Las Vegas, NV
At the start to Day 6, I jotted down a couple of potential stories that I needed to keep a keen eye on. Six seemed to be an appropriate number, so my goal was to answer all six questions by the end of the day. Here's a bit of my notes:
Day 6 StoriesSometimes you get lucky and most of your questions are answered in a concise manner, especially on a rather strange Sunday in Las Vegas. How strange? Everyone went to dinner at 4:25pm and had a 2-hour break. Very strange indeed. What are we playing a circuit event at the WSOP of Del Bocca Vista? Only retirees hitting up an "Early Bird" buffet are ready to chow down at 4:30pm.
1. The last woman standing -- who will it be?
2. JRB Watch - time for an implosion or will the deep run continue?
3. Can Joe Cheong become the first back-to-back November Niner?
4. When will Ben Lamb overtake Phil Hellmuth for POY standings?
5. Which "known pros" will be bagging up chips at the end of the day?
6. Will David Bach cough up the lead to Puis Heinz or Ben Lamb? Or will someone else seize the top spot?
Me? I scurried out of the Rio and played an hour of so of Pai Gow. I wish I was hungry, but at the time, I needed to donk off a few chips while I sorted out the top 6 stories of the day.
Last Woman Standing
Three women entered the Octogon. Only one survived and collected Wicked Chops Poker's special "cup" for the Last Woman Standing. At my first WSOP Main Event in 2005, Tiffany Williamson made noise during her deep run (15th place) and even got to fling around chips inside Benny's Bullpen at the last ever glimpse of the WSOP at Downtown Las Vegas. In 2006, Sabyl Cohen went deep with a 56th place finish in the largest-ever field at the WSOP. In 2007, Maria Ho took 37th place and almost got drenched by a keg of beer from rowdy railbirds. If you read Lost Vegas, you know about the controversy surrounding Tiffany Michelle's 17th place finish at the 2008 Main Event. In 2009, Leo Margets from Spain finished in 27th place. Last year, it wasn't that great of year for the Ladies because no one finished in the top 3 tables. Alas, Breeze Zuckerman posted a 121st place finish, good enough for the WCP Last Woman Standing cup.
In 2011, a trio of women were still alive at the start of Day 6: Amanda Musumeci, Erika Moutinho, and Claudia Crawford. Crawford hit the rail in 85th while Musumeci waited until the final level of play before she bailed out in 62nd place. Ergo, Erika Moutinho shipped the Last Woman Standing cup.
Moutinho not only has a name that is ripe to be snarked on via Twitter, but she's also the girlfriend of Doc Sands -- himself ensconced in a deep run at the Main Event. The couple even were seated at the same table late in the day. Sometimes, couples/spouses and siblings/family members are looked upon with suspicious eyes in poker rooms because of a potential collusion factor. I dunno about you and your siblings, but my brother and I grew up in a highly competitive environment. Sure we'd root for each other to win a tournament, but while we're both playing -- anything goes. We've both busted each other in the past and given the shot, we'd go after each other in the Main Event. The Mizrachis had a similar situation last year. Heck, even Annie Duke knokced her brother Howard Lederer out of the Main Event the year in which she bubbled off the final table.
Now boyfriend/girlfriend? That's a little tough, but then again, I've been with my awesome ladyfriend for over 5 years and we've pretty much argued about everything under the sun. You don't last that long in a relationship unless you've run the gauntlet of debate/argument topics -- and still be on speaking terms without chucking sharp objects at each other. So in that regard, I assume Moutinho and Sands would gun each other down if given the opportunity. After all, it's the WSOP Main Event -- a made-for-TV event -- and as the saying goes, "It's not show friends, it's show business!"
I'd expect all eyes are keeping a close watch on the couple, which means it's nearly impossible to pull off any shenanigans because they are under intense scrutiny, especially with 57 players to go. But congrats to Erika Moutinho. She still has a shot at becoming the next (and only second) woman to make the final table.
