Los Angeles, CA
There's a new sheriff in town according to the sleek intro by 441 Productions, with b-roll of the wilting luster of Las Vegas of yesteryear fading to black as an ominous time relapsed image of the moon disappeared behind the flickering lights of downtown Las Vegas. Talk about an amazing foreshadowing montage, which hinted at the theme to Day 5 episodes of the WSOP Main Event.
The set up was simple: the old guard (brick and mortar dinosaurs) vs. the new guard (online pros). We've been witnessing similar skirmishes across the globe. The internet revolution is upon us and decaying paradigms such as newspapers and poker are in the middle of a major shift as the ones seizing power are the ones who are control the internet. The virtual world has been a battleground for the hearts of minds of consumers, but it's also been a training ground for the current titans of the universe in poker. A handful of old school pros adapted to the playing style of online players, and unless everyone else tweaks their game, they will be the only ones to survive this potentially cataclysmic revolution. Adapt or be overcome. The Phil Iveys and Tom Dwans of the world are hybrid masters -- handling the best of the best in real life and online.
Day 5 began with 574 remaining out of 7,319 runners, and Tony Dunst as the chipleader with 1,546,000. For an overall list of players who cashed, click over to the 2010 WSOP Main Event money winners.
OMG He Runs Good
Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond held court on featured table with Jimmy Tran, and Kevin Boudreau (wearing an over-sized Peter Jetten button). Galfond, the former philosophy major at Wisconsin, was heavily featured in the first half of coverage. I was once told by a family member that "only burners study philosophy" in college. Galfond dropped out of college when he realized that playing cash games for a living paid much better than jobs that require PhDs in philosophy.
The PLO cash game guru was among the leaders at the start of the day, and doesn't play too many tournaments. Yet, Galfond played a healthy number of events the last two summers.
"The WSOP is a mandatory business trip," was some of Galfond's personal philosophy that got shared with everyone.
I know the feeling. The WSOP is a seven week bazaar of poker and some of the biggest money deals are going on in the hallways of the Rio and not exactly inside the Amazon Ballroom. Galfond has a training school, and where better to meet potential students than the WSOP. At the same time, the WSOP brings together the best poker minds in the world. If you're able to sit down and pick some of these brains, you can leave with a wealth of knowledge.
During his couch interview, the action-starved Galfond couldn't pry himself away from an online cash game. Galfond mentioned that he sometimes plays 70 hours of poker a week. Heck anything over 35 in considered full-time employment, so he's definitely putting in double time. Plus, playing at those nosebleed stakes means that he's engrossed in constant high-pressure situations on average of ten hours per day. That mental fatigue has got to wear on you after a while.
Galfond was permitted to set up his laptop in the interview room. What a better way to promote online poker! Pure genius. Galfond played while the producers fired away questions. He was in the middle of a juicy session of PLO and dropped 20K during his couch interview. I think he was playing on PokerStars, at least that's what it sounded like. Galfond nonchalantly mentioned that his biggest lost was 900K in a day, and on his best day he netted 1.6 million. I'm sure the IRS suits had a hard-on with those minuscule numbers.
"Disassociate" was a word that Galfond used to explain what it takes to play for such large stakes without sweating. And this is coming from a guy who has dropped almost $2 million to Ivey online.
It helps when you're talented and running good. For the majority of the first episode, you didn't see Galfond lose a single pot and rushed toward 2 million in chips, almost more than his entire TV table. How good was Galfond running? When one opponent held Aces, Galfond easily flopped trips which gave him the pot.
Galfond finally lost a hand when he knew he was gambling with pocket fives against anothe rpair of pocket Aces. He couldn't suck out and he doubled up a Eurodonk. He lost the overall chip lead to Matt Affleck after that hand, but even Galfond admitted that having 1% of the chips in play meant nothing on Day 5. Survival was the real key.
Candio and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat
Seemed like Galfond had the most trouble with the unpredictable Felippo Candio. The lovable Italian got his very own couch interview where he spoke in broken English and used a plethora of stereotypical hand gestures. Candio agreed that he "loses his mind" when he wins a big pot, and even he described himself as an "emotional professional poker player." He was definitely one of the loudest non-barkers in the Amazon Ballroom during the Main Event.
Cadinio also describes poker as "the dream", which isn't far from the truth. Most of the time, I wander around the Rio in a dreamlike state. It's the combination of the paranoia from the constant surveillance, pumped in oxygen, sleep deprivation, and a combination of marijuana and whatever pharmie cycle I'm on (uppers and downers). The Amazon Ballroom feels like a dream most of the time, and watching episodes of the WSOP triggers insane flashbacks, both good and bad. If you're a player, staff member, dealer or a media rep, then you know exactly what I'm talking about while watching these episodes -- so many trigger points that it's tough to pay attention to every episode.
