Saturday, July 14, 2007

WSOP Day 43: Main Event Day 4 - Dealing for Dario

By Pauly

One of my favorite scenes from Goodfellas is the Copacabana tracking shot that starts from the street from the point of view of Karen's character as she's taken inside the famous club to the back entrance through the kitchen, past tight spaces and winding corridors and eventually at a private table to the front of the stage. Very few directors could pull off a long tracking shot like Scorsese.

There are instances where I get that same feel in Goodfellas when I embark on a similar route from the emergency exit from the media room. I sneak out into the service corridors. I don't know if I should be back there, but I haven't been caught in two years. Wil and I discovered them last year and it was an amazing short cut to the floor and to the bathrooms since we avoid the crowded and congested hallways in front of the Amazon Ballroom and in front of the poker kitchen and the media room. I've also called that spot in front of the poker kitchen... Bad Beat Alley. I've never heard so many bad beat stories as I have in that spot.

Anyway... as soon as you step into the back corridor, you see a couple of huge refrigerators, bins of ice, and plenty of shelves with condiments, shiny coffee pots, stacks and stacks of Diet Pepsi, and several cases of energy drinks. There are caged steel shelves with boxes of apples and oranges and crates filled with bananas and potato chips. A separate steel shelving unit holds hundreds of pieces of linen and table clothes for the various banquets rooms. If I took a banana would anyone notice?

As I pass the sparsely populated dealers room, I almost always trip on three large jugs of water sit on the ground along with scattered empty coffee cups and a copy of Poker Player Newspaper. There's also a TV set, broken lights, and even a plate of half-eaten buffalo chicken wings sitting on the edge of a chair. After I turn the corner and pass the Bluff Production room, I have to squeeze by a few large wooden crates before I reach ESPN's area. The hallways by their control is cluttered with various equipment boxes, right next to chairs that are stacked twenty high next to several ladders that are locked up. I guess people steal ladders more than anything in the service corridors. That's the only thing locked down.

I don't see too many people walking around back there. Perhaps the occasional dealer with a cushion tucked under their arm rushing back from a break or a guy in a black Rio shirt picking up the garbage. I've seen Norm Chad roam the corridors at random times and he's never said hello once to me so I always snub him back. I say, "What's up Lon?" from time to time just to tilt him. Lon on the other hand is always cheerful and I've seen more of him at the 2007 WSOP more than the last two years combined.

There's the graveyard for broken and wobbly chairs along with poker tables with limp legs and large spills on their felt, and a few comfortable dealer's chairs that I'd sit in to make phone calls. Sometimes I'd sneak into the hallways to write for ten minutes to avoid the insanity of the floor.

The hallways would be perfect to shoot scenes from any Aaron Sorkin drama or a PT Anderson long tracking shot with long and narrow walkways with high ceilings and random shit all over the place with plenty of random doorways and unexpected confrontations with angry cameramen, overworked floor supervisors, or half-baked media reps.

When I finally reach the doors that leads into the Amazon Ballroom underneath Puggy Pearson's portrait, I take a deep breath. Then I jump into the tumultuous waters. The sounds hit you in the face. The chip clattering nearly pierce my eardrums as the corner of the room was jam packed with media and spectators.

Day 4 was one of the busiest since it was one of the most important. The field started with 337 players after a full day of poker, a little more than a hundred would remain. We're getting closer and closer to the final table and the group of notable players gets thinner and thinner. The short stacks are trying to hold on long enough until the next money jump or looking to double up to stay alive. The medium stacks are trying to not make any stupid mistakes and slip under the average stack or some of them are seeking edges that will propel them to the front of the pack. And the big stacks are worried about conservatively maintaining their lead while some are throwing their weight around bullying the table as their stacks get bigger and bigger. And some wait for that one knockout punch where they double up against an overzealous big stack and take over the chiplead.

By this time in 2005, Greg Raymer became the first player past the 1M mark. Matusow would jump to 1.4M with under 100 players to go.

Last year with about 135 players left, at the 2006 WSOP Jamie Gold was the chipleader with 3.7M and led by over 1.4 million.