Oh, and speaking of brothers -- Tony Hachem is trying to make history by becoming the first pair of brothers/siblings to ship the Main Event. His older brother, "Salty" Joe Hachem won the last ever Main Event played out inside Benny's Bullpen in 2005. Ah, that's the locale of the infamous "Oi! Oi! Oi!" chant and let's not forget the "Pass the sugar!" mantra that got beat to a dead horse in the subsequent years.
Jean-Robert Bellande (known aliases are JRB, Bobby, or Busto Bobby) is an evil genius and managed to brand himself, quite successfully, as the consummate broke dick poker pro. Bellande crossed over into rare and coveted territory for the poker world -- as a network reality TV star. Poker fame is one thing, but reality TV show fame is an entirely different beast. Many more Americans watch Survivor compared to WSOP broadcasts on ESPN, which means Bobby Bellande is famous in Middle America because he appeared on TVs inside homes, apartments, and trailer parks in various fly-over states.
Bellande is also very open about his deviancy and lack of control when it comes to bankroll management, Much like many young pros who come into money for the first time, JRB and the young guns often opt to keep up their lofty lifestyles at the expense of their bankroll. Hence why "Broke Living" is such a truthful way to band oneself in poker, especially because behind the scenes many well-known pros are struggling financially -- either trying to maintain the baller lifestyle, or they're stuck six or seven figures of makeup to various backers and staking syndicates.
Love or hate JRB, at least he's honest with his financial situation. Plenty of pros issue press releases or brag on social media about why they are skipping the WSOP or other events while whitewashing the real truth -- because they are broke. A few years back when Gus Hansen was rumored to be stuck almost $10 million (most of it to Doyle Brunson), the Great Dane was AWOL from the WSOP preliminaries. I bumped into his "agent" in the hallway and said, "Where the fuck is Gus? Tell me he's banging the Swedish bikini team?" His agent acted coy and said, "Gus is home in Denmark spending time with family and playing golf with friends." I quickly scribbled down in my notebook -- "Agent tried to bluff me. Gus is broke."
JRB is always a fun sweat because his stack has more ups and downs and massive swings than a gold mining stock listed on the NYSE. One moment JRB has his back against the wall and on the brink of elimination. The next thing you know, he's sitting pretty on a big stack and you know it's just a matter of time before he spews off his chips. We took bets in the press box when JRB would implode -- but we were also impressed with another deep run in consecutive years.
JRB haters rejoiced when he busted in 65th place, meanwhile JRB fans were bummed out when he was eliminated late on Day 6. Busto Bobby added $108,412 to his bankroll. I have no idea how much of his action he sold off, but expect it was anywhere from 42 to 98%.
Since the inception of the November Nine, there has yet to be a player to make multiple November Nine appearances. Only one player from the 2010 November Nine was still alive -- Joe "subiime" Cheong. After a tough implosion at the final table inside the Penn & Teller Theatre, Cheong busted in third place. He was seeking redemption and attempting to erase last year's bitter memory with another final table stint. Plus, without online poker, Cheong needed to gobble up as much cash as he could to pad his bankroll because grinding live poker is a mind-bending chore in the post-Black Friday world.
Alas, Cheong got knocked out in 114th place and only won $54,000 or so. That's chump change compared to the November Nine payouts, but at least he exited the Amazon Ballroom with the distinction of being the last November Niner left standing. Doesn't he get a lifetime supply of beef jerky for that feat?
Lambs, Brats, and POY
Phil Hellmuth did everything within his power to win his 12th bracelet this summer. He ended up with three disappointing runner-up finishes, but entered the Main Event in the top spot for the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year race (powered by Bluff Magazine's astute ranking system). At one point Ben Lamb held the lead, until Hellmuth leaped ahead a couple of weeks ago.
But now -- with Hellmuth's elimination and Lamb still alive in the Main Event -- Lamb surpassed Hellmuth once again to reclaim the top spot in the POY race. Of course, David Bach has an outside chance of seizing first place if he ships the Main Event and both Lamb/Hellmuth whiff at the WSOP-Europe.
