Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WSOP Live Blog - 50K HORSE Final Table

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

This is one of the (last) busiest days at the WSOP, with the $50,000 HORSE Players Championship final table taking center stage and a handful of other bracelet events coming to a close. Not to mention there's the $5K Short-Handed which attracted a horde of international and online players, and let's not forget about the survivors playing on Day 2 of the Donkament and Triple Draw.

After a quaint breakfast with the lovely Change100 at the Bellagio, I spent the first few hours sprinting around the Rio and checking out all of the events. When everything was held inside the Amazon Ballroom (2005-06), it could take me a half hour to survey the entire room. With all of the spillover ballrooms in use, it took three hours. And I purposely avoided the circus in the hallways. It could have taken longer. I really need to hire interns for the Main Event.

Here's some numbers about the 50K HORSE final table:
Final Table Players:
Seat 1: Ville Wahlbeck - 645000
Seat 2: Erik Sagstrom - 3675000
Seat 3: John Hanson - 1700000
Seat 4: Huck Seed - 1380000
Seat 5: Vitaly Lunkin - 2490000
Seat 6: David Bach - 2345000
Seat 7: Erik Seidel - 965000
Seat 8: Chau Giang - 1075000

Final Table Payouts:
1st - $1,276,802
2nd - $789,199
3rd - $522,394
4th - $368,813
5th - $276,610
6th - $219,655
7th - $184,087
8th - $162,382
* * * * *

2:30pm... Germany Prevails

The German national anthem was played today in honor of Carsten Joh's bracelet victory. I gave Change100 some shit because she didn't stand or her Mohterland's anthem. But you know what, Joh? Talk about cold-blooded and stoic. The German barely blinked during the bracelet presentation. I can't explain why, but I'm craving Black Forest Chocolate Cake right now.

There was also a small WSOP-Europe PR fluff thingy with Annette15. The best female NL player in the world can't even play at the WSOP because she's not 21 yet. She was captain of Team Europe and announced her first round pick of Peter Eastgate. Danny Negreanu had the pick for North America and Phil Ivey trotted up on stage for thirty seconds. He flashed a crooked politicians smile, winked at a few cameras, and then exited stage left as fast as he could. Eastgate stopped and posed for a few pics with curious fans while his agent locked his arm and tugged him away. He had an interview to do with some important people. That's what happened when you're the World Champion.

As per usual, the final table for HORSE was delayed almost an hour as they set up for Bluff's online taping of the event.

Instead of the HORSE hoopla, I checked out the final two tables of Stud 8. Max Stern, Chad Brown, Vince Burggio, and Matt Savage were all alive. Savage barely advanced to the final day. He was super short at the end of Day 2 and somehow managed to scoop a couple of three-way pots to stay alive. Mike Sexton was on the rail for bit sweating the action.

I wandered all the over to Miranda where the Triple Draw event was being played down to a final table. The wife of the DonkeyBomber was still alive along with a handful of other pros such as Gobboboy and Billy Baxter.

FTrain told me that the final table for the 3K Triple Chance was moved from the secondary final table to a regular table in the far corner... Green #153. The players were pissed and demanded to see Jack Effel immediately and tell them in person why they were not allowed to play at the secondary table.

* * * * *

4:20pm... Seidel & Chau Out of HORSE; Down to 6

Danny Negreanu is still alive in the Triple Draw event. Somehow I overlooked him on the first pass. There's under 50 players to go and Danny Boy has a lot of work ahead of him if he expects to win another bracelet. I didn't see him because he's been two-tabling.

Matt Savage officially advanced to the final table of the Stud 8 event along with Max Stern and Chad Brown.

I watched 50K HORSE for about thirty minutes. Very disappointed with the turn out, or lack of turn out. More than 50% of the seats are empty. In years past, the 50K HORSE was standing room only. This year? The final tables are not as "crowd attracting" as in the past. There were more railbirds for the Limit Hold'em Shootout the other night. Kinda sad.

I caught Huck Seed drag a monsterpotten against Chau and Seidel in Stud 8.
Seidel was my HORSE in the fantasy pool until he busted out in 8th place, as Chau followed him in 7th almost instantly afterwards. Down to 6 in HORSE with Erik123 still out in front.

I spotted the infamous McLovin wandering around the area and I ran into Miami John in the hallway. And no, Michalski and his Pokerati paparazzi was not tailing behind snapping photos.

And of course, today's smoke break is brought to you by PokerStars...

* * * * *

5:20pm... Reverse Cooler

When I sweat the 50K HORSE, nothing happens. Still at 6 players. When I leave, people bust. After watching the final table from several different vantage points (including perched up in the beef jerky lounge - formerly the Beast Bar and Lounge that is now just an empty wasteland with a couple of tables for people who want to sit and discuss politics while chomping down on beef jerky). I sat in the crowd for a few hands nearby the lone supporter of Vitaly Lunkin. He was so bored he couldn't stop yawning. He had two New school Russian flags draped over him.

Ah, and Lunkin the Russian has taken over the chiplead from the Scandi Erik123.

I saw two chicks that dressed like hookers. I dismissed them as ladies of the night until they walked into the final table area for HORSE. They sat down and clapped when Huck Seed won a pot, so I had to assume both girls were with him. Shit. That's what happens when you're a WSOP former world champion and FT pro... you get not one, but two fine ass bitches to sweat you at final tables. Something for all you kids to look up to. Play online poker. Go to the WSOP. Make a final table. And have two scantily clad ladies of questionable repute sweat you.

There's one scary looking dude sitting in the crowd. He strategically placed himself in the camera shot so the people watching the feed at home could see the religious message stamped on his t-shirt.... Jesus Saves Sinners From Hell. He gave off some serious Travis Bickle vibes. He even sported a Mohawk haircut and scribbled down notes at a frantic pace. Who the hell knows what that guy's deal is.

* * * * *

6:08pm... Down to 5 in Stud 8

I'm not a cooler at 50K HORSE, but my cooler powers seem to work when I hover over the Stud 8 event. With5 to go, Matt Savage, Max Stern, and Chad Brown are still alive. However, Savage is incredibly short stacked. He might not make the final four unless he gets some help.

Over in the HORSE event, two out of the three Americans left are short. Huck Seed and David Bach both have under 1 million in chips. Vitaly Lunkin still leads in chips.

Daddy Bot continues to multi-table events. He has Chainsaw Kessler at his table in Triple Draw.

And yes, it appears that Otis has fallen for a cowgirl that may or may not be a transvestite. Life is not perfect, nor is true love inside a Las Vegas casino. Better make sure you do a cock check before you do anything else.

* * * * *

6:30pm... Savage & Brown Out

Matt Savage, TD extraordinaire, finished in 5th place. He busted as soon as I walked over to his table, which further proved that I was a cooler in Stud 8. T'was down to the final four in that event, until Chad Brown headed to the rail in 4th place after Max Stern took him out. A nice amount of Costa Ricans on the rail sweating Max Stern, including his lovely wife, Maria.

The Triple Draw event is down to the last 36 players. Danny Boy and Mrs. DonkeyBomber are all alive. Nam Le and John Pham are on life support.

* * * * *

9:00pm... Cowboy Up?

The cowboy tranny has had everyone in a tizzy. I caught a glimpse of the seven foot beats once. She was standing in front of the booth for Matusow's check-raising the devil. Change100 caught her walking into the ladies room, which makes me wonder, she obviously pees standing up, right?

Let me know if anyone captured a photo of this hallway phenomenon.

And over in the Triple Draw event Mrs. DonkeyBomber is still alive and among the top 10 in chips with 27 to go. She's apparently having a much better year than her husband. The former/part-time/some-time Pokerati contributor has been the source of Michalski's barbs this summer. DonkeyBomber was on the verge of an O-fer in the 2009 WSOP until he cashed in the Limit Shootout. He bubbled off the final table when he lost a heads up battle against eventual champion FBT Mueller. In DonkeyBomber's defense, he was playing against one of the hottest players at this year's WSOP.

* * * * *

10:00pm... Ville No Way

The 50K HORSE snoozefest is down to five players with the departure of the Finn Ville Wahlbeck.Russian Vitaly Lunkin and David Bach are at the top of the leaderboard with Huck Seed as the shortest stack.

Over in the 5K short-handed, Phil Hellmuth has the most railbirds. I heard plenty of funny chatter with one old lady even calling him an asshole. He didn't hear it of course. If he did. he might have hurled chair at the grandma type with a hearing aid. Her anti-Hellmuthism gave me a hearty chuckle.

* * * * *

11:14pm... Tuesday Night Lime Tossing Results

We had a full field again after an obstructed arena the night before. And once again, we pushed after whiffing on both throws. My first lime landed on the far end of a $20 grid but skidded out of bounds. Otis' first lime landed in the $200 grind and bounced out. So close for both of us. On ur second throws, we whiffed horribly. Otis was long and I threw short.
Round 4 - Lime Tossing Results: Pauly 0, Otis 0
Overall: Otis +20, Pauly -20
And right now, we're sweating Otis playing in the nightly 11pm late night $200 donkament. Felipe, my friend of Poker News, is sitting at the same table, and I just noticed that LJ is also at the same table. Rigged. So fuckin' rigged.

* * * *

11:31pm... Huckleberry Seed Out in 5th Place, Tom Sawyer Pissed; Final 4 in HORSE

If you had Vitaly Lunkin, David Bach, John Hanson, and Erik123 as your final four team, then you win $45,000. Can Vitaly really win the 40K and 50K? Will it come down to a Scandi vs. a Russian for the Player's Championship? Or will the American long-shot (Hanson or Bach) come from behind to take it down? As much as the final table has been a bit on the unexciting side, the drama is beginning to unfold.

Oh, and down in the Miranda Ballroom, the Triple Draw event finally broke the money bubble with 17 or so to go, Mrs. DonkeyBomber is still in the mix along with Danny Boy.

"I'm craving a milkshake," said MeanGene.

"If we had interns, that's the sort of thing they'd be doing for us," I said.

* * * * *

12:22am... After Midnight Edition

The Devil has been lurking around, which put Otis on slight tilt in his late night donkament.

Over in HORSE, there's four left. John Hanson jumped out to a significant lead and is up to 7M in chips. He almost has more than 50% of the chips in play as Russian Lunkin slipped to the short stack.

* * * *

1:11am... Tranny Cowboy Sighting

Everyone's favorite tranny cowboy was spotted by Julio playing 25/50 NL. High stakes cash games. Wow. Didn't know she had the bankroll. But does she have a cock?

