Los Angeles, CA
Over the course of Day 3 of the 2009 WSOP Main Event, I became fascinated with Chau Giang. At one point, the high stakes cash game pro was deep into a massage from one of the handful of smoking hot masseuses. How deep? She was rubbing Chau's armpits.
When he wasn't paying women to fondle him, Chau frequently left his table for smoke breaks even though the tournament clock was running. Both Chau and Andy Black were jonesin' hard and couldn't wait for the scheduled break to feed their nicotine addiction. They rushed out side doors and secret passages in the Rio's convention center that only smokers, tokers, and veteran reporters knew about.
Before the pit massage...
(Photo by Vin Narayanan)
For the first time at the Main Event, the entire field consolidated for Day 3. After four flights on Day 1 and two flights on Day 2, only 2,044 players remained with an unknown named Amir Lehavot as the chipleader. The most familiar face on the leader board? Phil Ivey, who began the day 17th overall in chips.
On Day 3 for the Tao of Poker, I kept tabs on DonkeyBomber, the Big Randy, Liz Lieu, Shaniac, Loiue Cohen, and Pinky (who was my only player in the Main Event that I had a piece of). Early on, two French players, Ludovic Lacay and Elky, jumped out to the head of the pack, while Jason Alexander and Phil Ivey were the center of attention. Throngs of media flocked to their tables and shitfaced rabid fans jostled for position on the rail to catch a glimpse and cell phone pic of either Ivey or "George Costanza."
The first ESPN episode for Day 3 began with French singer/actor Patrick Bruel showing off his bracelet from the late 1990s. His fellow Frenchman, Elky, emerged as one of the back stories with the two main story lines focusing on Phil Ivey and the featured TV table that included a pair of Aussies... Joe Hachem and Jeff Lisandro.
Lisandro went for a look that Vogue categorized as 'Goomba Chic.' He sported a black and white striped shirt and black fedora. If you spotted him in an Atlantic City poker room, you'd assume he was a captain for one of the mob families.
Everyone's favorite broke-pro, Bobby Bellande of Survivor fame, walked onto the TV stage and mugged for face time while he wandered over to say hello to Jeff Lisandro, who occasionally backed Bellande into events depending upon his mood. A few minutes later on one of the outer tables, Bellande shoved all in with Ad-10d against Ah-Kh. He flopped a flush draw, but his opponent paired his King. Bellande miraculously rivered a flush yet revealed an aghast expression.
"This does not happen to me," he mentioned.
Although Bellande doubled up, he didn't last too much longer. At the 2008 Main Event, I was hopped up on painkillers and stood in the crowd around the featured TV table when Bellande took one helluva a bad beat.
Back at the featured TV table, Lisandro got involved in two tough hands against a hyper-aggressive Scandi in a hoodie (HASH). Lisandro flopped top pair when he was check-raised on the turn by HASH, who held nothing but a gutshot, yet won the pot when Lisandro reluctantly folded. Denmark 1, Australia 0
The two butted heads in the second episode with similar results. HASH opened with 8-4 sooted. Joe Hachem raised with Queens. Lisandro smooth called with Kings and the HASH called. The flop was A-6-4 and the crazy HASH fired out at the pot. Hachem folded and Lisandro made what he thought was a big laydown, with thoughts of "Why didn't I shove pre-flop with Kings?" on his mind. Denmark 2, Australia 0.
After Ville Wahlbeck busted out, Lisandro secured the Player of the Year award and Commissioner Pollack stopped by to congratulate him for that epic feat.
Lisandro was eventually moved off the featured TV table and met his fate in the killing fields. John Myung took him out when Myung flopped a flush and that's all she wrote. Lisandro ended his remarkable run at the 2009 WSOP with three bracelets (all in Stud variants) and a Player of the Year victory. Not too shabby.
Quick question... do you know how much God loves the world? He gave us Phil Hellmuth.
