Las Vegas, NV
Today is the prestigious HORSE event with a staggering $50,000 buy-in. There has been plenty of speculation on the total number of entrants. In previous years it's been 143, 148, and 148. We've been wondering and betting on the 2009 final number for several months.
Will the non-televised aspect of this year's event negatively affect numbers? Did the 40K NL special event siphon off some of the high stakes players? Or will there be a boost in numbers from a contingency of Russians? Stay tuned to find out.
It's been a while since we had a live blog from the WSOP, so let's get to it....
11:11am... New Tao of Pokerati Episodes!
Check out two brand spanking new episodes of Tao of Pokerati where we discuss the upcoming HORSE event. For a slight change of pace, Michalski and I get a little serious (which means less than 5% schtick)...
Episode 11.21: HORSE Hunting (4:09)
Episode 11.22: The Satellite Economy (5:06)
"This is bullshit!" screamed Mike Matusow as he entered the empty playing section of the Amazon Ballroom. At 11:50am, Jimmy Sommerfeld announced to the press box that the start time for HORSE would be pushed back an hour since less than 35 players had registered. Yep, we already have a mini-controversy brewing. Stay tuned for more info. Cards will go in the air at 1pm.
12:51pm... Waiting for the Man
Matusow calmed down after he signed 50 of his books in the hallway. "Mike's reaction to any change in his life is negative," explained the Poker Shrink.
As Matusow hacked his books, several players headed to the VIP lounge and played Chinese Poker. The game was so popular due to the delay that it played seven-handed.
According to the chatter on Twitter, a lot of the internet kids are playing the 2K at the Venetian instead of pooling together some money to play in HORSE event.
60 runners and counting... if you have $50,000 and want a shot at bracelet, there's plenty of open seats. If you have UNDER 100 in any sort of prop bet, you're looking good. If you have OVER 100, now's the time to start offering up buy-outs.
1:05pm... And They're Off....
Commissioner Pollack apologized to the fans on the rail before the start. They had been camped out for a few hours. The diehards and fanatics were out in droves. They knew that the HORSE event was their best chance to catch a glimpse of their favorite pros. Several of them were staked out int he hallways or near the VIP lounge. They did their homework.
Last year's booze-riddled champion Scotty Nguyen uttered the famous words, "Shuffle Up and Deal!"
62 players and counting...
1:39pm... A Paler Shade of Dolly
70 players and counting. Registration is open to the end of Level 2. Since levels are ninety minutes in length, that means you have until 4:20pm to buy in... if you have $50,000.
Since it's HORSE almost every table is stacked. The most interesting is one table featuring the defending champion Scotty Nguyen. He has Daniel Alaei, Fabrice Soulier, Farzad Bonyadi, David Benyamine, and David Singer at his starting table. That's important for me because I have a Russia vs. France last longer bet with Benjo. Two of his fellow countrymen are at opposite ends of the table.
I'm also in a last longer with a couple of Aussies; Tassie Devil and Tim Duckworth. I drafted Erik Seidel, Jon Turner, and Alex Kostritsyn.
And yeah, there's a little spring in my step because I'm on the verge of winning several UNDER bets. Oh, by the way, in the time it took me to write this update, one more person bought in.
Doyle's not looking too good. Earlier in the day, he mentioned that he was withdrawing from the event for health reasons. Old Dolly has had a tough time keeping food down, yet he managed to suck it up and make the trek to the Rio. He's a trooper and also looking to fade a small sized field to win his 11th bracelet. I've seen Dolly at some down points over the last few years, but those times were at the tail end of 20 hour day.
71 players and counting...
2:35pm... 78 at the Break
Several players arrived late into the first level including Huck Seed, Annie Duke, and Max Pescatori. The number of entrants slowly rose to 78 with a few big pros still absent. Hellmuth, Lederer, and Bloch are expected to arrive sometime before the next level ends.
As players headed out on their first break, Texas Dolly whizzed by on his scooter. Andy Black asked Mike Matusow about his terrible table.
"Yeah it's terrible, but I fuckin' won every pot."
A few minutes into the event, as photographers circled around the tournament area, someone from FullTilt snuck up behind Andy Black and tapped him on the shoulder. The guy slapped a patch on his jacket and quietly left.
"This is a fuckin' joke," lamented one of my fellow scribes from Canada. "How can this be billed as a player's championship when there are no fuckin' players?"
3:09pm... God Save the Queen?
I wandered by the podium for the bracelet ceremony and John Kabbaj from the UK was about to receive his bracelet. Snoopy wandered by and I joked, "Are you here to hear 'God Saves the Queen'?"
"Believe it ot not, most Brits don't care for the monarchy," he explained.
At that moment, Commissioner Pollack cued the music for the national anthem. God Saves the Queen by the Sex Pistols blasted on the PA system. Initially, I thought that it was a mix-up... and then figured it was a nice little joke and that the actual anthem would follow after a few seconds of the Sex Pistols.
When the ceremony was over, one British player vehemently objected to the version. John Shoreman, a well-known industry figure in the UK poker scene, had words with the Commish.