HORSE is down to 3 players after Vitaly Lunkin busted out in 4th. John Hanson and Erik123 are similar in chips, while David Bach is super short.

* * * * *

1:59am.... Devil and Angry Julie

The Devil passed me in the hallway moments after I stood in the hallway chatting with a half-blind Michalski. The Iceman stopped, shook our hands (Michalksi first then me) before he said, "You guys look great." That's it. Nothing more after that.

Michalski was sweating Mrs. DonkeyBomber as she made a run in the Triple Draw event She's fifth in chips with 12 to go.

The HORSE is still three-handed. Bach made a comeback and doubled up a couple of times. This might take a while. 5am perhaps? That would suck. The Poker Kitchen just closed.

* * * * *

3:20am.... Erik123 Eliminated in 3rd Place; Heads Up Horse; Mrs. DonkeyBomber Advances

First of all, congrats to Julie Schneider aka Mrs. Donkeybomber for advancing to Day 3. She's among the final nine players in Triple Draw. She returns tomorrow to play out to a final table. Apparently, Michalski's cooler abilities took a day off. Although he should stay home on Wednesday.

We're finally heads up in HORSE after the Scandi Erik123 hit the rail in third place. The remaining two players? Americans David Bach and John Hanson. Here's what they are playing for...
1st = $1,276,802
2nd = $789,199
Yeah, the entire press box is empty save for me, Nolan Dalla, and Paul the WSOP intern.

And I'd like to say good morning to all of my East Coast readers who are waking up to go to work today. Thanks for tuning in first thing in the morning.

* * * * *

3:52am... Numbers

50K HORSE. 2 players left. 12 people in stands. 8 overall media. 1 dealer & 2 backups. 3 camera people (thanks to BJ for reminding me of the crane operator) & 1 producer & 1 tired announcer! Kudos to TD/announcer Robbie Thompson for sticking this out from the first hand.

There are vacuums blaring out in the hallways as the cleaning crews conduct their routine cleaning services. There are also 10 cash game tables running and one tired Flipchp. He said he's prepared for the long haul. Two or three more hours. I picked 5am. It's coming up on 4am and Hanson has a slight lead 8.1M to 6.1M.

The waiters are bringing out trays of Redbull in order to keep people awake. At this point, it's a nice gesture. Once sun comes up, then we should consider main-lining.

* * * * *

4:20am.... "Smoke 'em if you got 'em!"

Wow, you know it's a long night when you have TWO smoke breaks in a single live blogging session.

And yes, today's second smoke break is brought to you by PokerStars...

* * * * *

5:11am.... Good Morning, Good Afternoon, This Will Take a While

Thanks god for the time-released nature of Vicodin. That's the only thing keeping me going. I don't do cocaine nor do I advocate the ue of the illegal narcotic, but shit, I'd love to do a line or seventeen right now. It would wake me and everyone in the room right up.

So I discovered via Twitter than I have some followers in Europe who are hanging on every word. That's kinda cool that you might be in London or Paris or Munich killing time at work or checking out the Tao on your lunch break. I definitely appreciate the support.

Anyway, we're still heads up in 50K HORSE between John Hanson and David Bach. It was even for a bit until Hanson started to break away. Here's the thing... Hanson is obviously tired and irritable. I just wonder how long he can go before he gets overly fatigued and makes mistakes. Bach? He's locked in. Locked and loaded for "Gunslinger." I think he might be on some Focusum or something like that because he's like a fucking Scandi with his lack of emotion at the tables. I gotta say, I've been more than impressed with Bach's performance tonight.

And sadly, there are less than seven people in the audience. One of them is for Bach and three are for Hanson. The rest are bums, passed out drunks, or tweakers. Not one hooker in the crowd. What a let down.

* * * * *

5:49am... The Almost 6am Photo Dump

I took these less than five minutes ago...

The empty room

David 'Gunslinger' Bach

Passed out/Crunked/Faded

* * * * *

6:23am... Top O' the Morn to Ya

The sun has risen above the city of Las Vegas and the 50K HORSE is still in the middle of a heads-up battle. It's a break time and Bach is up 78.6M to Hanson's 65.45. This might never end with this blind structure. Bach was up over 10M at one point before Hanson fought back.

I thought BJ was a machine, a robot, whatever. He's not. I'm actually saw him take a nap during the last level. Folks are tired, which includes everyone involved, yet Change100 and TassieDevl continue live blogging this for Poker News.

Anyway, it's quiet in the Amazon Ballroom aside from a few chips clattering and a hearty drunken laughter from the cash game section. Seven tables are running. Not bad at all.

Wondering what time Starbucks opens? With these stacks and blind levels, we might be here until noon. At this point, I've been up for 24 hours. Weeeee.

Oh and at this point, there are three people in the crowd. One of them is a security guard. The other two? Tweakers.

* * * * *

7:06am... Collect the Rake

A dozen thick-necked security guards marched into the room and they are changing out all of the rake boxes in the cash game section. They're quick and efficient. All that rake on the graveyard shift. I always wondered how much they pulled in on any given night.

Anyway, just before 7am, both players pulled even in chips with 7.1M. Bach won a pot soon after to regain a minor lead. They're approaching 400 hands.

And sweet Jesus, sleep deprivation makes me hungry. I could also use a big ass iced tea right now. These are times when I wish I had an intern. Or perhaps I can wait until one of the Tao All Stars to wake up and take over live blogging for me. Until that happens, I'm sitting here and trying to evoke my cooler abilities.

Suffice to say, both players are very quiet. No drunken shenanigans like that Scotty Nguyen trainwreck last year.

* * * * *

7:42am... Almost?

Bach has Hanson on the ropes. An hour ago, they were almost even. Since then, Bach went on a mini-rush to open up the first significant lead of the match. Bach had Hanson all in, but Hanson made a timely double up.

There are two people in the crowd now. One of them is Hanson's girlfriend.

* * * * *

8:18am... Hanson Back in the Lead

John Hanson mounted a remarkable comeback. He was all in at one point and survived. Since then he's managed to chip away at Bach's lead and just before the break, he regained the lead. Just when it looked like Hanson was toast, he sprung back to life and seized momentum.

* * * * *

8:30am... Level 29
Chip Counts:
John Hanson - 7.53M
David Bach - 6.875M

Hold'em/Omaha 8: Blinds are 125K/250K with Betting Limits 250K/500K
Stud games: Antes 50K, Bring-in 70K, Betting Limits 250K/500K
Yeah, we're on Level 29 and it looks like we might be here until Noon. I've been up for over a day and I had my first ever non-psychedelic. I really thought that someone was walking behind me down the hallway on the last break. It wasn't even my shadow, but rather some sort of figure that was in my head and then quickly disappeared.

If you are in Las Vegas and reading this and have any Adderral, please stop by the Rio... ASAP.

* * * * *

9:00am... Even Steven, Pass the Meth

Just like clockwork, both players have pulled even in chips. Oh joy. I'm now hitting up the dealers in search of crystal meth.

There are people who work the day shift that have arrived to work already. Insane, huh?

* * * * *

9:19am... Robbie = God

Robbie Thompson, the TD and announcer is the true Ironman. He's been going strong rockin' the mic since this started. I'm also very impressed with a handful of media reps who stuck it out all night long (of course TassieDevil & Change100, bit also Flipchip, Ryan, Arthur, Lance, and that girl from Poker Pages who's name I don't know). They all earned huge checkmarks in my book, while everyone else is a bunch of poseurs, wankers, and poker scensters. Sorry kids, I'm just calling it like I see it. You can't claim to be a poker journalist, then skip out on the highest buy-in event at the WSOP. With the exception of Michalski who is going blind in one eye and has to go get a wad of semen removed from his retina.

And if you show up from this point on to cover the final table, I'm gonna kick you in the junk. No bullshit, unless you have some good drugs for me. If you're a chick, I'll get Change100 to kick you in the vag. Believe me, she's pretty tired and cranky right now and has no problems doing that.

Anyway, sorry for the tangent. There's poker to be played. I'm sort of a purist and feel that HORSE should be played at the final table, but at this point, I'd like to see a round of NL Hold'em right now. Or how about NL Razz? And PLO8? Anything. Please. Throw us a friggin' bone. I'm an insomniac and I'm struggling to keep my heavy eyelids open.

* * * * *

9:37am... The Hallucinations Stopped

But now, the chills won't stop. I'm having shaking fits from the cold air. But then I go outside and sweat by balls off.

Bach has requested random bathroom breaks. I wonder if he's blazing up in the bathroom? Or he's just dropping a deuce. Nothing is worse than having to take a shit while playing live poker. Seriously. If you play online poker, you can drag your laptop into the shitter with you and play on the bowel. But in live poker? Not so simple.

The boys are almost even. This is getting redunkulous.

Also, the ESPN/441 Productions crew showed up early to work and prep the TV tables for the upcoming Main Event. Most of them are eagerly waiting for the 50K HORSE final table to end before they continue on with their work.

At this point, the live blog is reaching 4,000 words. It takes the hombres at Wicked Chops Poker one year to write that many words.

* * * * *

9:55am... I Spoke Too Soon

The new announcer? Awful. He doesn't call out who is betting etc, which makes the action more confusing. He obviously does not do this and is hopefully spelling Robbie for a few minutes. Final table coverage are only as good as the quality of information that the announcer gives, which includes chip counts.

Anyway, in the last couple of hands in Omaha 8, Bach opened up a sizable lead once again. Hanson was left with under 2M after Bach dragged a hefty pot. They are now in a level of Razz and who knows what can happen.

* * * * *

10:00am... Winner! David Bach = 50K HORSE Champion

After marathon final table and a 6+ hour head sup battle, John Hanson was eliminated in 2nd place and collected $789,199. David Bach wins the $50K HORSE bracelet and a cool $1,276,802! Congrats to both players. We're finally done.

Thanks to everyone who followed along on Tao of Poker and Twitter. At this point, I've been at the Rio for 23 hours, one of the longest stints of my career. It's been a weird ride. Thanks for dealing with all of the odd tangents, bitchfests, and hallucinations.

I'm taking Wednesday off. Maybe Thursday too. I need to rest up for the Main Event. I'll be back on Friday with a live blog starting at noon for Day 1A of the WSOP Main Event Championship.

That's it and I'm outta here.......

