Tuesday, June 01, 2010

2010 WSOP Day 4: Band of Brothers and Here Come the Russians Reprise

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Memorial Day. Las Vegas. Two brothers advanced to the final table of the largest buy-in event at the 2010 WSOP. The Brothers Mizrachi; the lesser known of them has achieved immortality as a bracelet winner, while the other is a two-time WPT titles yet currently in hot water with the IRS for failure to pay back taxes.
Event #2 $50,000 8-Game Mixed Players Championship Final Table:
Seat 1: David "WhoooKid" Baker - 3.095M
Seat 2: Mikael Thuritz - 2.3M
Seat 3: Vladimir Schmelev - 1.925M
Seat 4: John Juanda - 2.62M
Seat 5: Daniel Alaei - 1.075M
Seat 6: Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi - 2.175M
Seat 7: David Oppenheim - 460K
Seat 8: Robert "Brother of the Grinder" Mizrachi - 3.125M

According to Kevin Mathers' research, the last (and only) time brothers made a final table was in 2002 when Hendon Mob's Ross and Barney Boatman final tabled an Omaha tournament back in the olden days when the WSOP was hosted Downtown at the Horseshoe.

Day 4 would be the last day of mixed games in the 8-Game in the Players Championship since the final table (and Day 5) would be exclusively NL hold'em. I'm a purist and against NL final tables in HORSE and 8-Game. I certainly understand the difficulties of shooting mixed-games for a televised event. NL is simply easier to shoot and edit, and NL is more palatable for mass consumption. NL is better for TV.

If you're gonna give out a bracelet for mixed 8-game then you should play 8-game at the final table. And why NL? Why not PLO?

Total horseshit if you ask me. It's like getting a blow job and when you're about to ejaculate, you get downgraded to a lowly handjob.

I should boycott the final table out of principle (just like those overpriced Pizza Hut pizzas in the PK), but I'm not because I really want to see the Mizrachi Brothers finish 1-2. Call me sentimental, but I'm trying to find feelgood stories at the WSOP this summer. And as someone who has a brother, I can't think of anything cooler than finishing 1-2 in a tournament with your sibling.

Besides, Grinder needs cashola. A huge payday will definitely keep the creditors and IRS off his back for the rest of the series and he can focus on digging himself out of a hole.

The 50K was the only televised table (not the TOC or the Main Event) on ESPN's agenda this WSOP, which means the usually cast of characters encircled the final two tables: including ESPN's production crew, backers, drunken railbirds, excited family members, slithery agents, and three times as many media as there were players remaining.

A couple of hotties were on the rail including a well-known massage girl who was in her civilian clothes. You might have seen her before (at least in pictures) because she was constantly rubbing down Phil Ivey during the 2009 WSOP. According to my trusted sources, she was spotted traipsing around Europe with Nick Schulman and sweating him during EPT events. She was among the railbirds and dozen or so belonging to the Mizrachi clan and entourage, including their mother who had taken up a seat in the press box on a couple of occasions to watch her sons make a run at history.

Maridu was faithfully on the rail during Day 3 sweating her boyfriend, David WhooooKid" Baker. She was bummed out that she wasn't going to see him go deep because she was obligated to play in the LAPT Peru as a sponsored player and member of Team Poker Stars Brazil. She had a 5am flight out of Vegas on Day 4. When her plane arrived in Lima, she discovered that her boyfriend held the chip lead.

Since this was one of two televised bracelet events, all of the scensters came out of the woodwork. So many pros popped up on the rail and I struggled to figure out connections with them and the remaining players. Are they collecting an outstanding debt? Are they getting a piece of the action? Are they really friends with the players?

Martin De Knijff returned to sweat his horse, Mikael Thuritz, which he had been doing since Day 3. Even Patrik Antonius arrived in an openly jovial mood. Most Finnish men lack any emotion. If you ever wondered why Scandis were tough players to read, just remind yourself of my favorite Finnish joke...
A man from Finland loved his wife so much... that he almost told her.
Antonius was all smiles the moment that the final table was set. He rushed to both Mizrachi brothers and whispered something. Benjo and I saw the encounter and we tried to connect the dots. Change100 figured that one of them probably owes money to Antonius online, and that the other had make up to clear. In previous years, Antonius employed a stable of horses in the 50K events. I'd love to know if he had either Mizrachi... or both.

And then there's the mysterious Russian businessman, Vladimir Schmelev, who made the final table over Alex Kostritsyn, who I thought was going to be a lock for the final table when Day 4 began.

Vladimir "RRG" Schmelev

Some of the floor reporters where referring to him as RRG (or Rich Russian Guy) because no one knew a thing about him. I consulted Ilya, my source in Moscow, who confirmed that Schmelev was a wealthy guy from St. Petersburg who was originally a chess whiz as a child. He played a lot of limit games before he took a seat in a private game at the Golden Ring Club, which Ilya said, "was the biggest game in the world at the time." Apparently, both Schmelev and Ilya Bulychev (whom he busted in 15th place) had "built their bankrolls from that crazy game where they played a lot of pot-limit Stud."


Holy shit. Pot-limit Stud. Say what you want about the Russians, but gambling is in their blood. After all, they invented Russian Roulette. I'm not surprised that the Big Game in Russia is PLS.That's actually a wet dream of mine...to sit with the Russian sharks in a session of PLS and have an all-out brawl against ruthless mobsters, nouveau oil barrons, eccentric chess masters, and rogue FSB agents.

