Wednesday, June 01, 2011

2011 WSOP - Day 1: Welcome to the Jungle and Phil Ivey's Titanium Balls

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Charles Bukowski said it best, "Not all of us are gamblers; those who aren't don't matter."

Chucky B is a fucking brilliant alkie. He was also a degen horse bettor and spent too much time stumbling around shitfaced at the Los Angeles area racetracks. But sometimes, poets can accurately explain the insatiable appetite which drives gamblers to the brink of insanity and back again.

Phil Ivey is arguably the greatest poker player in the history of card games. He's been a professional gambler since high school. He's won and lost millions in the blink of a second, whether it was a fortuitous river card to ship him a $420,000 pot in PLO, or a bad bounce on a missed free throw that cost him a high six-figure bet on a basketball game.

We're all gamblers in some way or another, but Ivey is a professional gambler, which puts him in a elite category with only a handful of people in the history of mankind like hedge fund manager and new NY Mets owner David Einhorn, Hollyweird agent Michael Ovitz, and military/strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu.

Ivey is not just any pro gambler -- he's the biggest swinging dick in the universe -- which is why he dropped his pants and exposed his titanium balls to the poker world. Talk about a "sick gamble" after he announced (on his Facebook page of all things -- welcome to the new world social media world) he was skipping the WSOP and suing Full Tilt Poker for their failure to pay out players in a timely manner.

Holy shitballs. Did that actually happen? Is this real life? Did someone dose everyone in the media?

I'm still shocked several hours after the story broke and I posted WTF? Phil Ivey Suing Full Tilt and Skipping the 2011 WSOP. In just a few hours, Ivey became the only thing people were talking about inside the Amazon Ballroom -- media, dealers, security guards, floor people, and scores of pros. Twitter and 2+2 both blew up. On what should have been a day to celebrate the kick off the 2011 WSOP, Phil Ivey stole the show.

Photo courtesy of Flipchip

Day 1 kicked off with Event #1 $500 NL Employees in the Pavilion. The first tournament failed to launch without a couple of glitches in the computer system, which printed out both blank and duplicate seat assignments. Due to the tech error, the original noon start time for Event #1 was pushed back over 35 minutes.

WSOP TD Jack Effel asked all of the casino employees to join him in uttering the famous catchphrase, "Shuffle up and deal!"

The feature tournament of the day was set for 5pm with Event #2 $25,000 NL Heads-Up Championship. The event was delayed a couple of minutes to allow a couple of players to register in order to get to reach a perfect 128-person field.

The 25K was overlooked by a troubling incident, which was rooted in Full Tilt's failure to pay back their players. Ever since Black Friday, when the darkness fell upon the American online poker world, many of my peers speculated whether or not Full Tilt pros were going to be harassed and heckled by players with money still stuck in Full Tilt, especially the likes of Howard Lederer and Jesus Ferguson.

Well in case you were keeping score at home, we had our first instance when British pro James Bord had a tete-a-tete with one of the original Full Tilt owner-pros John Juanda. Benjo was on the rail watching Juanda's match against French pro Alexander Bonnin. After Juanda disposed of Bonnin, he exited the tournament area, where James Bord immediately confronted Juanda. Benjo mentioned it looked like Juanada and Bord were continuing a previous, yet heated conversation. Juanda took the brunt of Bord's verbal abuse as the Brit threatened him with the old "I'll kick your ass in the parking lot" jab.

Benjo also overheard Bord refer to Juanda as a "disgrace" and "fake." Oh, and how can I forget about my favorite insult when Bord called Juanda a "thieving prick."

As one anonymous member of the press mentioned, "What the fuck did (Juanda) think was going to happen at the WSOP? If you wear a Full Tilt patch, you will be target for angry, bitter, pissed-off players."

Anyway, Juanda called the floor and ask for security to intervene in his verbal spat with Bord. The head of security came over with a couple of guards and separated both men in the hallway.

