Las Vegas, NV
After another marathon heads-up battle, the $50,000 HORSE Championship was finally settled a few minutes before 10am when David Bach beat John Hanson for the bracelet and the $1,276,802 payday. The final table started late and lasted almost 20 hours while the back and forth heads-up battle raged for over six hours.
The $50,000 HORSE was billed as the Player's Championship and the most prestigious bracelet aside from the coveted and always popular Main Event. I've sat ringside for all four World Championship HORSE events since its inception. This year's was the least hyped and had the least amount of pomp and circumstance mainly because it was not recorded by ESPN cameras.
Heck, for the majority of the final table, the stands were more than half empty. The only well-known pro to stop by was Thor Hansen, the Godfather of Scandi Poker. And good old Thor was just there to give his support to Erik123, the first online phenom to emerge from the bleakness of a Swedish winter of discontent.
Aside from a few of Huck Seed's railbirds who could have been working girls, the only interesting people were Vitaly Lunkin's cheering section. They carried around new school Russian flags, but barely waved them. Most of the time, they looked bored off their asses and couldn't stop yawning. One guy wore a flag as a cape, and another as a skirt.
The only spectator of interest? One scary looking dude who strategically placed himself in the camera shot so the people watching the ESPN 360/Bluff feed at home could see the religious message stamped on his t-shirt.... Jesus Saves Sinners From Hell. He gave off some serious Travis Bickle vibes. He even sported a Mohawk haircut and scribbled down notes at a frantic pace. Who the hell knows what that guy's deal is/was. The WSOP brings out all kinds of freaks. Even the Devil (aka Otis' nemesis) was spotting walking around and trying to grease the floor guys into giving him a special seat for the Main Event.
The big draw potential for the $50,000 HORSE event took a hit when Gus Hansen bubbled off in 9th place on Monday. The Great Dane made a cameo around Midnight and helped Change100 count chips at the final table. But that was the only well-known star that could have filled the seats. Women would have lined up around the block to catch a glimpse of the ruggedly handsome Great Dane (with apologies to former PokerNews CEO Damon Rasheed, the original ruggedly handsome man in poker). As we all know from yesterday's piece, Hansen has a certain proclivity to bring women to sexual fulfillment without even stuffing his schlong into their tacos.
With four players to go, it appeared that there would be an inevitable showdown between a Russian and a Scandi. The New Guard in Europe versus the Old Guard. Wait a minute.... wasn't I talking about that same match up during the November Nine? Just switch around the names.... Scandi (Eastgate/Erik123) vs. Russian (Demidov/Lunkin) and you had a potential showdown of showdowns.
Lunkin wasn't just trying to become yet another multiple bracelet winner at the 2009 WSOP. He was also attempting to become the first player to win the two largest buy-in events at the WSOP... and do it in the same year! Lunkin came out of nowhere to smoke the field in the 40K Anniversary event, and he was on the cusp of winning the 50K HORSE. Only a Scandi and a couple of Americans (John Hanson and David Bach) stood in his way. Unfortunate for Lunkin, his run in the HORSE event came to an abrupt halt when he finished in 4th place.
With three to go, it came down to one of the most legendary online poker players versus two Yanks.
Hanson is a virtual unknown from New York City. He was a ghost in 2007 when he made the final table and no one had a clue about the guy aside from the fact that he worked in the financial sector. The amateur Hanson demonstrated that his final table appearance in 2007 was not a fluke.
Bach has been around the last few years. I've even seen the UGA graduate on the international circuit. His play was questioned by pundits, but the guy has a unique look that makes him stick out of the crowd. A slew of John Popper jokes were flung around media row and the press box. I can't even tell you how many times I beat this joke to a dead HORSE...
Bach looks like he should play bass in Blues Traveler. Seriously, I think I might have scored a bag of shrooms off him in the lot of a Phish show back in Chula Vista, CA in September of 1999. They boys busted out a 28 minute version of Stevie Wonder's 'Boogie On Reggae Woman' to start set two and the left side of my brain melted.Bach was by far one of the most massaged players at the WSOP. We calculated that he needed to come in third place in order to cover all the massages he purchased since the event began last Friday.
Even though the HORSE final table started late, as it reached the twelfth hour, it was still three-handed. Then the Scandi could not withstand the bombardment from both Americans. Erik123 was eliminated in third place and we had a heads-up showdown between two Americans.
It would come down to David Bach or John Hanson. The final table was sparsely populated, but the Chip Reese Trophy was next to the table for all 25 people left over (including staff, crew, and media) to see.
By that point, the Poker Kitchen was closed and the Hooker Bar was swarming with working girls. And the cleaning crews unleashed their noisy vacuums and went about their daily cleaning routine. A guy was passed out in the corner snoring away, while photographers were so bored, they were thumbing through Benjo's cover story on Elky in the latest issue of Bluff Magazine.
As the dark of night bled into the dawn of a new day, the weary crowd thinned out even more so. Even the always energetic BJ Nemeth took a cat nap out of utter exhaustion around 6am. At that point, I had been up for 24 hours and we saw no end in sight. I was really starting to consider trying to score cocaine from one of the working girls at the Hooker Bar.
