Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 WSOP Tao of Poker Review

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Photo courtesy of Benjo

After another insane summer in Las Vegas, I'm on the cusp of heading on a much needed vacation. I'll be taking a couple more days off in order to detox, recharge, and refocus. In the meantime, use this specific post as a launching pad for reviewing the Tao of Poker's coverage of the 2010 WSOP as it progressed.

Day 1: The Cold Open - Opening lines to several great novels inspired the opening post of the 2010 WSOP, but none more fitting than Charles Dickens. The 50K Players' Championship also kicked off the WSOP, while many scribes and photographers were on alert just in case the federales were going to drag away a couple of the poker pro owners of Full Tilt Poker.

Day 2: Not So Easy Rider - The official WSOP live updates page crashed more times to count due to a crush of traffic. It turned out that a hamster and a drunk Lithuanian was to blame. Editor's Note: This particular piece got me into a little bit of hot water with the humorless powers to be.

Day 3: Scandi Mafia and Donkulus' Comet - The first potential headache of the WSOP arrived with the field in the $1,000 Donkulus event got decimated at a much faster pace than expected. Could the elusive donk get extinct at the 2010 WSOP? Meanwhile, as the 50K Players' Championship progressed, the Scandi Mafia arrived on the rail to keep a keen eye on the outcome.

Day 4: Band of Brothers and Here Comes the Russians Reprise - The Brothers Mizrachi made waves when two of them (The Grinder and Robert) advanced to the final table of the 50K Players' Championship. Also advancing to the final 8 was a mysterious wealthy Russian businessman named Vladimir Schmelev. I hopped on the phone, made contact with an old friend in Moscow, and got him to spill the vodka-infused beans about the unknown Russian.

Day 5: Redemption Song - The Grinder Wins Player's Championship - The Grinder achieved redemption, something very few poker players have a shot at. Along the way, he had to knock out his brother and survive a heads-up battle against the mysterious Russian, Vladimir Schmelev, who proved to be a worthy adversary.

Day 6: Welcome to the Sausage Factory and the Return of Triple Draw Fargis - I arrived at the Rio in the middle of a massive dealers' shift change. That got me wondering and thinking that the WSOP reminded me of a factory -- a sausage factory -- to be precise. Meanwhile, a blast from the past, Chris 'Triple Draw' Fargis, re-emerged after stepping away from the pro circuit to take a real job on a trading desk down on Wall Street.

Day 7: The Marvelous British Invasion - After a conversation with one of the British scribes, Snoopy, I was convinced that he was warning me that the Brits were going to make a waves at the WSOP and gobble up as many bracelets as they can while the Scandis were sitting out the preliminary events. Little did we know, that Snoopy was being overly conservative about the potential British dominance during the opening weeks of the WSOP.

Day 8: Darth Hellmuth - The Dark Lord returned to the WSOP. He's the villain that everyone loves to hate. Hellmuth went deep in a donkament which got everyone inside the Rio buzzing during his hot pursuit of bracelet #12.

Day 9: God Save the Queen Reprise and Seven for Men - Less than a week after his prediction that a British player will win a bracelet, Snoopy looked like the oracle when his fellow countrymen, Praz Pansi and James 'Flushy' Dempsey shipped events. Oh, and much to the dismay of Men the Master haters (or I should say, people who despise cheaters), the slow-rolling controversial figure won his 7th bracelet.

Day 10: Most Likely You Go Durrrr's Way (And I'll Go Mine) - Tom 'durrrr' Dan had the entire high stakes poker community by the collective balls when he went deep in one of the donkaments. They all had to squirm on one side of the Amazon Ballroom, sweating millions of dollars in potential lost prop bets, as durrrr took center stage and played heads-up for a bracelet. Looking back, Day 10 was one of the most exciting nights at the WSOP that I ever experienced.

Day 11: Durrrr Hangover, Hooker Quota, and Orange Tossing - The night after the durrrr saga left many at the Rio walking around in a daze. Not much to report aside from everyone experiencing a durrrr hangover. I managed to squeeze in a bit of commentary on the decline of working girl sightings at the Rio and a witty story from Flipchip about pros betting on orange tossing during the olden days of the WSOP at the Horseshoe.

