Saturday, June 30, 2007

WSOP Day 29: Sartre's Lobster

By Pauly

Freddy Deeb mentioned that Chip Reese was the greatest poker player of all time and that they had swapped 5% of each other for the HORSE tournament. Moments after Deeb won the event, he said that he felt it was an honor that last year's winner thought confident enough in his game that he's take a piece of the action.

HORSE is a players players game. It's nod a fad. It's not great for TV. It's not the most popular game of poker on the internet. It is what it is... rotation poker. Sort of a throw back to the kitchen games with plastic chips or those beer-soaked fraternity house days when you played dealer's choice and knew that certain players didn't like specific games so when they were on tilt or having an insane rush, you called that game to either cool down the hot player or push your buddy further into tiltdom.

At the final table of HORSE, you could figure out what game was stronger for the players than others. Some went into lockdown mode the moment a round began. The better final table players switched gears within their rounds. If they were known to be a tight Stud 8 player, they'd jam pots and keep their opponents guessing.

What I respect most about the $50K HORSE is that consistent play over a variety of limit games is rewarded. The buy-in is also sizable enough investment that it weeds out the bottom feeders. I always felt that they should raise the buy-in of the WSOP main event to $25K if only for inflation reasons. When I was a kid (when the WSOP started), $10K was a lot of money. I don't know how much money my father earned in 1977, but I assume that $10K was at least 1/3 of his salary at that crappy desk job he humped in Midtown Manhattan. I'm too lazy to figure out inflation figures, but $25K seems about right.

At any rate, 148 players bought into HORSE and that represented some of the Top 75 or so of the premiere players in the world. Then there were a few players whom I couldn't figure out why they were in the event. I simply assumed someone staked them. Some of the players who I respected the most skipped out on HORSE. They said it was too expensive and the field was too strong. I also wondered how many horses that Lindgren and Patrik Antonius had the HORSE event. I betcha between two of them combined, they backed 75% of the field. An anonymous friend in the media room thought that number was higher and more like 90%. Sure, we knew that Chip Reese had 5% of Deeb, but who had the rest?

Moving on...

I returned to the Rio only seven hours after the HORSE final table ended I left it to cover Day 2 of the $5K NL Hold'em Short-handed event. Dutch Boyd started out as the chipleader, with Phil Hellmuth not too far behind. Tony G was also left along with Allen Cunningham, Jamie Gold, and Spiderman himself... Tobey Maguire. With all those stars, the spectators were tightly packed six or seven deep on the rail. Flashes were going off every few minutes despite the stern warnings from the TD that flash photography was not permitted.

We got the whole Hollywerid-ish PR bullshit before the event started regarding coverage of Tobey Maguire. I got instructions like, "Um... we're not going to be taking photos of Tobey today at his request. He doesn't want any attention until he goes deep."

He didn't want to be covered. Cool with me. I had Logan, Dave, and Drew covering the event with me and I told them specifically, "Fuck that Spiderman clown in the ear. We're not covering him."

I made sure that none of our guys sweated his table and left him alone. Maguire busted out early and we didn't get the specifics about the hand. One of the guys asked the players at the table what happened, and they were quick to let us know who busted Spidey.

Besides, we had bigger fish to fry with Jamie Gold cashing in an event (his first significant money win since he won the Main Event last year) and Phil Hellmuth being vintage Phil Hellmuth. That meant plenty of side drama and tons and tons of railbirds. His nemesis quckly became Raj Sawant after he sucked out on the Poker Brat. Hellmuth flopped a set and lost to a two outer. He lost most of his stack and his sanity. The verbal tirade began. Hellmuth even showed one of ours guys his hole cards before he folded to a raise from Sawant. A few hands earlier Sawant raised big with 10-4o and busted a player.

Hellmuth felt he was getting set up as he peeled off Ah-Qd. He called Drew over and showed him his cards.

"I'm the greatest player in the world and that is what the best players do," he said as he threw his cards into the muck.

Hellmuth ended up busting out under a tirade of donkey-f-bombs and Tony G took the spotlight. He doubled up on one hand against Erik Friberg when The G made a boat to beat Boyd's Broadway straight. That's when the old school Tony G jumped up and started yelling.

"Try making a move with J-10 again and you'll go broke!" he said.

When Dutch Boyd was moved to his table, The G tried to tilt him. His 4d-4s held up against Boyd's Ac-Qs. Tony G flopped a set and he jumped up and started trash talking with Dutch Boyd.

"I'm gonna take everything you have," said Tony G. "I'm gonna rip your stack apart! Keep calling and I'll keep taking all your chips."

The G had chips then Friberg and Boyd started making moves on him. Whenever The G would raise, they moved all in. He folded on two instances and lost about 40% of his stack.

Tony G eventually busted out in 10th place on a wicked bad beat. He got it all in with A-J against Emil Patel's A-8s. Patel turned an 8 and The G stormed away from the table in silence. I think he was also playing in the Triple Draw event.

Speaking of Triple Draw, Chris Fargis was back in town trying to win his first bracelet. And Garth was also playing in the event. He had both Sheiky and Jesus at his table at one point. Just like my buddy Coach playing the day before or Drizz last week, I barely had enough time to say hello and sweat them for a bit. That's been my biggest regret about the WSOP this year... is that with multiple events (some days as many as 6 at once) I don't get to follow the action outside of the event that I'm covering. I feel like I'm missing 80% of the WSOP since there are too many events.

Two years ago, I covered every single final table except two - I left the Razz marathon early and another one so I could go to one of the parties. That also doesn't include the bracelet events that went on during the main event. This year, I have only seen a handful of final tables... the ones that I covered. My main assignments are Day 2. What I have been seeing is how those players got to the final table, but what I am also seeing is who's been running good at the WSOP and who hasn't there are a few players who I've seen regularly this year. And there are some pros that I haven't covered yet... which means that they haven't been going deep. Ergo, bad series for them. Of course, all of that could change with one final table.

Anyway, Justin Shronk and Oliver Tse cashed in the events they were playing on Day 29. Congrats to both. Garth survived a Day 1 which is a feat considering the field he was up against. Nice work, kangadonkey!

Here's a random thought...

Over the last month I've been having several Sandy Bates moments. For the six of you who picked up on that reference, you can understand the existentialist and artistic dilemma that I have been experiencing over the last couple of weeks. For those of you who haven't, go rent Stardust Memories on Netflix.
Random Guy: Can I have your autograph?
Sandy Bates: Oh, jeez.
Random Guy: Could you just write: "To Phyllis Weinstein, you unfaithful, lying bitch."
During one of the breaks of the HORSE event, I went outside for a few minutes for a smoke break. It was around 3am and Benjo told me a weird story regarding John-Paul Sartre. I actually started the conversation by asking him something about Sartre. I think it was about him banging Simone de Beauvoir. Anyway, Benjo told me how Simone de Beauvoir made him take a holiday in Southern France because he was too burnt out after experiencing hallucinations, specifically one about a lobster following him around. He had been doing too much mescaline and was feeling the residual effects of that drug. For years the lobster would follow him around and he made the decision that he was not going to see the lobster any more... and the lobster vanished and ceased to exist anymore.

I had a moment of clarity and finally figured it out. Everything. Especially what Sartre was trying to teach us... that we have to make a choice in life. And not just about what we do, but what we believe, and the values we hold. Those choices are not going to be made for us or nor should they be dictated by those around us. He decided to stop seeing the lobsters and they were gone.

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Friday, June 29, 2007

WSOP Day 28: Freddy Deeb Wins $50K HORSE

By Pauly

2007 HORSE Champion - Freddy Deeb
Photo courtesy of Flipchip

My Main Man Freddy Deeb came from behind to win the $50K HORSE event. He won the most respected bracelet that the WSOP has to offer after he outlasted a difficult field of 148 players. His final table was not an easy one and it took him a grueling 14.5 hours, but at exactly 5am Las Vegas time, Deeb eventually won his second bracelet and took down $2,276,832 for first place. That can buy him a lot of crazy shirts.
HORSE Final Table Money Winners:
1. Freddy Deeb - $2,276,832
2. Bruno Fitoussi - $1,278,720
3. John Hanson - $852,480
4. Amnon Filippi - $586,080
5. Kenny Tran - $444,000
6. David Singer - $337,440
7. Barry Greenstein - $259,296
8. Thor Hansen - $188,256
Although the event was not as long as last year's, it was exhausting to cover. I spent almost 18 hours at the Rio on Thursday and it was sun up when I left close to 6am.

Congrats to Deeb, Bruno Fitoussi, and all the media that hung around to the end. Plenty of people (both fans and media) left early but a handful of true die hards in the media stuck around to watch the end. You're all aces in my book and I admire your dedication, especially BJ and Flipchip.

I wish I could write more about the final table, but I'm pressed for time. Agter a couple of hours of sleep, I have to go back to work and cover Day 2 of NL Short Handed. I will try to write some stuff throughout the day, on my dinner break, and as soon as I get home.

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

WSOP Day 27: Lindgren Wins $340K Golf Prop Bet and $50K HORSE Final Table Set

By Pauly

I was sweating all day. I had $2,700 riding on Erick Lindgren. That was the most I had wagered on a single event since March Madness and I couldn't get enough updates. Every few minutes I'd ask Schecky or check Wicked Chops Poker on his progress.