Oh, in case you didn't know, the WSOP-E counts towards POY points. It was a controversial decision and most pros were against it because they were lazy fuckers who didn't want to have to fly to Cannes in October to play in all of the WSOP-E events in order to secure their leads in the POY. You bet your ass Hellmuth already booked his flights to France and he'll be playing in every preliminary including the WSOP-E Main Event. I guess you can expect Ben Lamb to show up as well in order to preserve his top spot.
Familiar Faces (of Death)
Who is going to be the token pro at the final table? Every year it seems as though a name pro stands out from the rest of the pack. With Phil Ivey sitting out this year's Main Event, a handful of pros went into Day 6 hoping that they'd step up and become this year's token pro. The exposure is tough to top, especially if you're not considered one of the top-tiered pros in terms of TV popularity and outlandishness. Guys like Allen Cunningham have millions and millions in career earnings, but they are nice, quiet guys at the table, which means they are overlooked by ESPN cameras, who spend more time roaming the floor capturing douchey behavior and other outbursts of uncouth manners
Speaking of Allen Cunningham, he went deep during the year Jamie Gold won and was hoping to add another final table to his already impressive resume. Alas, Allen busted in 69th place. That meant the golden boy -- Erick Lindgren -- became the center of attention.
Lindgren going deep
Lindgren recently got married to Erica Schoenberg before the Main Event began. If there's another reason to hate Lindgren, there you go, because he married one of the cooler chicks in the poker scene. Lindgren finally got the bracelet monkey off his back a couple of summers ago, but why not add a November Nine appearance to his list of accolades?
Lindgren flew under the radar, so low in fact, that my buddy F Train didn't even notice him until Day 6. Sometimes pros will do that to you and sneak up out of nowhere. While everyone was focused on the chipleaders and the race to a 10 million-chip stack, Lindgren got lost in the kerfuffle.
Lindgren ended Day 6 in the second half of the pack (38th to be exact). At this time of the year, he's usually sifting through fantasy football magazines (joke source goes to his agent, Brian Balsbaugh) and gearing up for the upcoming NFL season. But in this instance, the magazines will have to wait because E-Dogg is attempting a shot at the improbable -- a seat at the November Nine.
By the way, speaking of notables, one of the producers from my favorite show Weeds is Matt Salsberg. He finished in 70th place. If you ever wonder where all the random poker references came from -- it's Salsberg! Well done, sir. By the way, if you happen to read Tao of Poker, I'd love to submit writing samples (and hook you up with a copy of Lost Vegas) to be considered as a staff writer on your upcoming series about poker players. Heck, I'd even write for Weeds if given the opportunity. Let me know if we can do lunch when I get back to L.A.!
Bag It Tag It, Sell It to the Butcher At the Store
David "Gunslinger" Bach began Day 6 as the chipleader. Everyone still left in the Main Event was gunning for the big dog. By the end of four full levels of play, Bach slipped to under 2 million -- a paltry sum indeed. He'll start Day 7 in 42nd place or trailing the leader by 9 million.
Speaking of leaders, Ryan Lenaghan sort of came out of nowhere to finish Day 6 with the lead.He bagged up 12.8 million. Lenaghan, a pro from the Big Easy via Alabama, emerged late on Day 6. Most of the attention throughout the day went to Phil Collins. No, the drummer from Genesis was not playing in the Main Event, rather it was the online pro known as USCPhildo. And no, he didn't go to Southern Cal, rather, he attended South Carolina. Anyway, Collins became the first player to pass the 10 million mark, much to the delight of the media who quickly busted out Phil Collins jokes/lyrics/song titles.
Lenaghan snatched the lead away from Collins, who finished up 7.2 million after dropping a slew of chips. Collins still managed to pull off a Top 5 finish on Day 6.
And then there's Ben Lamb. He seized the lead at one point during Day 6, but couldn't keep pace with Collins or Lenaghan. But never count Lamb out. He finished Day 6 with a shade under 10 million -- good enough for second overall.
By the way, Bryan Devonshire and Puis Heinz (my new favorite name at the Main Event) are 11th and 12th in chips with a smidgen below 6 million. They are both within striking distance of the front pack.
Photos courtesy of Winamax and Wolynski.
Follow @taopauly for Twitter updates throughout the day.
Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.