At the 2007 WSOP, there is no clear cut leader. When things started to matter the most, Gus Hansen ended Day 2 as the chipleader and failed to hold onto it. Dario Minieri snagged the chiplead on Day 3 and he also failed to protect it. Day 4's chipleader was Dag Martin Mikkelsen from Norway. We'll see if he can hold onto it as the field goes from 112 to the final 27 or 36.


Random Scandi chipleader - Dag Martin Mikkelsen
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

In my last post, I suggested that a Scandi would take over the chiplead late on Day 4. Nice catch, eh? Just after dinner break, Norwegian Dag Martin Mikkelsen jumped past the 3M mark after he took down a mosterpotten with a flopped straight. His opponent Jeff Weiss flopped second pair and a flush draw... and missed.

When Day 4 ended there were two ladies left in the field.... Mario Ho and Kelly Jo McGlothlin. There were also two previous world champions remaining. Scotty Nguyen and Huckleberry Seed were trying to win their second championships. Berry Johnston busted out on the last hand of the night. Just before dinner break, Carlos Mortensen and Robert Varkonyi also headed to the rail as their attempt to repeat came to an abrupt ending. Hey, at least Varkonyi cashed and got that monkey off his back or in poker terms... get that hook out of his mouth.

And don't forget about Porsche Boy. Dario Minieri went to the ESPN feature table with the chiplead and his Harry Potter scarf. He bled chips away with hyper-aggressive play. He slowly built his stack back up when he was moved out onto the floor. He was constantly getting a massage as most of the media kept their eyes on his table. Tao of Poker reader and Las Vegas pro Mark Muchnik was on his table for most of the day. Muchnik would bust out in 147th place. He had a pretty good WSOP and missed out on winning his first bracelet when he took second in a preliminary event.

Dario Minieri is an interesting example the struggle between rival online poker sites and the ambush marketing strategies that they employ. As long as I've been in the business, PokerStars and FullTilt have been fighting for players while Party Poker sits on the sidelines. Aside from Mike Sexton, there's really not any other pros attached to their site. As one of the official sponsors of the WSOP, they get enough exposure, but the two big dogs are constantly wrestling over the same players. At the same time other sites are getting into the mix going for the second or third rate players.

At this stage of the tournament with about ten or eleven tables left, the marketing folks strategically try to pick the guys that they think will go deep or get camera time. In the past, once a player was affiliated with one site, they were unofficially off bounds. That changed at the 2005 WSOP when Full Tilt made a last second deal with Noah Boeken and Marcel Luske. They were scheduled to play on the ESPN feature table and FT was able to get them to wear their hats and shirts for a wad of cash. That irked the suits at PokerStars and rightly so. Boeken had qualified for the main event through Stars and had been wearing their gear for the entire WSOP.

Dario got the friggin Porsche after he cashed in 3 million FPP points from PokerStars. And yet FullTilt reps were lurking the hallways and wooing his friends and translator. For a brief moment, Dario wore a Full Tilt patch on Day 4. He felt conflicted due to his relationship with PokerStars and took it off. Marco Traniello gave him the FT patch. Not only is Traniello a fellow Italian, he's friends with the Italian Pirate Max Pescatori (a FT player) and Traniello is married to Jen Harman one of the members of Team Full Tilt. Since Dario Minieri was also Italian, the Italian pros were sweating him hard to join the FT stable. Sweet sweet Dario became the latest pawn in the never ending battle for the quest of online poker dominance.


Dario sporting a FT patch

Ambush marketing among online poker sites has become a multi-million dollar a year business. I knew one woman who worked for an online poker site last year. She had two gym bags. One was filled with cash. The other was filled with hats and t-shirts. Her job was to find out who made TV tables and buy them off. Unknowns were worth $10-20K while well named pros went for $40K and up. During the later stages of the main event, the price tags go up.

With unscrupulous second rate poker agents corrupting the scene as well, things are even uglier. They're jacking up the prices and gobbling up dozens of the remaining 100 players promising them to hook them up with sweet endorsement deals. Some naive amateurs and inexperienced pros often get fucked over twice ... by shady agents signing them up to crappy deals with third rate online rooms that only insomniacs in Iceland play on.

