Los Angeles, CA
Tres. Trey. Tri. Trips.
Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event is historically important because it is the first day when the entire field is playing under the same roof on the same day after four opening flights and two second-day flights.
ESPN's broadcast of the Main Event got pushed back by tennis. Huh? My DVR got duped and didn't know what to do. Luckily the folks at PokerTube uploaded episode 9 within hours of the original broadcast. God bless the Swedes, especially since they trimmed all those annoying commercials touting online poker sites and the occasional anti-gambling ad.
Episodes 9 and 10 focused on Day 3. The featured TV table included Scotty Nguyen, while Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier sat at the secondary table. Along the way, six of the former Main Event world champions made cameos -- Scotty Nguyen, Johnny "Fucking" Chan, Chris Moneymaker, Action Dan Harrington, Robert "Fish Hook" Varkonyi, and defending champion Joe Cada.
The Prince of Sloshiness
Wait, when did "The Prince" moniker get associated with Scotty Nguyen? I must have missed the press release or the tweet. His real nickname should be Bad Drunk, but that's not appropriate or politically correct language these days. I'd hate to offend the drunks out there, which make up approximately 68% of my readership.
"The Prince" rolled of off Lon's tongue like a piece of salt water taffy dipped in mayonnaise, essentially the "rudiments of gruel." Despite all of his horrible behavior over the years, Scotty Nguyen is treated like royalty. The truth is far from it. The stories about Scotty's darkside often don't get discussed, but at least the public caught a glimpse of the real Scotty Nguyen during that trainwreck of a 50K HORSE final table. He got drunker and drunker than evening as things got weirder and weirder. I strongly believe that Erick Lindgren's experienced two moments in career might have done serious psychological damage -- the golf prop bet that almost killed him, and playing at the same final table as Scotty Nguyen.
While Scotty Nguyen held court underneath the muted lights of the TV table, two other familiar faces sat across from him -- "poker author" David Sklansky and Adam Schoenfeld.
"Haven't seen you? Where did you go?" Scotty asked Adam. "You get married? Have kids?"
"I don't leave my cave..." explained Adam in his dry emo-snark.
Sklansky didn't utter a word when he busted out, and we didn't get see his well-paid harlot awaiting him on the rail. Gotta love Sklansky. That guy has balls and has no problems walking down the hallway of the Rio's convention center with his skank du jour. At one point in the history of poker, Sklansky had penned some of the premier strategy books on the game we know and love. However, these days, he's become the punch line to a joke on a 2+2 thread.
At one juncture, we were treated with a shot of a reformed Scotty ordering an non-alcoholic O'Douls. He tried to pull a bluff on the audience, but luckily you have me to give you the straight dope -- that the waitresses was actually serving Heineken in an O'Douls bottle. Don't ask how we got that info, but never underestimate what a $20 tip can get you in Las Vegas, such as valuable information confirming Nguyen's insobriety and his slick attempt to cover it up.
If you don't know, Scotty has been looking for a fan to write his life story. That's because no legit poker writer would do it. I didn't throw my hat into the ring because it was going to be a whitewashed bio and you couldn't write about all the hookers and blow. LAME. I fucking loathe this revisionist history that is rampant in poker. That's why I turned down many other opportunities to ghost write pro's bios.
Run Bad, Bobby
I've given Bobby Bellande tons of guff in the past -- some of it was unfair while other times I couldn't wait to tell you what sort of bizarre incidents he's gotten himself into. For these episodes of the Main Event, we finally got to see the downside to being Bobby Bellande the whipping boy. He's a courageous player because he endures some sick beats. For example, toward the end of the program, we watched in dismay as he lost a pot to a runner-runner royal flush. Such is the life of Bobby. Earlier in the program, we watched in horror as he ran into a Ginger's quad Aces. Beware of Gingers at the table -- they have no souls. They are the Devil's henchmen and they are specifically out to get Bellande and other members of the Opus Dei.