"Absolutely disgusting!" was what I overheard.
Apparently, a few British players had requested the Sex Pistols version for the next victory by a UK player. The gang at the WSOP took a risk and played that version. I thought that might have been one of the cooler things I had seen so far at the WSOP. It really demonstrated that they had a sense of humor.
"It was one of the funniest things this year," said Foiled Coup, and ex-pat from the UK and someone who was around the British music scene many moons ago.
I asked Snoopy if he was offended and he said, "It didn't bother me one bit."
But a few people were miffed. So much so that the Commissioner decided to apologize for the misunderstanding. He also decided to have a second and (more proper) bracelet ceremony for Kabbaj tomorrow.
The one time the WSOP attempted to do something fun and cheeky, a few rotten spoil sports decided to ruin it. Boo to those blowhards. Thumbs up to the Commish and company for busting out some Sex Pistols.
Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten would be proud.
* * * * *
Well, the second level has come and gone and it looks like we have about 95 runners for HORSE. Some folks are not pleased with the numbers, but I think it's fairly accurate when you look at the poker economy, decreased staking syndicates, and the fact the final table will not be on ESPN. That all accounts for a 33% drop off.
Regardless, the hundred or so players in the event represent some of the best old school pros, former world champions (Chan, Jesus, Scotty, Doyle, Bechtel), internet young guns, and the top mixed cash game players in the world. Oh and how could I forget a celeb or too.
That list includes... Patrik Antonius, MrSmokey1, Andy Black, ZeeJustin, Yuval Bronshtein, Chad Brown, Jerry Buss, Chau Giang, Bill Chen, David Chiu, Scott Clements, Freddy Deeb, Danny Negreanu, Johnny World, Eli Elezra, Jen Harman, Matt Glantz, Tony G, Thor Hansen, Erik123, Greg Raymer, Nick Schulman, Hanson, Phil Ivey, Max Pescatori, Erik Lederer, Gabe Kaplan, and Gus Hansen.
Barry Greenstein is two-tabling and still alive at the final table of the Mixed Event.
Not as many Russians as I thought... but several strong players in Alex Kostritsyn, Alex Kravchenko, Vitaly Lunkin, Mikail Tulchinsky, and Nikolay Evadakov.
6:20pm.... Dinner Break
The HORSE players are on a ninety minute dinner break.
8:00pm... Back from Dinner; Two More Levels
95 players is the official number and nobody has busted out yet. There are a couple of players with less than 100K (Starting stacks at 150K) and one short stack under 50K (Yan Chen... yeah, I'm thinking the same thing... Yan who? But Yan made two final tables at the WSOP this year. At least, I think it's that same Yan Chen).
Last year 8 players out of 148 busted on Day 1. At dinner break, I told Change100 that I expected less than 5 eliminations to today.
Change100 compiled a list of last year's players who are not playing in the 2009 50K Horse event. That included... second place finisher Michael DeMichele, Phil Hellmuth, Lyle Berman (who final tabled the event last year), durrrr, Dario Minieri, DonkeyBomber, The Grinder, Brandon Adams, Kirill Gerasimov, Amnon Filippi, David Williams, Isabelle Mercier, Ted Forrest, Billy "The Croc" Argyros, Allen Cunningham, Marcel Luske, and Robert Williamson III.
Usually the top 10% get paid in poker tournaments. That would mean 9.5 players would get paid out of this event. This year, they are paying out the final two tables. 16 places pay with almost $1.3 million awarded to the winner.
1. $1,276,80210:47pm.... Steve Z First to Bust
It had to be someone. This year the first unlucky player to head to the rail first? Steve Z. There are now 94 players remaining. David Singer is one of the short stacks (under 50K), while Hassan Habib has almost doubled his starting stack and closing in on 300K.
Who's getting a massage? Gus Hansen, Erik Seidel, Dan Shak, and John Juanda. Talk about the good life.
12:22am... The Return of Lime Tossing
At Midnight, Otis and I headed out back for our first round of Lime Tossing for the 2009 WSOP. We crafted a playing field including lines that I had to draw using a piece of chalk that I scored from the guys in the valet. Anyway, we were up for high stakes lime tossing where at the end of any given round, we can go +/- $400. We expect to play a round a night (two tosses a round) for the next 20 days.
On the first every round? I fell short twice. The first instance, I came very close to the $100 grid. Otis whiffed on his first throw but nailed the $40 grid with his second toss.
Round 1 - Lime Tossing Results: Otis +40, Pauly -40
1:00am.... Day 1 Complete
91 players are left according to the big board. They will return tomorrow at 4pm (instead of 2pm) to play out Day 2. Due to Saturday's donkament, tables are in high demand, so the start time for HORSE was pushed back two hours. Day 2 will last only five levels instead of six. Due to the reduction in entrants, tournament officials have been discussing the possibility of eliminating one day of play (in this five day event). It appears that they decided to shave off one level on Day 2 in order to spread out the play.
Anyway, that's it. See ya tomorrow. HORSE re-starts at 4pm. Donkey blood will be shed at noon. Thanks for tuning in. Signing off from the Rio...
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