Whoever gets Dario to wear their stuff on Saturday will be hoping that Dario survives another day and not repeat last year's performance when he donked off his big stack.

Moving on...

How about some numbers?
Players Remaining: 112
Chipleader: Dag Martin Mikkelson

Players who might have heard of that advanced to Day 5... Bill Edler, Lee Watkinson, Julian Gardner, Gus Hansen, Huckleberry Seed, Dario Minieri, Jeff "Mr. Rain" Banghart, Kirk Morrison, Humberto Brenes, Scotty Nguyen, Warren Karp, Daniel Alaei, Chad Brown, and Brandon Adams.

Players that you might have not heard of who advanced to Day 5... Alex Kravchenko, Rep Porter, John Spadavecchia, Matt Keikoan, Cory Carroll, Willie Tann, Philip Hilm, Maria Ho, Kenny Tran, Isaac Haxton, Francois Safieddine, Ayaz Mahmood, Jared "WacoKidd" Hamby, Mickey Seagle, and Andreas Krause.

Notable bustouts on Day 4... Berry Johnston, David Levi, Peter "Nordberg" Feldman, Neal "Bad Beat" Channing, Billy Baxter, Thor Hansen, Mark Muchnik, Mathew Brady, Nick Binger, Donnacha O'Dea, Robert Varkonyi, Donna Blevins, Hal Lubarsky, Sorel Mizzi, Matthew Hilger, Jason Lester, Amanda Baker, Gary Benson, Tobey Maguire, Carl Olson, Mimi Tran, Hans "Tuna" Lund, Darrell "Gigabet" Dicken, and Hasan Habib.


Day 4 Money Winners:
113 Berry Johnston $58,570
114 Edward Betlow $58,570
115 Bart Hanson $58,570
116 Zackary Clark $58,570
117 Justin King $58,570
118 Matt Stout $58,570
119 Jonathan Moonves $58,570
120 Ang Pang Leng $58,570
121 David Levi $58,570
122 Sylvester Geoghegan $58,570
123 Rajesh Verma $58,570
124 Andrew Barnes $58,570
125 James Williams $58,570
126 Kenneth Evanowski $58,570
127 James Kasputis $58,570
128 Patrick Huse $58,570
129 Tim Begley $58,570
130 Claude Cohen $58,570
131 Neil Channing $58,570
132 Vadim Trincher $58,570
133 Peter "Nordberg" Feldman $58,570
134 Thor Hansen $58,570
135 Bryan Swanson $58,570
136 Billy Baxter $58,570
137 Robert Lauria $58,570
138 Wolbert Bartlema $58,570
139 Greg Huffman $58,570
140 Jay Benjamin Franklin $58,570
141 Michael Mills $58,570
142 Samuel Cadget $58,570
143 Phillip Liow $58,570
144 Martin Miller $58,570
145 Adam Weiss $58,570
146 Robert Nehorayan $58,570
147 Mark Muchnik $58,570
148 Alin Rapoport $58,570
149 Justin Rollo $58,570
150 Imran Ahmad $58,570
151 Karim Vegas $58,570
152 Mark Weitzman $58,570
153 Marco Mills $58,570
154 Brent Catalano $58,570
155 Bo Sehlstedt $58,570
156 Benjamin Lamb $58,570
157 Daniel Elizondo $58,570
158 Sean Boles $58,570
159 Mathew Brady $58,570
160 John Dutchak $58,570
161 Man Montgomery $58,570
162 Mark Kim $58,570