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

2009 WSOP Day 33: Gus Hansen Orgasm

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

A couple of days ago, I shuffled down the long hallway of my off-the-strip hotel/casino hybrid. I passed a two cleaning carts and gazed down at the hyperactive psychedelic patterns on the rug.

I'm not gonna lie. I got tracers. Lots of them. Perhaps it was the residual effects of all that liquid sunshine I ingested on Phish tour. Or just maybe, the visual distortion was directly caused by the effects of living in the desert, where the sun bakes your brains and all the casino oxygen sucks every drop of moisture out of your eyeballs, so you wander around completely dehydrated and with scratchy eyeballs.

That's when I heard the moaning. The first sound was short, but loud. As I approach the door, the moans grew louder and louder and trailed off into screaming. It was not even 10am and someone was getting plowed.

I stopped in my tracks and listened for a few seconds. At the same moment, one of the cleaning ladies popped her head out of the dirty room she was cleaning. I made eye contact with the cleaning lady as the woman inside the room reached peak orgasm. I shrugged my shoulders, as the cleaning lady shook her head, and I continued down the hall and side-stepped the remaining hallucinations, both visual and auditory.

Late on Day 4 of the $50,000 HORSE event, a frenzied mob gathered in the far corner of the room where the final two tables played out for guts and glory. By far, Gus Hansen was the most popular and most recognized player out of remaining players, as railbirds were forced to stand three and four deep on a triangular rail.

Gus Hansen is a type of guy who can't sit still when he's not getting a massage. He likes to walk around and observe other tables. He loves to chit-chat. Heck, he's Gus Fuckin' Hansen. At this point in his career, Hansen could have dropped his pants and took a shit on the table and 100 international media reps would write about his glorious bowel movement. For fuck's sake the biggest fanboy media rep would stand in line for an hour to interview Hansen's brown monument and then ask to take it home with him. Without fail some shyster would slap a Full Tilt patch on Hansen massive turd. And since we glorify everything pros do in poker, a brainwashed sunburned railbird would rush through the crowd to take a picture with Gus Hansen's feces sculpture.

I love poker. Rather, I love how fans react to the poker culture that I helped hype up by the thirty or forty publications that I have written for over the last half of a decade. We fluffed up shit so much that we have completely brainwashed the masses.

Take for instance the drunken tourist who lost her mud as Gus Hansen walked in front of her on the rail. Despite slurring her words, she managed to snag a picture and autograph of the player she considered the "hottest guy in poker."

Yes, Gus Hansen is a pretty man. Too pretty for my tastes, but the Great Dane happened to be in the woman's wheelhouse... so much so... that by Hansen's mere presence, he brought this woman to an intense bong-rattling orgasm... while she stood fully clothed and on the rail.

Hansen obliged for the photo op and then returned to his table. The woman instantly hyperventilated and unleashed a string of ear-piercing multiple orgasms. I was more than impressed. I was insanely jealous. I mean, Hansen is just another degenerate Scandi gambler who dropped 900K on a tennis match last month. His online bankroll fluctuates seven figures in the blink of an eye. It's not like he's one of the Beatles or the Jonas Brothers or something.

That did not matter to the enraptured woman. While in the middle of the third wave of excitement, as her clitoral muscles quivered, she managed to call up one of her friends and tell them that Gus Hansen got her off.

She also ripped a Full Tilt patch off of Gus' chest. She needed a piece of masturbilia (masturbation memorabilia) to rub over her nether regions for future climax sessions when she returned from her vacation.

That's not the last of the Gus Hansen story. Otis told me a funny bit about how a redneck male fan wandered up to Gus while he took a piss and touched him on the shoulder and stomach.

There's a line and he crossed it. You never ever touch another man while he's taking a piss. It's an unwritten rule in life, sort of the Guy's Code that we all abide by. But sometimes, poker pros are thrusted so high up on pedestals, that it makes people go a little crazy and guys start grabbing poker stars at the urinals and women snatches get so damn damp that an endless a river of love juice drenches the entire floor of the Amazon Ballroom.

On a positive note, the vaginal secretions washed away all the blood stains from the donkeys that were led to their slaughter hours earlier.

* * * * *

Don't forget, you can follow some of my WSOP hijinks over at Twitter. My feed is @taopauly.

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

Monday, June 29, 2009

WSOP Live Blog - 50K HORSE Day 4 & 3K Triple Day 2

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Today is a busy Monday at the WSOP. It's the final donkament of the series and the last bloddshed before the Main Event. The 50K HORSE is winding down towards the money and the final table.

And the 3K Triple Chance tournament is in the second day with 149 players remaining and a lot of familiar faces including Shaniac, Tony Dunst, Dale Pinchot, Rizen, Johnny Lodden, ApeStyles, Maria Ho, and Nordberg. Oh and that Jeff Lisandro fellow is still left in the mix and gunning for bracelet #4.

* * * * *

2:59pm... Oh, Canada

Owen was smiling. I had never seen that before. My fellow media rep from the Great White North is known as one of the more sullen writers (wait a sec, all writers are sullen and all WSOP reporters are morbidly depressed. By Day 33 of the WSOP, they have either contemplated or attempted suicide no less than 12 times). Anyway, Owen had a shit-eating grin because he had just heard the Canadian national anthem that was played after Greg Mueller was awarded his second bracelet this summer.

The area in front of the "bracelet stand" was a zoo. The bottlenecked area included media covering the ceremony, railbirds sweating the 50K HORSE, and random donkeys waiting to take their seat in the donkament after it had gone on break.

Scheduling. The WSOP has improved on many levels, but they always seem to get kicked in the junk with poor scheduling. The 3K re-start was delayed thirty minutes, then an hour in order to find enough tables to play. I guess the donks were not busting out as fast as the suits expected.

Alas, lots of named pros wandered around, some of them miffed at another tournament that failed to start on time. As I told them, "You're pros. You should know that shit never starts on time and slept in late."

* * * * *

4:00pm... Bubble Looms in HORSE

Todd Brunson was the first player to bust out of the 50K HORSE event. Brett Richey went out in 18th place. With 17 to go, action reached the bubble and the final three tables are playing hand-for-hand (and somewhat short-handed).
50K HORSE Payouts:
1. $1,276,802
2. $789,199
3. $522,394
4. $368,813
5. $276,610
6. $219,655
7. $184,087
8. $162,382
9-10. $123,895
11-12. $99,590
13-14. $83,630
15-16. $72,914
Whoever busts next is gonna lose $72,914. Jon Kabbaj is the short stack, wile David Bach captured the chiplead with around 1.5M.

* * * * *

4:20pm... Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

Today's smoke break is brought to you by... PokerStars!

* * * * *

4:44pm... $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Frank Kassella = Bubble Boy in HORSE. He lost to Ray Dehkharghani, who slow-rolled Kassella. The two had been jawing all day and Dehkharghani unsportsmanship reared its ugly head.

Down to the final 16. Tony G cashed. That makes the G happy. Maybe he'll shower rose petals and food comps to bums panhandling underneath the I-15 underpass.

I'm still alive in the Aussie/PN fantasy pool. My horse is Seidel, while Change100 has David Chui. Gloria has the Finn, and Duckworth has Wattel.

* * * * *

5:45pm... Touch of Grey

I wandered by the Hooker Bar and Touch of Grey by the Grateful Dead was playing. Parts of the Rio have been lasting classic rock over the last few days. I overheard Tuesday's Gone while on the shitter the other day, and yesterday it was Day Tripper on the PA while I wandered through the casino.

A while a go, a large scream unleashed from the far corner. The Brazilians. Since I know it's not a nude beach or a soccer game, there must have been a big double up for one of their countrymen. They travel in hordes and sweat any other Brazilians that go deep in a tournament, especially the WSOP.

50K HORSE is down to 15 players after Jon Kabbaj busted out in 16th place. The G is one of the short stacks. Vitaly Lunkin leads the pack while Erik123 is not far behind in second place.

Over in the 3K Triple, Shaniac and Tony Dunst are still alive, but sadly, the lovely Maria Ho is no longer with us. She passed by the press box with a glum look on her face while she tweet'd her departure.

* * * * *

7:00pm... Down to 13

Mr. Smokey and former champion Freddy Deeb are both out of 50K HORSE as the field dwindled down to 13 players. Erik123 is back in the chiplead with 2.4M, while David Bach passed the 2M mark. The G is the shortstack and he's been hanging on the last couple of hours. If he doesn't chip himself up soon, he's gonna finish in unlucky 13th place.

* * * * *

7:57pm... The G = Busto; Gus Hansen Doles Out Orgasms on the Rail

The G is nevermoere after he busted out in 13th place. Down to 12 in the HORSE on the final two tables. Gus Hansen walked around the playing area and watched the other table. A drunken female fan on the rail asked Hansen for a photo and autograph. He obliged and she lost it. Literally. She unleashed an orgasmic shriek and could not stop. The Great Dane gave her a multiple orgasm.

* * * * *

9:30pm... 12 to Go

The HORSE is returning from dinner. David Chiu is super short and Erik123 opened up a commanding lead with 3.8M... almost 1M more than anyone else.

Over in 3K Triple, Tony justbusted but cashed. Shaniac moved up to 155K and ApeStyles is among the chipleaders.

* * * * *

10:00pm... Obstruction Lime Tossing

Otis and I headed out back for lime tossing and were bummed out to see a truck parked on half of our lime tossing field. What the fuck? We did what we could and played around the vehicle. Some of the bonus grids were out of play.

I went wide right by a few inches on my first throw. My second? Almost identical. Otis whiffed on both of his throws. His second toss hit the back tire of the truck, which we agreed was out of bounds. Otis went 0-2 and we pushed on this round. I blame the inaction on the truck.
Round 3 - Lime Tossing Results: Pauly 0, Otis 0
Overall: Otis +20, Pauly -20
* * * * *

10:10pm... 50K Final Table Bubble

While I was out back fuckin' around with degenerate citrus fruit tossing, three players busted out in a short amount time. The final table bubble is upon us after David Chui, Mike Wattel, and Ray Dehkharghani busted out. Gus Hansen is the short stack with Erik123 still way ahead out front.

* * * * *

10:30pm... Hansen = Final Table Bubble

Gus Hansen was short and hit the rail in 9th place. The final table of eight is set with Erik123 as the chipleader. Final table will start at 2pm on Tuesday. Here's the lineup...
Seat 1: Ville Wahlbeck
Seat 2: Erik Sagstrom
Seat 3: John Hanson
Seat 4: Huck Seed
Seat 5: Vitaly Lunkin
Seat 6: David Bach
Seat 7: Erik Seidel
Seat 8: Chau Giang
My horse, Seidel, is still alive. It's me or Gloria (she has Ville) to win the pool.