Lindgren was not playing in a poker tournament. Rather, he was on the golf course. Even though the second to last day of the $50K HORSE was running, most of the attention in the Rio Ballroom fell upon the shoulders of a guy who wasn't even in the casino. One of the things I do love about Las Vegas are when degenerate gamblers bet outrageous amounts on trivial things.

I felt I had an edge. I didn't have a lock or feel that the fix was in. But I felt as though I was on the better side of that seemingly impossible bet. Something that Brandon Schaefer told me in Australia resonated while I was making a slew of side bets with friends. Schaefer told me that he gambles for a living and assesses risk. If he was going to set a prop bet, against anyone, they would be the underdog. So when Lindgren made that bet with Gavin Smith and Phil Ivey, I felt strongly about Schaefer's words. Erick Lindgren is a professional gambler and he was a former athlete. Add those two facts together, and the obvious choice was to bet on Lindgren. I found a handful of suckers who pooled together $2,700 and I scored. Big.

Erick Lindgren had to shoot four consecutive rounds of golf at Bear's Best, all under a score of 100, without a cart, and in one single session. He had to carry his own bag but had a caddy to help with distances, replacing divots, and green reads. Gavin Smith, Nordberg, Chris Bell, and Phil Ivey all wagered against Lindgren for a combined amount of $340,000.

"I got a lot of action," said Lindgren.

Guess what? Not only did Lindgren do it... he did it after getting shitfaced drunk the night before and on 90 minutes of sleep while surviving 115 degree temperatures under the sizzling Nevada sun. That's the stuff legends are made of.

His prop bet was a variation of a Huck Seed bet that was done several years ago. It was also similar to the one in the film Lucky You, but since like seven people saw that film, no one would know that the same golf course they shot that scene happened to be the same course Lindgren played four consecutive rounds on.

The first two rounds were a breeze. He struggled with the third round. At the start of the fourth round, a big problem arose. What happened if he shot 100 exactly? Ivey and Lindgren decided to flip a coin to decide the outcome... should they have that issue. Unreal, I thought. My entire wager night be decided on a fuckin' coin flip.

Anyway, Schecky gave me the low down on the final round. Lindgren shot the front 9 at 49. The back 9 is much tougher, but the Las Vegas winds had died down as did the temps. Lindgren had struggled on the back 9 all day in the previous three rounds, yet he prevailed. By the 13th hole, Chris Bell and Gavin Smith took a buy out, but Ivey did not.

Chops sent a RawVegasTV camera man to interview me since I was one of the few people who bet on Lindgren. Fernando was the one who found out the official outcome for me. I indeed won and and if you add up my cash in the WSOP on Sunday, I picked up close to 7.5K in less than five days.

Of course, my bar tab at the Tilted Kilt has reached four figures and if you add up all the money I lost in "throwing things" prop bets over the last four weeks, I'm hovering around almost breaking even. On Day 27, I dropped $80 on a water toss and another $5 on trying to hit one of our interns in the head with a wadded up piece of paper.

Thank God for Lindgren. Now I have enough money to pay my bar tab.

Moving on...

The final table for the $50K Horse final table is set. They will be playing HORSE this year at the final table instead of NL like last year. Too bad the final table will still be a crap shoot with the fucked up structure that all the pros were bitching about.
$50K HORSE Final Table:
Seat 1: Kenny Tran - 2.445M
Seat 2: David Singer - 1.33M
Seat 3: Bruno Fitoussi - 895K
Seat 4: John Hanson - 1.995M
Seat 5: Freddy Deeb - 3.5M
Seat 6: Thor Hansen - 40K
Seat 7: Amnon Filippi - 4.015M
Seat 8: Barry Greenstein - 750K

Here are the payouts:
1 - $2,276,832
2 - $1,278,720
3 - $852,480
4 - $586,080
5 - $444,000
6 - $337,440
7 - $259,296
8 - $188,256

Quick Stats:
Entrants: 148
Prize Pool: $7,104,000
Day 1 Chipleader: Eli Elezra
Day 2 Chipleader: John Hanson
Day 3 Chipleader: Amnon Filippi
Day 4 Chipleader: Amnon Filippi
Mr. Kotter bubbled off the final table in 9th place. The following players busted out on Day 4: Gabe Kaplan, Dewey Tomko, Mark Gregorich, Stephen Wolff, Tim Phan, Greg Raymer, Chris Reslock, Mike Matusow, Noah Jefferson, Max Pescatori, Justin Bonomo, Patrick Pezzin, and Daniel Negreanu.

Amnon Filippi maintained his chiplead and enters the final table with $4.05M. He has two cashes in 2007 and four overall. He made two final tables on the WPT and his biggest score to date was winning the Bellagio Cup in 2005. Tobey Maguire also made that final table. His score at the Horse event will push him past $1M in career tournament winnings. He is seeking his first bracelet.

The mystery man left in the field is John Hanson from New York. He cashed in the $5K Heads Up event last week but that's his only WSOP cash. He was the chipleader of HORSE at the end of Day 2. Aside from that, I know nothing about him.

Norway's Thor Hansen come in as the super short stack. He has four cashes at the 2007 WSOP and has over $2.1M in career earnings, including two WSOP bracelets.

Kenny "The Kid" Tran has $420K in career earnings and has three previous WSOP cashes. There were several points during Day 2 and 3 when Tran flirted with the chiplead.

David Singer has $2.1M in career tournament earnings. He's cashed 13 times at the WSOP including 8 final tables (one of which was the WSOP main event in 2004 where he took 9th). He's the only player to return to the final table from last years inaugural Horse event. He's also made two WPT final tables. He has zero bracelets and is one of the best players on the circuit to have never won a bracelet.

Bruno Fitoussi from Paris, France, has four cashes at the WSOP and has won over $670K in tournaments all over the world. This is his third final table at the WSOP. He never won a bracelet and came close in 2005 when he took second place in Razz. He's currently the President of VIP-gaming.

My Main man Freddy Deeb has cashed 21 times at the WSOP. He made 12 final tables and won one bracelet in 1996.

Barry Greenstein is one of the best poker players of all time. Doesn't matter if it is a cash game or tournament, he's going to be one of the best players at the table. He also has the biggest heart in poker and donates 100% of his tournament winnings to charity. Barry cashed three times at the 2007 WSOP and has 31 career WSOP cashes. He's won 2 bracelets and made nine final tables. He's also won two WPT events. He's also won more than $5M in tournaments in his life and God only knows how much more in cash games. Barry Greenstein dedicated his last bracelet to Charlie Tuttle in 2005. Spaceman's best friend was battling cancer and died a day later after hearing what Greenstein had done for him.

This should be an exciting final table. I'm rooting for Barry Greenstein but my darkhorse to win it... is David Singer. Nothing against Amnon... I just can't get anyone to give me good odds on him!

The final table will start at 2pm local time or 5pm for all you New Yorkers. BJ will be doing the hand for hand and I will be doing color commentary at the final table. Click here to follow our live updates of the $50K HORSE event for

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WSOP Day 26: Horse Day 3 and Wednesday Pimp

By Pauly

"The structure is too fast," said Cyndy Violette.

She was the first player eliminated on Day 2. She sat near media row near the ESPN final table and sweated her good friend Mike Wattel who appeared at the feature table for the $50K HORSE event. She peered over my shoulder to check out chip counts. That's when I asked her about the structure.

"Last year's (structure) was better," she said. "Much slower. In all of the events this year, not just HORSE, you start out slow but by the end it's a crap shoot."

By the end of day 3, only 21 players remained out of the original 148. The Day 1 chipleader, Eli Elezra failed to advance to Day 3, along with last year's champion Chip Reese, last year's runner up Andy Bloch, and Phil Ivey who has so many prop bets that it's hard to keep up. There's the $2 million bet (at 5-1 odds) that he'd win a bracelet this year, and I found out on Day 3 about another bet specifically about a $30,000 bet that he made where he was getting 10-1 odds that he's win the HORSE event. If my math is correct... had Ivey won HORSE, he would have collected $10,300,000 in prop bets.

Players busting out of HORSE on Day 3 included... Rob Hollink, Toto Leonidas, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Wattel, Huckleberry Seed, Tuan Le, Eli Elezra, John Juanda, Steve Sung, Isabelle Mercier, Andy Bloch, Robert Mizrachi, David Oppenheim, Erick Lindgren, Sam Grizzle, Thomas Weideman, Allen Cunningham, Daniel Shak, Matthew Hawrilenko, Neal Friets, Joe Tehan, Phil Ivey, Annie Duke, John Hennigan, Erik Seidel, Chip Reese, Scotty Nguyen, David Williams, Greg Mascio, David Sklansky, and Cyndy Violette.

Late in the session, Amnon Filippi had a massive surge and jumped to the front of the pack as the chipleader.
End of Day 3 Chip Counts:
Amnon Filippi - 2,343,000
Kenny Tran - 1,959,000
Bruno Fitoussi - 1,248,000
John Hanson - 1,215,000
David Singer - 1,017,000
Freddy Deeb - 963,000
Tim Phan - 889,000
Barry Greenstein - 700,000
Mike Matusow - 696,000
Gabe Kaplan - 625,000
Thor Hansen - 537,000
Chris Reslock - 536,000
Greg Raymer - 504,000
Mark Gregorich - 386,000
Justin Bonomo - 295,000
Stephen Wolff - 263,000
Dewey Tomko - 248,000
Noah Jefferson - 167,000
Daniel Negreanu - 149,000
Patrick Pezzin - 102,000
Max Pescatori - 81,000
Negreanu lost a couple of big pots during Stud and slipped to the bottom. He needs to double up quick if he wants a shot at the final table. Flipchip picked Mike Matusow as his horse to win HORSE. I'm sticking with Mr. Kotter. He'll come out of nowhere to make a final table!

