Las Vegas, NV
Sammy Farha blew several leads in Event #25, the $10,000 Omaha 8 Championship, and seemed as though he was unable to close the deal because of one gritty British pro named James "Flushy" Dempsey, who was seeking his second bracelet on 2010 -- and trying to become the first player to do so this year.
The Brits won three in the first two weeks and missed two other times with runner-up finishes from Sam Trickett and Neil Channing. Just like the previous final tables that featured a British player, a score of railbirds showed up. They started out like most Brits -- polite and reserved, but as Dempsey went deeper into the night, the booze started to flow. One beer led to another which led to 14 and all of a sudden you have a jovial crowd of binge drink Brits singing different songs about... a shoe.
During one of the breaks, a tourist in his late 50s asked Farha to take a photo with him. Farha was in the hallway with his girlfriend and agreed to the photo. The tourist then asked if Farha's girlfriend could also be in the photo. She obliged and he left a happy camper. I had a sneaky suspicion that the old guy just wanted a pic of Farha's gal.
The tides turned once again as Flushy and Farha swapped leads, as the Brits in the crowd got even more rowdier. The two eventually were pitted against each other heads up in what would become a battle of the wills. Whenever Farha got close to winning, Flushy would mount a sick comeback. Whenever Flushy would attempt to take a big lead, Farha would beat him back down. The two repeated that process for several hours as the night bled into morning.
I gave up at 6:30am. Thirty minutes later -- Farha finally delivered the blow that knocked out Flushy. The Brits picked up their third runner-up performance at this year's WSOP. Three wins and three second places? Yep, the Brits are running good.
Although James "Flushy" Dempsey missed his second bracelet, he had secured the top spot in the POY leaderboard.
The WSOP is a runaway train that gets caught in an avalanche. The last couple of days have been a mixture of boredom and drama, and I can't help but think one feeds off the other. If there's one thing I learned about the WSOP... is that it's important to take a break away from the grind. In other words, the merry-go-round never stops, and it's up to you to jump off.
Over the last week, I've been coming in later and later in the day. One of my colleagues noticed that trend and wondered if something was wrong. Nothing, aside from the fact that I was playing catch up. I get more work done at home than I do at the Rio. Sunday and Monday were two of the slowest days on the hectic WSOP schedule, so I took advantage of the lull in the schedule. It's sort of like when a coach takes a basketball player out with 1 minute to go in between periods because he knows he can get an extended breather.
That was Day 18 for me. I couldn't keep up with the workload because I fucked around too much last week with a bunch of useless drama. I spent Monday writing a couple of pieces for Bluff, including my regular column and a feature. I chose to write about Dwan's run for the bracelet and a feature about the Players' Championship. During the process of constructing both pieces, I sifted through my notes for the first time since the madness began. I've been living life on the fly that I had yet to sit down and reflect about the first 17 days. And the more I thought, the more I realized that I needed a day off from the grind.
On a good note, I do have some scraps for you from my notebook. Consider this a "note dump" or random thoughts and observations that I couldn't incorporate into the daily recaps. So here they are, raw and unfiltered...
- "He's way to happy to be a poker player, they are all depressed." - OH in hallwayAnd now introducing...
- The WSOP has sounds that you'll only hear... at the WSOP. The clattering of the chips, sometimes as faint as crickets, other times as raucous as a screeching train.
- Plastic chip racks have a distinct sound especially when they clang against other empty racks. I wonder if Otis and I can come up with a version of rack tossing.
- The faint echo of someone over a microphone is drowned out by the occasional applause. Do people really listen to the announcements? If someone starting talking random shit, would anyone ever notice?
- I'm drowning in ambient sounds -- thousands of beeps, pings, and snippets of songs that people use as ringtones or notifiers. The random open laptops in the pressbox are beacons of alert noises -- Skype, TweetDeck birdy noises, new emails, random music like Exile on Main Street, which Benjo has been playing in heavy rotation.
- The addictive sounds of online poker are prevalent. PokerStars and Full Tilt have distinct alert sounds for when it's your time to act or if someone raised you. On slow days and late nights, those sounds of online poker degeneracy are common in the pressbox. If they could, players would bring their own laptops with them to play on the side.
- Some of the lovely ladies in the media have been competing with each other in a bake off. The assortment of homemade treats that they've brought by have been insanely delicious. I told everyone that I would repay the favor in Week 5 with fistfuls of crystal meth and fudge.
- "Rolled by a hooker" (Editor's note: that is the only thing I had written in my note book aside from HT -- which means "hallway talk" or a code to remind me that the note was based on a conversation in the hallway. I have nothing else to expand upon it. I totally forgot who told me the story because I did not list a name or any initials, nor did I write down the name or nationality of the pro. It's the same old story about so and so getting shitfaced, picking up a hooker, and getting rolled. Perhaps it was too cliche that I never bothered to write down any other notes during this conversation.)
- Eskimo Clark was on the rail pestering John Phan for a buy-in to one of the Omaha 8 events, which is arguably one of Eskimo's better games, but the Razor gave Eskimo the cold shoulder. (Editor's note: Bad pun, which is why I never published it the first time.)
- Phillipe Rouas, the fifth richest man in France, has been playing lots of backgammon in the hallways near the poker kitchen.
- By the second week of the WSOP, you start to realize that some players wear the same clothes every day. You start to wonder if they actually sleep in their clothes -- if they ever sleep.
- "I don't gamble. I like to play poker." - pro (unsuccessfully) trying to pick up massage girl
- A young woman brought a purse dog into the Amazon Ballroom with her -- and no one said a word. I wonder if I can sneak a monkey inside?
- Late night Flipchip story -- when he was attending college in New Mexico, he once worked for a bookie and had to take a bag of cash to Las Vegas, and give it to an Englishman in a specific betting parlor (that is now a pawn shop), so that the bookie can lay off a huge bet on a college football game.
- "I went from the chipleader to busting out three from the money." - Guy in Mike Piazza NY Mets jersey screaming into his phone
Last 5 Songs on the Sound System When I Took a Leak...
1. China Grove
2. Radar Love
3. Low Rider
4. Smoking in the Boys Room
5. Money for Nothing
Bouncin' Round the Room (Late) on Day 18...
Event #27 Stud 8 Day 1: I avoided the Rio during the day and didn't show up until after midnight. I only went down to sweat a buddy from NYC, Coach, who I used to play in a home game with. He flies out to Vegas to play in the Stud 8 event every summer. I have to keep tabs on so many undesirable people, that it's refreshing to sweat an old buddy who you used to play with every Monday night. I gotta say, in 2004 when I started playing in that homegame in Midtown, I never thought I'd actually get paid to cover the WSOP and live in Las Vegas. Anyway, Coach survived a starting table with Jeff Lisandro, and he advanced to Day 2.