Monday, July 03, 2006

Rafe First, Dutch "Bi-Polar" Boyd, and Hellmuth's 50

I met Rafe Furst during the first week of the 2005 WSOP. Andy Bloch introduced us. I asked him, "Are you the dude who ate the crayon for $1?"

"No. That would be Perry. And it was a Keno crayon."

"Far out," I said.

Furst was intrigued that I had a blog. During the rest of the 2005 WSOP, he would joke around and would utter thing like, "That's not very Tao of Poker of you."

I first read about Rafe's exploits as a Tiltboy along with the likes of his good friends Perry Friedman and Phil Gordon. If you haven't read the book Tales from the Tiltboys, you are missing out on some funny shit in a collection of their wild antics over the years. Last year, Gordon and Friedman both made final tables at the WSOP but Furst struggled. Last summer was not a total waste for Furst who managed to win a televised event for the Ultimate Poker Challenge at the Plaza.

Furst graduated from Stanford and is currently a Chief Technical Officer in Los Angeles. He's most infamous for being the first guy busted out of the 2003 WSOP. He also has a Roshambo world championship title and is the co-founder of "Put a Bad Beat on Cancer" with Phil Gordon.

A couple of nights ago, Rafe finally had a breakthrough moment in his poker career when he won his first bracelet. Here's what Phil Gordon wrote:
"It's a life-changing event for Rafe. But it's not about the money. He's been a great player for a long time, and totally unrecognized for it. This totally confirmed everything both he and I knew about the level of his game.

I was a complete emotional wreck as I watched. I think I peed in my pants three times. If I had been at the table playing those hands it wouldn't have been nearly as interesting. But over here, rooting for my man - it was exhausting.

It's great day Rafe, it's a great day for Full Tilt, and it's a great day for me. My best friend just won a bracelet."
Furst not only picked up his first bracelet, he did so in a record-setting event, winning the largest ever Pot-Limit Hold'em tournament at the WSOP. The three day long event included a field of 1,102 entrants compared to 1,071 in 2005. Furst also outlasted a difficult final table that included the cagey C.K. Hua (with over $2 million in tournament winnings over his career) and fellow Full Tilter John Juanda seeking his 4th bracelet.
Here's the final table chip counts for Event #3:
1. Eric "Rizen" Lynch (Olathe, KS) $455K
2. Rocky Enciso (Glendale, CA) $247K
3. Rafe Furst (Los Angeles, CA) $222K
4. John Juanda (Las Vegas, NV) $147K
5. Burt Boutin (Las Vegas, NV) $140K
6. Can Hua (Rosemead, CA) $122K
7. Rick Chase (Malibu, CA) $95K
8. Alan Gilbert (Murrieta, CA) $88K
9. George Bronstein (Tampa, FL) $15.7K

Here are the final table payouts for Event #3:
1 $345,984
2 $180,508
3 $104,544
4 $75,252
5 $60,169
6 $52,648
7 $45,127
8 $37,606
9 $33,854
Eric "Rizen" Lynch started the final table as the chipleader. He's one of the scariest sharks lurking around the online waters of Poker Stars after he recently won the $1 Million Guaranteed on Stars. Six out of the nine final table players were from California including Alan Gilbert a software engineer from Murrieta and Rick Chase a TV producer from Malibu.

John Juanda's presence rattled most of the players at the final table. After all, Juanda was the most experienced player at the final table which automatically made him one of the favorites. He busted out in 8th place when his Q-Q lost to C.K. Hua's A-K after Hua flopped a King. Juanda failed in his bid for his fourth bracelet and won $37,606.

With Juanda out, the 1,500 PL Hold'em bracelet was up for grabs as C.K. Hua snagged the chiplead. Furst would add to his stack with a little help from a lucky river card. With A-A he was up against C.K. Hua's 7-2o a.k.a. The Hammer. Furst was behind after a "Hammer Friendly" flop of Q-7-7. When a 3 fell on the turn, Furst teetered brink of elimination. Down to a handful of outs, the eerily calm Furst caught a miracle when an ace spiked on the river.

Hua doubled up Furst and would eventually bust out in 6th place. He won $52,648. With three players remaining, in another decisive hand Furst found some more luck when he re-raised all in with A-8s. Furst wasn't pleased to see Eric Lynch call with Big Slick. Furst didn't suckout, but got the next best thing... a chopped pot on a board of J-10-6-J-6.

Furst held a 3 to 1 chiplead over Lynch who lost the final table chiplead when he went card dead. Furst also almost 6 to 1 edge over Rocky Enciso.

In one of the biggest hands of the tournament, Enciso raised and Lynch re-raised all in, as Furst and Enciso both called. Furst's Big Slick was ahead of Lynch's A-7 and Enciso's K-Q. When a King flopped, all of Furst's vocal railbirds, including his buddy Phil Gordon, went bonkers. Their celebration was short-lived when they grimaced as a Queen fell on the turn to give Enciso the lead. The river didn't help Furst and when the dust settled, Enciso had tripled up. Furst won a few chips in the side pot against Eric "Rizen" Lynch who finished in 3rd place and won $104,544.

