Thursday, June 12, 2008

WSOP Day 13: Unlucky 13 and Mike Matusow Wins Bracelet

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Possibly the best final table of the 2008 WSOP was assembled. And by best I mean outstanding. Sensational. Exciting. Exhilarating. Thrilling. Delicious. Intriguing.
Event #18 Deuce-to-Seven Final Table:
Seat 1: Jeffrey Lisandro (Salerno, Italy) 461,000
Seat 2: Mike Matusow (Las Vegas, NV) 520,000
Seat 3: Tom "DonkeyBomber" Schneider (Scottsdale, AZ) 162,000
Seat 4: Erick Lindgren (Las Vegas, NV) 1,104,000
Seat 5: Barry Greenstein (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) 541,000
Seat 6: Tony G (Melbourne, Australia) 394,000
Seat 7: David Benyamine (Las Vegas, NV) 410,000
Sure, $537,857 was up for grabs. But for some of those guys that money is chump change. It wasn't about the money. It was about pride and bracelets. You see, pre-boom bracelets didn't really mean too much until the media starting hyping it up. We all know about how short-term luck affects poker tournaments, but bracelets are an indication of success over the long haul. The five or six guys who currently have the most bracelets have been regarded as some of the greatest poker players of all time.

There were eight bracelets at the final table. Greenstein, Matusow, Donkey Bomber had two while Lisandro and Lindgren had one each. DonkeyBomber won both of his in 2007 en route to winning player of the year, and Lisandro also won his first bracelet in 2007. Lindgren had won his first bracelet at the start of the 2008 WSOP. He already bubbled off of one final table and was looking to take down numero dos.

And then there were two foreign players (Tony G and David Benyamine) who were seeking their first bracelet. Both were outstanding cash game players. The G has been crushing the biggest cash games in Mother Russia fleecing nouveau-oil-rich billionaires at 1K/2K PLO (no cap). And we all know about Benyamine's monster swings online at Full Tilt and in the Big Game that would make your head spin. Heck, Benyamine was spotted playing online at Full Tilt thirty minutes before the final table began.

Yes, The G and Benyamine were cash game wizards, but a bracelet was something that was absent on their poker resumes.

Everyone was buzzing about the final table. The Deuce-to-Seven events have historically been pro-heavy but since they were always scheduled the day before the Main Event, the final tables were often overlooked. This year, the event was moved up which meant more exposure all around. Well, sort of...

The gang at Pokerati dubbed the final table... The Best Final Table We Won't See. California Jen said it best...
Here’s the kicker. Hardly anyone can see it.

The table is being held on a table NEXT to the ESPN stage. The rail is insane, four- or five-people deep, and those people are frustrated because they can’t see anything. Throw in the official WSOP media, ESPN cameras and crew, and floor staff, there’s nothing to see. Some members of the media tried to go up to the Milwaukee’s Best Lounge so we could watch from above, though that is rather uncomfortable as well, and snap a photo or two, but security instructed us to leave. Immediately.

Why, I asked of some fellow media folk, is the ESPN stage empty with no other final tables running today? Why can’t move this stellar final table over there with more room for the media and lots of room for fans to take seats and watch? WHY? The Poker Shrink informed me that ESPN does not take out insurance on the stage and lounge areas if there is no final table scheduled there. There is no insurance on the area today, and evidently, no one can make a phone call to get it.

Therefore, the players are stuck in a very small space, their friends and family are having a tough time seeing the table, and those against the rail have fans breathing down their necks. The fans are annoyed that they can’t see the best final table of the WSOP so far. The non-official media is pissed at being treated rudely by the floor staff and security team - being shooed from the area and given NO explanation, leeway, or assistance.

After a few weeks of virtually no missteps on the part of Harrah’s and the WSOP, this may be one that they hear about from the players and the media.
Yeah, Harrah's dropped the ball and screwed the pooch on that one. And it eventually gets worst and actually better.

I had an all-access badge and was kicked out of one area, told to go to another, kicked out again there, and went to a third spot and got screamed at by the original asstard who told me to go to the wrong place.