163 Tristan Wade $51,398
164 Gonzalo Flores $51,398
165 Nick Binger $51,398
166 Clint Schafer $51,398
167 James McCrink $51,398
168 Joseph Brandenberg $51,398
169 Kenny Rundh $51,398
170 Fernando Reyes $51,398
171 Donnacha O'Dea $51,398
172 Clifford Pappas $51,398
173 Yuval Friedman $51,398
174 Brett Kimes $51,398
175 Terry Kane $51,398
176 Deborah Blair $51,398
177 Robert Varkonyi $51,398
178 John Parker $51,398
179 Donna Blevins $51,398
180 Alex Michaels $51,398
181 Joe Pharo $51,398
182 Henry Ma $51,398
183 Priyan Demel $51,398
184 Randal McLoughlin $51,398
185 Sven Abelsson $51,398
186 Jonathan Campbell $51,398
187 James Lucas $51,398
188 Michael Souza $51,398
189 Michael Laing $51,398
190 Alen Patatanyan $51,398
191 Robert Damiano $51,398
192 Richard Klein $51,398
193 David Cowan $51,398
194 Robert Starkey $51,398
195 Laughlin McKinnon $51,398
196 Conor Tate $51,398
197 Hal Lubarsky $51,398
198 Trey O'Brien $51,398
199 Christopher Overgard $51,398
200 Randall Holland $51,398
201 Karlo Lopez $51,398
202 Phivan Tran $51,398
203 Jason Sell $51,398
204 Kenneth Lawrence $51,398
205 Esfandiar Dara $51,398
206 Karga Holt $51,398
207 Matthew Olim $51,398
208 Sorel Mizzi $51,398
209 Adam Noone $51,398
210 Oyenson Benoit $51,398
211 Gary Friedlander $51,398
212 Tristan McDonald $51,398
213 Bobby Poole $51,398
214 Evan Marshall $51,398
215 Alexander Dietrich $51,398
216 Justin Sellers $51,398
217 Carlos Mortensen $51,398
218 Stephen Austin $51,398
219 Richard Weisman $51,398
220 Stephen Ma $51,398
221 Matthew Hilger $51,398
222 Antonio Arce $51,398
223 Tinten Olivier $51,398
224 Frank Schram $51,398
225 Kenneth Stead $51,398

226 Jason Heidema $45,422
227 Jose Padillo $45,422
228 Steven Lynch $45,422
229 Steven Jacobs $45,422
230 Jason Lester $45,422
231 Sebastian Zink $45,422
232 Theodore Park $45,422
233 Matt Cohen $45,422
234 Jeffrey Dambrosia $45,422
235 Steven Guiberson $45,422
236 Terris Preston $45,422
237 Sully Erna $45,422
238 Matthew Sterling $45,422
239 Richard Munro $45,422
240 Mao Qui $45,422
241 Cyrus Farzad $45,422
242 Roy Vanderswis $45,422
243 Timothy Debenport $45,422
244 Moritz Hopfner $45,422
245 Takashi Takil $45,422
246 Rami Bookai $45,422
247 Guang Lu $45,422
248 Daniel Quach $45,422
249 Brad Mills $45,422
250 Michael Yoshino $45,422
251 Kristian Obbarius $45,422
252 Noah Schwartz $45,422
253 Amanda Baker $45,422
254 Toc Helness $45,422
255 Elie Said $45,422
256 Brian Miller $45,422
257 Keith Ogren $45,422
258 Roger Tichenor $45,422
259 Thomas Barnard $45,422
260 Christopher Lines $45,422
261 Sang Kim $45,422
262 Rodney Knight $45,422
263 Bryan Curtis $45,422
264 Zachary King $45,422
265 Dorman Atchison $45,422
266 Randall Jacobson $45,422
267 Albert Riccobono $45,422
268 John Matwey $45,422
269 Ketul Nathwani $45,422
270 Qing Sun $45,422
271 Kit Mander $45,422
272 Jacques Arama $45,422
273 Gustav Ludholm $45,422
274 Douglas Gehring $45,422
275 David O'Neil $45,422
276 Stephen Crockett $45,422
277 Ut Nguyen $45,422
278 Gregory Owen $45,422
279 Kenneth Gacek $45,422
280 Jason Mellross $45,422
281 Daniel Melan $45,422
282 Craig Edwards $45,422
283 Gary Benson $45,422
284 Wayne Johnson $45,422
285 Laurence Hughes $45,422
286 Daniel Smith $45,422
287 Jason Peed $45,422
288 Mark Sanchez $45,422

