Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Recap: 2010 WSOP Day 2B on ESPN - Happy Jacks, Action Dan, the Jenny Crank Diet, and Pancakes with the DonkeyBomber

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The WSOP Main Event coverage returned to ESPN with back-to-back episodes chronicling Day 2B of the Main Event, which included survivors from flights Day 1B and Day 1D. The "featured players" that drew attention were November Nine alum Jeff "Happy" Shulman and former Main Event champion Dan Harrington on the main TV table, and Phil Laak out on the secondary table.

* * * * *

Action Dan Giving Action

"When I grow up, I wanna be like you," joked Happy Shulman.

Harrington snickered, but he knew that Happy was just kissing his ass for the cameras. I like Harrington, he's got a bit of old school in him and it wouldn't surprise me if he pours a little Canadian Club into his morning coffee like a proper American-Irishman. Harrington is confident in his abilities and talks about poker with a tinge of Ivy League smugness. That's what happens when you're usually the smartest guy in the room. On Day 2B, I'd say that Harrington was in the top 25 overall as far as brain size. Literal brain size. I betcha he's got a huge noggin', which you have to have in order to play chess at a championship level.

On the first hand of the broadcast, we were treated with a three-way pot involving Harrington and his number one fan, Happy. Here's how the action went down... Happy opened with pocket Jack and got two callers including Harrington and an unknown player. Three undercards flopped but two of them were spades on a 9-8-7 board. Happy's Jacks were ahead, but one player flopped a flush draw, while Harrington held Q-10 for an OESD. The turn was a 6 and filled in a straight for Harrington. Happy knew he was behind and bailed. It was heads up between Harrington's straight and an unknown's flush draw. In those instances, the flush always gets there, and on cue the third spade spiked on the river. Harrington gave a little action to the unknown -- just in case the kid was attempting to pull off a value bet river bluff.

During his couch interview, Harrington discussed the coolness factor about having people stop him every day to tell him that his book(s) changed their lives. Let's be honest, the book is not going to get you laid or turn you into a better person. If applied properly, the book will make you extra cash which in itself has indirect positive attributes because you can then use the money to woo women (if that doesn't work, you can always pay them for their company) and then you can donate to rest to a worthy charitable cause.

I've read almost every poker book ever written and Harrington's books are among the best. He has a knack for explaining high-end concepts to everyday people, as opposed to Bill Chen's book The Mathematics of Poker, that only Jesus Ferguson and seven people on the planet can understand. I should say -- originally from this planet -- because yes, Bill Chen is an alien. The proof is in his book wen he drew a diagram back to his home planet, but no one is savvy enough to figure out what he was saying.

* * *

It's All Over Now Baby Blue

Looking back on Day 2B, most of the crazy stuff went down in the Pavilion. That's where Phil Ivey began the day wearing a Full Tilt hat in his favorite color -- baby blue. Ivey began the day with a shortstack, which put him on everyone's watch list. I even got off my ass and hung out in the Pavilion for a significant amount of time considering I rarely visited that Day 1 battle field during the preliminaries.

I didn't have to write down Ivey's table number because I just looked for the gigantic cluster of spectators on the rail. Outside the rail, Ivey's super fans the Humphries were there to cheer on their adoptive son. Inside the rail, the media circled like ravenous vultures. Ivey was everyone's meal ticket and he was the one player that everyone at home wanted immediate updates on his progress.

The decisive hand was fugly... that's right, fucking ugly. Ivey got it all in with the pocket Queens, the proverbial Hilton Sisters, against an amateur's pocket Kings. Ivey's opponent was a pharmacist from Japan. No shit? When I went to Japan to follow Phish in 2000, at the time magic mushrooms were legal in Japan. Seriously. You could buy them in any head shop, something that you cannot do today. I spent most of my time in Japan riding the bullet trains around the country crocked to the tits on shroom tea. It was that same trip when taught my friends how to play Texas Hold'em on the bullet train from Nagoya to Fukuoka.

Sorry for the tangent... Ivey was all in with Queens against Kings. The flop was innocuous, but one of two queens in the deck fell on the turn. Ivey seized the lead much to the delight of the Humprhires and every suit who is in the secret society that calls the shots in the poker-industrial-entertainment complex. It looked as though Ivey was about to double up when a King spiked on the river.

Ouch. Suck. Re-suck.