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

2009 WSOP Day 32: Undercover and What Does Benjo Think?

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Chatter from the rail.

I love it because it's so absurdly stupid sometimes. There's a small and elite group of fans who know almost every pro, but on the other hand, there's a large percentage of fans from fly over states who don't have a clue.

I ducked into the crowd and mingled with the masses on the rail for the $50K HORSE. I wanted to blend in so I bought a bag of Twizzlers and a beer. I decided to stuff my face on the rail, drink like a frat boy on Spring Break, and take photos with flash like the majority of the citizen paparazzi. While embedded with the railbirds, I eavesdropped on a few conversations.

"Scandinavian players are some of the best in the world," one overweigguy said to two sorta clueless folks with fanny packs and gold visors. "I played against a few and they destroyed me."

The conversation got boring real fast and I moved down the rail and nearly stepped on Rene Angelli (aka Mr. Celine Dion). A guy with a French-Canadian accent blindsided Rene with a bad beat story that busted him from a satellite. At least, that what I think he said. Mon francais est tres mal. So, I don't have a fuckim' clue. He could have been pestering Rene for tickets to Bette Midler for all I know.

As I scribbled down a couple of snarky notes, I overheard someone in a southern accent ask, "Excuse me, where are all the players I'd know from TV? Like Jen Tilly and Shannon Elizabeth?"

A familiar voice answered and I looked up. Poor poor Otis was flagged down by a gaggle of redneck tourists because they saw his badge and thought he was a tour guide or some sort of authority figure. Otis is still fresh after arriving a couple of days ago and had yet to develop that thousand yard stare where you look past anything and everything in front of you. Otis gave a stern yet polite answer. I snickered and moved down the line.

"Who's the guy who looks like Jerry Seinfeld?" someone asked as they snapped a photo of Ralph Perry.

"Is that Johnny Chan?" asked a myopic retiree with a Golden Nugget hat who poked me in the ribs and pointed towards Chau Giang.

One guy in a John Franco NY Mets jersey nearly knocked me over as he grabbed a friend of his in front of me. The kid was in the middle of taking a photo of Gus Hansen, when his friend yelled, "Come over here to this side!" Franco pointed towards the other half of the Amazon Ballroom that included the $3K Triple Chance event. "There's more pros I know over here. Like that guy! Over there. With the green hat. I've seen him on TV before!"

After a couple of minutes on the rail, I decided to retreat before my cover was blown. I gathered enough material for a half-baked post and wanted to get the hell out of the tourist stampede before I got bombarded with stupid questions like, "Where's Bill Ivey?" and "Where's the Hooker Bar?"

The rail started to thin out after the biggest sharks were eliminated and quickly headed to a local juicy cash game or over to the internet. Day 3 of the 50K HORSE would determine the flow of the rest of the tournament. At the onset, I was skeptical if they could make it to the money (final 16) by the end of Day 3. However, by dinner break, the field had shrunk to 31 players which meant they were on pace to hit the bubble towards the end of the evening.

Among the early causalities on Day 3? Phil Ivey , David Benyamine, Barry Greenstein, Jesus, Erick Lindgren, Fabrice Soulier, PearlJammer, Boosted J, Doyle Brunson, and Alex Kravchenko.

When the night ended, only 19 remained with Russian bracelet winner Vitaly Lunkin as the chipleader, and Erik123, Freddy Deeb, and Ville Wahlbeck not too far behind. The top 16 players get paid which means the money bubble should break early on Day 4. Action resumes at 2pm local time.

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 32....

I popped in on Coach a few times over in the Stud 8 event. He played in Brasilia Room and sometimes that room is humming more than the Amazon Ballroom. Coach had a tough draw as is with Paul Darden at his table, but after Barry Greenstein busted, he bought into Stud 8 and took a seat to Coach's right. Coach held his own for most of the night and even took down a multi-way pot against the two sharks, Darden and Greenstein. He chipped up to 6.3K after he scooped Greenstein. Sadly, Coach did not advance to Day 2 and headed to the rail with about 200 players to go. His three pair was flushed out.

I wondered about my favorite Norwegian, Johnny Lodden. I had not seen the Team PokerStars Pro since my return to Las Vegas, and then all of a sudden... he magically appeared in the $3K Triple Chance event. He inspired a high stakes gambling event in London last September called What Does Johnny Lodden Think that was played among Phil Laak and some of his cronies.

I turned to Otis and said, "Let's gamble on something called What Does Benjo Think?" Otis thought it was a brilliant idea and we figured out ten questions to ask Benjo. We would each alternate and pick a question and then predict Benjo's answer....
What Does Benjo Think...

1. Who is the worst U.S. President?
Otis: Nixon
Pauly: W Bush

2. Who is the biggest influence on rock & roll in America?
Otis: Beatles
Pauly: Bob Dylan

3. Hottest chick in poker?
Otis: Alexia Portal
Pauly: Lacey Jones

4. The home state of the next American girl he hooks up with?
Otis: Arkansas
Pauly: Texas

5. How big is Tony G's bankroll?
Otis: $20 Million
Pauly: $17 Million

6. Between an enema, a vasectomy, and a punch in the nose... which one would you prefer to wake up to?
Otis: Enema
Pauly: Punch in the Nose

7. Who is your favorite character on the Sopranos (not including Tony Soprano)?
Otis: Paulie Walnuts
Pauly: Silvio

8. Who is the best looking male in poker?
Otis: Patrik Antonius
Pauly: Random Scandi

9. How many shots of Southern Comfort does it take to get AlCanthang drunk?
Otis: 7
Pauly: 14

10. Which sex tape of a poker couple would you like to see?
Otis: Benyamine/Schoenberg
Pauly: Harman/Traniello

Again, we're betting on what we think Benjo will say. The actual answers were surprising.
1. Who is the worst U.S. President?
Benjo said, "Nixon. Because I just watched Frost/Nixon."

2. Who is the biggest influence on rock & roll in America?
Benjo said, "It has to be a British band. Led Zeppelin. Because the Beatles is pop and Dylan is folk."

3. Hottest chick in poker?
Benjo snapped called with, "Lacey Jones"

4. The home state of the next American girl he hooks up with?
Benjo said, "California."

5. How big is Tony G's bankroll?
Benjo said, "$1.5 million."

6. Between an enema, a vasectomy, and a punch in the nose... which one would you prefer to wake up to?
Benjo said, "Punch in the nose."

7. Who is your favorite character on the Sopranos (not including Tony Soprano)?
Benjo looked up characters on the internet and then blurted out, "Johnny Sac."

8. Who is the best looking male in poker?
Benjo almost went for Patrik Antonius, before he refused to answer the question because we'd give him guff and unleash a round of 'gay' jokes. He picked Dan Harrington.

9. How many shots of Southern Comfort does it take to get AlCanthang drunk?
Benjo asked how big were the glasses of SoCo that Al drank. After we told him, he said, "27."

10. Which sex tape of a poker couple would you like to see?
Before I could complete the question, Benjo blurted out, "Benyamine. Anything he does? I'm interested in."
The final tally? Otis 2, Pauly 2 with 6 answers that we both whiffed on. Otis and I pushed our bet, but we found something to keep us entertained for the next few weeks.

* * * * *

Don't forget, you can follow some of my WSOP hijinks over at Twitter. My feed is @taopauly.

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

The Kabbaj Regime

By Snoopy
Las Vegas, NV

"I keep hitting the crossbar," sighs John Kabaaj as we wait patiently at the baggage claim. "It's hard when you keep coming close, but you just have to keep plugging away. Poker's a tough game emotionally."

John collects his bag and exits the airport to rejoin his family back home and return to the grind of cash game poker. However, as he leaves, I sense a certain weariness in his voice, and one that is becoming frustrated with tournament poker and the variance it brings. I wonder if he indeed has what it takes to "keep plugging away" and whether or not he'll finally evade the woodwork and net that big win he's searching for.

For as long as I can remember, John has always been a respected figure in UK poker, but never a main attraction: never fronting magazines, ignored by media outlets, and simply left to his own devices. He passes under the radar, quietly plying his trade in the Vic cash games whilst taking the occasional stab at tournaments, in particular Pot Limit which remains his speciality. He's underrated by the ignorant, but admired by his peers. So much so that the Hendon Mob invited him to be their fifth member, yet he turned them down due to being a "one-man band." He's a loner of sorts, with no interest in publicity – he conceded sponsorship for that very reason – and thus a rare breed of player who is happy to just keep a low profile, knuckle down and earn enough to support his family. He's in it for the money, self-respect, and little else.

A few months on, and John is centre stage at the Rio and absorbing more attention than he can possibly muster. He holds the bracelet to his lips as the press queue in single file to capture his picture. "You can at least manage half a smile!" bellows Carlo Citrone from the rail. Despite his relief and elation, John forces a smile, but the limelight is clearly a foreign experience.

The following day, and John is back in the spotlight, but this time seems more at ease. The money is clearly paramount, but what the bracelet signifies seems to mean a lot – he was bracelet hungry and wanted to prove to himself that despite his lack of fame, he was good enough to earn an accolade that is so widely desired within the industry. The room is buzzing as John takes the stand in preparation for the official presentation, but to him, it wouldn't matter if he were the only man in the room. This moment is for him, for John to feel content about his own achievement after so many near misses. He's not here to show off or gloat about victory.

As a smattering of his fellow Late Night Poker veterans (John turned pro at 21, so is “veteran” according to experience rather than age) watch from the floor, Jeffrey Pollock presents the bracelet before signaling for the national anthem, a unique induction that has been well received in the Amazon Room. John stands upright, awaiting his moment of glory, a satisfied expression already etched on his face.

The anthem starts, yet is met with confused expressions. The less than dulcet tones of Johnny Rotten kick in and I look across to Pauly who smirks with approval, his rebellious nature pleased by the choice of song. I glance back up at the stage to see Jeffrey Pollack bobbing his head, and later giving the air a gentle fist-pump as he enjoys the Sex Pistol's infamous God Save the Queen. John, meanwhile, looks somewhat surprised, his eyebrows raised, but he goes along with it nonetheless.