For reasons unknown, I was pulled off of HORSE and have to cover the Day 2 of $2K Limit Hold'em event instead of Day 4 of HORSE. For the first time in almost four weeks, I was super pissed that about my assignment. I should be back for the final table, but in sports terminology, no one wants to be sent to the bench when you're playing well.

And now... some pimpage.

RawVegasTV had an interview with Vinny Vinh's chair.

PokerNews ran an interesting piece on Vinny Vinh.

ESPN will be doing PPV for the final table again. Check it out.

Johnny Hughes has been emailing me since the WSOP. He sent me a link to this piece called Remembering Johnny Moss.

And don't forget about Fantasy Sports Live.

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 26

I bumped into my buddy Zeke from the Borgata. I saw him a week ago and had not seen him since. He told me that he had been playing at the Bellagio's tournament and that their numbers were pathetic. The Bellagio committed suicide by trying to run a series of tournaments during the WSOP. What were they thinking? In the past, the $10K buy-in Bellagio Cup always took place after the main event of the WSOP ended. Although the field was not very large, the event was top heavy with pros. For some reason, the wizards over at the Bellagio decided to go head-on against the WSOP and you know what? They got stomped like a narc at a biker rally or like a bug splattering it's brains out on the windshield of my car. Despite all the complaints about Harrah's and the Rio, the WSOP will always be the premiere event in poker. The Bellagio's weak-ass attempt was like trying to go up against the NFL and the Superbowl. Unreal. Whoever came up with that idea should get fired, especially since they couldn't even outdraw the Venetian's summer tournaments.

At the WSOP, in four of the $1,500 NL events, they had numbers such as 2,998; 2,628; 2,541; and my event was 2,778 players. There were seven Hold'em events at the Bellagio during that same time that drew a paltry... 101, 78, 100, 37, 11, 63, and 78 players. Add all that up... that's 468 players in seven events. We got more players in previous blogger events in Las Vegas than the Bellagio got during that stretch.

The Bellagio can't event outduel the Venetian. According to Lou Krieger, "The Venetian’s Deep Stack II series is averaging 426 players per event for their first ten tournaments... If someone had asked me to make attendance predictions before these events began, I would have said that the Bellagio event would have been in second place. In fact, I would have thought that the Venetian's results and those of the Bellagio would be flip-flopped."

OK... how about some prop bet info? Rafi Amit and Farnood Sharkahn had a $50K last longer in HORSE. They both busted on Day 1 but Amit outlasted Farnood by an hour or so.

Lindgren is supposed to do a crazy prop bet. He has to play four consecutive rounds of golf, shoot under 100 all four times, and walk the course. That seems impossible since he shoot sin the mid-80s, but I think Lindgren can pull it off. He's already got 340K in bets against him including 200K from Phil Ivey. Me? I got $20 against Snake from Wicked Chops Poker. I took Lindgren. Let's hope he pulls this one off.

Tilted Kilt Stella Count: 37

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WSOP Day 25: Horse Day 2 and Liz Lieu Tuesdays

By Pauly

Let's jump out of the gate and post a pic of Liz Lieu.

Photo courtesy of Liz

Very nice selection from a Milan photo shoot. Yummy. Yummy.

Moving on...

$50K Horse was on everyone's mind in the Amazon Ballroom. The staff roped off a special area in order to allow spectators to encircle the pros remaining on Day 2.
Entrants: 148
Payouts: Top 16
Surviving Day 1: 127
Day 1 Chipleader: Eli Elezra
Surviving Day 2: 52
Day 2 Chipleader: John Hanson
Remaining Females: Annie Duke, Cyndy Violette, and Isabelle Mercier

End of Day 2 Top 10 Chip Counts:
John Hanson - 641,000
Toto Leonidas - 621,000
Eli Elezra - 568,000
Allen Cunningham - 549,000
Kenny Tran - 544,000
Justin Bonomo - 508,000
David Oppenheim - 469,000
Mike Matusow - 456,000
Phil Ivey - 436,000
Amnon Filippi - 429,000

Remaining Players Day 2 Chipcounts:
Andy Bloch - 425,000
Matthew Hawrilenko - 416,000
Phil Hellmuth - 412,000
John Juanda - 410,000
Max Pescatori - 396,000
Freddy Deeb - 357,000
Robert Mizrachi - 338,000
Bruno Fitoussi - 337,000
Chip Reese - 332,000
David Singer - 332,000
Rob Hollink - 321,000
Daniel Negreanu - 307,000
Tuan Le - 295,000
Greg Mascio - 290,000
Greg Raymer - 287,000
Huckleberry Seed - 278,000
Barry Greenstein - 275,000
Thor Hansen - 275,000
Stephen Wolff - 251,000
Mike Wattel - 250,000
Mark Gregorich - 249,000
Neal Friets - 246,000
Tim Phan - 234,000
John Hennigan - 204,000
David Williams - 203,000
Erik Seidel - 194,000
Gabe Kaplan - 186,000
Joe Tehan - 166,000
Annie Duke - 165,000
Daniel Shak - 156,000
Noah Jefferson - 149,000
Thomas Weideman - 127,000
Dewey Tomko - 119,000
Steve Sung - 119,000
Erick Lindgren - 99,000
Chris Reslock - 98,000
Patrick Pezzin - 94,000
Sam Grizzle - 86,000
Scotty Nguyen - 72,000
Cyndy Violette - 60,000
David Sklansky - 47,000
Isabelle Mercier - 41,000
Players who busted out on Day 2 included: Bill Edler, Abe Mosseri, Gavin Smith, Allen Kessler, Kristy Gazes, Alexander Kravchenko, Tony Cousineau, Bill Gazes, Richie Sklar, Greg "FBT" Mueller, Phil Laak, Todd Brunson, Chris Ferguson, Marco Traniello, Darrell Dicken, Howard Lederer, Mickey Appleman, David Grey, Capt. Tom Franklin, Patrik Antonius, TJ Cloutier, Doyle Brunson, Victor Ramdin, Ted Forrest, Ralph Perry, Rafi Amit, Grinder, Jason Lester, Steve Zolotow, Joe Cassidy, Robert Williamson III, Ali Eslami, James Bechtel, Nick Frangos, Bill Chen, Bart Hanson, David Chiu, Maureen Feduniak, Hasan Habib, Chad Brown, John Phan, Thomas "DonkeyBomber" Schneider, Kirk Morrison, John D'Agostino, David Levi, Carlos Mortensen, Ted Lawson, Jennifer Harman, Tony G, John Duthie, Mike Sexton, Jesse Jones, and Brandon Adams.

The bustouts came pretty quick and it was hard to keep up with them. All the pros in the event are hyper competitive and wanted to see themselves in the Top 5 chip counts on the displays in the Amazon Room. Some complained that they weren't updated constantly. Annie Duke kindly offered up her count when we'd walk by the tables.

Eli Elezra started out as the leader and held the lead for most of the day. He was challenged by Allen Cunningham, Kenny Tran, Matthew Hawrilenko, and Toto Leonidas at some point. Late in Day 2, a new leader emerged... John Hanson.

Eli Elezra drew a few moans when he was moved to a new table. He used his big stack wisely and raised pots blind during Hold'em. He three-bet one time without looking at his cards which drew ire from David Sklanasky. Eli also turned his head so he could not see the flop and then fired out blind. His opponent folded.

Erick Lindgren is the self-appointed Razz Machine. He made up a song that he'd sing during the Omaha levels since Razz was approaching. He was down to 11K and increased his stack to over 110K... all during Razz. "I'm just a razz machine. I'm a razz machine," he'd sing.

Defending Champion... Chip Reese
Photo courtesy of Flipchip

2006 HORSE CHampion Chip Reese finished up Day 2 in 19th place in chips. But you have to keep an eye out for Andy Bloch, Phil Hellmuth, and Phil Ivey. Hellmuth wants #12 and has been running good over the last three weeks. Andy Bloch was soooooo close to winning the event last year that he wants redemption. And if the rumors about Phil Ivey are true (betting $2 million that he'd win a bracelet and getting 5-1 odds) then you know Ivey is focused and trying to play his best game ever.

Cyndy Violette was down to 5.5K and got up to over 250K before she slipped. She's one of the short stacks and will have to double up early or she'll be in trouble.

"Tim to separate the men from the boys before we go to bed," is what Mike Matusow described the thinning field around Midnight.

There's still plenty of play left and anything can happen in a poker tournament. Pros are just one turn of the card away from going busto, heading into tiltdom, or picking up a wave of confidence that could carry them to the final table.

I'll be covering Day 3 of HORSE over at Click here to follow the live updates of HORSE.