The Japanese pharmacist jumped out of his chair and yelled "Seiko!"

An unfazed Ivey shrugged and asked, "How much?" He then shipped his chips over to the other side of the table. He was crippled and on life support. The stunned spectators on the rail were hoping for an Ivey comeback. The ring of fire in the media vanished as every scurried away to report the hand that eventually led to Ivey's demise.

Later... Ivey busted out in a multi-way pot. We never saw his hand, but as soon as it was evident he was toast, he made a beeline for the side door and minimized his walk of shame.

Ivey has left the building.

* * *

Happy Jacks

The gang at 441 Productions continued showing cool stats like the VPIP for Happy and Harrington. Talk about a tale of two cities and diverging playing styles. Harrington was holding true to his rock-like image which Norm described as "snug and passive" play.

Both Harrington and Happy built stacks against horrible play from Eurodonks at their table. Harrington had one Eurodonk shove all in after he flopped a set. On a different hand, Happy called a raise and re-raise with his favorite hand... Jacks. Anyway, Happy and his Happy Jacks were up against the Eurodonks Qd-10d. The flop was As-Jh-4s. Happy checked. Eurodonk bet. Happy happily check-raised all in with his middle set, and the Eurodonk called since Happy didn't have too many chips left. Happy's set of Jacks held up and he doubled up.

* * *

Prahlad Friedman and the Vortex of Controversy

Prhalad Friedman is always getting himself in hot water. He doesn't mean to. I've watched him play a lot the last few years and he's a very quiet and well-mannered guy at the table. Sure, he's weird, but so is mostly everyone I know in poker, so when compared to the average poker player, Freidman is no more weird than anyone else. He's your typical California-born son of hippies, hence the Eastern religion origins of his first name. Friedman initially popped up on the mainstream radar during his first couch interview on ESPN when he shared his skills busting the rhymes. Yes, the Prahlad Friedman rap was pretty bad until I saw Jeff Madsen's dismal attempt at displaying his mad hip hopping skills.

For this year's couch interview, they discussed the record that Friedman set for most free throws in a minute using one ball and one rebounder. Steve Nash set the record at 21 and Friedman was convinced that he could break it -- and he did. They even showed the video of his epic feat as he sunk 23 free throws in a row. I was able to do 25 in a row once but that was a Pop-a-Shot machine in my fraternity house using three balls.

The big controversy surrounded a hand involving Friedman and Ted Bort, the guy that we were making fun of on Twitter and on Tao of Poker for being the annoying tool who kept barking. Yep, he got into a hand with Friedman that ended up in a whirlwind of controversy.

Here's how I wrote up the hand in the Tao's semi-live blog for Day 2B...
Killed Commotion

When you see a wall of media in one corner of the room, you sprint over. It's just instinct. That's what happened in the Pavilion. I heard the ruckus and made a bee-line as fast as I could even with a creaky back.

"Check the tape! You have it on tape!" a player in Seat 4 yelled at Charlie the floor guy.

Prahalad Friedman and a player in Ted Bort were involved in a hand on the rail where a ton of spectators were hanging out. It was a battle of the blinds. Bort raised from the SB and Friedman called. The flop was J-6-5. According to a Belgium player at the table, Bort donk-bet and Friedman tank-called. A 9 fell on the turn, Bort donk-bet again and Friedman tank-called. The river was a brick. Bort shoved and Friedman tanked for five minutes. The floor was called and he as given one minute. As time ticked down, things heated up...

Parhald 'called' with one second to go. The floor killed his hand.

Depending on who you talk to, Prahald called when the floor was announcing 2 and 1. Or Prahlad called in between 1 and 0. David Singer sat at the table and mentioned that he heard Prahlad call. A few reporters I know swear that they heard him make the call. Even the crowd voiced their dissent. ESPN cameras were on the scene. The truth is in the tape. A second floor decision was asked for and the two floor guys conferred. The ruling stood.

This is not the first incident with Prahlad. Remember the "missing" ante thingy a few years back with Jeff Lisandro? Prahlad accused Lisandro of shorting the pot and fireworks ensued.

This time everyone had an opinion but Parhald just sat back in bewilderment as the dealer pushed the pot to Bort. That's when Bort barked. Twice.

Follow-up... Heard that Bort had two-pair on that hand. Prahlad was covered and said something to the effect that he was behind. Had the floor ruled his hand differently, Prahald would be out on the Main Event.