Furst found himself heads-up against a tough pro in Rocky Enciso, who plays a lot of tournaments at the L.A. area casinos. Furst had over $1 million in chips to Enciso's 630K. The heads-up battle lasted only one hand. Just before the action resumed, Furst had a brief discussion with Phil Gordon. Here's how he described their conversation:
"Before we played head's up, I had a little powwow with Phil Gordon. He'd been tracking how everyone played and was helping me analyze what strategies would work well. He said something really helpful. He said Rocky makes most of his mistakes post-flop, so I should try and play a lot of pots with him."
On the first hand, Furst found 8-4s and flopped two pair. Although the board paired when a 10 fell on the turn, Furst felt he was still ahead. That's when all the money went into the pot. Enciso was behind with J-4 and the river didn't help him. Enciso won $180,508 for second place, while Furst won $345,984 and his first bracelet. Despite a couple of lucky river cards at the final table, Furst played amazing poker for three straight days. He managed to stay focus and appear cool and calm the entire time.

In an interview with Jay Greenspan, Furst admitted, "There were a lot of miracle cards and they probably have to show that on TV. But it's okay. I feel good about how I played and I'm glad I got the bracelet."

Congrats to Rafe on a special victory. Since both Perry Friedman and Rafe Furst have won WSOP bracelets, fellow Tiltboy Phil Gordon is more hungrier than ever to win his first. We'll see if he can match his best friend's performance.

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Oliver Tse is a walking encyclopedia of poker (and other things). Just talking to him for ten minutes will make anyone smarter. I like having him around in the media room because he always has an answer to your questions. He's at the 2006 WSOP playing in a few events along with covering the WSOP for

Here's an interesting letter/email that he sent to the suits at ESPN. He was giving them a hard time about sugar-coating Dutch Boyd's checkered past. ESPN has never once discussed his shady business practices.
ATTN: Matt Maranz, Executive Producer
441 Productions
New York, New York

Dear Matt:

Controversial poker pro Russell "Dutch" Boyd has made the ESPN TV final table of the $2500 6-Handed No Limit Hold'em World Series of Poker (WSOP) event on Sunday July 2 with a substantial chip lead.

While ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE)/441 Productions had always glorified Mr. Boyd as the leader of the "Crew", many people, including myself, have been disappointed that EOE/441 had ignored Mr. Boyd's checkered past in all past episodes of the WSOP on ESPN in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

During the Dot-Com era of the late 1990's, Mr. Boyd ran a startup online poker business which failed miserably.

Mr. Boyd commingled the deposits of online poker players with operating funds of Ultimately, was unable to honor fund withdrawal requests before Mr. Boyd shut down, leaving many online poker players with substantial losses of their poker bankrolls.

In several interviews with smaller online poker websites since failed, Mr. Boyd had indicated that he would refund those players' deposits if he were ever in a finacial position to do so.

Needless to say, many players in the internet poker community are still very skeptical of Mr. Boyd's claim given that Mr. Boyd had never refunded a single penny to customers who lost their deposits despite Mr. Boyd's recent success as a tournament poker pro starting with his 12th place finish at the 2003 WSOP Main Event.

While Mr. Boyd is under no legal obligation to issue refunds to customers in the US because was located offshore, another poker pro who was involved in a similar situation, the legendary Doyle Brunson, used his own personal funds to refund customer deposits of a failed online poker room which he had endorsed.

I would like to know what, if anything, EOE/441 Productions will do to address the Dutch Boyd/ issue in the WSOP episode that is scheduled to air on October 10.

Thank you.

Oliver Tse
Contributing Poker Business Reporter,

cc: George Tobias, Editor-in-chief,
Jamie Horowitz, Supervising Producer, ESPN Original Entertainment
George Solomon, Ombudsman, ESPN
Bob Ley, Host, ESPN Outside The Lines
The one thing that stands out the most in Oliver's email is the part about how Doyle Brunson had a situation in the past where players lost their money in a site that he endorsed. He paid every player back their lost money, which came out of his own pocket. That tells you a lot about Texas Dolly. He's a man of integrity.

Let's see how ESPN spins Dutch "Bi-Polar" Boyd's win.

* * * * *

The other night, Phil Hellmuth cashed in his 50th event which gave him the out right lead for Most WSOP Cashes. It also was a milestone for Hellmuth who became the first player to ever cash 50 times at the WSOP. Last year, he failed in his quest to become the first player with 10 bracelets. Johnny Chan reached the highpoint first. Then one week later, Doyle Brunson followed with his 10th. Hellmuth now needs at least two more bracelets if he wants to pass both legends as the all time WSOP bracelet winner.
Top 10 WSOP Career Cashes:
1. Phil Hellmuth 50
2. Men Nguyen 49
3. T.J. Cloutier 48
3. Berry Johnston 48
5. Chris Ferguson 43
6. Erik Seidel 41
7. Humberto Brenes 38
7. An Tran 38
7. Ken Flaton 38
10. Mike Sexton 37

Top 10 (er... 15) WSOP Bracelet Winners:
1. Johnny Chan 10
1. Doyle Brunson 10
3. Phil Hellmuth 9
3. Johnny Moss 9
5. Erik Seidel 7
5. Billy Baxter 7
7. T.J. Cloutier 6
7. Men Nguyen 6
7. Jay Heimowitz 6
10. Phil Ivey 5
10. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson 5
10. Ted Forrest 5
10. Layne Flack 5
10. Stu Ungar 5
10. Berry Johnston 5
With the exception of Phil Ivey and possibly Erik Seidel, I don't think any player in the next ten years will ever win more bracelets or cash more times in the history of the WSOP than Phil Hellmuth. I hope that he reads this because, Hellmuth complains all the time that he doesn't get enough respect. But I tell you what, Hellmuth is going to die trying to become the first 50-10 player... that's the first person to cash 50 times and win 10 bracelets at the WSOP. He needs just one more bracelet to achieve that epic 50-10 category that I just created specifically or Hellmuth.

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You should be reading... Pokerati and checking out Flipchip's WSOP Photos.

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