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 25

Congrats to Erica Schoenberg for taking third in Event #38. I was rooting for her to win it all. Robert Cheung from Vancouver took it down. Fuel55 has played with him before and gave me a tip that I hoped to use if I had more chips and got involved in a big pot with Cheung. I played two pots with him. I let him steal my big blind and he said he had a hand since he knew I was short-stacked and would push with anything marginal. The second was when I flopped a set of Aces in a three-way pot with Men the Master and him.

David Williams told me he thought my bit about CK Hua's bag was funny. When I asked him what he thought CK kept in his bag, Williams said... "Afro-sheen."

Change100 wrote about what railbirding me in Event #38 was like. Some great observations in a piece called The Sweat. Take a peek.

One of our reporters for PokerNews is Tom Sexton. You might know his brother. Anyway, Tom gets some of the best color commentary since he's buddies with a lot of the pros and hangs out with them on breaks. The best story he told me on Day 2 was about Richie Sklar. He's golf buddies with Mike Sexton and has won a fistful of cash on the golf course. Sklar chopped a HORSE satellite and had half of his buy-in. He went into the VIP lounge and picked up 12K in less than ten minutes on their putting green. He was wagering with some of the heavy hitters and secured 3/4 of his buy-in. When he walked back into the hallway, he bumped into an old friend who bought 1/4 of a piece of him. Within one hour, Sklar had his buy-in to the #50K Horse event. As soon as he busted out of HORSE, he said "I'm heading to the lounge to win my buy-in to the main event."

Snoopy and Jen from Blonde Poker have arrived and it took less than an hour before I won my first prop bet with Snoopy. At dinner break of Day 1 of HORSE, we bet on how many pros were wearing baseball hats... not a skull cap like Max Pescatori wears or a weirdo hat that Andy Bloch wears or Doyle's Stetson.... but traditional baseball hats. The line was set at 16, and I took the over. He started counting and stopped after he got through four or five tables. He gave up. I counted 23... Ship it!

Michael Craig made the final table of Mixed Hold'em. Congrats to MC. Maybe he can pull a Jim McManus?

Three WSOP main event champions advanced to Day 2 of the Seniors NL event... Tom McEvoy (1983), Amarillo Slim (1972), and Brad Daugherty (1991). I was not even born yet when Slim won his title. But it was great to see him playing.

There was a rumor that Jimmy Chagra was playing in the Seniors event. At one point he was the largest marijuana trafficker in the Southwest. In the 1970s, you couldn't toke a joint in Las Vegas from a crop of pot that Chagra probably had brought in from Mexico via El Paso. He supposedly hired Woody Harrelson's father to whack the judge who threw the book at him. Today's 4:20 break is brought to you by... Jimmy Chagra.

Kristy Gazes and Bill Gazes were seated at the same starting table for Day 2 of HORSE. They had not been at the same table since they divorced several years ago. It was not the cause of any stress, according to Kristy since they are close friends. Sadly, they both busted out and failed to advance to Day 3.

Seven players busted out of HORSE early and made their way over to the Poker Freezer to play in PLO8. It used to be called the Poker Sauna, but ever since they installed a new AC system, it's a freezer. Chau Giang was shivering around Midnight. When Flipchip walked in to take photos, he said, "Fuck man, can you turn this thing down." We love it when Chau Giang says fuck. And I betcha Chau's nipples were rock hard.

PLO8 featured Drizz playing in his first WSOP event! I got to wish him luck on one of my breaks since I covered Horse. Change100 got to cover his event that also featured Andrew Webking, Jay Greenspan, Tony G, George Danzer, Gank, and Amy Calistri. Yes, Amy played and took a bad beat before she sat down. She ripped her jeans and we could see her ass. Of course, Amy was free-balling and not wearing any underwear. That's how Calistri rolls.

Tilted Kilt Stella Count: 35

Last 5 Pros Who Told Me They Read the Tao of Poker...
1. Erica Schoenberg
2. David Williams
3. Allen Cunningham
4. Melissa Hayden
5. George Danzer

Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Chad Brown
2. Thomas Wahlroos
3. Max Pescatori
4. Amarillo Slim
5. Victor Ramdin
* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Monday, June 25, 2007

WSOP Day 24: 119/2778 = $4,740

By Pauly

I finished in 119th place out of 2,778 players and won $4,470 in prize money in Event #38. I had a tough table on Day 2 that included several pros such as Men the Master and Action Bob. I was eliminated by Erica Schoenberg, who happens to be a friend that loves reading Tao of Poker, especially the Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next to.... And you know what? She put my chips to good use. She made the final table.

Congrats to Erica for making the Final Table

I cover plenty of Day 2s so I knew what to expect when I showed up to play on Sunday. A couple of the floor staff that I work with gave me words of encouragement. They thought it was cool that I got to play... and went deep. Several friends came out to sweat such as Friedman and Joe Speaker. Readers like Stuart and Lonnie also stopped by to watch my table which happened to be on the rail. Lonnie also brought me two cool Phish t-shirts for good luck.

I started out in Seat 6 with the small blind with Julie Deng (who made the final table in the Ladies Event) in the big blind. Erica, Men the Master, and Robert Cheung were all to my right. Action Bob was to my left. It was weird to have Patrik Antonius and David Benyamine come by and sweat my table since they were railbirding Erica. But I had a swarm of media coming over every few moments like the Drew and the other kids that work at PokerNews or Otis and Mike from Poker Pages.

On the third hand of Day 2, everyone folded to me and I shoved all in with Kd-Qd. No action and I picked up the blinds and antes. A couple of hands after that, I found Ah-As from UTG. I bet 5.5K with the blinds at 1K/2K and 300 antes. If I shoved, I'd get no action but with Chueng and Men the Master in the blinds, I figured they would call that bet no matter what they held... unless they sniffed me out for Aces. Everyone folded to Men in the small blind and he called as did Cheung in the big blind. The flop was Ad-9h-4d. Men checked and Chueng fired out 12K. I peeked at my cards and moved all in for about 25K.

Men stared at the flop before he muttered something. I couldn't hear what he said but I saw him toss his cards into the muck. Cheung looked down at his cards, played with his chips for about ten seconds, then folded. As the dealer push me the pot, Men said, "Show me your A-4."

"Nah," I said.

"Come on, why don't you show me what you had?"

"Read about it on my blog tomorrow," I answered.

I had 46K and the blind level increased. I picked up zero cards as two players at my table busted out courtesy of Erica Schoenberg. She kept adding to her stack as I kept bleeding chips due to the antes and blinds of 1.5K/3K.

With 30K left, I found Ad-9d at the cutoff. Erica raised 9K. I figured that I might be able to push her off that hand if I moved all in. Erica is a solid player and doesn't mess around playing a lot of garbage hands, but I hoped that her tight image might allow me to persuade her to fold after I shoved all in. No such luck.

"I call," she said as she tabled 9c-9s.

Here's how BJ Nemeth described the action on PokerNews:
The flop comes {Qd}{5c}{4d}, and McGuire picks up a diamond flush draw. The turn card is the {3c}, and McGuire also picks up a gutshot straight draw, and he has 15 outs going to the river. But the last card is the {8c}, and Schoenberg wins the pot with her pocket nines. Paul 'Dr. Pauly' McGuire is eliminated in 119th place, earning $4,740. He also receives a bonus prize -- a hug from his friend Erica Schoenberg.
After I busted out Erica walked over and gave me a big hug. She whispered into my ear, "You were the only player at the table I didn't want to knock out."

"Then why did you call?" I whispered back.

I wished her luck and told her to use my chips wisely. And... she did as she advanced to the final table. I'm going to be pulling for her to win a bracelet.

Thanks for all the phone calls, emails, blog blurbs, and text messages. And thanks to a few friends (and readers) who came out to watch me play on Day 2. Also, thanks to all the press and buzz from my friends in the media. They seemed to be the most geeked out as I went deeper and deeper. I'm a little bummed that I didn't make the final table but outlasting almost 2,660 other players in a WSOP donkament is a quite a feat.

The worst part about busting out? Having to go to work an hour afterwards. Ouch. I covered Day 1 of the $50K HORSE event and it was a stacked field. They had only a handful of more players than last year but the payouts would be different which pissed off some of the pros. More on that issue later.

I'm shocked that so many players busted out early like Jeff Lisandro and Johnny Chan. Also busting out on Day 1 were Sam Farha, Bob Feduniak, David Benyamine, Minh Ly, Mark Vos, Chau Giang, Gus Hansen, Lyle Berman, Andrew Black, Josh Arieh, David "The Dragon" Pham, Jerrod Ankenman, Jerri Thomas, and Nick Schulman.

Eli Elezra ended Day 1 as the chipleader with 561K. Bruno Fitoussi, David Oppenheim, Gavin Smith, and Phil Ivey rounding out the Top 5 in chips.

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

WSOP Day 23: Live Poker Is Rigged, Tilting CK Hua, and How I Cashed in Event #38

By Pauly

Just survied Day 1 of Event #38 $1,500 NL donkfest. I'm 124th in chips out of 170 players and advanced to Day 2.
Here's my starting table on Day 2:
Seat 1: Erica Schoenberg - 30,900
Seat 2: Walter Remaley - 18,800
Seat 3: Darin Haddock - 24,500
Seat 4: Men "The Master" Nguyen - 91,500
Seat 5: Robert Cheung - 89,500
Seat 6: Your Hero - 27,300
Seat 7: Julie Dang - 69,100
Seat8 : David Robbins - 64,600
Seat 9: Robert "Action Bob" Hwang - 57,800
Head over to to read what happened on Day 1... how I doubled through CK Hua and sucked out a bunch of times to make the money. For now, I guess I can say I had a pretty good day off. Thanks to everyone who railbirded me both live and online.