Snoopy talked to the floor guy who said that the hand gets killed at "1" and not "0".
In that instance, I have to thank Merchdawg, Snoopy, and Benjo for helping me out with the reporting on that hand. That's one of the cool things about some of my colleagues in the non-official media -- they are always willing to share information and we band together to help each other out.

Anyway, the controversy surround the discrepancy over when exactly the hand is declared dead. Everyone assumed that it was 3...2...1...0. and You had until zero was said before your hand was ruled dead. But after some investigating, I found out that the hand gets killed at 1. So even though Friedman said call in between 1 and 0, it was not fast enough.

According to Friedman, he held a smaller two pair to Bort's J-9 (he flopped top two). One of the players at the table, Mike Mustafa, overheard that and went ballistic. He demanded that the hand be ruled live because that would have knocked out Friedman.

"I want another floor (decision)... where's Charlie?"

Charlie, one of the supervisors, came over to mediate the problem. Even Nolan Dalla made a rare appearance on the floor to investigate the vagaries of this particular hand. After hearing what happened, Charlie stood by his original floor guy's decision... the hand was declared dead. End of story.

By the way, the announcers explained why Bort barked incessantly. Supposedly, the bark was a way to show his opponents that he's a strong player. Um, how about just playing good poker? I have a feeling that his bark is bigger than his bite.

On the personal front, I have been looking into quelling the noise pollution from barking dogs next door, so next year I will make sure I bring an ultrasonic device that will dispatch high frequency sounds to render barking douches completely useless. If that deterrent doesn't work, I'll resort to bear spray and mace Bort's table whenever he barks. I'm sure that his tablemates will chip in to pay my bail.

* * *

Pride of Cucamonga

Josh Arieh was moved to the featured TV table that included Happy and Harrington. You could sense that Harrington was not thrilled with Arieh's arrival. On his first hand after he sat down, Arieh rivered a straight against a Lighthouse keeper to drag a pot.

"Wrong guy is getting the chips," barked Harrington. What he was really think was, "Shit.... I thought I was the best player here until Arieh's grumpy ass sat down, now he's going to run over the table. By the way, it smells funny here. Like a skunk. Where is that coming from?"

It was a matter of time before Arieh and Harrington went to war. Arieh was all in with Ah-Kc against Harrington's As-Qh.

"Run it twice?" joked Arieh.

They didn't have to. His Big Slick held up and Arieh doubled through an agitated Action Dan.

But then it was Happy's turn to get into fisticuffs with Arieh. Happy was still relatively short when he got in all in on a flop of Ah-7c-6h. Arieh's As-Js trailed Happy's Ad-6d. It held up and Happy doubled up to avoid elimination.

Happy eventually busted out when his A-K ran into a German guy's A-A. Ah, the Eurodonks enacted sweet revenge on Happy. He was out and had plenty of time to prep for Phish's summer tour.

* * *

The Jenny Crank Diet

I knew a few actresses that used to snort crystal meth in order to stay skinny. When mutual friends complimented them on their figures and wanted to know their big secret, they smiled and said matter-of-factly, "The Jenny Crank Diet."

Amphetamines are a dirty secret in poker, but most of the players jacked up inside the Rio have legit and legal prescriptions. Marijuana holds a certain taboo in our society, so does crystal meth. But don't confuse the shitty crank that hillbillies cook up in homemade labs with the pharmaceutical grade speed that the drug companies perfectly manufacture. Those magic pills have built in landing gear which makes the come down a lot easier than a typical meth crash.

But don't get too judgmental because some of your favorite celebrities and politicians were habitual speed users -- Elvis, the Beatles, President Kennedy, and Jack Kerouac.

Which leads me to Phil Laak's impressive feat that he discussed in his couch interview. Earlier that summer, Laak went to the Bellagio's poker room to set an endurance record for longest poker session. He easily passed the 78:45 mark and broke the record, but he kept going. He wanted to crack the century mark and when he passed 100, he did not stop and flirted with the idea of staying up for five straight days. Alas, Laak wisely pulled the plug around hour 115, three hours short of his amended goal of 118.

In case you were wondering, Laak submitted urine samples to prove that he was not using any drugs to break the record. He went the healthy route and a special diet helped him stay up.