As the track draws to a close, the mood changes in a hiccup. Two British players in Jon Shoreman and Dave Barnes approach the stage, fuming like petrol and locking Pollack in as their main target. I shrewdly position myself to pick up a few choice words which paint a clear picture: "disgusting," "insulting," and "disrespectful" – the small British contingent is not happy, especially as John confirms that he was oblivious to the choice of song. Before Shoreman and Barnes return to their game, Pollock apologises "on behalf of the World Series of Poker", his feathers uncharacteristically ruffled. For the Commish, a man who is someone people prefer to tiptoe around, to be confronted with such anger and venom is something I hadn't witnessed before.

After the incident, I ask Shoreman to fill in a few gaps that my eavesdropping had missed: "He [Pollack] told me that a few people had requested it after the last British ceremony. They then said that there was an occasion once where someone else sang the US anthem in a different style. 'You do know that it's a different song?' I asked, to which they replied, 'No.' That's just ignorance. It has phrases like, 'fascist regime,' and that's just the mild part. I can honestly believe that they thought it was the same song. I think the idea of the ceremony and its implementation is a good idea, but regardless of who made the request, the powers that be shouldn't have played it."

Dave Barnes, another experienced British player, joins the conversation: "I thought it was ridiculous. I remember at the Hatton fight there was a load of booing during the American national anthem and it was all around the papers and stuff. Then they go and do this to us. Imagine the reaction here if it had been the other way around and we'd played a song insulting their country."

It later emerges that Pollock had no idea that the Sex Pistols were going to be gracing the loudspeakers and assumed that John had been consulted. When he heard it, he went with it – what choice did he have? Later, and upon hearing the reaction, he pulls John aside to apologise and inform him that he will redo the ceremony the following day with the official national anthem included. John merely nods and shrugs his shoulders – he has more important matters at hand as the $50,000 HORSE event is about to start.

A couple of hours later, I catch up with John. I fully expect him to laugh it off, but he feels equally as besmirched as Shoreman. "Normally, I would have turned around and said, 'Hey, hold on,'" he explains, "but I was so surprised, I'd only just woken up and didn't realise what was going on. I didn't think it would bother me much, but I couldn't seem to get it out of my mind as I was playing the HORSE. They said they'd redo it and apologised, but what's an apology? It's a bit of a disgrace really."

This last sentiment probably explains why John was a no show come the following day. With all eyes focused on the podium, Pollock explains the situation, apologises, again, and the correct anthem is played. In Kabbaj's absence, the room stands respectfully to the more traditional choice and there's a gentle ripple of applause upon conclusion. However, it's a sad sight to see the stage void of the event's winner, and the man who should have been the target of that applause.

My initial view was that the reception of the song was merely dependent on whether you were pro or anti monarchy. Personally, I've never been a fan of the Royal Family beyond tourism. They litter the tabloids, make poor role models, and seem to do little beyond making public appearances and showcasing a luxurious way of life that the tax-payer funds. However, my views aren't the consensus, and the Royal Family are adored by many. I can't help but recall the backlash of Princess Diana's death which was considered a national tragedy and mourned by many who had never even met her. The Royal Family are like Marmite – you either love them or hate them.

With that in mind, it was possibly a poor decision to play a song that could potentially split your audience, especially if your main target, the recipient of the gesture, had not been informed or requested the change. After all, it's his moment, not anyone else's. However, I'm sure Harrah's were unaware of the offence that could be caused by playing a previously banned song (it still topped the charts), and one that includes lines such as "Our figurehead is not what she seems" and "She ain't no human being”, and I genuinely believe that they simply didn't realise there was anything controversial about the lyrics. If they were aware it was anti monarchy and establishment, then perhaps Pollock may have resisted that first-pump. But it was a genuine mistake, a behind the scenes slip-up, and one that was aimed at lightening the mood and showing the organisation's humerous side, which is sometimes concealed for the sake of formality – to suggest otherwise would be wayward.

And so, another storm-in-a teacup was concluded. The set-up is meant to emulate an Olympic ceremony, one in which the proud winner is put on a pedestal and his achievement honoured before a public audience. It's a strong tradition that is known worldwide, and to change the song inevitably alters the prestige of that moment. But whatever the song and the words they speak, whether it's the same song or not, the question remains – who cares? It was accidental, and as Gary 'The Whacker' Bush commented, "There are more important things to worry about than what version of the national anthem they play."

Kabbaj Wins Event #45 $10,000 PLH
Photo by Flipchip

As for John, he'll keep "plugging away" and return to the shadows that he has become so accustomed to. It's likely that those who once ignored him will now shower him with praise and invite him to appear on TV and radio, but I fully expect him to tell them where to go. As with the second ceremony, it's a similar case of too little too late. However, publicity will remain low on his list, and the slip-up that occurred here in Vegas will soon be forgotten. The important thing is that he's no longer hitting that crossbar, and can take a bracelet and $633,335 back to London, as well as the knowledge that he made his mark in poker history without letting his ego control his path. As John says himself, "Ego ruins people," and he really means it, man.

Snoopy is a writer from London, UK. You can read his stellar 2009 WSOP musings over at Black Belt Poker.

* * * * *

Original content provided by Tao of Poker at www.taopoker.com. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

50K HORSE Day 3 - WSOP Live Blog

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

There's one final table (Limit Shootout), two new events ($3K Triple KO and $1.5K Stud 8), the second day of the donkament, and the third day of 50K HORSE is upon us. This is the so-called moving day for the big boys when we find out who fades away into oblivion (and $50K poorer) and who's gearing up for a run at the coveted bracelet in the Player's Championship.

53 players began Day 3. The top 16 get paid prize money.
50K HORSE Payouts:
1. $1,276,802
2. $789,199
3. $522,394
4. $368,813
5. $276,610
6. $219,655
7. $184,087
8. $162,382
9-10. $123,895
11-12. $99,590
13-14. $83,630
15-16. $72,914
* * * * *

2:30pm... Schulman Down

52 players remain in the HORSE event after Nick Schulman became Day 3's first casualty, while Gus Hansen is back into the chip lead. The majority of railbirds in the Amazon Room are huddled on the rail in the far corner.

I have two horses left in HORSE.... Erik Seidel and Pearljammer. I also have a bet that Matt Glantz will win a bracelet, so I'm keeping an eye on his progress.

One member of the French press (I won't say his name, but it rhymes with Kenjo) was in the middle of an important business matter and did not stand during the national anthem that was played during Brandon Cantu's bracelet ceremony.

"If it weren't for that anthem, Frenchie, you'd be speaking German!"

I gave him a ton of guff even though most people only stand when their national anthem is played. Over in the HORSE event, action was not halted and played on during the anthem. To them, it was just background chatter and ambient noise.

* * * * *

3:23pm.... 44 to Go

The HORSE event lost a couple of big guns.... Ivey, Greenstein, and Benyamine. Also out are Steve Sung, Daniel Alaei, Jason Gray, and Alex Kravchenko. Oooops. Another Ruskie heads to the rail.

However, the Scandis are gearing up. Gus Hansen and Erik123 are floating near the top of the heap, bit they both trail of Ray Dehkharghani who is chasing the 1 million chip mark. I don't know too much about Ray aside from the fact that he plays cash games and has minimal tournament results (less than 500K for his career). He has cashed in every single WSOP since 2005 and nearly missed a final table at this year's WSOP.

I spotted Johnny Lodden playing in the 3K Triple Chance event. That inspired a new joint-gambling-venture between Otis and myself. Last year in London, Phil Laak and several pros played a game called, "What does Johnny Lodden think?" They would pick questions and gamble on his potential answers. In honor of Johnny Lodden, Otis and I decided to play a game in the press box called, "What Does Benjo Think?" Stay tuned for the results.

* * * * *

4:20pm... Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

Today's smoke break is brought to you by... PokerStars!

And now, here's some Lou Reed with a good old fashioned 70s porn-funk intro to one of his classic songs...

* * * * *

4:44pm... 41 Remaining; Doyle & Erick Fuckin' Lindgren Busto

A couple of more hit the rail... Texas Dolly, Erick Lindgren, Fabrice Soulier, artin Vallo, and Boosted J.

The battle for the chiplead is among Erik Sagstrom, Gus Hansen, and Ray Dehkharghani. They're all in the 800K range and trying to be the first player to bust through to the 1M mark.

* * * * *

5:25pm... Jesus Hath Left the Building

After two levels of play today, the HORSE is down to 37 after the eliminations of Jesus, Jani Sointula, and David Grey. 21 more to go before the money bubble...

* * * * *

6:45pm... Dropping Like...

Flies? A few more bustouts... Pearl Jammer, Ralph Perry, Jerry Buss, and former WSOP champion Jim Bechtel. Down to 31 with Erik123 in command of the chiplead. The infamous Scandi online legend became the first player to pass 1M in chips.

The remaining 31 players are heading out to dinner break shortly.

* * * * *

8:43pm... The Coach Report: Tough Table

I stopped by the Brasilia Room to check in on Coach. If you're an old school Tao of Poker reader, you know that Coach has been a guest poster here on several occasions. We go way back to the Blue Parrot days, which was our regular home game in NYC hosted by Ferrari. I met a bunch of poker playing lawyers including Ugarte, F Train, and Dawn Summers. Good times and some of my favorite poker memories from New York.

Anyway, Coach was the best Stud 8 player in our group and he's in today's Stud 8 event. He drew a tough table that included Barry Greenstein and Paul Darden. They are both to his right, which is the good news. Greenstein busted out of the HORSE event and bougt into the Stud 8.

Coach slipped to 3.8K (starting stack was 4.5K). He said that he lost a pot to Darden.

* * * * *

10:15pm... Down to 26

A couple more bustouts in 50K HORSE including Snoopy's model friend Patrik Antonius, Matt Hawrilenko, John Monnette, Hasan Habib, and Scott Clements.

Erik123 continues to lead the field with over 1.3M. Freddy Deeb is the only other player over 1M in chips. The short stack is Matt Glantz with 26 to go. Top 16 get paid out.

* * * * *

11:11pm... Heads Up for a Multi-Bracelet

We're gonna have another multi-bracelet winner at this year's WSOP.... either Mark Naaldan or Greg FBT Mueller will collect their second. It's almost even in chips and I wandered over to sweat that final table where a massive crowd gathered. It might be the most crowded secondary final table I had seen this year. Half the crowd is there rooting on Mueller, while every single Dutch person in Nevada showed up to cheer on their fellow countryman. A festive crowd indeed as they're standing three and four deep in the rail as the two slug it out.

