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The triumphant march to the illustrious November Nine began with ESPN's comprehensive coverage of the final three tables of the WSOP Main Event Championship. The first episode was built around four eliminations while the second episode covered five more as the field thinned from 27 to 18 players.
Phil Ivey was the monkey on the grinder under the bright lights at the featured TV table with a supporting cast of characters; Happy Shulman, Darvin Moon, Joe Cada, and 21-year old wunderkind LuckyChewey.
"At least you go cleaned up for this," said Ivey giving a scruffy Happy shit for looking like he just waked-n-baked before he rolled out of bed.
"I don't care about my appearance... obviously," he boasted like a self-righteous neo-hippie sporting a Phish hoodie.
"I'll take care of you," said Ivey feeling a little bad for his disheveled looking friend. Ivey had a premonition that Happy was going to make the final table and didn't want see him look like a bum. Ivey knew that the November Nine was the mongoloid offspring of the Hollywoodized Disneyfication of tournament poker, so he offered to hook Happy up with a free haircut and shave. Happy respectfully declined, but shit, how can you refuse an offer like that from Ivey?
Ivey gets fruit brought to him by his super fans. They were the original members of the Phil Ivey Fan Club back when they knew him as Jerome, the name on his fake ID. No Home Jerome is no Lew Alcindor or Cassius Clay. Ivey didn't change his name for religious reasons like Ali and Jabbar. When Ivey turned 21, he revealed his true identity. Since then, he's been on a tear. Some Tuesday nights I'm watching the Main Event unfold before me on ESPN and I can't help but think... this is Ivey's time. He's going to win it all.
The scariest moment of Day 8? Ivey leaning over the table asking you how many chips you have left. That's like having a leering neighbor with jailbait-tendencies ask you about the age of your teenage daughter.
During his couch interview, Ivey admitted that he played this year's Main Event in a "more patient" fashion. No more fucking around so he can rush over to Bobby's Room or play golf for $50K a hole with a bunch of out-of-towners who think they can hustle the almighty Ivey. Ivey is aware that he plays his best when he's focused on the task at hand without any distractions (like betting millions on the Lakers or all-night cash games). When Ivey focuses, no mortals can stop him. Only the poker gods can contain him. Well, that and himself. Ivey tossed a winning hand in the muck. Yes, Ivey held pocket eights and he forgot that he had the 8s in a hand against Jordan Smith with four spades on the board. Ivey thought that he was beat to an Ace on the river and he folded without re-checking his hand. Wow. Even the legends are prone to brain farts. I gotta assume that Ivey thought he held the 8c and not the 8s.
Liquidity Crisis: Steve Begleiter played at the secondary TV table with Billy Kopp, Antonio Esfandiari and Frenchman Ludovic Lacay. Begleiter secured a ton of face time and during his couch interview he admitted that he did a shitty job as a 24 year vet at Bear Sterns. I didn't buy his "we followed orders and thought we were doing the right thing" excuse. Either he wasn't in on the right side of the fix, or he was so far over his head that he was trying to gambling his way out of a hole. Doesn't matter now. Heck, if anything, Begleiter knows where the bodies are buried. By the way, "liquidity crisis" is the fancy Wall Street term for being a broke dick.
That's Why They Call Him LuckyChewey: Darvin Moon had his Aces ramshackled by LuckyChewey's trip nines with Jd-9d. With 2 million in the pot, Moon fired out 1 million on the river. A conservative LuckyChewey only called. Maybe he thought Moon had him out-kicked?
Adios! My Lady: Leo Margets, the last woman standing, finally hit the rail when she ran into Warren Zackey in a dark alley. The South African's Ah-10h was ahead of the Spainard's A-7. Zackey flopped a ten and that's all she wrote. Margets finished in 27th place and became the first player to bust on Day 8.
Presto No Good for the Magician: Antonio admitted that he was off the wagon. Or is it on the wagon? Who cares. He wasn't boozing during the Main Event. Clean living for the former party boy Magician. Antonio ran into a brick wall when his pocket fives were outflopped by Begleiter's K-10. Antonio fired out at a 10-high flop and Begleiter re-raised. Antonio shoved all in and Begleiter insta-called. Antonio missed on the turn and on the river. His deep run at the WSOP came to an abrupt end. The Magician finished in 24th place and won $353K.
Pride of the Carolinas: Nick Maimone caught a tidal wave of good card karma on three different instances.... he chopped a pot he should have lost to Darvin Moon... then came from behind to run over Ivey's Jacks with Q-rag.... then he ran his sevens into pocket tens when got it all in on the flop almost drawing dead but turned a set to stay alive.
Stay Classy, Kentucky: Billy Kopp also caught a lucky river card to send one of the three remaining French players, Pierre Cardin, back to France in 25th place. It's eay to call him out for a tinge of Douchebaggery because he was clad in UB gear and then fist pumped after he sucked out on the Frenchman.
Kings and Queens: British pro James Akenhead lost most of his stack when he ran his Kings into Aces, but he got some back when he called an all with Queens against Tommy Vedes A-Q. His royal ladies held up and avoided an elimination.
Hiteth Thy Flop: How do you make the November Nine? Hit your flops. Ivey opened with the Varkonyi. Happy called with Jacks. The flop was Q-10-5. Ivey won the pot.... then Steve Begleiter flopped a straight with 7d-6d on a 5-4-3 board against Ben Lamb who missed with Big Slick.
France 1, Wall Street 0: One of the two Frenchmen remaining, Antoine Saout opened with Aces and Begleiter defended his blind with K-10 off suit to which Norm made a Bear Sterns crack about wishing Bear Sterns defending the investment so their clients with the same vigilance. Saout flopped a set and opted to slow play. He turned a boat and Begleiter walked into his trap. Begleiter fired out at the turn and Saout smooth called. The river was a bland and Begleiter fired out a pot-sized bet with air. Saout raised on the river and Begleiter quickly surrendered.
Buchman Likes Kings: Eric Buchman, my non-Ivey pick to win it all, picked off Jonathan Tamayo's A-Q when his Kings held up. Tamayo busted in 21st place while Buchman surged to 15 million in chips. Best Buchman story? He funded his bankroll after winning a jackpot playing Caribbean Stud in the pits at Foxwoods Casino.
Lambs and Gekkos: Begleiter opened with nines. Ben Lamb three-bet with A-K. Begleiter four-bet to put Lamb all in and he called. A classic race for a 11 million pot. Lamb flopped an Ace and turned a King. Lamb's hand held up and he doubled up. But then the two rumbled a second time. Begleiter opened with Jd-9d. Ben Lamb three-bet with Aces. Begleiter called. The flop was J-9-5 and fireworks ensued. Begleiter checked. Lamb fired out 50% of the pot. Begleiter check-raised all in and Lamb called. The turn and river did not help Lamb and Begleiter doubled up to over 17 million after snapping off Aces. Ouch, I haven't seen a burn that ugly since Gekko and Bud Fox skull-fucked Sir Larry Wildman in the Anacott Steel deal.
Set Over Vedes: Tommy Vedes' deep run ended when he ran his pocket treys into Eric Buchman. Both players flopped sets but Buchman's bigger set held up and Vedes headed to the rail in 19th place. With 18 players to go, you have to tune in next week to find how nine unlucky players fail to advance to the November Nine.
Click here for Flipchip's WSOP Main Event photos. See you next week.
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.