and hung by an angry mob of poker players... yet.
I see the weary faces on the media reps who have been in the shit since Day 1. They develop that blank stare and move a tad slower than everyone else. The newbies who used to get giddy when they saw Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson shrug it off. They are just one player in a sea of thousands of poker junkies.
By the end of week 2 most people working the WSOP start questioning their sanity and start job surfing on Monster.com. That includes floor supervisors, dealers, chip runners, massage therapists, poker pros, and media reps.
"What the hell did I just get myself into?" they think. I know, it's happened to me twice in previous years.
Instead of focusing on the now, they are worried about the bigger picture of being here for another five weeks. That daunting notion crumbles any self-confidence that they have and freakouts ensue whether it's donking off your chips at the poker tables after your shift or getting shitfaced drunk at the Hooker Bar. The results are never positive when you have a nervous breakdown in Las Vegas.
Mental health and psychical health were my main priorities coming into this year. Mental health is important because it's very easy to start worrying about major things or obsessing about trivial things. I remind myself to focus on the next step that I take instead of worrying about the entire journey.
Sometimes people read too much into things or project their feelings and emotions into what I write. Take the last post for example. I might have been tired by the time I got to the end of the piece, but I was not angry or whining or on "speed" or drunk or wasted. I was relatively sober and held up a mirror to the entire city of Las Vegas. That's what I saw.
And despite what everyone has been hypothesizing, I'm doing great physically and mentally. Despite a bum ankle and knee, my body is amazing compared to previous years. I'm getting more than two hours of sleep a night. I have not developed the Las Vegas cough that usually happens about ten days in. My sinuses have not been acting up. And although I put on a few extra pounds from those beers at the Tilted Kilt, I find myself doing my best to make healthier food choices. I ate Wendy's or In & Out at least once a day in 2005. This year, I've been avoiding fast food and the poker kitchen aside from the fruit salad and choosing to eat my biggest meal before I come into work. No coffee or Red Bull for me this year. The Red Bull tip I got from Dr. Jeff, brother of the Otis, who told him to exercise regularly and avoid Red Bull.
On Day 13, I was given a rare day off and spent all o my time away from the Rio. Although Change100 and I work and live together, we rarely get to spend quality time with one another. We drove up to Red Rock for lunch and played poker. She went on mega-tilt when she got her Aces cracked in a kill pot... my kill pot... when I called her raised with 10-4. I flopped two pair and lost to a sausage jockey who turned a higher two pair.
After poker, we hung out with a friend of mine, I won't reveal his name, but he's a pothead. A world class pothead. The Phil Ivey of potheads. I've dragged my fair share of Mary Jane over the last 17 years. In college just before Jerry Garcia died, I used to follow the Grateful Dead and hang out with old school hippies. I knew plenty of drug fiends in Seattle and in New York City. And when I say that this dude is one of the Top 5 potheads that I ever met... that means something.
So what did I do? I offered him up a prop bet... $18,000 that he could not last an entire week without smoking marijuana. No bong hits. No blunts. No spliffs. No more dank. No more fatty nugs. No more cheebah. Clean and sober for seven straight days.
He's still mulling over the wager but I think I'm good here. Stay tuned for an update on the $18K weed bet. If I do win, I'll fly my buddy out to Amsterdam for a week to get shitaced.
I love a good prop bet. Who cares about A-K outflopping a set of Jacks? I get excited when Mike Matusow and Ted Forrest make a weight bet in front of us in media row. I loved seeing Barry Greenstein slay Eli Elezra playing "props" during the PLO with Rebuys event last week.
The two best prop bets I heard about this year involve Texas Dolly betting an unknown gambler $300,000 that Phil Hellmuth would win a bracelet this year. When Hellmuth ended Day 1 among the chipleaders, he threw down another $100,000. Brunson might have been bummed that Hellmuth broke his record, but at least he got some cash out of it. Smart bet. If Texas Dolly bets anything over six figures with you, you probably have to know that you're the underdog.
Johnny Chan recently bet $1 million that he'd win a bracelet this year. He bet on himself and that's fuckin' balls tot he wall. I'm trying to figure out if it was the same guy that bet Brunson that Hellmuth wouldn't win. Anyway, Johnny Chan has gone deep in a few events this year but he's yet to make a final table.
I also made a prop bet that makes Brandon Schaefer happy. One friend of mine (name withheld by request) offered me 10-1 odds that Brandon Schaefer would not win a bracelet before Carl Olson. The two are best buddies and Schaefer actually beat Olson heads-up to win the first ever event in Deauville, France during the first season of the European Poker Tour. Olson is the king of the online package. No one that I know personally qualifies for more events online that Carl Olson. Schecky called him "The white Phil Ivey."
