Friday, September 14, 2007

WSOPE Day 8 - Main Event Day 2b: The Biggest Game in Town

By Pauly

I had hit the wall about a wall about one week into covering the WSOPE. That marked the fifth week on the arduous European adventure (Amsterdam, Stockholm, Barcelona, and London) and I was exhausted and mentally drained. Being in London made me homesick for New York City, more than I had ever been on the road over the last three years following the carnival-like atmosphere of tournament poker. I'm the type of person who lives in the moment, and rarely gets caught up with dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. However, when I woke up on Thursday, the last thing on my mind was being here. All I could think about was the day that I get to fly home to NYC.

When I walked past the Ladbrokes betting parlor on my way to the Empire Casino, my thoughts drifted to sitting on my brother's couch and watching NFL games. When I wandered past the tube station, I longed to be on a downtown #1 train. And when I shuffled into the casino past the bulky Eastern European security guard wearing a black suit, I had become comfortably numb and transformed into chipcounting zombie, right out of Shaun of the Dead.

The first few hours on Day 2b were a struggle for me. I was assigned the featured TV table, something completely different that previous assignments. That held my attention most of the time, but I kept eying the tournament clock. I couldn't wait for Day 2b to end.

That's when I ran out of juice on my laptop and had to return to the makeshift media row. Michael Craig wandered over and asked me if I could take dinner break earlier and join him and some other friends. I looked at the clock. I still had ninety minutes to go and had to decline.

"Too bad," Craig said in his distinct Midwestern accent. "Would you still like to meet Al Alvarez?"

I jumped out of my stool and gave him a look like, "Fuck yeah!"

We fought our way past the crowded rail and walked into the bar. I immediately recognized Tony Holden, author of Big Deal and Bigger Deal. That's when a group of people parted and I caught a glimpse of Al Alvarez, author of the most influential piece of poker, Las Vegas, and gambling literature, The Biggest Game in Town.

Michael Craig said something to the effect, "This is Pauly, one of the premiere poker writers in America."

I shook Alvarez's hand and was certainly pleased to introduce myself.

He said in a whispered tone, "I have heard about you."

Alvarez celebrated his 78th birthday last month and lumbered around with a cane. I was told later that his hearing is not the best these days so he probably said, "I can't hear you." Regardless, I stood in awe and began to sweat. Aside from the first week of the 2005 WSOP, I have not been geeked out about meeting anyone in poker. That initial bombardment of excitement had escaped me years ago. Yet, for the first time in very long time, I stood in the presence of three great writers of my genre... Alvarez, Holden, and Craig.

Their group shuffled off to the Asian restaurant and Tony Holden stayed behind for about five minutes to shoot the breeze with me. Mad Harper initially introduced me to Holden at the 2005 WSOP. We had a brief encounter but finally had a proper chat. Holden sipped a glass of wine with his dinner jacket slung around his shoulder, while I asked him a dozen questions. He was happy to answer each of them, despite the fact his friends were already seated at dinner. I wanted to know how long it took to write both of his books, which occurred twenty years apart. I asked him about the pressure of having to write something that was being anticipated by a flock of hungry vultures. It's not too often you get to chat with a high caliber writer such as Tony Holden, and I soaked up every minute. That's when I wished I had blown off work to join them for dinner instead.

Before we ended our conversation, Holden invited me to play poker with the writers on the Bigger Deal blog. I told him I couldn't wait. Then I excused myself to get back to covering the featured TV table with Daniel Negreanu. That's when he paid me the ultimate compliment. "I love your writing. Don't change a thing."

As I walked away, I did the Kirk Gibson trademarked fist pump, just like he did as he rounded the bases in the 1988 World Series after hitting a pinch-hit game winning homerun against Dennis Eckersley. That's the best way to describe how I felt. I started the day completely homesick and on work tilt. All of that vanished after bumping into Michael Craig.