No wonder Schmelev and Bulychev appeared to come out of nowhere when no one knew a single thing about them in Vegas. They were killing in the Golden Ring Club game in Moscow for ungodly sums (we're talking billions and billions of rubles) to pad their bankrolls and now one of them has a shot at a bracelet. Doesn't matter where you're from -- at some point, you beat the biggest game in your hometown, then roll up a stake and head to Vegas. That's the real reason we won the Cold War.

The final table of the 50K is NL, which puts Schmelev at a disadvantage because he's a better mixed games player, so if you're a betting person, perhaps you wanna stay away from picking Schmelev for the victory. Then again, the Russians have won bracelets the last few years and it's Schmelev's turn to bring another one back to the Motherland.

This final table players combine for seven WSOP bracelets with Juanda hoarding four of them including a WSOP-Europe Main Event crown. Danny Alaei won two and Robert Mizrachi has one. If Juanda wins the 50K, he'll have 5 bracelets and over $10 million in career earnings. Only 18 players in the history of poker have won at least 5 bracelets and Juanda would love to be #19.

When picking a player for the media pool, it's hard not go with David Baker. The kid has flown under the radar for most of the tournament. Heck, he's so quiet at the table that I might not have noticed he was playing unless Maridu didn't remind me by her appearance on the rail on Day 3.

David Baker

With Juanda and the Mizrachi brothers getting most of the attention, and grizzled Vegas vets Danny Alaei and David Oppenheim still alive, David Baker's name is getting left out of the mix. He's second in chips (behind Robert Mizrachi and by a small margin) and even though I'd like to see the Mizrachi Brother story play out in dramatic Hollywood fashion, Baker is my pick to take it down.

Here are some stats...
Final Table Chip Counts:
1. Robert Mizrachi - 3,125,000
2. David Baker - 3,095,000
3. John Juanda - 2,620,000
4. Mikael Thuritz - 2,300,000
5. Michael Mizrachi - 2,175,000
6. Vladimir Schmelev - 1,925,000
7. Daniel Alaei - 1,705,000
8. David Oppenheim - 460,000

Day 4 Money Finishes:
9. Nick Schulman - $152,739
10. Alexander Kostritsyn - $152,739
11. Abe Mosseri - $129,957
12. Lyle Berman - $129,957
13. Brett "GetCrunk" Richey - $113,030
14. Allen Bari - $113,030
15. Ilya Bulychev - $98,330
16. Andy Bloch - $98,330

Final Table Payouts:
1st - $1,559,046
2nd - $963,375
3rd - $603,348
4th - $436,865
5th - $341,429
6th - $272,275
7th - $221,105
8th - $182,463
The final table begins at 3pm and televised tables usually start 30 minutes behind schedule. Change100 and TassieDevil will be live blogging the final table over at Poker News.

* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 4...

Event #6 Donkament: 2,092 runners. The numbers are marginal or awesome... depending on who you talk to. Spin it anyway you wish. Regardless, whoever fades the 2,000+ player field is going to win a bracelet and over 500K in cash for a mere $1,500 investment.

Lauren Kling had a big stack going deep into the night, but she was instantly on radar of the French media from the get go. Benjo and company were giving her full blown coverage in Europe, which is how Kling became an overnight star in Belgium.

Le crush de Benjo

Event #3 The Donkulus: I dunno why, but the Devil was lurking on the rail for an hour or so. He looked like he was scouting out tables. I heard an odd story how he's often tries to get seated a specific table and seat. The Devil must know that certain spots are vortexes for positive energy (or negative energy depending on how you look at it). One staff member mentioned that he desperately asked to be seated at Table #135, Seat 1 inside the Amazon Ballroom. If you happen to draw that assignment, then you might be in good shape because the devil feels it has magical powers.

Event #4 Omaha 8: Two Pokerati players, Donkey Bomber and Robert Goldfarb, unleashed their deft O8 skills as they both went deep and cashed. DonkeyBomber was among the Top 5 in chips for most of the night. He was seated at the same table as Jeff Madsen, and yes two former WSOP Player of the Year winners at the same table. DonkeyBomber was sporting his Loudmouth golf pants. Meanwhile, Goldfarb had Jim "Mr_BigQueso" Callopy and Ylon Schwartz at his table. DonkeyBomber ended up 32nd. Not a bad start for DB, even though he considers it disappointing.

4:20 Tip of the Week: Someone seated around table #91 in the Pavilion was holding some serious dank nugs. I smelled the goods from seven tables away. I might suggest using turkey bags which do an improved job at containing the pungent aroma.

Cliche of the Day: I heard my first rolled by a hooker story of the 2010 WSOP. And no it wasn't one of the usual suspects. Suffice to say, hookers in pairs are less likely to engage in a menage a trois and more likely to team up against you to steal your money.

Quote of the Day: "I overheard in the bathroom that Phil Ivey is broke." - chatter in the press box.

Photos courtesy of Benjo/Winamax.com.


  1. Nice story pauly, I posted it on Roundersbuzz

  2. Nice story pauly, I posted it up on www.roundersbuzz.com

  3. nice post pauly, I posted it up on http://www.roundersbuzz.com

  4. willythewise11:37 AM


  5. Pauly3:14 PM

    Thanks Willy. Fixed.

  6. Longtime Railbird3:42 PM

    Pauly, I loved your early morning Tao of Pokerati episode regarding the sharks circling the $50k final table, hot boxing the young upstarts. What should the "green" break out player expect to encounter if they go deep in a big tourney. How much money can they make in sponsorships, what percentage are the agents taking...do they have to sell their souls.

    I Would love to hear more about the business of poker behind the scenes...what's really happening with the agents, sponsors and players staking up & coming horses. Please take us on a tour behind the espn curtain.

  7. Unknown4:28 PM

    Mikael Thuritz was not backed up by Martin, they are very good friends.