Friday, April 09, 2010

Dispatches from Mohegan Sun: NAPT Day 2 - Phil Woods

By Pauly
Uncasville, CT

The drama in the sporting world surrounding Tiger Woods unfortunately overshadowed the second day of the NAPT Mohegan Sun. Americans love to hype up anything, but this time, we had a good excuse after five straight months of poking and prodding Tiger Woods. I had never seen someone's sex life deconstructed, bisected and analyzed by pundits like Woods. The last time the press had a field day with a high profile sex scandal was when Slick Willy got caught diddling his intern with a cigar.

Tiger Woods couldn't keep Little Tiger in his pants. It used to be a secret, but nevermore. Some of my friends (who wear tin foil hats, hoard weapons, and listen to too much Art Bell and Alex Jones) have a theory that Tiger was thrown under the bus by a shadow government in order to distract the public from two wars, health care debate, and the next wave of the implosion of our financial system.

My theory is a lot simpler and more plausible: Tiger was involved in a prop bet with Jesse James (Sandra Bullock's soon-to-be ex-husband) -- which one of them can long-dick the most chicks without getting caught. Alas, Tiger's philandering ways were eventually discovered after he got involved in a domestic dispute with his Swedish wife. Lesson learned, don't fuck with pissed off Scandis. After emerging in a dream-like haze induced by a mixture of booze, painkillers, and Ambien (or what I usually call 'dessert'), Tiger crashed his SUV after his wife teed off on his car and his head with a 3-wood. Who knows for sure. The local po-po did a great job at being discreet and keeping tight lips on the actual incident. Once word got out, Tiger quickly became the butt-end of jokes from late night talk show hosts, while the folks in the morality police scorned Tiger about tarnishing his milk and cookies image with his rampant infidelity.

Tiger Woods is one of the very few things can penetrate the unyielding bubble of the poker world where current events and anything not-related to gambling ceases to exist. I can only think of a few instances when poker players took note of the external world...
- When Michael Jackson died during the 2009 WSOP, word spread quickly around the Amazon Ballroom, which gave bored players something to talk or joke about.

- During the 2006 WSOP, the final table of a preliminary NL event was paused so the players, including Max Pescatori, could watch the shootout between Italy and France in the World Cup championship match. The score was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and the Italians won 5-3 in a shootout. Max Pescatori, inspired by his home country's victory, went on a tear when play resumed. The Italian Pirate shipped the tournament for his first bracelet, on the same day Italy won the World Cup.

- And let's add Tiger Woods, the NAPT Mohegan Sun, and the 2010 Masters to the list.

Photo by Joe Giron (PokerStars Blog)

The Uncas Ballroom at Mohegan Sun features 30-feet-high ceilings with a TV projected against one of the sliding walls. On Day 1, the jumbo projection aired a baseball game -- the heated rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox. On Day 2, golf was king. Even though Tiger Woods wasn't scheduled to tee off until 1:42pm (and ESPN wouldn't begin coverage until 4pm), a graphic counted down to Tiger's eventual return to golf. Because Tiger's infidelity made national and international headlines, his opening round at the Master drew the attention of hardcore golf fans and curious observers. Plus, let's not forget all of the Tiger haters out there were waiting for him to shank his tee shot into a couple of Georgia pine trees.

The Masters has a deep rooted tradition at Augusta National, the majestic country club which hosts the most prestigious golf tournament of the year. The winner is awarded a Green jacket. That's similar to the Main Event champ taking home the coveted bracelet. Not too many men can boast about a Green Jacket hanging in their closet. The Masters' champions belong to an exclusive club, kind of like Main Event winners.

Then there's the whole Tiger Woods/Phil Ivey comparison, both physically and in terms of talent. So, it wasn't shocking when word got out that Ivey was prop betting on... the "Phil Ivey of Golf" to win the Masters. Ivey had one significant prop bet with David Singer getting 5-1 odds. Who knows how many other wagers Ivey made with some of his buddies back in Vegas. Bottom line is this... first place in the NAPT Mohegan Sun pays out $750,000, and Ivey probably has more money riding on Tiger Woods winning the Masters.