Day 2 starts at 2pm local time or 5pm for all you East Coasters. I'm hoping to double up against Men the Master early in Day 2. At least I get to stare at Erica Schoenberg for a little while.

Click here to follow my progress on Day 2 of the $1,500 Donkeyfest.

* * * * *

Editor's Note: Here's the recap of Day 1 that I just finished...

The good thing about June 23rd was that I got the day off. I wanted to play an event and sadly the only one I could swing on the day off was the $1,500 NL donkament. I didn't have a choice and said fuck it, I'll play. That's when I was approached by Schecky who said that he and Tony G would stake me in a 50-50 deal. They pretty much assumed that they'd be pissing their money away but it was more like a bonus than anything else. Both Scheky and The G appreciated the hard work I had done over the first three weeks and I was pumped that I didn't have to fork over any of my money in a donkfest. I'm not a tournament player these days but in 2007, I seem to have a better than average record. My bankroll took some hits at the 30/60 Limit Hold'em level and that was offset by a few decent scores in tournaments. I cannot explain why I played well in the few that I decided to play. It just happened.

I've covered three or four of thedonkaments already and after talking to friends and pros who played in them, it was pretty evident that I'd have to play loose and accumulate chips early if I wanted to survive. In the previous two WSOPs, I played two events and never made it the dinner break. I had a few side bets on lasting longer than some of my friends who played in similar events this year. Michalski lasted until 3:30 last Saturday. Felipe made it to 6:30 on Thursday. If I could make the dinner break, I would have survived half the field. That was my goal.... accumulate and survive.

The last player to be seated at my starting table was Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier. He was the first Supernova on PokerStars. The former professional video game player from France was a rock-star in South Korea where he crushed the gamer scene. He turned to poker and often played 20 SNGs at once. Talk about manual dexterity. I also heard a rumor from a fellow poker player that ElkY was running bad online and stuck $250,000 in SNGs.

I sat in Seat 4 and ElkY took Seat 6. From the first hand, ElkY played fast and aggressive. He raised the first three hands and saw a lot of flops early on. The rest of my table were weekend warriors. Great guys but weak-tight. One guy had a photo near his stack.

"That's a dead deer and that's my grandson," he proudly said.

Only in Texas do they point out the dead animal before their blood kin.

One play got crippled in the first orbit and I took him out. He pushed for 600 and I called with J-J. He flipped over 6-6 and my hand held up. That was the first player I'd bust at my table.

I found 9c-8c and limped in UTG. Eight total players in the pot. The flop was Jd-10d-7c. I flopped a straight and fired out 275. The guy next to me with a black sock covering up the stump on his amputated arm called. A cheery fellow from Denver who was drinking Beat Lite raised to 1K. I moved all in for 2K. The guy with one arm went into the tank and folded. The Beat Lite kid sat for a few minutes before he folded J-10 face up. The guy with one arm said he folded 7-7. I dunno how those clowns got away from that hand.

I had a couple of hands against ElkY. Both involved me raising his blind from the button. He called both times. He fired out at the pot both times. And me? I shoved all in both times. He mucked. That was the only way I figured I could play against ElkY. One instance I had Jd-10d and flopped a Jack. The other time I had 10s-8s and missed completely.

I increased my stack to 6K and felt pretty good. Meanwhile, friends in the media kept coming over and sweating me or snapping photos of both myself and ElkY. After ElkY busted out, one of the old guys joked, looks like we won't be having photographers come over any more since that European kid is gone. Maybe they can take a photo of the empty chair."

I eventually busted that guy who made the wise ass remark. He raised pre-flop and I defended my big blind with Ac-7c. The flop was 10s-8c-4d and we both checked. The turn was the Ah. I bet 500 and he called. The river was the Ks. I bet 750 and he moved all in for 1400. I called thinking he rivered two pair on me. He showed K-9 for second pair and I took down the pot as he headed to the rail. That put me up to 8K.

Around 2:45pm, I found The Hammer.

"Raise," I said and tossed in 700 from the button. The big blind defended. The flop was Kh-Qc-3s. He checked and I bet 1500. He called. The turn was the 6c. He checked and I bet 2000. He folded and I showed 7s-2h. That hand put me past the 10K mark. Grubby would have been proud.

I increased my stack to 12.7K when I called a big raised with Ah-Ks in the big blind. The flop was Ad-2d-2h. I check-raised the kid drinking Beast Lite and he folded his Kc-Kd face up. I showed him the Kh but one of the players said, "Show one, show all." The dealer flipped over my other card.

Then I busted another player with a junk hand. I called from the small blind with 6s-3h. the flop was Ac-6d-3s. I was hoping to check-raise someone but everyone checked around. The turn was the 8h. I bet 2K and the guy with one arm shoved for 3.2K. Everyone folded to me and I called. He showed As-4h. The river was the Qd and I busted another player. That put me close to 16K.

Then I lost the first big pot of the day. It was to a new player at the table, a quiet guy from Oklahoma named Gary (not GCox!). He raised in EP and I called from the button with Qc-Jc. Otis walked up to the table as the dealer fanned out Kh-Qh-Jd. He bet, I raised, he re-raised all in. I hoped he had A-K and I called with bottom two. He flipped over Kd-Qs and he doubled up. I was down to about 6.5K. That's when CK Hua arrived.

Photo courtesy of Flipchip

CK Hua went to work and started running over the table. He's quiet and aggressive and shows no mercy. Having him to my left was not pleasant. I tried chatting him up and asking him about his man purse that he always wears even at the table. I asked him about the 50K HORSE and he said he was skipping it because it was "too expensive." Every time I'd walk through the cash game area, CK Hua would be playing $100/point Chinese Poker. The guy likes to gamble and I knew he had a reputation for loose-aggressive play.

I was down to about 4.5K and shoved with Kc-Jc. I was called by a player with J-J. I was toast and stood up ready to leave. The board ran out 8-6-5-7-4 for a chopped pot.

"Sweet Jesus!" I said.

"You're still alive," said CK Hua.

I picked up a few chips there (from the blinds and antes) and picked up my first lucky hand. Just before dinner break, I get my second lucky hand. A new player with a ton of chips sat down. George Djen is a magazine owner and editor from France. He's one of Benjo's editors. Anyway, he limped and I shoved with Ah-3s. He called with Ac-Qs. I asked the dealer for a three. It was the door card.

"There's your three," said CK Hua.

Djen was pissed and I think I tilted him after that hand. I doubled up to over 10K. When the dinner break started, I had 9,900.

Change100 and I left the Rio and ate at Subway and went home for about 40 minutes to refresh. My t-shirt and shirt was soaked with sweat. I started to change my clothes and she refused to let me do that.

"It's bad luck," she said.

"My attire has nothing to do with what cards I get," I said.

Still, just in case she was right, I kept wearing the same clothes.

I had a plan... double up against CK Hua. He was among the chipleaders with almost 50K and he'd most likely double me up with a small pair against big cards and vice versa.

After the break, the players in the tent came inside. 570 players left. I just had to get through more than half the field and I would cash. Eric Hershler (WPT LAPC champion) moved to my table two seats to my right. Great. If I wanted to steal Hershler's or CK Hua's blinds, I was going to be in trouble. Those guys would murder me post-flop.

After it was folded to me in the small blind, I tired to steal CK's big blind with 5-3o. I raised and he moved all in.

"50-50," he said.

He put me on over cards and I went into the tank for a few minutes to let him think I had a hand. I mucked and he flashed 7c-7s.

"Fifty percent," he said.

"Next time, I call," I promised.

Ten minutes later, I found 7c-7h and raised 2,100 from the cutoff. CK Hua jammed for 7,100. Everyone folded to me. And I sat looking at CK Hua's hands. He wore a bracelet. I dunno from what event, but he was showing his bling. I tried to put him on a range of hands. CK Hua could have any two cards. Then I started thinking about what was in his bag. Cash for Chinese Poker. Cell phone. Vinnie Vinh's stash? Nah. But what the fuck does CK Hua have in his man purse? I had to shake off those thoughts and focus on the hand. If he had big cards, I was risking my tournament life on a coin flip. If he had a small pair, I was way ahead. If CK Hua woke up to a monster I was fucked.

Big time pro vs. me. Time to make a stand. That's why people play in these events? The chance to take down a professional. Sticking it to someone who lists professional poker player on their tax returns. I told myself that I wouldn't let CK Hua push me around. That's when I noticed a swarm of media surrounding the table. If I busted, the world would know about in within ninety seconds. No fear. Sometimes you have to be willing to lose everything to get ahead in life.

"I'm all in," I said.

"I call," CK Hua quickly said.

"Do you have a pair?" I asked.

He shook his head as I showed him my Sevens. He showed Ad-Jc.

"Fifty percent," I said.

"Fifty percent," he said.

We both stood up as the dealer put out the flop. Usually I have perfect clarity over big hands. It's my job and what I get paid to do. That instance, I could not recall a card. All I know was that I still lead. On the turn CK Hua picked up a gutshot. The river was a blank and I doubled up. I was stunned. I couldn't move. I doubled through CK Hua and all I could think about was what the fuck was in his bag. CK counted out my chips since I couldn't speak and he shoved chips my way.