There's no doubt in my mind that Olson will win a bracelet someday. But hey, Brandon is a good friend and I was getting 10-1 on him so I put down $100. I wanted to put down $1K but the guy got scared and tried to drop the odds to 5-1. We settled on 10-1 so if Brandon wins a bracelet this year (and before Carl Olson does), I get $1,000.
When Brandon told Olson about the prop bet, he laughed harder than Brandon had ever seen him. Olson thinks the other guy who bet me is a moron.
Guess what? At the end of Day 1 of Even #25 $2,000 NL, Brandon Schaefer is 5th in chips.1,619 players bought in and there are 130 left. The money bubble broke late last night and the remaining 130 in the field are all guaranteed a cash. Brandon has his eye on a bracelet. He started out 0 for 7 but has cashed in two out of his last three events including the NL Shootout when he lost to Erick Lindgren heads-up in Round 2. If he beat Lindgren, he would have made a final table. So close.
"Man, I want to run good for the next two days sooo bad," Brandon told me.
I told Brandon to keep having positive thoughts at the table and to think about the same things that entered his mind when he won an EPT event and took second at the EPT Grand Finale in Monte Carlo in 2005.
"I'm definitely having flashbacks (about Deauville and Monte Carlo). I feel awesome at the table," he said.
I'm pumped because I get to cover Brandon's event for Day 2. Also still left in the mix is Liz Lieu! She doesn't have as many chips as Brandon but I'll be clocking her progress as well over at Poker News.
Click here to follow my live updates of Day 2 for Event #25 $2,000 NL.
Top 5 Chipcounts for Event #25:On Day 15, I covered Event #23 $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha. 23 players started and I covered them all down to the last one standing... Scott Clements, who picked up his second career bracelet. Johnny Chan, Andy Black, and Burt Boutin were all advanced to Day 2. Everyone was anticipating Chan making a final table as he tried to win #11. he showed up ten minutes late and lost his first two hands. He went from over 110K to 25K. He eventually busted out in 20th place.
1. Peter Auer - 186,800
2. Justin Pechie - 177,900
3. Kazuki Ikeuchi - 171,100
4. Jordan Morgan - 156,900
5. Brandon Schaefer - 151,200
Burt Boutin won a bracelet in Event #7 PLO with rebuys. He was one of the favorites to win but he lost a big pot early and busted out just before Chan in 22nd place. With Chan and Boutin out, the odds on favorite to win as Scott Clements and his monster stack. All he had to do was outslug a final table that included Eric "Rizen" Lynch, Andy Black, and 2007 WSOP bracelet winner Will Durkee.
Andy Black had been running hot at PLO. He won three PLO tournaments on three different continents this year and was looking for number four. I watched him take down the PLO one in Australia. He didn't have enough chips to compete against Scott Clements and busted out in 7th place.
Clements played perfect big stack poker. He aggressively raised almost every pot he play and rarely limped (which I assume he did with big hands to switch up his play). He didn't double up many smaller stacks and kept the pressure on. After he busted Tommy Ly in 3rd place, Clements had 1.65M in chips to Rizen's 100K. heads-up lasted one hand as both players were all in before the flop. Clements snagged the victory and a bracelet.
Bouncin Round the Room on Day 15
I finally met Maridu, one of the writers from the Brazilian PokerStars Blog. She's friends with our photographer Felipe and has been a fan of Tao of Poker for some time. She used to write a hilarious blog called Need An Ace. Of course I had no idea what she was saying since it was in Portuguese. However, from what my Brazilian friends say, she's a hilarious and talented writer.
I ended my shift early and waited for Change100 to finish her assignment before we went home. I played cash games at the Rio. I got slammed at the 10/20 tables then got drunk and donked around the 4/8 tables while Jen Leo, Michalski, and Charles came by to sweat and shoot the shit.
Chris Fargis stopped by my table. He's looking happy and slim. He had a monster stack of black chips at his BT table... Badugi and Triple Draw. I want him to loan me the money so I can open up a hash bar in Amsterdam called... Triple Draw... where Shaniac gets to smoke at a heavy discount.
I spotted a couple of hookers in the actual Amazon Room. "Must be Friday," I said. That's how I can tell what day it is... the cash games are packed and the hookers stroll through the room looking for johns.
Many thanks to Johnny Hughes for the kind emails over the last week or so. I'll be pimping his new book when it comes out for sure.
After I exit the bathroom on piss breaks, there is always a few fans with their cameras ready as they try to snag a photo op with their favorite pros. I also have a secret bathroom where I drop the kids off at the pool. There is no way I would consider shitting in the toilets outside the Poker Sauna.
The Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next to...
1. Dewey Tomko
2. Scott Clements
3. Dan Heimiller
4. John Juanda
5. Dutch Boyd
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