289 Alex Melnikow $39,445
290 Mitch Garshofsky $39,445
291 Suk Sung $39,445
292 Tobey Maguire $39,445
293 Kevin Howatt $39,445
294 Petri Pollanen $39,445
295 Stephen O'Dwyer $39,445
296 Christoph Stiehler $39,445
297 William Wood $39,445
298 Robert Preston $39,445
299 Ira Mazie $39,445
300 David Terry $39,445
301 Jim Geary $39,445
302 Sean Walter $39,445
303 Roy Thung $39,445
304 Carl Olson $39,445
305 Ryan McLean $39,445
306 Christopher Viox $39,445
307 Alfred Merabyan $39,445
308 Derek Thorpe $39,445
309 Kenneth Weiner $39,445
310 Scott Mayfield $39,445
311 David Smart $39,445
312 Nasser Hamedani $39,445
313 Lewis Pilkington $39,445
314 Veronica Dabol $39,445
315 Vinod Jadav $39,445
316 Sverre Sundro $39,445
317 Mimi Tran $39,445
318 Jason Glass $39,445
319 Hans Lund $39,445
320 Steven Miranda $39,445
321 David Flusfeder $39,445
322 Nicholas Botta $39,445
323 Darrell Dicken $39,445
324 Abdul Fadeyi $39,445
325 Matthew Shepsky $39,445
326 Patrice McLean $39,445
327 Arthur Cole $39,445
328 Hasan Habib $39,445
329 Samuel Simon $39,445
330 Steven Dargenio $39,445
331 Kenny Dickenson $39,445
332 John Eckerd $39,445
333 Salatore Passariello $39,445
334 Peter Hill $39,445
335 Eddit Stutts $39,445
336 Daniel Schleben $39,445
337 Steven Prentky $39,445
* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Main Event Day 4...

Otis and I have had a tradition where we drink a beer at the start of the last level on the night. In Monte Carlo, we'd retreat to the bar overlooking the Mediterranean and wait up to ten minutes to be recognized by surly French waiters. We've been doing that this year and engaging in high stakes Lime Toss at the same time. Over at Pokerati, Michalski wrote up his experiences watching us gamble on Lime Tossing and also posted photos. He wrote... "As mentioned before, there's so much action going on a dwindling number of tables that it's hard to keep up with it all. But that doesn't stop Pauly and Otis from sneaking away for a little lime tossing."

I was busy writing up a couple of hands when a spectator wandered over to the media desk in a specific area he was not supposed to be in. Here's a snippet of our conversation.
Spectator: Is Doyle Brunson here?
Pauly: He busted out on Day 1
Spectator: So is he playing today?
Pauly: No, he was eliminated,
Spectator: Is Phil Hellmuth here?
Pauly: He also busted out on Day 1.
Spectator: Can you tell me what table he's playing today?
Pauly: (frustrated at all the stupid question) he's playing on Table 166.


FYI... Table 166 is an empty table in the cash game area
At 2:01am, Michalski sent me a text..."When we are done with poker, wanna go blog from Iraq?" Flipchip said the same thing a few months ago. Could be interesting. I heard Flipchip is a good shot and has excellent survival skills after surviving the jungles of Vietnam. Since Michalski is from Texas, he's heavily armed at all times. Before I got into poker, I was seeking jobs as a war correspondent. At some point, I'd like to cover a war and the Olympics. Oh and those elephant polo matches in Sri Lanka. I heard the side action on those games get out of hand. My buddy Senor won like 80 million rupees on one match alone. That's worth like $4 US, but that's enough to get you a handjob from a couple of local hookers.

Of course, the Vegas working girls are at the start of their slow season. They have been trickling down to the WSOP hallways and at the hooker bar aggressively seeking clients who just cashed in the WSOP main event and are looking for some bad beat therapy. After seeing some of the tabs that poker players run up with the massage therapists during the WSOP, I wonder how much some of those high rollers spend on hookers per month?
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Humberto Brenes
2. Willie Tann
3. Mickey "Mouse" Mills
4. Huck Seed
5. Chad Brown
* * * * *

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Bonus Code: Pauly

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at www.taopoker.com. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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