As I walked over to the final table to get a chip count on Negreanu, I couldn't believe that I didn't have the balls to ask Alvarez if he ever gave Sylvia Plath a good rodgering.

Moving on...

The featured TV table started out with Howard Lederer, Lee Nelson, Daniel Negreanu, and WSOPE PLO bracelet winner Dario Alioto. 19-year old Adam Junglen was moved to the table, to which Negreanu quickly starting joking around.

"No. We don't want him. He has too many chips. Those crazy internet kids!"

The introduction of Junglen to the table inspired some interesting table chatter. Lederer and Negreanu started the old, "When I was your age..." bit. When Lederer was the same age as Junglen, he dropped out of Columbia to follow the Grateful Dead. That's what I was doing when I was Junglen's age.

Here's what I wrote over at Poker News...
Table Talk: "When I was your age..."

With the addition of 19-year old Adam Junglen to the featured table, the veteran pros are feeling very nostalgic.

Daniel Negreanu: "Do you know how Ted Forrest used to live? True story. When he was grinding out 1-5 Stud in Las Vegas, he was so poor that he'd steal ketchup packets from McDonald's and eat it on white bread. You kids have it easy! Staying in nice hotels, being able to play poker online at any time. You kids have the good life."

Howard Lederer: "In my thirties, the biggest game in Las Vegas was 400/800 Limit Hold'em. It would run about three times a week."

Negreanu: "These days, there are 16-year olds playing three 400/800 tables at once! As Doyle said, back when he played in Texas, you were worried about getting cheated. Or getting robbed. Or getting shot. Or arrested by the police. Now you don't have to leave your house to play poker."
Junglen went to work early and busted Alioto. Eventually, their table was broken up and new blood was brought in for the cameras. Basically, Lee Nelson and Negreanu were moved to Johnny Chan's table... which they brought up to the featured table. Also at that table were Jon "Pearljammer" Turner and Hendon Mob's Joe Beevers.

I sat off to the side away from the rail next to the camera guy. I helped the SkySports producer get chipcounts and occasionally got to go inside the production room. I was away from the rest of the tournament and totally high after the conversation with Holden and meeting Alvarez.

Anyway, 44 players survived Day 2b. There are 84 players who advanced to Day 3. Here's some info...
Top 5 End of Day 2b Chipcounts:
Patrik Antonius - 283,200
Aleksander Vathne - 231,200
Theo Jorgensen - 174,100
Magnus Persson - 165,600
Dominic Kay - 163,700

Day 3 Starting Chipcounts:
Gus Hansen 349,400
Patrik Antonius 283,200
Janne Lamsa 253,800
Pat Scanlan 240,000
Aleksander Vathne 231,200
Annette Obrestad 214,400
Annie Duke 191,700
Theo Jorgensen 174,100
Magnus Persson 165,600
Dominic Kay 163,700
Marigliano Marcello 151,200
Johannes Korsav 148,400
Karl Mahrenholz 144,600
Huseyin Yimaz 143,500
Jacob Paulsen 129,200
Jan Sorensen 118,500
Johnny Chan 118,300
Terry Cook 117,700
Oyvind Riisem 116,500
Firlisov Sergey 115,500
Jamie Gold 115,000
Paul Ephremsen 113,700
Nicolas Levi 109,700
Erick Lindgren 108,800
Patrick Jouven 108,200
Dave Colclough 105,800
Farzad Bonyadi 102,300
Lechich Tino 101,500
Aloishek Khaitan 98,400
Kenny Tran 94,000
Will Durkee 92,600
Andreas Berggren 91,000
Joe Le 85,100
Tony G 76,600
Matt Larsh 76,000
Stephen van Zadelhoff 72,800
Mats Gravatin 72,000
Tom Dwan 70,600
Ian Frazer 70,500
Shaun Needham 70,000
Henrik Waltersson 69,500
Azzy Ashgar 69,200
Csaba Kureheszki 69,000
Hoyt Corkins 61,200
Philip Hilm 60,200
Matthew Carter 58,400
Martin Johnson 58,200
John Ridge 57,000
Julius Colman 55,500
Jeff Buffenbarger 50,900
Robert Stain 50,700
Matthew Gilbert 50,600
Lee Nelson 49,000
Jimmy "Gobboboy" Fricke 48,100
Sergey Rybachenko 48,000
Matthew McCullough 47,800
Marco Traniello 45,700
Joe Beevers 45,400
Jon Turner 44,800
Krzysztef Gluszko 44,200
Bob Willis 43,700
Jennifer Harman 42,200
Victoria Cohen 39,500
Daniel Zink 39,400
Matt Kay 38,200
Peter Murphy 37,500
Martin Vallo 36,800
Neal Pearson 32,800
Daniel Negreanu 31,700
Jeffrey Lisandro 31,100
Sam Norman 29,600
James Keys 26,500
Rehme Pedersen 26,000
Ryan Fronda 25,900
Roland Israelashvili 22,500
Erik Joergensen 22,100
Gary Jones 21,700
Matthew Hankins 21,200
Mark McCluskey 16,900
John Tabatabai 13,500
Simon Wing 12,700
Phil Hellmuth 10,500
Jani Sointula 5,600
Stephen Rynne ??????
Day 3 starts at 2pm local time on Friday. The top 36 win prize money.