At one point, Bach had Hanson on the ropes but failed to deliver the fatal knockout blow. When he was all in for his tournament life, Hanson doubled up. That's all he needed and he eventually ran off a series of small pots to chip away at the lead. He quickly seized momentum. The once exhausted Hanson was all of a sudden on the offensive. That's when I started seeking out fistfuls of Adderral.
For the next couple of hours, both players had around even stacks, until Bach pulled away after 9am. At that point, an exhausted Hanson could not muster up one last futile effort and he was eliminated in second place.
"This is the bracelet that I should win," David Bach wrote his friends, family, and backers in an email two nights ago. He knew that HORSE was his strongest game and he felt confident that he could win this event if he made the final table.
David Bach etched his name in the history books along with the legendary Chip Reese, Freddy Deeb, and Scotty Nguyen. Congrats to David Bach for an epic milestone and winning the Players Championship.
You can check out Tao of Poker's live blogging coverage of the 50K HORSE final table here.
And a tip of the hat to the gang at Poker News, particularly TassieDevil and Change100 for their excellent live coverage of yet another exhausting 50K HORSE event. 98% of the poker media went to sleep while TassieDevil and Change100 were slaving away and covering the final table. They performed a thankless job because all their work will get poached by everyone else and passed off as their own. Rat bastards. Anyway, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to Change100 and TassieDevil and everyone else working on the Poker News coverage team.
Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 34....
I sweated everyone's favorite TD Matt Savage in his run at the final table for Stud 8. On Day 2, Savage was so short that he somehow miraculously hung on to advance to the final day with several timely scoops. Despite a short stack most of Day 2 and 3, Savage finished in 5th place. Congrats!
There was a fascinating visitor to the WSOP on Tuesday. Otis called her the tranny cowgirl. I've seen a couple of transvestites roaming around the Rio over the last week or so, such as the guy in the mini-skirt and the Adam's apple the other night. He was pretty obvious. But on Tuesday, the tranny cowgirl whipped up everyone into a frenzy. My friends all had their own personal, "Where were you when you saw Tranny Cowgirl?"
For me, my first encounter with said tranny cowgirl happened in front of the booth pimping Mike Matusow's new book Check Raising the Devil. Change100 saw her in the ladies room and couldn't confirm is she was peeing standing up. Sadly, Otis failed to properly execute a cock check. Later on in the evening, Julio spotted the trany cowgirl playing high stakes cash games. At that point, talk shifted away from deviant sexuality and more towards prop betting. Did he lose a prop bet? Or was he just a freakazoid from the planet Buttplug?
Otis and I made a triumphant return to Lime Tossing, which is the fulfillment of our degeneracy. It's actually one of the most normal things that I do in a 20+ hour day at the WSOP. Only God knows how hard Otis works and how much shit he has to digest, so those twenty minutes or so away from the grind is met with sheer bliss as we step outside into the cool Nevada night and hurl citrus fruits into the wind.
Despite the intense rivalry, we pushed on consecutive nights, so we don't have much to report. Otis holds a slight lead overall. However, we managed to squeeze in a mini-game of What Does Benjo Think? Yeah, Otis and I compiled a list of questions and we gambled on potential answers from our favorite malcontent chain-smoking Frenchman.
Here's the second installment...
What Does Benjo Think, Vol. 2Stay tuned for a new installment of What Does Benjo Think? Feel free to submit your questions. If it's good, we'll use it next time.
1. How many Grateful Dead shows did Howard Lederer see?
Benjo said, "Did he see that band? I dunno. I'm gonna say zero."
Result: Otis wins (1-0)
2. How does he think Gus Hansen would react to a fan touching him while he took a piss?
Otis: He'd ignore him
Pauly: "What the fuck are you doing?"
Benjo said, "I'm pretty sure at some point, Gus Hansen has had a homosexual experience. I mean, if it's just him jerking off on another guy or something weird during a threesome or a foursome. But I'm gonna say, 'What the fuck are you doing?'"
Result: Pauly wins (1-1)
3. In a fight between Oliver Tse and a polar bear, how long will it take the polar bear to win?
Otis: 2 minutes
Pauly: 30 seconds
Benjo said, "Does Oliver get a weapon? If not, the polar bear wins in six seconds."
Result: Push (1-1-1)
4. When will Benjo shave his beard?
Otis: Within 24 hours of the Main Event ending
Pauly: When he gets home to Europe
Benjo said, "I'm gonna trim it tomorrow, but I'll wait until I get home to shave to all off."
Result: Pauly wins (2-1-1)
5. If Benjo had to be a hooker, what city would he be a hooker in?
Pauly: Las Vegas
Benjo said, "Amsterdam because they it's a legit profession over there so they have rights and are protected. And it's a nice city, right?"
Result: Otis wins (2-2-1)
Don't forget, you can follow some of my WSOP hijinks over at Twitter. I have been updating frequently. My feed is @taopauly.
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