Las Vegas, NV
It was another one of those Saturdays at the WSOP. Thousands of souls were crushed in the $1,500 killing fields while in one small part of the Amazon Room, the spectators were captivated with feeding frenzy in the rectangular tank where the world's most treacherous sharks tore each other to shreds until eight of them were left to battle it out on Sunday at the final table of $50,000 HORSE.
While everyone on the rail watched the players, I soaked up the insanity on the rail. That was the real freak show sort of like a religious revival on steroids meets a Star Trek convention. Most of the tourists were good folks having a grand time on their paid vacations. The loved poker as a hobby, as a pastime, as something to bide their time in between the everyday banality of the Monday through Friday grind.
But a few of them stood out. And in the poker carnival where every other person you meet was a "freak and a very weird dude" in their previous lives before the got into poker that's saying something.
You know that expression... "falling through the cracks of society?" Well that describes poker. That's where the misfits end up, me included.
There was a guy with the mullet wearing the wifebeater standing behind Daniel Negreanu. His beer gut hung several inches over the rail. Due to poor table spacing by Harrahs, one table was right up against the wall of spectators. All the sweat and drool from the railbirds almost drowned Danny Boy's starting table that also included Matt Glantz, my main man Ray Davis, Erick Lindgren, Edwin Ting, David Bach, The Grinder, and the legendary Doyle Brunson.
The foreign guy next to the mullet guy couldn't figure out how to remove the flash function on his camera. Every other minute a flash went off and the floor person issued a warning shot over the microphone.
"Please no flash photography," he pleaded. Alas, his warning ended up disappearing into the void.
The ghost of Chip Reese was somewhere in the dense pack of spectators on the rail. The entire room was dominated by the massive field in the last Saturday $1,500 event which attracted weekend warriors from all over North America. The $1,500 are the events where amateurs have the biggest chance at winning a bracelet, where as the higher buy in championship events are geared towards the pros. $50,000 HORSE was created for pros. It was a pissing match among the best of the best to prove who really had the biggest cock in the room. It somehow got tossed into the greed machine and hyped up by the poker media and made an integral part of ESPN's WSOP coverage. It's really a poker fans wet dream to see familiar faces at the table unlike a bunch of unkowns that often make up the weekly WPT snoozefests.
One side of the Amazon Ballroom was flooded in the carcasses of the losers in the $1,500 slaughterfest. Call them whatever. Donkeys. Emus. Pigeons. Fish. Pigs. Dogs. Rats. They were causalities and within hours of taking their seats, they ended up on the killing floor. When the survivors trudged through the HORSE area, they tracked donkey blood all over the carpet. Harrahs cleaning crews worked around the clock using an extra-strength extract from special Guatemalan fruit (previously used by porn stars in Hollywood in increase the distance of their cum shots) which helped erase the blemishes.
A couple of agents slithered around the HORSE event looking for more fresh blood. One in particular had the personality of a pawn shop and tried to glad hand as many of the unknowns. Find the pros. Ride them to the final tables. Get them on TV. Suck the life out of them. Then spit them out and find another pro to feast on. The true bottom feeders.
The top feeders. The ones stuck in the middle and don't forget about everyone else who has to fight over the last bits of fatty tissue.
One by one, the sharks washed up on shore. The online whizkid mig.com bowed out before the money bubble along with The Grinder, Brandon Adams, and Freddy Bonyadi. Poor Mike Wattel ended up as the 50K Horse Bubble Boy which is one of the most excruciating distinctions to receive in the poker world. HORSE Bubble Boy. Talk about a kick in the junk. $50,000 pissed away.
The Sweet 16 includes several legends such as Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson. Both cashed but didn't make the final table. Ivey made a smooth exit and everyone barely noticed that he slipped out the side door. Brunson's exit was slightly more raucous. Everyone on the rail gave him a jubilant send off. He tipped his hat to the crowd and hobbled out the side door into the hallway where he was swarmed with a mob of fans.
With Daniel Negreanu's departure in 13th place, I lost my only chance to win a last longer with Benjo. The lucky fuck still had Barry Greenstein left among his five picks.
Action passed the Midnight hour and eleven players remained... among them two former world champions and a couple of Big Game players and two 2008 bracelet winners in Erick Lindgren and Barry Greenstein. Otis and company focused on Greenstein while the cameras tended to pass over the always quiet and shy Greenstein. He's never one to mug for the cameras so Scotty Nguyen got the entire spotlight to himself and ordered a beer. A pack of Winstons sat near his big stack and he always flashed a used car salesman smile for the cameras.
On the rail the spectators were sort of baffled with the players on Lindgren's table. A couple of them pointed to Matt Glantz and Michael DeMichele and asked me who they were. I told them their names and then one guy point to Ray Davis.
"Who is the black guy?"
"Ray Davis," I said.
"Never heard of him," he said so matter of factly.
"Well, you will," I assured him.
Ray Davis is a player from Southern California who paid his dues in various L.A. card rooms. He plays in cash games and lots of the big events. He bought in to HORSE and admitted to Doyle Brunson that he had never played 'ORSE' before. Of course, that was the con Davis was running. He won an 08 tournament at the Bike. He made a final table in the SHOE event at the 2007 WSOP. And 50K HORSE was his 10th career cash at the WSOP. A brief scan of Davis' stats reveal that he has won over $1.2 million playing tournaments. He succeeded own in the smaller buy-in events in and around the Los Angeles area. Gardena. Commerce. The Bike. Hollywood Park. Ray Davis was a true L.A. grinder.
"I love his Gucci fedora," added Change100. "And he sometimes wears those funky earings."
Ray Davis stood out because of his fashion panache that everyone favorite Hollyweird fashionista approved. Ray Davis always displayed little bling here and there and wears slammin' lids that only slick cats like Ray Davis could get away with.
David Bach went out in 11th. When it got down to ten players, Ray Davis slipped to one of the short stacks. He busted out in 10th place and wasn't happy. On his way to the payout room, I overheard him explain several hands to three friends/backers who accompanied him to the cage. In the bathroom I overheard two guys talking who both said they had pieces of Ray. The way everyone was talking in the hallway, who didn't have a piece of Ray?
The final nine players were consolidated to one table. It took only one hand before the final table of eight was set. A dejected Ralph Perry bubbled off the final table.
Erick Lindgren ended Day 4 as the chipleader by a slight margin. He's riding the spirit of Chip Reese all the way to the final table. Lindgren went several years without winning a bracelet. He's on the cusp of winning his second one this year but has to get past Scotty Nguyen and six other tough players.
$50,000 HORSE - Final Table:Stellar final table definitely made up for the genocide on the other side of the Amazon Room.
Seat 1: Matt Glantz - 1,445,000
Seat 2: Huck Seed - 1,200,000
Seat 3: Patrick Bueno - 695,000
Seat 4: Lyle Berman - 1,430,000
Seat 5: Scotty Nguyen - 3,535,000
Seat 6: Barry Greenstein - 1,955,000
Seat 7: Michael DeMichele - 905,000
Seat 8: Erick Lindgren - 3,680,000
Event #45 $50,000 HORSE Money Winners:
9. Ralph Perry - $177,600
10. Raymond Davis - $177,600
11. David Bach - $159,840
12. Phil Ivey - $159,840
13. Daniel Negreanu - $142,080
14. Joseph Michael - $142,080
15. Andy Bloch - $124,320
16. Doyle Brunson - $124,320
Event #45 Final Table Payouts:
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