Over in HORSE, we're at the beginning of the final level of play. 23 players remain after a couple of more bustouts... Matt Glantz, John Hennigan, and Patrick Bueno. Erik123 still out in front.

* * * * *

11:32pm... Greg Mueller Wins Limit Shootout; Coach Chipping Up; No Repeat Champion

Dutchie Mark Naaldan finished in second place to Greg Mueller. This is definitely the Canuck's year after he collected his second bracelet.

Over in the Stud 8 event, Coach is almost back to his starting stack. He played a multi-way pot against Darden and Greenstein and took it down. He just scooped Greenstein ad is now sitting on a stack worth 6.3K. He's around average with 350 or so remaining.

And in the HORSE? Scotty Nguyen was the latest casualty. Ville Wahlbeck has snagged the chip lead for the first time tonight. Erik123 is not far behind in second place. Down to 21 players.

* * * * *

12:14am... Day 3 Complete; 19 Remain

The third day of 50K HORSE has come to a close. There are 19 players left with Vitaly Lunkin taking the lead late into Level 5. Only a handful of players have over 1M in chips and that includes Erik123, Freddy Deeb, and Ville Wahlbeck.

Also advancing to Day 4? David Bach, Frank Kassela, Gus Hansen, John Kabbaj, John Hanson, Mike Wattel, Steve Billirakis, Huck Seed, Tony G, Chau Giang, David Chiu, Brett Richey, Erik Seidel, Ray Dehkharghani, and Todd Brunson.

The final 19 will return on Monday at 2pm and play down to a final table of 8. The top 16 players win prize money which means the bubble will break sometime on Monday afternoon.

* * * * *

12:31am... Coach Avoids an Elimination

Coach was almost all in and chopped a pot against some hipster from LA who took Paul Darden;s seat. Coach dragged the low while his opponent won with Aces Up.

* * * * *

1:33am... Coach = Nevermore

Coach had taken a couple of hits and slipped under 2K. He cold not recover and busted with about 200 to go.

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

2009 WSOP Day 31: Horses, Deuces, and DonkeyBombers

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I spotted the first donkey lingering around 11pm on Friday night. The morbid beast had wandered into the Amazon Ballroom not knowing that it had stepped onto the well documented killing floor. In less than twelve hours it would be among the thousands of other clueless animals led to their merciless slaughter. Some of their carcasses were left out to bake in the hot Nevada sun, only to be transformed into beef jerky. And the rest? Mixed with kangaroo meat and grinded into burger patties.

And to think, those donks actually paid for that sadistic abuse. Shit, if you want to be humiliated, I know a couple of seasoned working girls down on Fremont Street that will drop a deuce on your chest and/or shove a nail into your scrotum for $150. It's much cheaper than a price tag for a donkament.

Around Midnight on Friday, I saw another donkey trotting down in the hallway in a jovial daze, and another gawking at Scotty Nguyen when he passed by with a couple of kilograms of Buddhist bling around his neck.

The night before a Saturday donkament attracted the weekend warriors who arrived fresh off a plane from McCarran airport. The first timers were easy to spot. They actually stopped and took a photo of the "Welcome to the WSOP" banner.

Don't be embarrassed. I did the same thing at the start of the 2005 WSOP. I was so fresh and so full of life. Such a cherry and newbie. I really thought that the sky was blue and that every pro I saw on TV was so fuckin' rich that they could wipe their asses with $100 bills. Indeed, I was true WSOP virgin.

Saturday included the second day of the slimmed down 50K HORSE event, the sold-out donkament, Day 2 of the Limit Shootout, and the PLO 8 final table. Brandon Cantu finished second in the last donkament and he picked up an iota of redemption when he beat Lee Watkinson heads up for a bracelet in PLO8. That bracelet victory was the second of Cantu's career.

After dinner break, I headed over to the Brasilia Room with Michalski. He was semi-sweating the DonkeyBomber, who struggled this summer. DonkeyBomber was something like 0-18. Yeah, zero cashes. He finally ended that horrendous streak when he cashed in the Limit Shootout and hoped that his bad luck this year would turn around.

DonkeyBomber was on the verge of advancing to a final table and only Greg FBT Mueller stood in his way. At one point, DonkeyBomber opened up a three to one advantage on Mueller, who had one of the hottest masseuses working on his back. Mueller had won a bracelet earlier in the year and he caught up, before he eventually took the lead. Michalski ended up the ultimate cooler and even touched DonkeyBomber on the shoulder which helped transfer all that bad mojo.

"He must have felt icicles run down his spine," said Mean Gene.

Alas, the DonkeyBomber was never more. Without fail, Michalski walked over to say hello to a good friend from Dallas. As soon as he showed up, the guy busted.

Yeah, Michalski's cooler abilities are in full effect. I'm gonna start extorting pros, especially ones at the final table. I must get 50% of their winnings, otherwise, I'm gonna send Michalski over to sweat your table.

* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 31....

I showed up to the bracelet ceremony on Saturday afternoon. The first part was a do-over for John Kabbaj where they played the proper national anthem of Great Britain. Kabbaj was a no show which sums up his thoughts on the matter.

The second bracelet was awarded to Bahador Ahmadi and they played the national anthem of Iran. A handful of folks in the media wore green in support of citizens of Iran who are embroiled in fight for democracy against hardliners in their country.

For the second night in a row, Otis and I engaged in degenerate citrus fruit tossing out back as the multi-colored lights of the Strip flickered in the background. On Friday night,, Otis took a $40 lead after I whiffed on my two tosses.

On Saturday night, our contest was delayed for an hour due to a medical emergency. Security guards blocked the area off. Since lime tossing is a non-sanctioned citrus fruit activity, we were forced to wait it out. When the playing area was finally clear of security guards and medical personnel, we continued with the second match. I fared much better and would have taken an overall lead, but Otis nailed a clutch shot. I was up $120 after I dropped two limes into $60 grids, but on his last shot of the night, Otis lofted his lime into a $100 grid. He saved face and only lost $20 for the round. Overall, he's up $20. Fucker.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

50K HORSE Day 2 - WSOP Live Blog

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The second day of the HORSE event was pushed back to 4pm. Due to the donkament, the staff wanted to make sure that they had available space for the HORSE re-start. They are also trimming one level off the event and they will play five ninety-minute levels instead of the originally scheduled six.

I feel bad for the four lost souls of HORSE who busted out on Day 1... Dan Shak, David Singer, Alexander Kostritsyn, and Steve Z. Kostritsyn's elimination was particularly rough for me because I had him on a couple of fantasy teams and in my overall pick against Benjo and the Frenchies.

91 players remain. Day 2's chipleaders are... Hasan Habib 387K, Martin Vallo 347K, and Matt Glantz 300K.

Stay tuned for more live updates of the 50K HORSE...

* * * * *

4:50pm... 88 and Counting

A couple of early bustouts to start Day 2 including Ali Eslami, and Bryan Colin, and Greg Mascio. It's odd to see all the donkeys being led to the slaughter and milling about in front the biggest butchers in poker.

And over in the sold out donkament, over 1,100 players have already been slaughtered, dried, and turned into beef jerky.

* * * * *

5:20pm... Mr. Kotter Busto; Hasan = 420K

The current chipleader is Hasan Habib and he's smoking the field with around 420K in chips.

2009 WSOP bracelet winner James Van Alstyne has hit the rail, along with Alex Jung, Mr. Kotter, and Jen Harman. The eliminations are flowing at a steady pace today. Down to 84 right now. So far, 7 in the first level, but John Juanda, Eli Elezra, and Pat Pezzin are on life support. They all have under 50K in chips.

I'm guesstimating that they'll get around 45 or so by the end of Day 2. Yes, this is a five-day event and there has been rumors that they might eliminate an entire day of play depending on how many players bust out today and tomorrow.

* * * *

6:06pm.... New Episodes of Tao of Pokerati!

Michalski and I taped two new episodes late last night as Day 1 of HORSE came to a close. The 50K HORSE numbers and wacky conspiracy theories were discussed.
Episode 11.24: Running Numbers (3:30)
Episode 11.25: Tinfoil HORSE (3:52)
* * * * *

6:42pm.... Raymer Busto; Gunslinger Slinging Something

Greg Raymer busted out a few minutes ago. He sat down at an empty table and it appeared he was talking into a voice recorder. A couple of fans on the rail took photos of him from a far. One guy snuck underneath the rope and shook his hand. Another woman asked Raymer for a photo. As he always does, Raymer accommodated the requests before he finished up his own documentation of the 50K HORSE, before he was snagged by a member of the Dutch media for a video interview.

Hasan Habib is no longer in the top spot after David 'Gunslinger' Bach jumped into the top spot with... 420K in chips. I wish I as making this stuff up. Then again, I can't count chips. All I do is eyeball a stack and just make up numbers. I've been doing this for five years and haven't been caught yet. Suckers.

Anyway, Bach looks like he should play bass in Blues Traveler. Seriously, the guy looks like he should be at a jamband concert and not playing in the WSOP. I think I might have scored a bag of shrooms off him in the lot of a Phish show back in Chula Vista, CA in September of 1999. They boys busted out a 23 minute version of Stevie Wonder's Boogie On Reggae Woman to start set two and the left side of my brain melted.

* * * * *

7:20pm... Chow Time

Recent bustouts? John Juanda, Max Pescatori, Justin Bonomo, and Pat Pezzin.

78 players are heading out to a one-hour dinner break. See you at 8:20pm local time.

* * * * *

9:20pm... Hallways

On my way out to dinner break, two players were talking. One bitched about playing against French players, "They have no concept of laying down a hand."

Once play resumed, I taped a couple of episodes on Tao of Pokerati in the back hallway. A dealer goosed Michalski as she walked by, and then Johnny Chan turned the corner and bolted out a side door towards the parking lot. I assumed that he busted out.

What the hell happened to his third-rate sugar water that used to make my pee turn muted shades of orange? The Amazon Room offers up All In water bottles, but the energy drink is non-existent. Instead, Red Bull is readily available.

It turned out that Chau Giang busted Johnny Chan. Also out are... Cory Zeidman and Eli Elezra.

Down to 75. Hasan & Bach are hovering around 500K.

* * * * *

10:10pm... DonkeyBomber and Brazil

I decided to check out the Brasilia Room. To be honest, the action in the HORSE was less than stimulating. I get more excited watching rats eat lizards in the employees parking lot.