Candio has been running good all tournament, so much so that we referred to him as Candonko on numerous occasions. He definitely made many unorthodox plays as he navigated through the field. He added even more chips to his pot during an Eurodonk-on-Eurodonk crime spree when Candio knocked out Finn MacNamara. Yeah, you know Kings are gonna be no good when you're all-in preflop against Candio's A-rag. An ace on the flop gave Candio the hand and MacNamara was running off to the closest bar to drown his sorrows.
From Prince to Brokedick
Scotty Nguyen was one of two former Main Event champions still alive at the start of Day 5. Only one, Johnny "Fucking" Chan, would continue to fight on Day 6.
Scotty lost a big hand early on to a young Asian kid who apologized. Why? Out of respect. When you wear that much bling and piss him off, you best say you're "sorry" or suffer the consequences.
Scotty was moved to the secondary table where his time was short-lived. Scotty had some fireworks right away when turned a set against two pair and induced his opponent "Fast Eddie" to re-shove on the turn. He won the pot to double up. Scotty became Fast Eddie's nemesis on another hand when Scotty flopped a set, but Fast Eddie turned a straight, yet Scotty boated up. Fast Eddie got away from the hand when he knew Scotty was ahead. He was right and made the correct fold. Scotty showed the nuts.
Cagey young gun James Carroll trapped Scotty Nguyen. Carroll flopped a set of tens against Scotty's Jacks. Carroll turned a boat and induced Scotty to shove. Carroll doubled up as Scotty lost half his stack, which marked the beginning of the end for Scotty.
On the final hand, Scotty got it all in with As-Js against a Scnadi's Kings. Benjo would call the random unknown Scandi... Jan Randomsen. So, Jan Randomsen's Kings survived the flop, but Scotty picked up a Broadway draw on the turn. Alas, Scotty couldn't get there on the river and Jan Randomsen won the pot.
Scotty went out in 209th place and Johnny "Fucking" Chan was the biggest named pro and last champ standing.
The Mizrachis - From a Trio to a Duo
The Mizrachis began the tournament with four brothers. Each of them advanced to the money. Eric busted out and three brothers began Day 5, but only two of them would make it to the end of the day.
Robert helped his cause when he doubled up with Kings against Jason Mercier's pocket fives. Robert later found himself pitted against Alex Jacob, who is a Bob Dylan impersonator during his time away from the felt. Jacob's pocket nines could not beat Robert's Q-J with a Queen on the flop. Jacob was out and back to singing Tom Thumb Blues, while Robert breezed to the end of the day.
The Grinder, wearing a backwards Deliverance Poker hat, found himself all-in on a flop with Kings against a flush draw and overcard. He faded the draw and avoided an elimination. He doubled up in another key flip that he'd win en route to his march to the November Nine.
As you guessed it, Donny the Magician was about to meet his fate on Day 5. He lost a shitload of chips against a Ginger. He eventually got knocked out when he went up against a Scandi. Yep, the Scandi sucked out and sent the second of four remaining Mizrachi brothers to the rail.
The Randomness of Day 5: Vanessa Pressure, Tony Cuff Links, and Meet More November Niners
Here are some random notes that I jotted down...
- Tony "Bond18" Dunst began Day 5 as the overall leader, until Galfond took the first pot of the episode and seized the lead. Bond got some face time and Norm commented that he was wearing one of his thirty suits. Dunst looked a bit like a secret service agent from a far, but when you get close up you realize that Dunst has a lot more style than a civil servant. Look closely at Dunst and you'll see that he's wearing cuff links. Anyone can wear a suit, but cuff links is classy.
- Vanessa Selbst sat on the secondary table along with Roothlus. Selbst didn't spend too much time because she lost most of her stack when she her Kings cracked by a Eurodonk's set of tens. She sensed that Kings were probably beat when she called an all-in on the ten-high flop, and even considered check-calling the flop but admitted that it would be tough for her to get away from her Kings, and as is, the Eurodonk doubled up. She eventually busted out with Ah-2h. She was hoping to steal the pot pre-flop after she shoved, but got called by an Aussie's Kh-Jh. Even though she was ahead, she had a bad feeling about the outcome... and was right. The Aussie flopped a Jack and that's all she wrote. Lots of pressure was thrust upon the shoulders of Selbst this year after winning NAPT Mohegan Sun. It's almost kiss of death to win a big event before the WSOP because lots of expectations all of a sudden get added to the daily pressure of playing at the WSOP.
- Sammy Farha's 2010 bracelet victory got mentioned. He was heads up with Flushy in a five-hour long match for the ages. Farha prevailed and picked up the bling. His run in the Main Event was over after he got crippled by an internet kid. He didn't seem to upset because he was in the middle of a massage. The ultra-cool and relaxed Farha went out shortly after.