Sometimes I wonder if tournament poker is a chore for Ivey, sort of like having to sit in your cubicle and file a TPS report as you begrudgingly get the job done with minimal emotional investment and exerting as little energy as possible. Obviously, Ivey wasn't going through the motions at the 2009 Main Event, which is part of the reason why he advanced to the November Nine. But everything else seems secondary to the Life of Ivey: high stakes cash games (live and online), shooting dice for sickly amounts of cash, sports betting, and other deg prop bets. Ivey plays tournaments to give him something to do while he's sweating a bet, like all those events he played during the 2008 WSOP when he anxiously waited the outcome of a $1 million wager against a uber-wealthy Russian that the LA Lakers would win the NBA championship.

With a decent stack in front of him, Ivey cruised through Day 2 of the NAPT Mohegan Sun as he kept one of his crazy eyes on the Masters and the other on his table.

You rarely witness Ivey display any sort of human emotion at the poker table. Perhaps, he's a Terminator sent back in time by SkyNet or maybe he's really an alien-hybrid who escaped the Mothership. Who knows for sure, but the only time you catch a vulnerable Ivey is when he's sweating a bet. And you know what? He does the same shit you and I do. He hangs on every shot. Every back swing. Every putt. He cheers for his hero when he does well and shakes his head in disappointment when he doesn't. Ivey has 100% control over his emotions at the poker table, and even though he's conscious that everyone in the room is watching him watching Tiger Woods, he still can't contain himself. An animated Ivey did not hold back when Tiger eagled #8 and followed that up with a birdie on #9.

I couldn't help but wonder if Tiger Woods and Phil Ivey were part of the same alien-DNA experiment. Would make sense why the look so much alike, like all of those twins that popped up in Argentina after Nazi geneticists fled Germany after WWII and relocated in South America.

The media room did not have a jumbo projection of the Masters and I had to watch the round online. We had the feed going along with ESPN3's live streaming coverage. I was definitely distracted from the tournament and paid more attention on golf, something that rarely do. I might watch an hour or two of the final round of the Masters, but that's about it. I guess I was like the rest of the masses who tuned in to see the alien-hybrid sex-addict shoot 4 under par in his first competitive round in five months.

Phil Ivey ironically finished up 13th in chips at the end of Day 2, while his doppelganger Tiger Woods finished his opening round tied for 7th place.

Tiger wasn't the only big sporting news of the day. Did you know that the WNBA draft was held on Thursday? I had no idea until I overheard several conversations in the hallway of the convention center. The Connecticut Sun play their home games at Mohegan Sun arena, so the teams execs holed up in one of the conference rooms and set up a war room for the draft. I know nothing about the WBNA, but I heard suits talking about Allison Hightower. I googled her name and found out that the player from LSU. And who had the #1 pick? That's right... the Connecticut Sun. Their pursuit of the best player in women's college basketball was a mere afterthought compared to the NAPT event going on downstairs and the hoopla surrounding the return of Tiger Woods. By the way, the Sun ended up picking Tina Charles (center from UCONN) with their #1 pick and selected Hightower in the second round with the #15th overall selection.

WNBA. Tiger Woods. Phil Ivey. Just another Thursday, right?

* * * * *

Despite the distraction on Day 2, the tournament was reduced from 463 to 125 players. Day 1 chipleader, David "Nat X" Williams, lost the lead early on. When Day 2 ended, Jordan Morgan finished up as the chipleader sitting on 705K. Vanessa Selbst, James Akenhead, Ryan D'Angelo, Sorel Mizzi, and Phil Ivey were among the notables in the chase pack. And how about Tab Duchateau, the TD from the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City? He also advanced to Day 2 with 225K in chips. The top

104 players get paid prize money. The bubble should burst in the second level of play on Day 3. They will pay down from 104 to 24 on Friday, and 24 to 8 on Saturday with a final table set for Sunday.

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