I sensed that I tilted CK Hua. It took me twice as long to stack my chips because my hands were shaking. I did exactly what I said I was going to do. CK Hua hooked me up and I was above average up to 23K.

A few hands later, I found the Hilton Sisters. I raised. Old guy moved all in and I called. He showed A-K. it was a classic race and my Queens held up after I flopped a boat on a Q-10-10 board. That hand put me to 34K.

I folded a ton of hands as we got close to the money. That guy Gary from Oklahoma barely had enough for the antes. He had three chips left as 271 players remained. He put in $200 for the ante. He had one chip left. A lady opened for a raise. He said, "I have to do this." He tossed his last chip in. He could have been the bubble boy. After twelve hours of play it came down to one hand.

She tabled 9-9 and he flipped over K-K. Everyone at our table stood up in amazement. The guy won the pot, avoided elimination, then made the money. One chip left and the guy wakes up to K-K on the bubble. Amazing.

My table broke as the money bubble burst. Andrew Webking and Chicago Jason also cashed along with Kathy Liebert, MarcelLuske, Jesus, and Ed Moncada.

At my new table, I had about 15K when I open-shoved with Ac-Qh. One player moved all in and a player int he big blind showed J-J as he folded. The other player showed K-K. I missed the flop but the turn was an Ace.

"Shit!" the guy screamed as I doubled up to over 30K.

I got moved tables after than hand. I spotted Erica Schoenberg'stable and hoped I got seated next to her. No such luck. As I sat down I spotted Men the Master drinking beer. That's when I heard, "Hey Pauly!"

It was Action Bob. He's a local player at the Borgata in Atlantic City and he's a frequent poster on RGP and 2+2. I met him when I covered an event for the Borgata almost two years ago. It felt good to recognize someone at my table.

Men the Master was in rare form. He took dragged a monsterpotten with A-A. He had five players call him and he busted the guy sitting next to me. Men increased his stack to almost 90K. I folded the rest of my hands as time ticked down. I got to watch Erica Schoenberg play a couple of hands and realized that she has magnificent eyes. She made a big fold in that hand with Men the Master.

I got to bag up my chips. I never did that before and a childlike giddiness took over. I cashed in a WSOP event (a real one, not like the media event I final tabled in 2005 where I won money for Charlie Tuttle's charity). Plus I made it to a Day 2. I saw Flipchip and I had never seen him happier. Felipe and the rest of thekids at PokerNews were excited that I went deep. I went to the secret bar with Change100 and Otis to have Red Stripe and play video poker.

Since I covered a slew of Day 2s this year I know what to expect. I could sit on my ass and let thirty players bust out ahead of me, or make a move and try to double up early to be in a position to go deeper. I'd like to have Men the Master double me up since he has most of the chips at the table. We'll see.

At least I got a few extra hours off on Sunday. After I bust out, I'll have to cover the 50K HORSE event at 5pm. I'm not expecting to last much more than that. Alas, it was one wild day.

Click here to follow my progress on Day 2 of Event #38.

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

WSOP Day 22: I Never Thought I'd Make It This Far

I survived three full weeks of insanity of the WSOP. I wanted to write more about Day 22, but like usual, I am short on time. I gave myself an extra hour to sleep since I'm playing in Event #38. Since I chose rest instead of writing, my post today will be super short.

In the past, I have played in two different WSOP events and bused out early in both. In 2005 I took a bad beat when my Big Slick was rivered by A-10. Last year, I busted out early of PLO. Since Event #38 is a three-day tournament, my goal is to survive Day 1 and advance to Day 2 which would mean I'd make the prize money and get another day off so I could play. I'm a long shot to do that, but that's my goal.

The cool thing about working for, is that my progress will be tracked by my peers. And I found out that Change100's assignment is my tournament which means I should get a lot of press if I last more than a few hours.

Click here to read live updates and follow my progress in Event #38.

Click here to view updated chip counts of Event #38.

Tournament begins at noon local time or 3pm for all you New Yorkers.

And if I bust out early, I get to go home and relax and catch up on a billion things I've been putting off. I have a couple of columns due and I have to edit the next issue of Truckin' among other things.

Moving on...

I covered Event #35 $1,500 NL Day 2. And yes, they are having three $1,500 donkaments inside of eight days. Anyway, Phil Gordon happened to be seated right in front of the media desk for Event #35. That was both good and bad. The good thing was that I could follow the action without getting up and that Phil would feed me any info if I asked for it. The bad was that Phil is the original Tiltboy and is prone to slide off the deep end from time to time. Watching a poker pro go on tilt is hard to stomach. Plus with Phil's mega popularity, he attracts a slew of railbirds which congested that corner of the Amazon Ballroom.

Before Day 2 started, Phil asked to borrow one of my power outlets so he could charge his phone. He seemed focused. He already made the money in consecutive events and survived over 2,300 other players to make it that far. His main focus was on winning his first bracelet. His friends own two. Rafe Furst won one. Perry Friedman won one. Phil Gordon had none and he wanted to change that in 2007.

Sadly, Phil Gordon was playing through a ton of pain. He had a torn meniscus after falling down a flight of stairs trying to walk and read his Blackberry at the same time. He's scheduled to have surgery after the WSOP but for now, he had to chew on pharmies and gut through the pain.

He had Clonie Gowen at his table and even knocked her out. The other named pros busted out quickly as well. Joe Sebok had an early exited and eventually Gordon went busto after he got his Jacks crippled by Kiwi Dan Francis's A-10 in a three-way pot. That set Phil Gordon off and his inner Tilt Boy jumped out his his chest. He busted out a few hands later when his A-5 lost to Steve Cohn's 10-10. He flopped an ace and said, "Justice!" But the turn was the 10 and he kicked his chair as he stormed off.

"Unfucking believeable," he said to me as he left the tournament area and headed for the rail.

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

For all you fantasy sports junkies, check out our new site... Fantasy Sports Live.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Friday, June 22, 2007

WSOP Day 21: Late Night Hijinks, Lisandro's Breakthrough Victory, and Fantasy Sports Live

By Pauly

3:22am... Bored shitless. Sitting in a near empty media row waiting for Change100's event to end so we can go home. Tragically, it's a Limit Hold'em event and they have to play down to a final nine players. Some kid named Vivek was the shortstack but he's doubled up a few times and his drunken friends liquored up on Beast Lite keep shouting from the rail keep, "Ship it to Vivek!!!"

I'm too lazy to break a $100 bill so I can hail a cab home. My assignment covering the Final 8 of the Heads Up bracelet event ended two hours earlier when a 21-year old former professional video game player who lived in South Korea took down a bracelet after beating Tao of Poker reader Mark Muchnik in a best of three heads up match.

An odd sickness plagued me all day. I felt hungover despite the fact I hadn't drank enough in the last three or four days to warrant a sluggish demeanor. I wasn't full on sick, yet I had all the symptoms... fever, chills, breathing problems. I could have had anything from the bird flu to malaria. And after spending three weeks inside the Rio breathing their recycled air, I'm shocked that my body has been run down by infection from all the widespread germs from poker players who lack personal hygiene. By week three of the WSOP, some guys are in dire need of a bath, shower, and change of clothes. Sometimes I think some players should be spending their money on deodorant, a new pair of shoes, and clean underwear instead of buying into the $1,500 NL donkfest.

For most of Day 21, I longed to be at home sleeping off my bug instead of covering heads up tournaments. As soon as my event ended, my pharmaceutical cocktail of generic Vicodin and NyQuil Day medicine (which Ed from Gutshot pointed out was actually called DayQuil) finally kicked in. Wired. Eight hours too late. That's what I was so I wandered around in a buzzed state and fucked around in the media room. I gave Benjo a new nickname, Benjo Crackhead. Because it's funny to think about French people smoking crack cocaine in Las Vegas. I kid. The guy is a good egg and crack free.

Steve Hall lurked in the media room. I had spotted him intermittently over the last three weeks. He usually hung out with his German lady friend who was flat broke but had the ability to get strange men to hand over $5,000 so she can donk it off at the tables or blow in the Forum Shops at Caesar's. Steve Hall told me about his new Liz Lieu. In 2005, the Liz Lieu du jour was Liz Lieu. In 2006, he shifted his focus to Lynette Chan. In 2007, it's Jennifer Lam. Steve Hall might be the horniest person on Earth that hailed from the British Isles and he has a devestating penchant for young Asian women. I'm glad the new girl who works for Poker Listings had already been warned about Steve Hall. His reputation precedes him.

I went looking for Otis but he wasn't around I assumed that he headed back to his room to masturbate into his hand towels. Since the maids that clean his room at the Rio already think he's a chronic pud wanker for using too many bottles of hand lotion to soothe his chapped hands, he might as well rub one out thinking about Tilted Kilt Waitresses frolicking with Milwaukee's Beast girls.

Moving on...

ESPN decided to tape the Stud final table with Daniel Negreanu, Nick Frangos, and Jeff Lisandro. Eventually, Lisandro went on to win. Ironically, late on Day 2 when the remaining eight players initially voted on whether to quit and come back for a Day 3 (of a scheduled two day event) or if they should play it out, Lisandro was the only person who wanted to play it out. He changed his mind and the rest did him well. He went on to win his first bracelet.