I was once up for five days, and let me tell you that the world is not quite the same when you are heavily sleep deprived. It's hard to sort out the hallucinations from reality. During that bender, I saw aliens, unicorns, and leprechauns, but then again I was also on some of the heaviest liquid sunshine cooked up since the Owsley days. I was in no shape to walk, let alone play cards, so I salute Laak. The fact that he pulled it off without any pharmaceutical enhancements is highly impressive.

I can stay awake for a 24 hour stretch easily as long as it doesn't happen more than once in a while. The WSOP is tough because you cannot predict when you will sleep, so you'll have one or two instances a week when you're up in excess of 24 hours. I had a few stints this summer when I went 40+ hours without sleep and I was in horrendous condition by the time I crashed.

Yeah, if I had enough Adderal, I could easily stay up for five days straight. Then again, that would be a waste of some good Adderall. There's a reason why the U.S. military's slang for Addys are "Go Pills" because when you pop two, you just want to get up and goooooooooooooooo.

The military also dispatches something called "No-Go Pills" but I'll save that discussion for another time and a different post when I delve into the downsides of downers and poker.

* * *

Day in the Life of the DonkeyBomber and Pancakes with Angry Julie

I was thrilled to see Tom "DonkeyBomber" Schneider get some face time. The former WSOP Player of the Year was wearing an ornate jacket from his sponsor, Loudmouth Golf.

The DonkeyBomber
Photo credit: Flipchip

You could see an upside down Pokerati patch, an obviously symbol of distress, but you had to look very closely because his jacket had so many different designs that he looked like the outfield wall in a minor league ballpark.

Michalski and I discussed the possibility of me obtaining DonkeyBomber's slick jacket in the Tao of Pokerati podcast...
Episode 58: DonkeyBomber Death Watch - Short-stacked DonkeyBomber, wearing one of his extremely eye-catching Loudmouth blazers, is sitting at one of the tertiary tables. Dan is nearby keeping an eye on his good friend and one his Team Pokerati players. Pauly stops by to sweat DonkeyBomber with Dan as they hold a death watch for him.
The highlight of this episode of the Main Event occurred when DonkeyBomber played his Angry Julie ringtone featuring his wife screeching, "Stack 'em, stack 'em up... to the top!"

If you forgot, Angry Julie was on the rail during DonkeyBomber's deep run in the 2009 Main Event. Whenever he'd win a pot, she'd go berserk. One time she unleashed the now infamous "Stack 'em, stack 'em to the top!" cheer which horrified DonkeyBomber, but ended up as amazing fodder when his episode was eventually aired on ESPN.

I want the Angry Julue ringtone. Now. If DonkeyBomber sells that for 99 cents, he can easily make enough money to buy both himself and Angry Julie into the Main Event.

Angry Julie was not on the rail for Day 2B, but she appeared in a segment with DonkeyBomber called Heads-Up with Norm Chad. Yep, the husband and wife team were pitted against each other and cooked breakfast for Norm, who judged their dishes.

But man, those two should have their own reality show because you can't script banter like that. The deadpan humor of DonkeyBomber is priceless and Angry Julie is pure gold.

"So how often does Julie cook?" asked Norm.

"Not very often," DonkeyBomber shot back.

"So are you high energy or high maintenance?" wondered Norm.

"What? I'm getting yelled at, sorry," apologized Angry Julie as she and DonkeyBomber bickered over something.

When the two finished up their breakfast dishes, Norm sat down for the taste test and the DonkeyBomber won by a small margin. I guess if he ever decides to quit poker, he can always open up a diner in Arizona with Angry Julie. It could be just like Alice and he'll be the bitter snarky fry cook in the back wearing grease-stained t-shirts, while Angry Julie wears a tight pink waitress outfit, chews gum, flirts with the customers and says a snazzy catch phrase: "Kiss my grits!"

And yes, Day 2B is officially in the books.

* * *

Here's previous recaps of the Main Event on ESPN:
Main Event Day 2A on ESPN - March of the Mizrachis and Dannypalooza
For more coverage of Day 2B, read the 2010 WSOP Main Event Day 2B Semi-Live Blog. And don't forget about episodes of the Tao of Pokerati podcast that Michalski, Benjo, and I recorded live from the floor of the Rio.

For more of your Main Event fix, visit the Tao of Poker's Index of WSOP coverage.

See ya next week.

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