Tuesday, November 04, 2008

2008 WSOP Main Event Coverage on the Tao of Poker

By Pauly
New York City

Ah, the final table of the 2008 WSOP is only a few days away. I spent all morning re-reading my coverage in order to get reacquainted with the nine chaps who were dubbed the November Nine. I will be in Las Vegas this weekend live blogging the final table on Sunday and the heads up match on Monday.

Anyway, just in case your memory is a little rusty, take a peek at what I wrote during the 2008 WSOP Main Event....
Day 35: Main Event Day 1A - Cokeheads, Crybabies, and the Green Box Conspiracy... One incident happened in the men's room across from the Brasilia Room which I mentioned in the live blog. I overheard one guy sitting in one of the stalls and making odd sounds. I assumed that he was taking a rough dump because I thought I heard squealing in agony. Actually, he was sobbing and telling a loved one his bad beat story of how he busted out of the WSOP. Wow, that blew me away. A grown man brought to tears over one little poker tournament. There's no crying in poker! Alas, he was yet another helpless soul violently crushed in the existentialist meat grinder of the WSOP. If you want a happy hobby, try a ceramics class. If you want to have your balls shaved by a cheese grater every couple of hours, then poker is for you.

Day 36: Main Event Day 1B - Yawn... Varkonyi busted Phil Hellmuth at the 2002 WSOP main event. Hellmuth ranted and raved and said Varonkyi was an awful player. Yeah, some things never change. Hellmuth then made a ridiculous bet that if Varkonyi won it all, then he would shave his head. Well, Varkonyi won and everyone held Hellmuth to his word. At the end of that telecast of the final table, Hellmuth sat down and Becky Binion took an electric razor and shaved it all off as Gabe Kaplan tooled on him and Matt Savage milled around in the background and Devilfish was mugging for camera time.

Day 37: Main Event Day 1C and the Tao of Five with Flipchip... It felt like Ground Hog's Day. The third Day 1. 38th day in a row. My brain is/was/is/was fried. Anyway, the biggest field showed up so far at the WSOP world championship and when action ended on Day 1c, Harrahs dodged a bullet and got more entrants signed up than last year with one more flight to go.

Day 38: The Kitten Fields... The majority of their brethren never made it out alive and perished in the existentialist meatgrinder of the world series of sadism. That's why every PokerStars 'premium' schwag bag can be converted into a makeshift body bag. Poor Otis and Howard and Bartley scrambled across the killing floor every hour to retrieve the leftover carcasses from the plethora of online qualifiers. The bottom of the PokerStars shuttle bus was a makeshift morgue which Otis and his crew constantly filled up every inch with the leftovers. You could see the malnourishment in Otis' eyes. The sorrow. The misery. The agony. And you wonder why Otis writes such sad posts. He can't shake the post-traumatic stress syndrome of being the first on the scene after the initial slaughter. If you have to slosh around knee deep in the fish guts and animal intestines for 15 hours a day, you'd be in a somber mood as well.

Day 39 - Off

Day 40: Main Event Day 2A - Isadario... We are what we are... a gaggle of sex-crazed degenerate gamblers. But that's what I love about America... is that or founder fathers laid out the groundwork so that we can become what we choose to be without the government interfering in our lives. Fly to Vegas. Play in the WSOP. Get sucked out by a donkeyfish. Get wasted. Gamble until sunrise. Fuck a hooker. Eat a buffet. Piss next to Johnny Chan. Buy an ashtray. Buy a tube of cream for that rash you picked up. Good bye Vegas. See you next time.

Day 41: Main Event Day 2B - Formula of Donkey Liquification... You can drink beer while playing poker so it's not a sport. Scotty Nguyen. Men the Master. Minneapolis Jom Meehan. They all like a good cocktail at the tables. Sure, old school professional athletes drank during games like Night Tran Lane and Babe Ruth probably knocked back a cold one in between innings while he stuffed his face with hotdogs. Joe D used to smoke in the dugout and the bat boys used to make sure he had a lit ciggie waiting for him when he came off the field and into the dugout. But today? You couldn't see Pedro Martinez walk to the back of the mound, bend over, and take a huge pull off of a tallboy. I'd love to see Mikael Samuelsson do a shot of tequila on the bench before a line change. But that's just not gonna happen.

Day 42: Main Event Day 3 - Bubbles... An assortment of 1,307 people from all different areas of life... online pros, Vegas pros, amateurs, semi-pros, guys who are muppets who think they are pros, and straight up dream chasers... each walked into the Amazon Room with one thing on their minds... survive Day 3 and advance to Day 4. The simple goal? Be among the 666 players who cashed in the 2008 WSOP Main Event. Once you sign your slip at the end of Day 2 and bag up your chips, all you can think about is making it to the end of Day 3 to almost guarantee a $21K cash. And for online qualifiers or satellite winners, the rest of the WSOP is a freeroll. Almost all of their earnings are pure profit.