I heard that Michalski was in the Brasilia Room and trying to keep an eye on DonkeyBomber without him knowing because everyone knows that Michalski is a cooler.Anyway, DonkeyBomber was heads up against Greg Mueller. The winner advances to the final table of the shootout. DonkeyBomber held a 3-1 chip lead.

I also bumped into a colleague from Brazil. We originally crossed paths in Mexico while covering the LAPT. I greeted him with the few Portuguese words that I knew. He quickly assumed I speak Portuguese and that's all he spoke to me during my adventures covering the LAPT, even though I tried to explain to him in English and broken Spanish that I did not speak his language. That still did not deter him. I seriously have no idea what this crazy guy says. All I know is that he runs around taking pics of hot chicks on the rail.

Anyway, the crazy Brazilian stopped me in the press box and of course, he launched into some chit chat in Portuguese. I just nodded my head and smiled.

* * * * *

11:20pm... 69 Dude!

The HORSE event is down to 69 players. Recent bustouts included.... Danny Negreanu, David Oppenheim, Jeff Lisandro, Andy Bloch, Chad Brown, Yuval Bronshtein, Joe Cassidy, Zac Fellows, and Mike Matusow.

And over in the Brasilia Room, DonkeyBomber lost the chiplead to FBT and all of a sudden he's gone from the hunter to the hunted. Sadly, he busted shortly after, which proved that Michalski was indeed, a cooler.

A thought to ponder... I miss the Tilted Kilt sometimes, but I definitely drink less during the day since it ceased to exist. Instead, I have to huff paint behind a palm tree near the valet with a couple of the old ladies in housekeeping. They have access to all those crazy chemicals that warps your world so much, that you only see one color... blue and different shades of blue (like light purple and sea blue and midnight blue and smurf blue.)

* * * * *

1:11am.... Late Nite Lime Tossing

For a second a night in a row, we headed out back for a round of lime tossing Two throws a piece. I stepped up and nailed a $60 grid. Otis whiffed on is first attempt. On my second toss, I hit another $60 grid to take a $120 lead. That's when Otis stepped up and drilled a $100 grid to almost erase my lead.

Round 2 - Lime Tossing Results: Pauly +120, Otis +100
Overall: Otis +20, Pauly -20

* * * * *

1:40am... Day 2 Complete

The second day of 50K HORSE has come to a close. Gus Hansen will end up as one of the chipleaders after a major surge during an 0maha 8 round. The overall leader is Ray Dehkharghani who has well over 600K.

Eliminations during the last level included... Annie Duke, Farzad Bonyadi, Andy Black, Nikolay Evdakov, Abe Mosseri, Matthew Grapenthien, Michael Saltzburg, Howard Lederer, Allen Kessler, Bruno Fitoussi, Yoshio Nakano, and Yan Chen.

53 players advance to Day 3, which will re-start at 2pm on Sunday. They will play 6 levels on Day 3. I doubt they'll make the money at 18, but they should easily get down to the final 3 tables.

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

2009 WSOP Day 30: Dying HORSE and Never Mind the Pollocks, Here Come the Sex Pistols

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV


That's the total number of runners for the $50,000 HORSE and much lower than the 148 runners from last year and the year before. 95 runners represented less than 50% of the total entrants in the $40,000 NL anniversary special, and only 67% of last year's numbers.

Before the WSOP began, I figured that 300 combined runners would buy into the 40K and 50K. I wanted to hold off until I saw the 40K numbers before I placed prop bets on the HORSE. So when 201 players showed up for the 40K, I set my HORSE number around 100. The bulk of my bets were in the 100-120 range.

Since word got out about the 40K anniversary event, there was plenty of speculation on the total number of entrants in HORSE. Unlike the $1,000 Donkulus, the suits at Harrah's (er, Caesar's Entertainment) kept the price tag for HORSE at $50,000 instead of reducing the buy-in by 33%.

The economy is shit (albeit with minor rumblings of some improvement depending on who you talk to, but then again these "financial wizards" were completely oblivious to credit default swaps, so why should we trust their expert opinion?) but the biggest obstacle for pros to overcome is this fact... pros are forking over $50,000 to play against some of the best mixed game pros in the world on a non-televised table.

Yeah, the granddaddy of all events, the 50K HORSE, will not be aired on ESPN as it had been in the previous three years. The ESPN suits offered to televise the HORSE event if the final table format was switched to NL, just like during the inaugural year when Chip Reese won in that marathon heads-up match against Andy Bloch. Some of the members on the Players Committee were against the NL suggestion and preferred to maintain the purity of the HORSE event. (And even a handful of players wanted to switch the format out tright and make the Players Championship a 8-game mixed format.) ESPN argued that their numbers for non-hold'em events like HORSE were significantly down, and that NL was the only way to spice up the final table. However, the players balked. The result? ESPN chose not to tape the event.

The domino result? Only 95 runners.

Some of the online poker rooms chose not to pony up $50,000 to their sponsored players to play in a non-TV event. Although 25% of the field were Full Tilt players, the majority of the financial responsibility of the buy-in fell upon the players.

Yeah, the 95 runners is a fairly accurate number when you look at the overall state of the poker economy, decreased staking syndicates, and the fact the final table will not be on ESPN. That all accounts for a 33% drop off.

There were far less Russians in the event than I anticipated, although several of the top pros from Mother Russia were in the mix with Alex Kostritsyn, Alex Kravchenko, Vitaly Lunkin, Mikail Tulchinsky, and Nikolay Evadakov. I had bet Benjo that I'd put together a team of Russians against his fellow Frenchman in an overall last longer. One of them is gonna make the final table. Just wait and see.

The event did not start without any controversy and was delayed by one hour late in a weak-ass attempt to boost numbers by extending registration. Only 35 pros had signed up with less than 15 minutes to go before the noon start time. According to Commissioner Pollack, they did not have enough players to start and that was the cause of the delay since the majority of pros took advantage of the "late registration" and decided to show up as late as possible testing the elasticity of the rules.

A couple of pros welcomed the late start time while several pros who showed up on time were miffed. Mike Matusow wandered inside the ropes at exactly noon and he was furious when he discovered the delay. Expletives flew all around. The Mouth was not happy.

Phil Ivey might have been the most pissed off. According to the Poker Shrink, Ivey was playing in a private heads-up game with 5K/10K blinds. He was supposedly destroying his opponent and left his juicy game to play in the 50K HORSE, only to find out about an hour delay. Ivey definitely vented his frustration with as many suits as he could find.

The significant drop off in entrants in the 50K HORSE was almost overshadowed by a Sex Pistols song. Everyday around 2:20pm or so, there's a bracelet presentation for the previous night's winners, who are awarded their bracelet and the national anthem of their home country is played out loud. At Friday's bracelet ceremony, John Kabbaj from the UK collected his bracelet for winning the 10K PLH event. As we all awaited a rendition the national anthem for the UK, Snoopy, one of my favorite British scribes, wandered by and I joked, "Are you here to hear God Saves the Queen?"

"Believe it or not, we don't care that much for the monarchy," he explained.

At that moment, Commissioner Pollack cued the music for the national anthem. An alternate version of God Saves the Queen by the Sex Pistols blasted on the PA system.

Moments after the ceremony ended, one British player vehemently objected to the version. John Shoreman, a well-known industry figure in the UK poker scene, had words with the Commish.

"Absolutely disgusting!" he said as he gave a handful of guff to WSOP execs.

Apparently, a few British players had requested the Sex Pistols version for the next victory by a UK player. The gang at the WSOP took a risk and played the Sex Pistols' version instead of the standard dry orchestra version. I thought that moment have been one of the cooler things I had seen (and heard) so far at the WSOP, which really demonstrated that the WSOP execs had a sense of humor.

"It was one of the funniest things this year," said Foiled Coup, and ex-pat from the UK and someone who was around the British music scene many moons ago.

I asked Snoopy if he was offended and he said, "It didn't bother me one bit."

"It was perfect," explained Homer, another British writer, "It was a moment of pure confusion as everyone stood up in silence."

A few people were miffed, so much so that the Commissioner quickly apologized for the misunderstanding and "communication error." He also decided to have a second and (more proper) bracelet ceremony for Kabbaj on Saturday.

It turned out that they never asked Kabbaj's permission to play the Sex Pistols, and he was not pleased with their decision. At this point, everyone involved knew that the proper course of action would have been to clear it with Kabbaj first. Alas, I think this will be the first and last time that the WSOP folks deviate from the traditional national anthems.

The one time the WSOP attempted to do something fun and cheeky, a few rotten spoil sports decided to ruin it. Boo to those blowhards! Thumbs up to the Commish and company for busting out a little anarchy-fueled punk rock with Sex Pistols.

Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten would be proud. As one of my favorite (and legendary) British writers Tony Holden said it best in his very proper accent, "They can play the Sex Pistols as far as I'm concerned."

The Poker Shrink was the lone voice of reason in a sea of torrid waters. "People, people," he wrote on Twitter, "A tournament starts late and they play an alternative version a song and this is what gets your panties in a bunch?"

* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 30...

The Iranian National Anthem will be played tomorrow after Bahador Ahmadi won a bracelet in the Mixed Event. He outlasted a final table that included Barry Greenstein and Ylon Schwartz. I know that the suits will be extra cautious. And there's no way in hell that they'll play Eminem's rendition of the Soroud. Otherwise, we might have a bloody fatwah on our hands.

Bahador Ahmadi
Photo by Flipchip

I almost got run over by TJ Cloutier on his scooter. Poor TJ was unable to pull together enough scratch to play in the HORSE event. At one point he was wandering around the tournament and Change100 joked that he was looking to borrow money to lose at the craps tables.

I can't stress enough... put your bankroll in the safe BEFORE you fuck the hooker. According to LasVegasVegas, David Sklansky was the victim of a home invasion the other night. He got robbed at gunpoint. Insert your own rolled by a hooker joke here _______.

Speaking of hookers, while on a late night run to the gift shop to buy cookies, I spotted a gaggle of hookers congregating by the elevators of the Ipanema towers. At closer inspection, I recognized one as the infamous Tela.

Back by popular demand...
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Teddy "Ice Man" Monroe
2. Minh Ly
3. Robert Goldfarb
4. Bryan Devonshire
5. BoostedJ

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

50K HORSE Day 1 - WSOP Live Blog

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Today is the prestigious HORSE event with a staggering $50,000 buy-in. There has been plenty of speculation on the total number of entrants. In previous years it's been 143, 148, and 148. We've been wondering and betting on the 2009 final number for several months.