Day 12: The Kassela Chainsaw Massacre - The 10K Stud World Championship included a stacked final table featuring six known pros and two Russians: Jen Harman, Steve Zolotow, John Juanda, Frank Kassela, Chainsaw Kessler, Dario Mineri, Vladimir Schmelev and Kirill Rabtsov. After several hours of brawling, it came down to a heads-up battle between Frank Kassela and Chainsaw Kessler. The event went late into the night and was not settled until 4:20am as Kassela emerged victorious. That win would thrust him into competition for the Player of the Year race.

Day 13: The Carter Phillips Show - Going into the final table of NL six-handed, everyone assumed that Carter Phillips was going to win the bracelet at one of the youngest final tables ever assembled at the WSOP. It was essentially a race for second place as Carter joined an elite group of players who won an EPT event and a WSOP bracelet.

Day 14: No Soup for Yellowsub - I had fun writing this post which included a brief history lesson about the origins of the Beatles album Yellow Submarine. Meanwhile, Jeff 'yellowsub86' Williams made a deep run in the 5K NL event but got sunk in third-place, despite the echos of his friends chanting the chorus to Yellow Submarine.

Day 15: Dude Looks Like a Lady and Get Baked - Every year, the Ladies Only tournament stirs up controversy. How come most people are silent 364 days a ear (and 365 on leap years), and then only bring up the issue on the eve of the event? At any rate, even though at the root, I'm against Ladies events, I sounded off on the reasons why I would never play in a Ladies Only event (simply put -- out of respect). As long as it's on the schedule, let them play I say.

Day 16: God Save the Queen... Thrice - The third Brit, Richard Ashby, collected a bracelet in a two week period and by that point, the mainstream poker press caught onto the British Invasion, even though thanks to Snoopy, we were chatting about this story before it even happened. Oh, and all of this happened on the same day that the US tied the English's squad in World Cup play.

Day 17: Durrrr's Grandma, Dutch Boyd 2.0, and the French Win...a Ladies' Bracelet - A little fun with captions after I saw a hysterical photo of an old woman sitting at the same table as Tom 'durrrr' Dwan. Oh, and just in case you missed it... new bracelet were awarded to the (still) controversial Dutch Boyd and a French woman who won the Ladies Event.

Day 18: Sammy Farha Wins a Bracelet, Flushy Leading the POY Race, and Orphaned Notes - The ever cool Sammy Farha took down a bracelet, meanwhile one of the British bracelet winners jumped out into the POY lead. I also shared a bunch of orphaned lines from my notebook. I figured that even though they didn't fit in anywhere specific, they were too good to flush down the toilet.

Day 19: Shorthanded Eels, the Russian Surge, and the Year of the Yang - I hoped that I bet on the right side of the fix as the NBA finals were coming down to the wire, and everyone's favorite degen sports bettor, Phil Ivey, took center stage as more media were interested in what he was betting on, than the cards he was playing. Alas, I embedded myself on the rail and noticed some unusual things such as the run that former world champion Jerry Yang was making.

Day 20: Femme Fatales, Hallway Punches, and the Bubbling Eel - Another dull day inside the ropes, but lots of action outside the ropes. I caught a pro bringing a hooker back to his room and someone sucker punched David Levi in the hallway. Meanwhile, a friend from Madrid, Spanish pro Javier 'anguila' Etayo, had bubbled off the final table of a 6-handed event.

Day 21: Pappa Johnny Road - The official end of the third week mark of the WSOP was not without any side drama not to mention -- drunken girls roaming around the Amazon Ballroom and the Rio's hallways. I also breakdown the game plan that different pros have when deciding what events to play in the WSOP.

Days 22-24: OFF

Day 25: Phil Ivey Beats Supercomputer for Bracelet Ocho - Phil Ivey is the real fucking deal after he beat a supercoputer heads-up for his 8th bracelet. Ivey also collected an unknown sum (worth millions I'm told) in prop bets. One thing is for sure, humans prevailed over the machines in this battle as Ivey proved that he is truly superhuman.

Day 26: Dispatches from the Razz Event - Swollen Testicles, Ivey's Hoodie, and Vigorous Confusion - Razz is never fun to watch, but one good story to come out of this event was the Phil Ivey hoodie story involving Mickey Doft.

Day 27: Kassela Wins Dos, Sinking Norwegian Queen, and Ivey's Bracelet Ceremony - Frank Kassela distanced himself from the rest of the pack when he won his second bracelet inside of a month. And the pavilion was a buzz during Ivey's bracelet ceremony, meanwhile, Annette Obrestad came up short in an attempt make a final table American WSOP debut.