Day 43: Main Event Day 4 - Early to Bed and Iggy's Run... Once the cameras are in position, the producer tells the dealer to proceed. Not a floor person or Harrah's staff... but someone from ESPN. The big crowd attracts more people. Staff, players from adjacent tables, media reps. Even the occasional rule breaker who sneaks inside the ropes to check out the action. A massive circle engulfs the table. When the hand is over,one player is usually sent to his death, while all of the vultures disappear and flock to another table where a familiar situation is arising. It's almost like watching pigeons in the park peck and fight over a couple of crumbs. Throw the bread in one direction (all in and a call) and hundreds of pigeons (hungry media) will go apeshit and peck each others' eyeballs out just to grab a crumb. A morsel. Anything they can get their beaks on. As that song goes, birds of a feather are flocking outside.

Day 44: Main Event Day 5 - The Wretched Squall of Hellmuth and Matusow... I waited 44 days for the sure thing. The defining moment of the summer. The one incident that would set the 2008 WSOP apart from the previous four years that have blended into one long blurry flashback of bracelet winners, bad beat stories, excursions to strip clubs, binge drinking at the hooker bar, pot-bellied mulleted children running amuck at the Redneck Riviera, and lime tossing out back with a sad, tilty, and often suicidal Otis. I stumbled upon a story that could have wrote itself before I even got out of bed in the morning. Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow. At the same table. Right next to each other. With Hellmuth having position on Matusow. At the featured TV table in front of hundreds of drooling, blood-thirsty fans. They were starving lunatics. Broke dick swine. Some drunk on cheap swill. Others mentally imbalanced. And those were my friends. It was almost like the Romans waiting for the Christians to get tossed to the lions. The featured TV table was standing room only. The spectators were spilling out of the Beast Lounge with limbs dangling over metal rails waiting... waiting... for a meltdown. For a blowup. For the bloodshed.

Day 45: Main Event Day 6 - The Battle for Tiffany Michelle's Breasts... I would not want to be Tiffany Michelle right now. The entire fate of poker and all of Western Civilization has been thrust upon her supple shoulders. Should a 24-year old have that much pressure on her? Tiffany Michelle is poker's most marketable asset right now. Michalksi said that out of the last 27 players, she has the potential for the biggest "Moneymaker Effect." In three years, will I be writing about another poker renaissance in America and citing the "Tiffany Michelle Effect?" Come to think of it, that wouldn't be a bad thing. The poker world could use an influx of young women.

Day 46: Main Event Day 7 - Nonagon... I have seen what money does to people. It destroys lives. It tears friends apart. Too much money and it poisons your soul. Too little money and it makes you do desperate an unthinkable things. And during the pursuit of huge sums of money in the seven and eight figure ranges... your once astute judgment becomes clouded in the fog of war. Poker is a simple game. Played among friends, it can be one of the most entertaining experiences in life. But when poker is played in a tournament for millions of dollars in a forum where dozens and dozens of corporations can profit from it... things can get ugly. There is no longer white and black, just shades of grey. Working for four plus years in the poker industry taught me that the more money that is involved... the more complicated things can get.
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If you would like to read the rest of my coverage from the 2008 WSOP, check out The 2008 WSOP: Tao of Poker Review which lists links and excerpts to every single post I wrote this summer.

And don't forget to check out the Tao of Pokerati archives to listen to all of your favorite episodes that we taped this summer.

Here are a couple of WSOP Main Event podcasts that we did...
Episode 26: Agents, Frenchies, and Polacks featuring Benjo (3:48)

Description by Pauly: This episodes starts out slow but ends with a hysterical bang. I consider this one of my all time favorite episodes of Tao of Pokerati which includes a cameo from Benjo. We riff a bit on sleazy agents and how the French and Polish players fared at the WSOP. Benjo also suggests that we fire Michalski and do the podcast on our own.

Episode 28: Exit, Stage Tiffany

Description by Michalski: We're not done yet... still have a few more episodes to share with you, and Brian Balsbaugh and Oliver Tse our agents are in negotiations with French authorities over possible continuation of the show.

It's a 6-minute double-episode — that seems particularly timely with the benefit of hindsight was recorded from the dead-center of an emptied out Amazon room, shortly after Tiffany Michelle busted out in 17th place. Here Dr. Pauly and I survey the atmospheric damage as "the last hope" of the main event exits the building... and I argue that she was the only one of the final 27 players with true Chris Moneymaker potential — meaning her performance wasn't so much about her own abilities to win big cash as it was about the future of poker. Comparisons to Scotty Nguyen and college basketball as well, before one of your not-so-gracious hosts goes through severe WSOP separation anxiety.

Episode 28.5: Fashion Report (featuring Change100)

Description by Michalski: Dr. Pauly chats with Change100 (his personal fashion yogini) about Tiffany Michelle's attire before her Ultimate Bet patchwork became such a major wardrobe malfunction. It's sickeningly cute as this pokerblogging duo draws the fine line between rocker-chick chic and Tijuana hooker — and further fashion analysis tries to differentiate between the new-money stylings of Alexander Kostritsin, typical "online douchebag" and Mean Gene, and the poker-prep ways of Shronk and Brandon Adams.
That's it for now. If you want to avoid all the election coverage, check out ESPN tonight at 10pm for the 2008 WSOP special. I know that what I'll be doing!

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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