It was a sweet moment for Lisandro who most of the poker world knows as the guy who Prahlad Friedman accused of cheating during the 2006 Main Event when he claimed Lisandro did not ante and shorted a pot. ESPN went to the videotape and proved that Lisandro was innocent. However, for several minutes after the incident, Friedman was relentless and kept pestering Lisandro about shorting the pot. If you don't know, Lisandro is from Australia but has ties to the old country back in Italy. Draw your own conclusion. But let's just say the Friedman was lucky he wasn't found dead in a ditch somewhere on the outskirts of Pahrump.

I will be covering Day 2 of Event #35 aka the $1,500 Donkfest. There are 147 players left and I don't get to go home until nine remain. Phil Gordon has chips along with Kathy Liebert, Nam Le, JC Alavarado, that Esfiandari character, and Clonie Gowen. Yes, Clonie actually cashed in a WSOP event. Maybe she'll finally have enough money to pay back that $500 debt she owes Michalski.

Click here to follow my live updates for Day 2 of Event #35 $1,500 NL Hold'em over at Poker News.

* * * * *

Do you waste all your time watching sports and wishing that you signed up for a fantasy league?

If so, check out Fantasy Sports Live. I'm a partner in a brand new fantasy sports website. Blinders came up with the idea and business plan for Fanstasy Sports Live. He brought Joe Speaker and myself in on his brainchild. I'm happy to be part of the team. We launched the site the other day.


Fantasy Sports Live is perfect for lazy gamblers who don't want to have a fantasy team over an entire season. You can get your fix in one day. It's sort of like an SNG version of fantasy sports where you join a league, draft a team, and can play for as little as $1. And everything is over in a day!

Here's how Blinders explains the site:
I bring to you a website that compresses the Fantasy Sports experience to just a few action packed hours, offers you the ability to profit long-term from your sports knowledge, and eliminates all of the hassles of standard fantasy sports offerings like season long commitments, fees for adjusting your rooster, waiver wires, free agents, trades...

Just choose your stakes, draft a team of starters from the contest's games, and test your sports knowledge against others from around the country. We run the contests like sit and goes. They form up real-time, and close when the maximum entries are registered. Players then have until the start time to complete their draft. Once the contest starts, you can see the fantasy players on the teams you are against and a leaderboard shows the real-time contest standings. Also, by law all of our cash prizes are guaranteed. If we don't get the maximum entries it is like an overlay for those that are entered.

What I did was rewrite the rules of fantasy sports. I hope you enjoy the results.
For more information head over to the website... Fantasy Sports Live. And if you want a sign up bonus, use bonus code: Pauly.

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 21

Phil Hellmuth was steaming over something Change100 wrote about him on Poker News. He sought out everyone's favorite Hollyweird blonde and was ready to chastise her. Apparently, someone misread something she wrote and called up Hellmuth to ask him why he was chasing a gutshot. We all know that the greatest Hold'em player in the world would never do such a thing. But that person had poor reading comprehension and gave Hellmuth wrong information. Once he realized what happened, he settled down. Although Hellmuth cashed in another event, he failed to make another final table as he seeks out bracelet #12.

Tony G offered to arm wrestle a guy $40,000. His opponent punked out and did not want to do it. Hear that Bad Blood? I think you should fly out to Vegas and take on The G! If I were you, I'd scrape together the cashola from all your G-Vegas buddies and take a shot at The G.

Two tourists snapped a photo with David Chui in the hallway. After Chui went back inside the ballroom to his event, one guy turned to the other and said, "That's so cool we got a picture with Chau Giang!"

Number of Bad Beat Stories I Heard from Pros in the Last 48 Hours: 27

Number of People Who Asked Me for Weed in the Last 48 Hours: 9
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next to...
1. Layne Flack
2. Ray Davis
3. Men the Master
4. Mel Judah
5. Josh Arieh
* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

WSOP Day 20: Hoyt Corkins Wins Bracelet and Heads Up Prop Betting

By Pauly

Schecky and I studied the match ups for the final 64 players in Event #31 $5,000 Heads-Up NL Hold'em. He picked five players and I picked five. If any of our picks made the Final 4, we'd have to pay up and if any of them won the bracelet, we'd have to pay up even more.

Schecky got the first pick and he went with Carl Olson. We're friends with Carl and I wanted to pick him, but Schecky beat me to the punch. My first pick was Paul Wasicka. He had a cold WSOP so far in 2007 but he destroyed the field at the NBC Heads Up Championship. He seemed like the logical choice for me.
Team Schecky: Carl Olson, Shannon Shorr, Danny Alaei, Joe Sebok, and Thomas Wahlroos
Team Pauly: Paul Wasicka, Kirk Morrison, Rizen, Roland DeWolfe, and Tony G
My last pick was a coinflip between Phil Gordon and Tony G. I went with The G since he's from the streets. After the first round, three of my guys busted. The G played like a donkey against Carmel Petresco. He had bought into the $1,500 PLO with Rebuys event and two-tabling. He seemed more interested in that stack than playing Petresco. He ordered a massage and never got to finish it because he bluffed off most of his chips with As-Qs against Petresco's trips.

Rizen and DeWolfe also had early exits. Only Wasicka and Morrison advanced to the Final 32. Schecky was in much better shape. Only Sebok and Alaei busted and three of his players advanced.

Kirk Morrison was eliminated quickly in the next round and luckily Wasicka advanced. He was my only player in the Sweet 16. Carl Olson lost his match and Wahlroos and Shorr advanced. I was trailing 2 to 1 but I felt good about Wasicka.

Carmel Petresco
Photo courtesy of Poker News

The Sweet 16 matches were tough. Wasicka drew Vanessa Selbst, who had been running well at this year's WSOP. She's tough to put on a hand and will shove all in on any street. Sadly, my hopes ended when she busted Wasicka. On Schecky's end, Wahlroos had a tough time against an old school NYC Mayfair club player Steve Sarrafzadeh. Wahlroos failed to advance but Shannon Shorr beat Carmel Petresco to make it to the Final 8. If he wins one more match, I have to start paying out cashola to Schecky. Petresco took the Bad Beat of the Day. She got all in with A-A vs K-K but Shorr caught a four flush to bust Petresco.
Final 8 Matches:
Keith Block vs. Steve Sarrafzadeh
Mark Munchnik vs. Jared Davis
Dan Schreiber vs. Toto Leonidas
Shannon Shorr vs. Vanessa Selbst
I'll be covering the Final 8, The Final 4 and the Final Table of Event #31 over at PokerNews. Click here to follow the action in the Heads Up event.

Over in the Black Hole, Cowboy Hoyt Corkins went wire-to-wire in Event #30 $2,500 Short-Handed NL and won his second bracelet... 16 years after he won his first one. Some of these internet kids were still shitting their pants the last time Corkins slapped a WSOP bracelet around his wrist. He played super aggressive on Day 2 to amass the big stack and kept the pressure on at the final table. Terrence Chan was ahead on the last hand when Corkins paired up on the turn to take down the bracelet. Chan played superb poker for the last three days and it took a bad beat to eliminate him from the tournament.

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 20

I didn't have much time to write today and since the last two posts were solid, I figured I could have a slacker day on the Tao. Some days I get so much information that I don't used 50% of what is in my notes. Other days, I have just two or three things written down. Day 20 was one of those days.

I'm starting to recognize players cars in the valet so I know who's playing. I spotted The Grinder's wine colored BMW and Mike Sexton's pimping ride. That's how I knew they were at the Rio playing in events.

Once action got down to the Sweet 16 in the Heads Up event, the poker agents swarmed the rail like pimps hanging out at the bus station looking for fresh pieces of ass. That's a disgusting part about poker as the bottom feeders do what they can to cut deals with online poker sites so the players hat represent can wear logos at televised tables. The worst part of my day is having the gnats constantly swarm around the media table badgering me with questions and updates about their potential clients. Do your own fuckin' homework. And if that doesn't work out, there are some crack whores strolling Tropicana Avenue that are independent contractors. Why don't they start brining them around the Rio and collect $50 for every hand job that they give in the parking lot?

I went to the Hooker Bar with Otis and Michalski. Although I pass it almost everyday, this was the first time this year that I actually stopped to have a drink. Otis and I frequented the bar every day in 2005 and only drank there occasionally in 2006. This year we've been drinking at the Kilt or the secret bar which no one knows about except us. Anyway, I lost close to $30 in throwing things prop bets with Otis that night ranging from empty water bottles to a matchbook toss. I'm stuck over $200 at the WSOP this year in throwing things prop bets and I'm down almost $400 in combined eating things and other prop bet losses.

Tilted Kilt Stella Count: 29
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Howard Lederer
2. Devilfish
3. Kenna James
4. Mickey Appleman
5. Mark Newhouse
* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.

And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Ghost of Stuey Ungar and Katja Thater Wins Razz Bracelet

By Pauly

Just before sunrise, you can find the ghost of Stuey Ungar wandering the hallways of the convention center at the Rio. Somedays he's cleaning out the trash. Other days he's bartending in front of the poker kitchen. Sometimes he's dealing a satellite or standing guard near the cage. Most of the time, he's standing on the rail checking out the action in the biggest cash game in the room.