James Bord (in yellow) being grilled by security after the Juanda incident
Photo courtesy of Benjo

No wonder Ivey wanted to sit out the WSOP. Even though he's still Phil Ivey, he is still exposed to the public. My suggestion to Rio security is that they have to beef up the perimeter of tournaments because the Juanda-Bord incident set precedent. If you thought Howard Lederer or Jesus were going to show up before Ivey's lawsuit and the Juanda-Bord tiff, then you're fucking insane. No one is foolish enough to subject themselves to a potential ass-kicking. Showing up wearing a Full Tilt patch is like lathering yourself in butter and throwing yourselves to the lions.

Erik Seidel is a bright man because he ditched the patches. Tom "durrrr" Dwan was also noticeably patchless.

Juanda, who played with a FT patch, played his second match without any incidents. According to Bluff Magazine's crack reporting team, they noticed that not one, but three security guards escorted Juanda to the parking lot.

* * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 1

Here's a peek into my notes...

- No shocker that KevMath, who is covering his first WSOP, was the first media rep to get in line and pick up his press credentials. I had a few copies of my novel with me, and KevMath was also the first person to buy a copy of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

- Ran into Jesse May in the media room. He's here all summer, which makes me happy because I get to chat with one of my favorite authors.

- The press box is very cramped this year, but we have Scotty Nguyen's Main Event championship mural looking over our shoulder, which is much better than seeing fat-ass Russ Hamilton hovering overhead. Speaking of Russ, his mural has been covered up (or perhaps hung backwards).

- I lost two pens by mid-afternoon.

- The former porn star turned massage girl returned to the WSOP this year, which prompted a quick search of porn sites to see one of her videos. You're a winner if you had 4:10pm in the "When will the first person be caught surfing porn in the pressbox?"

- The new feature TV table and set is kinda gaudy and pretentious. The old set from 441 Productions was much more classier. If you don't know, 441 is no longer contracted to film the WSOP for ESPN. The assignment is now contracted to Poker Productions (the crew who brings you High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark).

-While walking down the hallway with Chops from Wicked Chops Poker, we spotted "Miserable Fuck." Haven't seen Eskimo Clark yet.

- I ran into Jose from Venezuela, who is an avid reader of Tao of Poker. He gifted me two bottles of Venezuelan rum. What an awesome guy! I was walking down the hallway and ran into Michele Lewis and Michael Craig. I showed them the rum. "Your fans give you cool gifts," explained Craig. "The only thing someone every gave me at the WSOP was a subpoena."

- The NBA Finals kicked off with game 1 between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks. Without Phil Ivey in the room and his crazy eyes fixated on the game, we didn't have any hilarious incidents with Ivey sweating a big bet on the NBA finals. I watched the last few minutes of the game in the Amazon Ballroom with Jason Mercier (huge Miami Heat fan) and Barry Greenstein sitting nearby. Here's the quick conversation which occurred the moment the game ended...
Random Guy on Rail: "Jason, did you win?"
Jason Mercier: "I lost my (heads-up) match, but yeah, I won the bet."
Barry Greenstein: "He won the more important of the two."
- Prop Bet of the Day: Shaun Deeb played Michael Binger in the 25K. The loser has to camp out at Red Rock Canyon for two days.

- Bracelet Bets: David Benyamine is getting 5-1 on a bracelet bet. If he wins a bracelet, then he'll take down $400,000.


  1. Let the games begin!!!. This could be the most interesting WSOP since 2006.

  2. What's the deal with the players and patches. Okay to wear patches but not at the TV table if you are Pokerstars, Tilt, UB/AP etc?

  3. Hmmm, just the right dose of the Series from far, far away. Thank you Doctor.

  4. Hoping to see more of Tao of Five from this years events...

  5. Who is the former porn star turned massage girl?

  6. Thanks Dr. Pauly for always being there. I pretty much avoided poker since the dark black Friday thing... but hey.. I always thought Full Tilt was bull shit.

    I'll have it pretty good since I can go back and "catch up" reading all your great work.

    You sir.. are "the rock star" of the WSOP writers universe.