- James Carroll got previous face time, but this episode the kid got a couch interview. In an earlier episode, Negreanu gave Carroll a compliment when he sat down and mentioned that he told to avoid Carroll. Hellmuth did not have similar nice things to say. In fact, Carroll shrugged it off and laughed at Hellmuth's negative tone. Hellmuth called him the worst player ever, which Carroll took as a sincere compliment. When brats and trolls go out of their way to trash you and say how bad you are, then that means you're doing something right.
- November Niner Soi Nguyen was introduced to the audience when he won a pot with a full house and jumped into 4th in chips. He also had a FT commercial hyping up the fact he's a dad humping an 8-5 job. Nice marketing ploy.
- Gary Kostiuk, a player from Canada who has MS, said the Main Event was one of those things to do before he died. You gotta figure there's a couple hundred of those buy-ins every year. I just think 2010 had more than usual.
- Bobby Bellande got it all in with Kings against Queens. You almost thought he was going to get outflopped, but for once Bellande's bad luck took a hand off as his Kings held up.
- PokerStars TeamPro Jason Mercier ran into a Francodonk's Aces and hit the road.
- Those lucky hands... Jonathan Duhamel's Ac-5c outflopped A-10. The French-Canadian pro doubled up and more importantly, he avoided an elimination. That's how you advance to the final table -- sometimes you gotta get in bad and get lucky.
- Note for Norm... less Rambling Wreck jokes, more Lady GaGa jokes.
- Theo Joregsen busted two players, did a weird dance, and then took the chip lead toward the end of Day 5 episodes.
Wie Geht's Detlef Schrempf?
I referred to Michael Skender in my notes as "Detlef Schrempf" as an homage to the former German NBA star who played ball for the Dallas Mavericks. Gotta love Detlef Schrempf's haircut -- something you could set a watch to. Detlef Schrempf's work ethic was amazing, which was well documented during his storied NBA career.
Michael "Detlef Schrempf" Skender is not good enough to play in the NBA, but he's a professional on the German pro circuit who made a name for himself at this year's WSOP. Detlef Schrempf got involved in one hand with Christian Harder. Detlef Schrempf called Harder "a crazy guy" after folding to his all-in shove with Big Slick. This was after a different hand against another player, when the German screamed "Don't fuck with me!"
Detlef Schrempf's antics and height earned him couch interview. His 15-minutes of fame are ticking. Wonder if that's enough for Dickhead Dolan to add him to the Knicks' squad? Anyway, during his couch interview, the faux-Detlef Schrempf, mentioned that televised poker was the gateway to his new-found addiction. Yep, he caught episodes of poker on German TV. I imagine poker is broadcast late nights, and up against public access channels and talk shows hosted by chain-smoking communists in turtlenecks discussing Nietzsche and existentialism while playing Velvet Underground records in the background. The rest of the TV is dominated by documentaries about Wagner, Heidegger, and David Hasselhoff, and seventeen stations that show nothing but healthy and fit Germans doing calisthenics along with the TV out of some bizarre scene from Orwell's 1984.
I apologize for the obvious tangent on my impressions of German TV. I'm told by a good friend it's just like American television -- lots of crap but with dubbed episodes of The Simpsons. Moving back on topic...
Skender aka Detlef Schrempf revealed that televised poker hooked him into the game. He and his teammates quickly caught the bug and played extensively on road trips. The German pros travel by bus. In Europe, travel is usually dominated by trains. Planes are a second option for the baller football teams who fly private jets to their games in the premier leagues. Hoops is not even the fourth favorite sport among Germans and ranks somewhere in between curling and the uber-gay two-man luge. That's why pro hoopsters in Germany have to ride the bus -- just like AA minor league baseball teams in the States. Detlef Schrempf cut his teeth during those arduous bus journeys from Düsseldorf to Bremerhaven. He went from the back of the bus to the bright lights of the WSOP. He ended Day 5 second in chips overall. Welcome to the big time.
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 5, read about the straight dope on Day 5 Semi-Live Blog, and don't forget about the end of day recap Day 5 - Fookin' Bonkers, Scandi Ambush, and Disco Inferno
Day 2B - Happy Jacks, Action Dan, the Jenny Crank Diet, and Pancakes with the DonkeyBomber
Day 3 - Scotty Nguyen and the Rudiments of Gruel
Day 4 - Money Money Money
Benjo and I recorded one of my favorite Tao of Pokerati episodes on Day 5...
Tao of Pokerati - Episode 68: Fun with Names: Fokkin Bonkers with Benjo - After realizing that Dutch pro Fokke Beukers has the best name left in the Main Event, Benjo and Pauly search the remaining players list and attempt to pronounce the truly obscure and difficult names.And don't forget about other 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.