My reward for staying until sunrise on Monday morning was a 5pm shift later in the day. I arrived at the Rio at 4pm because I wanted to get some media room time in since I had been on the floor 95% of the time. Otis was scheduled to arrive and I wanted to see him along with shooting the shit with other media reps. I got to chill outside by the dealer's secret smoking spot with Amy Calistri and Michalski. I got some dirt and we talked shop about the poker industry. Some things have gone bloody awful at the WSOP while there have been some great stories to discuss among friends, to blog about on Tao of Poker, and to save for that Las Vegas book I have been intending to write.
I really don't have high expectations with anything I do in the poker industry. I simply assume that things (and tournaments) will be fucked up and I have to do what I can to get through each day. I focus on the moment and cleaning the shit that gets shoveled onto my plate without worrying about the future which simply does not exist to me. I try to prep myself but not too much because I don't want to lose sight on what's important... the now. I expect more crap to be dished out every day because the WSOP, much like life, is about dealing with adversity and filtering out the excess fluff and bullshit.
There are people in the industry and on the sidelines that have a spoiled approach (impossible expectations to meet and they act like whiny bitches when they don't get instant gratification) or attack with a streak of self-righteousness. Poker is bigger than all of us and at the end of the day, the machine wins. The Man wins. Big Business wins. This has been going on for centuries. The workers of the world get fucked over and the little man gets kicked to the curb as the fat cats get fatter and the monster that we call poker gets bigger and bigger. I've accepted that is how life works.
Like the great 20th century American poet Snoop Dogg once said... "Everybody got they cups, but they ain't chipped in. Now this types of shit, happens all the time. You got to get yours but fool I gotta get mine."
I have no illusions on trying to change the poker industry or radically change the world. It is logistically impossible so I do my best to remind myself that. And given the circumstances that I have to deal with everyday... I suck it up and make the best of what's there. In the end, my sole existence at the WSOP is a privilege, not a birth right. I forget that from time to time while others in the media don't have a fuckin' clue. As BJ Nemeth and I discussed, we're often embarrassed that we have to be lumped into a group with someone of the most loathsome people on the planet along with some of the biggest tools and sausage jockeys in poker.
Alas, I'm extremely lucky to be here in Las Vegas everyday. Without poker, I'd be a broke homeless pothead. These days, I'm just a pothead.
If friends and readers like my skewed take on things, that's awesome. I'm honored to be read and that people waste their time with me. I'm just a guy with a passion for writing and organizing my thoughts, feelings, and observations into words and paragraphs. Some other folks in poker want to become the next star (whether they are players, agents, media reps, groupies) and I constantly see them forcing themselves into the scene. They are a dime a dozen. They pop up every few months and fade away into oblivion. Why? Because they lack originality and forget that poker is bigger than them.
When I stop covering poker tournament or stop blogging, poker will continue to flourish with or without me. I'm happy to be here at this time and place in life. I caught poker at the cusp of the internet and multimedia boom in America and now overseas. It's a wild ride and I've been humbled along the way.
For a fourth day in a row, I headed back at the Rio trying to do the best job that I can covering the most prestigious poker tournament in the history of poker. During the days I crank out my assignment and when I get home I sit down and write up my thoughts from that day before I pass out at my laptop. In essence, it's a true journal of my time at the WSOP. I'm not trying to use this space to cover the glitz and glamour of the event, rather to use as notes for a future book and to keep my friends informed about the behind the scenes of the series that you wouldn't anywhere else.
Poker tournaments are not easy and one person that PokerNews hired showed up for their first day of work. They went on a break and never came back. They texted a message in their car on their way home as they fled the insanity. Not everyone has the testicular fortitude to endure the stress and overwhelming experience of the WSOP. I'm glad they left on Day 4 instead of freaking out two weeks from now.
Anyway, there were five events going on including the final table for Event #3 NL, Day 2 of PLH, Day 2 of Mixed Omaha 8/Stud, Day 1 of Limit Hold'em, and Day 1 of PLO with Rebuys. I drew PLO with rebuys since I'm an action junkie and that was the 5pm event.
Event #7 $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha with Rebuys was an event that Harrah's thought would attract about 50 or 60 players. They got 145 in total which included some of the biggest names in poker. I had not seen that many top tiered pros in a concentrated space (outside of $50K Horse last year) since I started covering poker.