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room...

I bumped into Stephen Bartley, who is one of my favorite British poker journalists. He paid me for his entry in the Pauly's Pub football pool. He admitted he knew nothing about "American football" which means he'll probably win it all.

I also saw Jeffrey Haas from the Asian Pacific Poker Tour and Conrad from PokerStars. Matt Parvis, the editor at Bluff Magazine, stopped by the featured TV table. After the WSOP ended, Parvis hired me to write a column of my choice. I pitched him a series called On the Road with Dr. Pauly and he loved the concept. I sent him my first piece which details my highjinks in Amsterdam and Sweden with Benjo and Johnny Mushrooms. It should appear in the next issue of Bluff. Keep an eye out for it. I finally get to do some real writing and I'm totally excited about the opportunity.

Change100 and Jen were downstairs in the poker room covering those tables and having to deal with people jumping onto their laptops when they went inside the ropes. Upstairs, DaveShoelace and Snoopy had to deal with drunken and rowdy railbirds who thought they were at a football match. Dave Shoelace had a great line and said that there was a 2 to 1 chance that someone puked on his laptop before the night ended. James Keys had an entourage of drunken hooligans that were giving Jamie Gold a tough time. The TD had to give them a warning to calm down. One of them wandered up to Dave Shoelace and told him to write bad things about Gold in the blog, particularly on one hand where Gold took some chips from Keys.

Tony G was shortstacked after dinner break but went on a tremendous run. He doubled up then busted Isabelle Mercier. She was cordial at the table, but walked away muttering a slew of x-rated words. The G was being old-school Tony G. The guy is from the streets, yo. He had Big Slick against Mercier's Hilton Sisters. She was ahead until the King spiked on the river. "Yes!" screamed The G as he threw up his arms in celebration. "The Butcher of Baghdad is back!" You can't make this stuff up.

Snoopy was happy that his model friend, Patrik Antonius continued his run. Here's what Change100 wrote in a quick fashion report:
"He's wearing his Martin's Poker shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest. in the words of Rachael Ray, 'Yum-o!'"
Gus Hansen had been lurking around the featured table (mugging for camera time as a railbird) and over to the other tables sweating Patrik Antonius, who also finished Day 2b as the chipleader. To quote the always funny Dave Shoelace, "This has turned into the World Series of Good Looking Scandinavian Men."
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To....
1. Jamie Gold
2. Willie Tann
3. Roland De Wolfe
4. Daniel Negreanu
5. Erik Friberg
* * * * *

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