Will the non-televised aspect of this year's event negatively affect numbers? Did the 40K NL special event siphon off some of the high stakes players? Or will there be a boost in numbers from a contingency of Russians? Stay tuned to find out.

It's been a while since we had a live blog from the WSOP, so let's get to it....

* * * * *

11:11am... New Tao of Pokerati Episodes!

Check out two brand spanking new episodes of Tao of Pokerati where we discuss the upcoming HORSE event. For a slight change of pace, Michalski and I get a little serious (which means less than 5% schtick)...
Episode 11.21: HORSE Hunting (4:09)
Episode 11.22: The Satellite Economy (5:06)
* * * * *

12:02pm... Delay

"This is bullshit!" screamed Mike Matusow as he entered the empty playing section of the Amazon Ballroom. At 11:50am, Jimmy Sommerfeld announced to the press box that the start time for HORSE would be pushed back an hour since less than 35 players had registered. Yep, we already have a mini-controversy brewing. Stay tuned for more info. Cards will go in the air at 1pm.

* * * * *

12:51pm... Waiting for the Man

Matusow calmed down after he signed 50 of his books in the hallway. "Mike's reaction to any change in his life is negative," explained the Poker Shrink.

As Matusow hacked his books, several players headed to the VIP lounge and played Chinese Poker. The game was so popular due to the delay that it played seven-handed.

According to the chatter on Twitter, a lot of the internet kids are playing the 2K at the Venetian instead of pooling together some money to play in HORSE event.

60 runners and counting... if you have $50,000 and want a shot at bracelet, there's plenty of open seats. If you have UNDER 100 in any sort of prop bet, you're looking good. If you have OVER 100, now's the time to start offering up buy-outs.

* * * * *

1:05pm... And They're Off....

Commissioner Pollack apologized to the fans on the rail before the start. They had been camped out for a few hours. The diehards and fanatics were out in droves. They knew that the HORSE event was their best chance to catch a glimpse of their favorite pros. Several of them were staked out int he hallways or near the VIP lounge. They did their homework.

Last year's booze-riddled champion Scotty Nguyen uttered the famous words, "Shuffle Up and Deal!"

62 players and counting...

* * * * *

1:39pm... A Paler Shade of Dolly

70 players and counting. Registration is open to the end of Level 2. Since levels are ninety minutes in length, that means you have until 4:20pm to buy in... if you have $50,000.

Since it's HORSE almost every table is stacked. The most interesting is one table featuring the defending champion Scotty Nguyen. He has Daniel Alaei, Fabrice Soulier, Farzad Bonyadi, David Benyamine, and David Singer at his starting table. That's important for me because I have a Russia vs. France last longer bet with Benjo. Two of his fellow countrymen are at opposite ends of the table.

I'm also in a last longer with a couple of Aussies; Tassie Devil and Tim Duckworth. I drafted Erik Seidel, Jon Turner, and Alex Kostritsyn.

And yeah, there's a little spring in my step because I'm on the verge of winning several UNDER bets. Oh, by the way, in the time it took me to write this update, one more person bought in.

Doyle's not looking too good. Earlier in the day, he mentioned that he was withdrawing from the event for health reasons. Old Dolly has had a tough time keeping food down, yet he managed to suck it up and make the trek to the Rio. He's a trooper and also looking to fade a small sized field to win his 11th bracelet. I've seen Dolly at some down points over the last few years, but those times were at the tail end of 20 hour day.

71 players and counting...

* * * * *

2:35pm... 78 at the Break

Several players arrived late into the first level including Huck Seed, Annie Duke, and Max Pescatori. The number of entrants slowly rose to 78 with a few big pros still absent. Hellmuth, Lederer, and Bloch are expected to arrive sometime before the next level ends.

As players headed out on their first break, Texas Dolly whizzed by on his scooter. Andy Black asked Mike Matusow about his terrible table.

"Yeah it's terrible, but I fuckin' won every pot."

A few minutes into the event, as photographers circled around the tournament area, someone from FullTilt snuck up behind Andy Black and tapped him on the shoulder. The guy slapped a patch on his jacket and quietly left.

"This is a fuckin' joke," lamented one of my fellow scribes from Canada. "How can this be billed as a player's championship when there are no fuckin' players?"

* * * * *

3:09pm... God Save the Queen?

I wandered by the podium for the bracelet ceremony and John Kabbaj from the UK was about to receive his bracelet. Snoopy wandered by and I joked, "Are you here to hear 'God Saves the Queen'?"

"Believe it ot not, most Brits don't care for the monarchy," he explained.

At that moment, Commissioner Pollack cued the music for the national anthem. God Saves the Queen by the Sex Pistols blasted on the PA system. Initially, I thought that it was a mix-up... and then figured it was a nice little joke and that the actual anthem would follow after a few seconds of the Sex Pistols.

When the ceremony was over, one British player vehemently objected to the version. John Shoreman, a well-known industry figure in the UK poker scene, had words with the Commish.

"Absolutely disgusting!" was what I overheard.

Apparently, a few British players had requested the Sex Pistols version for the next victory by a UK player. The gang at the WSOP took a risk and played that version. I thought that might have been one of the cooler things I had seen so far at the WSOP. It really demonstrated that they had a sense of humor.

"It was one of the funniest things this year," said Foiled Coup, and ex-pat from the UK and someone who was around the British music scene many moons ago.

I asked Snoopy if he was offended and he said, "It didn't bother me one bit."

But a few people were miffed. So much so that the Commissioner decided to apologize for the misunderstanding. He also decided to have a second and (more proper) bracelet ceremony for Kabbaj tomorrow.

The one time the WSOP attempted to do something fun and cheeky, a few rotten spoil sports decided to ruin it. Boo to those blowhards. Thumbs up to the Commish and company for busting out some Sex Pistols.

Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten would be proud.

* * * * *

5:22pm... 95?

Well, the second level has come and gone and it looks like we have about 95 runners for HORSE. Some folks are not pleased with the numbers, but I think it's fairly accurate when you look at the poker economy, decreased staking syndicates, and the fact the final table will not be on ESPN. That all accounts for a 33% drop off.

Regardless, the hundred or so players in the event represent some of the best old school pros, former world champions (Chan, Jesus, Scotty, Doyle, Bechtel), internet young guns, and the top mixed cash game players in the world. Oh and how could I forget a celeb or too.

That list includes... Patrik Antonius, MrSmokey1, Andy Black, ZeeJustin, Yuval Bronshtein, Chad Brown, Jerry Buss, Chau Giang, Bill Chen, David Chiu, Scott Clements, Freddy Deeb, Danny Negreanu, Johnny World, Eli Elezra, Jen Harman, Matt Glantz, Tony G, Thor Hansen, Erik123, Greg Raymer, Nick Schulman, Hanson, Phil Ivey, Max Pescatori, Erik Lederer, Gabe Kaplan, and Gus Hansen.

Barry Greenstein is two-tabling and still alive at the final table of the Mixed Event.

Not as many Russians as I thought... but several strong players in Alex Kostritsyn, Alex Kravchenko, Vitaly Lunkin, Mikail Tulchinsky, and Nikolay Evadakov.

* * * * *

6:20pm.... Dinner Break

The HORSE players are on a ninety minute dinner break.

* * * * *

8:00pm... Back from Dinner; Two More Levels

95 players is the official number and nobody has busted out yet. There are a couple of players with less than 100K (Starting stacks at 150K) and one short stack under 50K (Yan Chen... yeah, I'm thinking the same thing... Yan who? But Yan made two final tables at the WSOP this year. At least, I think it's that same Yan Chen).

Last year 8 players out of 148 busted on Day 1. At dinner break, I told Change100 that I expected less than 5 eliminations to today.

Change100 compiled a list of last year's players who are not playing in the 2009 50K Horse event. That included... second place finisher Michael DeMichele, Phil Hellmuth, Lyle Berman (who final tabled the event last year), durrrr, Dario Minieri, DonkeyBomber, The Grinder, Brandon Adams, Kirill Gerasimov, Amnon Filippi, David Williams, Isabelle Mercier, Ted Forrest, Billy "The Croc" Argyros, Allen Cunningham, Marcel Luske, and Robert Williamson III.

* * * * *

9:01pm... Payouts

Usually the top 10% get paid in poker tournaments. That would mean 9.5 players would get paid out of this event. This year, they are paying out the final two tables. 16 places pay with almost $1.3 million awarded to the winner.
1. $1,276,802
2. $789,199
3. $522,394
4. $368,813
5. $276,610
6. $219,655
7. $184,087
8. $162,382
9-10. $123,895
11-12. $99,590
13-14. $83,630
15-16. $72,914
10:47pm.... Steve Z First to Bust

It had to be someone. This year the first unlucky player to head to the rail first? Steve Z. There are now 94 players remaining. David Singer is one of the short stacks (under 50K), while Hassan Habib has almost doubled his starting stack and closing in on 300K.

Who's getting a massage? Gus Hansen, Erik Seidel, Dan Shak, and John Juanda. Talk about the good life.

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12:22am... The Return of Lime Tossing

At Midnight, Otis and I headed out back for our first round of Lime Tossing for the 2009 WSOP. We crafted a playing field including lines that I had to draw using a piece of chalk that I scored from the guys in the valet. Anyway, we were up for high stakes lime tossing where at the end of any given round, we can go +/- $400. We expect to play a round a night (two tosses a round) for the next 20 days.

On the first every round? I fell short twice. The first instance, I came very close to the $100 grid. Otis whiffed on his first throw but nailed the $40 grid with his second toss.

Round 1 - Lime Tossing Results: Otis +40, Pauly -40

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1:00am.... Day 1 Complete

91 players are left according to the big board. They will return tomorrow at 4pm (instead of 2pm) to play out Day 2. Due to Saturday's donkament, tables are in high demand, so the start time for HORSE was pushed back two hours. Day 2 will last only five levels instead of six. Due to the reduction in entrants, tournament officials have been discussing the possibility of eliminating one day of play (in this five day event). It appears that they decided to shave off one level on Day 2 in order to spread out the play.

Anyway, that's it. See ya tomorrow. HORSE re-starts at 4pm. Donkey blood will be shed at noon. Thanks for tuning in. Signing off from the Rio...

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