When I first made a pass through the tournament area, I saw Doyle Brunson, Mike Sexton, Steve Z, Dan Shak, John D'Agastino, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Scott Fischman, David Williams, Brad Berman, Roland de Wolfe, Thomas Wahlroos, Humberto Brenes, Minh Ly, Mike Wattel, Padraig Parkinson, Dewey Tomko, Mark Vos, Danny Alaei, Lee Watkinson, Ram Vaswani, Barry Greenstein, Hassan Habib, Darrell Dicken, Jen Harman, Jordan Morgan, Brian "Sbrugby" Townsend, Max Pescatori, Chip Reese, Erik Seidel, Chau Giang, Vanessa Rousso, and Sammy Farha.
On my second pass I spotted Patrik Antonius, Gus Hansen, Jim Becthel, Andy Black, Kirk Morrison, Johnny Chan, Robert Williamson III, Rafi Amit, Phil Ivey, Todd Bruson, Nenad Medic, JC Tran Gabe Thaler, Michael Binger, Ben grundy, and Roland DeWolfe.
Huck Seed and Phil Hellmuth both arrived almost two hours late.
Since the event was held early in the WSOP, the staff didn't think the field would be too large due to the lack of European pros at the event who usually show up a week or two before the main event. They were blown away by the number of entrants that featured rebuys for the first three hours and included an add on and double add on at the end of Level 3. Three hours of rebuys for pros with deep pockets meant tons of action.
TD Jack Effel decided to make the event three days instead of two which it had been originally scheduled. That allowed ESPN to get their cameras in place to tape the final table on Wednesday. With tons of well known pros in the field, they knew their rating would be substantially higher instead of broadcasting a table with a slew of unknowns.
There are screens with various chipcounts streaming throughout the Amazon Ballroom. Two happened to be stationed right above the PLO tables. The pros had prop bets on various chipcounts and right away several tat I knew wanted faster updates. At that point, I shifted the focus of my team from less hands and more chip counts to appease the pros. Of course they were asking for an impossible task. Humans getting chipcounts is not a perfect science and in a rebuy event, particularly PLO, the fluctuations and swings were immense. My team did the best job that they could and the pros helped out a lot pointing out players who busted that we missed or they simply wanted to see their big stack announced to the entire world.
At one point Andy Black was the chipleader and we told him that, "It's not the lead I'm worried about, it's finishing the fucking thing off!" he joked as he alluded to his abaility to meltdown late in tournaments.
Photo courtesy of Flipchip
Hellmuth arrived late and was seated at a table with Vanessa Rousso, Erik Seidel, Chau Giang, Gabe Thaler, Sammy Farha, and Rafi Amit. He got sucked out by Farha when he rivered quads against the Poker Brat.
On another hand, Hellmuth was all in pre-flop against Farha and Amit.
"Who will give me odds on my hand? I want to bet against it," the Poker Brat said as a crowd gathered around his table.
Johnny Chan and Mike Sexton got up and I stood between them as they got in on the action. Chau muttered something but I could not understand what he said, but I think he gave Hellmuth some action. Hellmuth moved all in with Ad-As-Js-4c as both Sammy Farha and Rafi Amit called behind.
Rafi Amit flipped over As-Ks-Qd-6h while Sammy Farha tabled 8s-6c-5d-3s. Hellmuth knew what was coming as he braced himself for the beat. That's why he bet against himself. The flop was 5h-4h-2s and Farha flopped a straight. The turn was 3c and the river was the Jh. Nobody had a flush so Farha scooped the monsterpotten.
"This is the nuts, bro," said Farha with a shit-eating grin on his face. "If you can play like this, you will never go broke."
Hellmuth threw his arms up in the air and shot back, "Sammy in the old days I used to be afraid of you. Now you're a yum yum."
Then Hellmuth went on tilt on the last hand before the rebuy period ended. He was steaming after losing a big four-way pot where everyone was all in before the flop. Hellmuth had J-10-9-7 and he flopped two pair and a gutshot on a board of J-7-4. He ended up losing to two players (one was Amit) who held A-A. They chopped the pot after the 3 fell on the turn and the 4 spiked on the river. Hellmuth's two pair was counterfeited and he went off. He unleashed a bunch of "fuck this" and "fuck that" and "fuckin' donkeys."
Mike Sexton, Doyle Brunson, and Gus Hansen stood around the table as Hellmuth held court. The more he complained, the more Brunson smiled. Nothing gives Texas Dolly more satisfaction than seeing Hellmuth slide into mega-tilt.
Hellmuth bought a double add on and continued to complain. Brunson told Mike Sexton to follow him to the VIP lounge to avoid the Hellmuthian tirade.
TD Jack Effel asked Sexton how things were going. Sexton said, "Buddy, they are gambling. But the rebuys are over now."