What's a WSOP episode without a little Phil Hellmuth? The self-proclaimed "greatest living hold'em player" signed an autograph for a fan on the rail before he took his seat. He attempted to shake the hands of every player at his table, but there was one holdout-- a malcontent in a USC hat named Lauchlin McKinnon. Like many of Hellmuth's opponents, he had zero patience for his sophomoric antics.
"I don't respect you and I'll never shake your hand," said McKinnon.
A stunned Hellmuth did not know what to say except that no one had done that before. Later in the episode Hellmuth was involved in a hand with Q-J where he made straight. The King-high board was paired and he didn't have an accurate read on his Irish opponent who had shoved all in. Hellmuth deliberated while a wall of international media gathered around the table. As he originally assumed and vocalized his inner dialogue, Hellmuth was ahead of the Irishman and called. His opponent tabled an Ace-high bluff. Hellmuth nearly shit his pants with the correct call.
Hellmuth bluffed off some of his stack to Josh Arieh before young Russian Alex Kostritsyn snagged a pot from the almighty Poker Brat. Hellmuth whined and moaned like someone pissed in his Cheerios.
Elky's stack grew and grew over Day 3 and even took out Kent Senter. I swelled up a bit moments after Senter's exit interview as he made the walk of shame towards the hallway and hugged his wife. At the least, Kent fulfilled one of his dreams.
Ivey sat down at a new table was hit on by a cougar, before he was moved to Elky's table. At that time, the room was buzzing when word got out about the match up... Ivey versus the chipleader. Too bad the two sharks avoided each other and we did not get to see any fireworks. As Elky explained, "Ivey is probably the best player in the world. I respect his game very much. I was not going out of my way to get involved with Ivey. There were so many other weaker players left, so I went after them."
"You can't make a hero call with bottom pair when your opponent has pocket Aces"... Kenny Tran fired away at a flop with Qc-2c and a meager bottom pair against a guy in a Bulldog t-shirt (that's a hash bar chain in Amsterdam in case you were wondering) who was holding A-A. Tran's hand did not improve on the turn or river, and his opponent shoved on the river for the rest of his stack. Tran made the crying call hoping that his opponent was bluffing with Big Slick. Nope. A-A was good, which is odd because most of the time Q-2 sooooooted trumps pocket rockets.
Bad Beat(s) of the Day.... Devilfish took it in the gonads, not once, but twice. Kenny Tran spun a runner-runner Wheel against Devilfish, which immediately set the Brit off and he unleashed his usual string of expletives. Alas, the bad beat parade was not over for Devilfish. Prahlad Friedman raised with Queens and Devilfish called with K-J. The flop was K-J-x and Freidman made a bad call and called Devilfish's all-in bet even though he suspected that Devilfish held a King. He had way better-- top two pair. The turn was a blank but a Queen spiked on the river to give Friedman a set to win the pot. A frazzled Devilfish was eliminated.
Media wandering around in the background? The Executive Producer of the WSOP, Matt Maranz from 441 Productions, walked by in the background during a Lou Diamond Philips hand. If you're a fan of ESPN's coverage of the Main Event over the years, he's one of the reasons why it's been so successful... Everyone's favorite Swedish reporter, Lina from PokerStars, scribbled down notes during the hand where Hellmuth tanked with his straight... Matt from Poker News and Stephen from Bluff Australasia were close by during during Humberto Brenes' bustout... Australian reporter Duckworth lingered in the background of a Bobby Bellande hand... Caco from Portugal and Chops from Wicked Chops Poker fame watched one the Bilzerian brothers in a hand.... Nothing is worse that seeing a big name bust out. Katkin hovered over the table during Costanza's elimination hand. Moments after his run in the Main Event ended, a female fan on the rail asked Costanza to pose for a pic. He obliged but she called him George and quickly apologized. Some days, you just run bad.
Check out my recap of Day 3... Two Frenchies, One Cup.
Also, check out the live blog from Day 3 and read about some of the things that failed to make the broadcast.
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