Ted Bort a.k.a. Douchebort drew the ire of everyone that he instantly annoyed in the last episode. Hevad Khan acted a little too goofy during his Main Event run in 2007, but a guy running around with a chair on his head seems absurd, although fits the bill for Las Vegas. But the guy who barks? Unless you have Tourette's Syndrome, I gotta say that anyone who barks at the poker table gets an immediate Asshole Fine.
Barking for the cameras to get attention. Hey, that stuff is good for poker, right?
Douchebort sat at the secondary table with Jason Mercier. I'm sure Mercier wasn't thrilled with his table assignment, but he's too cool and easy going to let his true colors show. He just shined on the incessant barking.
"Wait, are you that toolbag who who was barking?" one player asked.
"Ruff. Ruff," responded Douchebort, who then humbly explained to everyone within earshot that the barking was actually complex action with dual meanings. One of them entailed his days as a street fighter back in Chicago.
"If I was barking -- I was pounding on you," he bragged.
Douchebort won a pot and barked three times while taunting his opponents with a passive-aggressive "Is that annoying?"
Quick cut to a shot of the featured TV table as his bark echoed in the background. The players' reaction was less than kind.
"Who let the dogs out, baby?" joked Scotty. "Because I'm hungry."
One of the floor staff walked over to Douchebort and issued him a yellow card for excessive barking. Yep, barking falls under the Hevad Khan Rule of Douchebaggery, which is one of the better rules that the WSOP added to curtail uncouth behavior at the tables.
"Apparently they want the game to be boring and not saying anything," protested Douchebort.
Um, nice try to elicit sympathy. The goal is to not have a boring tournament, just bark-free. I guess he cannot entertain us with intelligent wit using human linguistics and can only bark like a dog. Don't guys pay top dollar in Las Vegas to hire a dominatrix to whip them and shove anal beads up their bunghole while commanding them to bark like a dog?
Douchebort's couch interview was Freud's wet dream. We all got to analyze his childhood to unravel the source of his barking -- the sullen tale of shuffling from foster home to foster home, then running way to Texas where he hustled as a male stripper (which is the opposite story that most friends from Texas who tell me about young women flee Texas for Vegas or some other big city and end up on the pole). To add an another somber layer to his already tear-jerking story, we discovered the Douchebort also spent a stint in the joint. He never indicated the specific reason for his incarceration, but I'm sure he was set up.
Yep, same old story. Man barks like a dog to make up for shitty childhood.
Jason Mercier sat down for a couch interview and told his story about April 2008 -- which was the best of times and the worst of times for the young pro. He had flown out to Italy and won the EPT San Remo for a cool million. He went out to celebrate with friends. A couple of local Italians started a brawl inside a club. The bouncers tossed everyone, but the troublemakers jumped them outside the club. It wasn't pretty; Mercier and two of his friends were stabbed. One of his assailants thrust a broken beer bottle into his back, which led to 60 stitches and two days in an Italian hospital.
"Dramatic experience," was how Mercier explained it. Shit, anytime you get stabbed, it's traumatic. I get squeamish when I get a papercut. Mercier is a tough motherfucker.
The Weight Bet a.k.a. Why Matusow Is Not Answering Calls From Ted
This summer, everyone was talking about a prop bet between Ted Forrest and Mike Matusow. A few years ago, Matusow won a weight loss prop bet against Forrest. He had gone on a crash diet that included vinegar and cayenne pepper in order to shed the necessary pounds. This time around, Forrest's weight was the source of the $2 million wager. He had 2.5 months to drop 45 pounds.
"Easiest $2 million that I'd won in my life," mused Forrest after he won the bet.
He came in at 138 pounds and looked like a tweaker. Wonder how long it will take Matusow to pay that bet off? Can Uncle Tilty garnish his wages even more?
Good to see Steve "Cuz" Buckner from Brooklyn got some face time. He's a salty, yet hysterical character that I met in Las Vegas, who used to work at the Hunts Points markets. Draw your own wise guy conclusion there. Anyway, he's a misfit that is a dead ringer for an extra on The Sopranos. He could easily be Goomba #3. If you ever see him in the poker room, he's got an unlit cigar in his mouth and calls everyone "Cuz", which is how he got his nickname.