Stuey Ungar is the greatest NL Hold'em player of all time. And that's not a half-baked comment coming from a hack of a poker writer. The men that knew him and played with him are the ones responsible for bestowing that accolade. If you don't believe me go ask Doyle Brunson or Mike Sexton. They'll sit you down and tell you some stories about Stuey that will blow your mind.

These days, the legend of Stuey Ungar grows, thanks to plenty of colorful stories about the kid from New York City with a voracious appetite for action who took Las Vegas by storm. The gin rummy prodigy could not get a decent gin game and turned to poker instead. You've heard the ensuing stories. You've seen the awful movie about his life. You've read the amazing book by Peter Alson and Nolan Dalla. There are plenty of heroic gambling tales to go around and even several sad and pathetic ones. Those somber stories are told with a semblance of disappointment as the storyteller usually paints a desperate picture of Stuey in the years leading up to his death.

Did Stuey Ungar's self-destructive behavior kill him or was Las Vegas an accomplice?

Another player turned Stuey onto cocaine in the early 1980s. Players and gamblers used to do it because it allowed you to stay up all night to gamble. (That was before Red Bull aka cocaine in a can was introduced.) But a drug like cocaine in the hands of a monster like Stuey was what helped steer him to his downfall. It was bad enough that he limped through life with a serious gambling problem (sports betting, horses, prop bets, you name it) but when you add the affects of rampant drug abuse, you basically have a recipe for disaster. Instead of snorting a few lines in a bathroom stall late at night to stay awake, he was doing it more frequently. Before he knew it, he was a raging cokehead in a 24 hour city that profits on your every weakness. It's no wonder that several of his friends bet on whether or not he would survive his 40th birthday.

At the 1990 WSOP, Stuey amassed a monster chiplead and went back to his hotel room to party. His backer Billy Baxter frantically showed up the next day when Ungar was a no show at Binion's Horseshoe. Ungar suffered an overdose and could not make it to the rest of the tournament. He had a big enough lead that his idle stack advanced to the final table before he was blinded off in 9th place.

Sound familiar?

Flash forward 17 years later to the Amazon Ballroom in the Rio. For second time inside of two weeks, Vinnie Vinh's stack sat at his table without him behind it. He failed to show up for another Day 2. When he disappeared last week, rumors swirled around the poker community of his whereabouts and many of us pontificated about his current state. My gut told me he was strung out somewhere, probably close by, but millions of miles away from home.

Vinnie Vinh with the Ghost of Stuey in the background
(Photo courtesy of Ed from Gutshot)

I had seen it happen dozens of times before in my own journey through life. Some folks slip and when they slip, they dive head first into the deep end of insanity. Usually they are hopeless souls and no one can save them except themselves. The lucky ones stumble out of their alcho-narco stupor barely alive. And the weak ones? You show up at their funeral a few weeks later with a knot in your stomach the size of a basketball as you look this person's mother or wife or daughter in the eye and say, "I'm sorry for your loss."

I covered Day 2 of Event #30 $2,500 NL Shorthanded. Everyone showed up at 2pm for the restart except Vinnie Vinh. The field had plenty of big names left like Erik Seidel, Erick Lindgren, Mimi Tran, Hoyt Corkins, and of course Vinnie Vinh who was noticeably absent. The floor supervisor walked over to his table and opened up his sealed bag of chips. He quickly stacked them up before he left the table. Ten minutes later, I wandered over to see if Vinh had arrived. His chair was empty and as my eyes focused on a figure standing at the rail. I saw the ghost of Stuey Ungar.

The dealers began the process of blinding Vinnie Vinh's stack off. Since the tournament was short-handed NL Hold'em, his stack decreased at a faster rate.

"He's the tightest player left in the tournament," Mimi Tran joked as she sat at his table. "He hasn't played one hand yet."

He still outlasted twenty players and finished in 22nd place out of the 42 players who survived Day 1 and advanced to Day 2. He won $12,468 and did not play a single hand on Day 2.

Every ninety seconds or so, another person would come up to the media desk and ask, "Where's Vinnie Vinh?"

Players, media reps, and spectators bombarded me with the same question and that put me on tilt.

"How the fuck should I know?" I snapped a dozen times.

The constant interruptions were slowing down my work and then I'd get distracted again when someone asked the same question. The anger was slightly misdirected. The media reps were trying to get to the bottom of the story and besides Hellmuth trying to win bracelet #12, the Vinnie Vinh saga had become one of the biggest stories of the 2007 WSOP right up there with Eskimo Clark's waning health (which I'll discuss shortly).

I was pissed off because my biggest fear about Vinh became a harsh reality. Vinh was not pulling off a Hellmuthian psyche-out and arriving a few minutes late. He wasn't going to be coming in at all. I accepted that fact ten minutes into the tournament. He was a goner. But everyone else was brainwashed and honestly thought that good would triumph over evil and there would be a warm and tender Hollyweird moment where Vinh would swear off loose women and drugs for the rest of life and race into the room with his NA sponsor and his family cheering him on from the rail as he won a bracelet. That only happens on Lifetime's Movies of the Week.

Under the gritty lights of Las Vegas, evil always squashes good. Vinh was long gone, somewhere deep into the thirteenth hour of a serious bender. Crystal meth? Crack? Cheese? Cocaine? Pills? Booze? All of the above?

The last place Vinh was going to be found was at Table #72 in the Amazon Ballroom. You had better luck finding him passed out in the bathroom of the Oasis Motel. That's were Stuey Ungar's dead body was found in November of 1998 with $800 in his pockets. They say he died of a heart attack, but Stuey's friends would tell you that he died years before.

David "The Dragon" Pham walked up to me around 6pm. He normally wears sunglasses and slid them down as he looked me in the eye and said, "Vinnie didn't show up today?"

The gloomy look in The Dragon's eye told me that he already knew the answer yet he asked anyway.

"Nope. He got blinded off in 22nd place."

"What the fuck?" he said before he muttered something in Vietnamese and walked away.

* * * * *

Otis walked over to me and shook his head.

"Eskimo just pissed himself at the table. He can't feel his left side," before he disappeared.

I had never seen Otis that upset before. He felt like everyone else in the room felt. Eskimo Clark should be in a hospital and not playing poker.

America loves underdogs. That's why sports movies like Rocky and The Bad News Bears and Hooisers send tingles down your spine when you watch them. Some of us were hoping that Eskimo Clark would win a bracelet a week after he collapsed in the Poker Sauna and the day after he passed out twice and held up Day 2 of the Razz event. The reality was a sad one. He was stuck. Big time. Most of his ralibirds were people that he owed money too. The man was moments away from the Angel of Death sucking out his last few breaths and the vultures circled his dying mass ready to get paid moments after he busted out in 4th place.

When I first watched the WPT first season and they panned the audience and focused on shots of pros, I thought that it was cool to have your peers sweating you and cheering you on. Little did I know, that those pros weren't there out of camaraderie. Rather, they were there to collect a debt or had they own piece at someone at the final table. It happens all the time. So when I see Johnny Chan wandering around a WPT final table set, my immediate thought is, "Who does Chan have a piece of?"

Jeffrey Pollack tried to talk Eskimo out of playing in the Razz event on two different instances. The first time was on Day 2 of the Razz event after he refused to be taken away by Clark County paramedics. Eskimo wanted to play though the pain. He had debts to pay. Before the final table started on Day 19, Pollack asked him to seek medical attention instead of playing. Eskimo declined again and said he was going to play through the pain. I heard a rumor that Harrah's made him sign a waiver which would not make them liable if something happened... like if he had a stroke or heart attack or died at the table.

Once again, the ghost of Stuey Ungar was on the rail of Eskimo's final table. I don't know why he owes money to others. I assume it's more gambling related than anything else. But borrowing money to chase a loss is probably the worst vice to have in Las Vegas. And when you're running bad in Las Vegas, you should probably get out of town. But a guy like Eskimo who is almost 60 years old is in a bad spot. What kind of job is he going to get that will pay him enough money to pay off his debts? He'd be lucky if he was able to find a crappy job that will help him pay the weekly juice on any of his debts.

He had to play. That was the only way that he saw he could climb out of debt. Even if it was going to kill him, he was not going to leave the tables. Bravado or pure stupidity?

Las Vegas is a place where desperate souls make desperate decisions all the time. If there was anyone who should have skipped a day and let his stack get blinded off, it was Eskimo. I hope that I don't see him for the rest of the summer and he gets the necessary rest and medical attention his weary body craves before he does any more damage.

* * * * *

It's kind of disappointing that I'm writing about the Eskimo drama when Katja Thater should be the focus. She won her first WSOP bracelet in Event #29 and not only did a European win another bracelet, she was a female. Not too many European women have taken down bracelets at the WSOP and Katja Thater is one of them. She's also made a final table during the Ladies NL event and final tabled an event on the EPT.

"She's an excellent Stud player," her husband Jan Von Halle said. "She joked that she always got bad cards in Stud so she decided to play Razz instead."

Of course when I play Razz, I always get rolled up Kings or Queens. Katja Thater outlasted a tough field of 330+ players and endured the side drama of Eskimo at her table. Katja Thater was named to Team PokerStars last summer to help promote them in the German market. And now she's their latest bracelet winner.

2007 WSOP Razz Champion - Katja Thater
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

Congrats to Katja for winning a bracelet in one of the most sadistic forms of poker around.

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos. And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.