One of the guys we have covering the series for PokerNews is Tom Sexton, Mike's brother. He's a great guy and was happy to cover his brother's event. Not only does he know tons of old school pros, but his ability to get great stories is invaluable like the following gem.
On the dinner break, one of the players asked Doyle Brunson where he was going to eat. Brunson said he was skipping food and going to the VIP Lounge to play Chinese Poker instead. He chose to relax with high stakes Chinese Poker. That stuff is what legends are made of.
Brunson didn't get a chance to play Chinese Poker, instead they all gambled on the putting green inside the room. It's a nine foot putt and the minimum bet was $2,000 per put. Mike Sexton, Barry Greenstein, Devilfish, Chip Reese, and Hellmuth all gambled on putts. Mike Sexton emerged as the big winner after picking up 11K in side bets. That almost covered the 15K he invested in PLO.
Otis told me that Barry Greenstein put 35K into the PLO event and although he busted out, Greenstein picked up over 100K playing "props" with Eli Elezra as the two gambled on the flops.
PLO is an action game and the biggest swinging dicks in gambling could not contain their inner action junkie. If they weren't gambling on their cards, they did their best to get their fixes other ways. I wish all poker tournaments could be like the $5K PLO with Rebuys.
Hellmuth eventually busted out but not befre he entertained everyone within earshot with some quotes.
Phil Hellmuth lost a huge pot to Rafi Amit. Amit flopped trips and turned a full house and Hellmuth was not pleased. He stood up and cursed a few times before he got involved in another hand with Amit. Hellmuth lost the second hand and his stack sunk to 19K.
"I'm a super genius. You just think you are a genius," Hellmuth said as he berated Amit. "I fold stuff like that shit before breakfast."
Oh, I forgot that Steve Horton and Change100 got to cover a cool event, the Mixed Omaha/Stud. That final table is set for 3pm on Tuesday and features some familiar faces such as Michalski's Pokerati buddy Tom Schnieder.
Event #5 $2,500 Mixed Omaha 8/Stud 8 Final Table:On Tuesday, I cover Day 2 of PLO and won't stop until they get down to a final table. Both Chan and Brunson are still alive (Hellmuth busted late on Day 1) and they are seeking their 11th bracelet.
Seat 1: Tom Schneider 526K
Seat 2: Annie Duke 239K
Seat 3: Joe Bolnick 104K
Seat 4: John "The Razor" Phan 88K
Seat 5: Chris Ferguson 193K
Seat 6: Chris Bell 213K
Seat 7: Edmond "Omaha Ed" Tonnellier 69K
Seat 8: David Benyamine 221K
Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 4
Jennicide has been putting some time in at the Rio. Her boobs look bigger than I remember them. Looks like she's been spending some of her bankroll on breast augmentation. I heard a rumor that she intends to play the main event in lingerie. We're trying to get Michalski to do the same.
Brandi Hawbacker sighting! I spotted Brandi playing satellites a few tables over from where the PLO event was going down. David Sklanasky is her mentor these days and he was on the rail chatting with her when I walked past them. I wonder if DS gets a little POB action for Brandi getting to tap into his vast poker mind? Or I wonder if he just gets to tap her ass? Where's Micon when you need him?
There was a Sweet Svetlana sighting. I first encountered her at the Borgata in the winter of 2006 when I was hired by the Borgata to cover their two week Winter Tournaments for them. She was so pissed that she busted out at a final table by a player sucking out on her that she stormed away and did not pick up her winnings for several days afterwards.
We love Liz in the pool!
Cyndy Violette gave Amy Calistri her yellow tank top that said "Peace Lover Poker." I want Calistri to wear it so she can show off the twins. Ship it!
After a masseuse worked on Phil Hellmuth's butt for an hour, she asked him for an autograph of three playing cards... As, 9s, and the 9h.
I spotted Felicia and Glenn in the Rio along with Shirley Rosario who was having a few cocktails while she played a satellite.
Tom Sexton mentioned to me that Dewey Tomko is a hustler on the golf course. He's earned almost $1M on the links. Warning... don't play with Dewey!
At one point, one of the Tilted Kilt waitresses came down to the Amazon ballroom to pass out flyers and coupons. They headed over to media row to ask where I was. That set Change100 on slight tilt. The waitress eventually found me inside the ropes by the PLO event as plenty of players stopped to gawk.
Stella Count at Tilt Kilt: 5
Yes, Otis and I returned to the Kilt for two beers each on my dinner break.
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Chau Giang
2. Howard Lederer
3. Bill Edler
4. Robert Williamson III
5. John D'Agastino
Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos. And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.
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