Las Vegas, NV
I sat in the mostly empty media room, which is not my usual spot because I prefer to work in the pressbox on the floor of the Amazon Ballroom. The media room is sorta like the library because it's much quieter than being on the floor, where all the action is, but I had too much work to catch up on and too many distractions in the pressbox.
I retreated to the media room and one by one, as random colleagues passed me and made some sort of snarky comment about me sweating a big bet -- because why would I be inside the media room unless I wanted to watch a sporting event big screen TV? Over the first week of the WSOP, the TV had been tuned to French Open tennis, the Stanley Cup Finals, and the NBA Finals. Last year at this time, the TV would have shown World Cup soccer games.
I sat in the media room and pecked away at my laptop, while my friends shot me strange and judgmental glances when they noticed women's softball flickering on the big screen.
"I got money on Alabama," I blurted out.
I thought my bluff was obvious because anyone who bets on women sports is a total degen, especially college softball. Alas, my reputation proceeds me; I'm someone who will bet on (almost) everything. If you sincerely doubt that assertion, well then, I'm willing to bet money on it.
But one thing is for sure, ever since I arrived in Las Vegas, I spent more time starring at the big board in the sportsbook than at the poker table. At the point of the sporting season, both the NHL and NBA are in their respective final championships. I had props on both the Vancouver Canucks (hockey) and Dallas Mavericks (basketball). One was heavy chalk and the other was an value dog.
I rarely bet on hockey, but I've been dabbling in goal totals during the playoffs. I turned a profit betting on the OVER in the last Vancouver series, but in the finals against Boston, I bet the UNDER in game one. Talk about free money -- the line was 5.5 -- and Vancouver skated to a 1-0 victory with a goal in the final minute of regulation to seal the victory.
Without Phil Ivey betting on NBA games, which had become the story in previous WSOPs, I never got a chance to write a flowery post on the genius of Ivey the sportsbettor, and instead wrote a few pieces on Ivey the litigant. I guess I had to rely on my own deviant sportsbetting to make up for the lack of Ivey/hoops content.
I shit the bed on Game 1. That's all you need to know, but I made an adjustment for Game 2 and went with my gut and made a +175 moneyline bet on the Mavs, which took balls especially with the game in Miami. The practical side of me also bet the Mavs getting 4.5 points. As the game reached the middle of the 4th quarter, it appeared both beats were toast with the Mavs down 15. Slightly tilted and steaming, I left the Amazon Ballroom and took a walk into the casino in search of something to eat. I ended up at the sportsbook deli. Upon my arrival, I could hear raucous screaming. I glanced at the score -- the Mavs were only down 4 points. What the fuck? They unleashed a comeback, one of the most impressive in NBA final history, after Miami went inexcusably cold. The Mavs eventually tied the game and then Dirk took matters into his own hands.
The end of the game was as memorable and exhilarating as I've seen in some time. The Mavs prevailed and the anti-Heat sentiment ran rampant in the sportsbook. Pandemonium broke out in the sportsbook. I've never seen so many happy bettors. I tweet'd that I sucked out with a two-outer and you all know how much that feels when you get lucky at the poker tables, so multiply that feeling by a couple hundred giddy bettors.
One guy was so pumped about the Mavs comeback and subsequent victory that he ran around the sportsbook chanting Salt-N-Peppa's anthem Push It.
"Push it good!" he screamed. "Push it real good!"
That's the kind of absurd behavior you only see in Las Vegas. Any other place on the planet, you'd get locked up for public intoxication or dragged off to a mental institution for singing Salt-N-Peppa songs in public.
Speaking of rowdy and public intoxication, the Brits invaded the final table of the WSOP once again. The first half of the 2010 WSOP belong to the Brits and some of that run good continued with Jake Cody's appearance at the final table of the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship.
Cody bested a field of 128 players and won $882K for first place, a hefty chunk of the $3 million prize pool. He advanced all the way to the Final Four and only Gus Hansen stood in his way of making a final table. Hansen was on fire in heads-up tournaments. He had won a bracelet in the $10K HU event at 2010 WSOP-E. Entering the Final Four, the Great Dane had a 12 match heads-up winning streak. Hansen seemed unbeatable... until Jake Cody took a seat across from him.
The British contingency is small, but loud and rowdy. It was almost watching an English Premier league match with lots of soccer chants. They even chanted the name of the head of security Tony, who had tossed a couple of their drunk asses out of the Amazon Ballroom during different final tables in 2010. Alas, what we heard in the Hansen match was just a preview of what was to come.
Gus Hansen was dismantled by Cody and Hansen's winning streak was stopped dead in its tracks at 12. Cody advanced, much to the delight of his mates on the rail.
The finals were set between Yevgeniy "JovialGent" Timoshenko and Jake Cody. One kid was a baby-faced online phenom, while the other could pass for the emo kid in high school cafeteria who smoked clove cigarettes.
The Brits were out in force and the later it got, more and more alcohol seeped deep into their bloodstream. The chants got louder, rowdier, raunchier, and occurred at a much higher frequency. After a while, organized chants fell to the wayside and Cody's supporters blurted out random things. Ironically Cody is probably the exact opposite of his boisterous rail -- if anything he's genial, laconic, and rather soft spoken.
"I try to tune them out," he later explained.
Luckily one of my colleagues, Homer, is British and he acted as a translator for the bulk of the North American media.
He explained some of the chants Cody's supporters unleashed, "Barmy Army is the official name of England cricket supporters club and their signature chant."
Timoshenko's supporters tried to rally with their own chants, but they were obviously not as organized as the Brits. In fact, the Brits were out-snarked the Yanks and took a few shots below the belt when they taunt Americans who got their money stuck in Full Tilt.
When the Yanks attempted a chant of "No Bracelet! No World Cup!", the Brits counterattacked with "We cashed out from Full Tilt!!"
What a fucking brilliant way to tilt the rail.
Although Cody did his best to tune out the boisterous rail, Timoshenko noted, "I've been to soccer matches less rowdy than this."
Then again, most European matches prohibit the sales of liquor. If booze sales get banned at the final table in future events, you can blame Cody's mates for that drastic measure.
But at the least, the Amazon Ballroom came alive on Friday night capping a week of utter weirdness at the 2011 WSOP. Another young Brit made a final table and won a bracelet.
Meanwhile, Jake Cody joined an elite club of only three members -- Poker's Triple Crown -- which includes a WSOP bracelet and victories on both the WPT (London) and EPT (Daueville). The other two members? Roland de Wolfe and Gavin Griffin.
Photo courtesy of WSOP.com.