Cuz was a compelling enough character that the producers 441 Productions invited him to sit down for a couch interview. That's when you know the clock has started on your fifteen minutes of fame -- if you get a couch interview, because it's all downhill from there.
Cuz told his tear-jerking rags to rices story about falling into the wrong crowd and dealing drugs in NYC to support his habit. He was a self-admitted "mover and shaker" which meant that he was just selling to support his habit. He was one of those dealers who constantly pinched out of your bags. But alas, Cuz found the light 25 years ago and stopped his evil drug ways. He bounced back from being a junkie who was sleeping in an alley to a success story. The key to his success? Living in the moment.
Q-9 vs. Q-9
We caught the action on the board of Qh-7d-6c-Kc-Kd. Robert Varkonyi shoved all-in on the river for less than the total pot. He held Qc-9c fora busted flush draw and two-pair. Vanessa Selbst also held Q-9, and tanked for a moment before she called. They split the pot.
"What are you doing?" Selbst wondered. I thought the same thing, that if Varkonyi shoves on the river and he only gets called in the spot by a hand that beats him... well, in that instance, a hand that ties him.
Varkonyi had no answer for Selbst. He shrugged his shoulders.
The Former Champions
Aside from Varkonyi and Scotty Nguyen, four other former champions were playing...
- Didn't get to see too much of Action Dan, but he got lots of air time last week.
- Johnny Chan won a hand with sevens full which put him into the chiplead. I recalled that when word got out that Chan had the lead, it was met with lukeroom results from the press. The ones who cared rushed over to his table. The others wanted to wait until Day 4 to make a stink about his run. Chan coughed up the lead when he lost a flip with A-K against pocket Jacks.
- Chris Moneymaker hit the road when his 10s-5s lost to Kc-8c.
- Joe Cada busted out with A-Q versus pocket tens. He flopped a flush draw, but whiffed. He made his exit knowing that he would not be the first player to win consecutive world championships since Johnny Chan did it way back during the Reagan administration. On a positive note, the best Cada footage included a flashback interview regarding last year's November Nine, specifically one hand decisive against Darvin Moon, who shoved all in on the turn with two tens on the board. Cada only had a pair of nines for two pair, but felt that it was good enough against Moon. He had put Moon on a draw and his read was correct -- Moon only had an OESD. Cada made the call and won the hand when Moon whiffed on the river.
Ringos and Candonko
The announcers tossed in a Beatles reference and called Robert Mizrachi the "Ringo" of the Mizrachi clan. I guess that means that The Grinder is the one and only John Lennon? Or Paul McCartney? Anyway, Robert was involved in a hand with Lauren Kling. I don't have the details -- it wasn't very exciting -- I am simply adding that content so I could have an excuse to post this photo of Lauren, who we joked was going to be Benjo's future ex-wife.
We nicknamed Filippo Canido something rather bad -- Candonko after watching his questionable play in the Main Event. The latest shocker? He five-bet shoved with 6-6 in a three-way pot. He was up against Mercier's A-K and another A-K. Both Big Slicks folded. He showed one 6. All hail, Felipo Candonko. His powers of the donk were in full force on a different hand when he rivered an King to snap off Aces. That's one of the reasons why he made the November Nine -- he avoided a hand that would have absolutely crippled him.
If you were wondering how he got to the final table? Those are two instances. He ended Day 3 among the chipleaders.
Thanks to Flipchip for the WSOP photos.
Here's previous Tao of Poker recaps of the Main Event on ESPN:
Day 2A - March of the Mizrachis and DannypaloozaFor in depth coverage of Day 3, read the Main Event Day 3 Semi-Live Blog and the end of day recap titled Day 3: Johnny Fucking Chan, the Butcher Shop, and Here Come the Scandis.
Day 2B - Happy Jacks, Action Dan, the Jenny Crank Diet, and Pancakes with the DonkeyBomber
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 WSOP fix, visit the Tao of Poker's Index of WSOP coverage.
See ya next week.