I gave up and stood on the rail since that was much closer to the action than the area where PokerNews reporters (FTrain an Logan) were set up. I stood in between an old lady snapping cellphone pics and a redneck with a beer gut the size of a Wyoming. He had a huge Big Gulp cup that he kept spilling on me. I had to ask grandma to give me the action on a couple of hands. She was polite and accommodating and bubbling over with excitement that she could help out. I don't think her eye sight was very good because she gave me a hand but told me that Daniel Negreanu won it.

"Which guy?" I asked to clarify.

"Him," she said as she pointed her frail index finger at Erick Lindgren.

I didn't have the heart to tell her she was wrong.

"It's been ten years since a French player last won a bracelet," said Benjo. Unfortunately, the French will have to wait for another opportunity since Benaymine was the first player to bust from the final table.

Tony G was the next to head to the rail. The G busted out in 6th place. He made a final table in PLO at the WSOP-Europe in September, blew the chiplead, and didn't win. He was hoping that his luck would change with Deuce-to-Seven. It didn't and The G had to get on his bike and pedal out of there.

DonkeyBomber was shortstacked to start the final table but managed to get himself out of hot water early with a couple of timely and necessary pots. DonkeyBomber is a member of the Pokerati crew. He started writing on Michalski's site in March of 2007. Michalski lucksacked his way through the 2007 WSOP after DonkeyBomber won two bracelets en route to his player of the year victory.

Of course, in true Michalski fashion, he showed up late for the final table with special Pokerati patches designed just in case any of his guys go deep. As soon as Michalski showed up at the Rio, DonkeyBomber busted out in 5th place.

Shortly after that, action was paused and the final four were moved to the ESPN stage. What the fuck? The Poker Shrink told me that the insurance excuse was a crock of shit. The real reason the stage couldn't be used was as simple as this... they didn't know how to turn the lights on because the guy who in charge of that had the day off. They tried to cover it up with a really bad excuse. Well someone got in contact with the guy who knew how to work the lights and turned them on. With a functioning set, the final table was moved to where it should have been the entire time.

Talk about an embarrassing situation for Harrah's. I dunno what was worse? The disinformation they sent out to the media and players? Or the fact that only one guy knows how to work the lights?

Ironically, the first major mishap of the 208 WSOP occurred on the 13th day of the series. Coincidence?

Editor's Note: It was brought to my attention that the issue indeed involved insurance. The set is insured by ESPN during days they are shooting. All other days it's off limits aside from the days that the final tables are shot by Bluff and aired on ESPN360. Except that the area was not insured yesterday and all that paperwork had to be taken care of before they could be on the set. I'm still a little confused.

Moving on...

Lindgren held the chiplead with four to go. He seemed like a lock to win it all. I won't out the media rep, but before the final table began they titled their recap Erick Lindgren Wins Second Bracelet. Yikes. That's sort of poker's version of Dewey Defeats Truman.

Alas, Lindgren busted out in 4th place. Matusow was in the lead but the always quiet Barry Greenstein was ready to make a move. Barry always looks like he just woke up from a nap or he's at the end of a 43 hour session. However, once it got three-handed, he perked up and was sort of isolated on his end of the table, while the ever-volatile Lisandro and mouthy Matusow were seated next to each other on the other end. They continuously jawed back and forth with one another and trying to tilt each other by showing their bluffs.

Before Midnight, Greenstien took over the chiplead but Lisandro went on a rush. Greenstein went out in third and it was Matusow and Lisandro heads up for the bracelet. Matusow's antics started to get under Lisandro's skin. When it was all over Matusow emerged victorious.

Without a doubt, Matusow is having a great WSOP. He's looking healthy after winning that 100K prop bet with Ted Forrest and he finally won his third bracelet.

In degenerate prop betting news, I lost my second last longer prop bet to Parvis. He picked both Matusow and Lisandro. Nice catch.

By the way, check out some of Flipchip's photos of the final table.

* * * * *


WSOP sent out this press release...
There was some controversy at the start of this final table as players and fans asked why it was not televised nor selected for broadcast by Bluff Media on ESPN360. The cast of characters in the finale would have made it seem to be potentially great poker theatre. However, after ten hours of drudgery from a spectatorʼs point of view, it became obvious that Bluff and its staff had made the right decision. As invigorating the high-stakes game might be to play, watching the finale and trying to follow the action was next to impossible. After this experience it must be noted that draw poker of any kind is a difficult sell for both viewers and spectators.

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

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