Day 28: About My Very Tortured Friend, Phil Hellmuth - I couldn't believe that I was going to write about Phil Hellmuth again, but I did trying to fully understand what it's like to be the tortured soul.

Day 29: Redemption Songs, Part II: Gavin Smith and Dean Hamrick - Bracelets were won by two people seeking redemption. Las Vegas is a city where a lot of people are looking to exorcise past demons, but very few people get an actual shot at doing so.

Day 30: The Sun Wields Mercy; Gavin Smith Wins First Bracelet
- Breakthrough day for Gavin Smith as he won his first bracelet.

Day 31: TOC Hoopla, Flashmob of Brazilians, and Erik Seidel Goes for Number Nine.... Number Nine... Number Nine... - It was TOC day at the Rio, and I sound off on all of the controversy surrounding the event from the voting to players trying to big-time the event thereby changing the schedule of the event. I also gave my suggestions for three different versions of the TOC.

Day 32: Le Boucherie, Ripple In Still Water, and TOC Day 2
- The donkanments have turned into something that would resemble a butcher shop, meanwhile, the TOC seems like it's more of nuisance than a celebration as the middle of the fifth week of the WSOP becomes a dead zone.

Day 33: You Are What You Eat and Watch What You Tweet - Food and social media are among the topics of discussion. Ah, I also three everyone a bone and included an installment of Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...

Day 34-38: OFF

Day 39 - Main Event Day 1A: The Seekers - The Main Event is off and running and I pay homage to the courageous souls who said, "I don't give a fuck!" and plopped down $10,000 in pursuit of a dream.

Day 40 - Main Event Day 1B: Great Expectations - Annette Obrestad's first WSOP Main Event and all of the hoopla surrounding the 21-year old Norwegian wunderkind's first appearance on US soil is the subject of my musings. I also wondered if she could ever live up to the hype and hysteria that we created for her in the media? It also made me question how much of an impact that we the media have in potentially setting up certain pros to fail?

Day 41 - Main Event Day 1C: The Odium of Hellmuthstein - Ah, the spectacle of the Phil Hellmuth Entrance. If you hate him you can skip this one. If you really hate him, you'll end up reading it twice.

Day 42 - Main Event Day 1D: The Unluckiest Champion in the World - Robert Varkonyi took his seat in the Main Event, but without the pomp and circumstance of other former champions. I examine the story of the unluckiest champion in the world.

Day 43 - Day 2A: Moneymaker - The Shadow of a Dream - I love comparing Chris Moneymaker to Jay Gatsby. While Robert Varkonyi chases Moneymaker's shadow, Moneymaker has to constantly chase his own shadow. Will he ever win a second bracelet or does it not even matter because after all, he's Chris Moneymaker?

Day 44 - Day 2B: The Last of the Mohicans - I was wicked hungover after getting hustled in bowling the night before. I phoned it in for this piece. Don't even bother reading it. My apologies.

Day 45: OFF - Media Day

Day 46 - Main Event Day 3: Johnny Fucking Chan, the Butcher Shop, and Here Come the Scandis - Johnny Fucking Chan made a run and I got to proudly write "fucking" instead of bleeping out his infamous nickname. The field continued to thin itself out on Day 3 while a couple of Scandi sleeper cells were activated and sprung into action.

Day 47 - Main Event Day 4: I Want to Take You Higher - Inspired by a Sly and the Family Stone song, I riff about the ghosts wandering around the Amazon Ballroom, brutal casualties of the killing fields.

Day 48 - Main Event Day 5: Fookin' Bonkers, Scandi Ambush, and Disco Inferno - Tony Dunst began the day as the leader while most of the Amazon Ballroom began to empty out as the field was thinned to just 204. The Scandis continued their assault while a Dutch pro named Fokke Buekers became everyone's darling. Meanwhile, California's Breeze Zuckerman became the Last Woman Standing in the Main Event.

Day 49 - Main Event Day 6: Never Mind the Mizrachis, Here Come the Scandis - The Scandi sleeper cell was in full effect as everyone remaining in the Main Event was jockeying for a spot during the homestretch of the November Nine. Meanwhile, all four Mizrachi brothers cashed in the Main Event, but Robert and the Grinder could not replicate their 50K Players' Championship feat with both of them advancing to the final table.

Day 50 - Main Event Day 7: Shine A Light - With 27 players remaining, the next superstar was sitting in front of me. I reflect on previous Main Events specifically on the first hand that I can recall watching from the rail that each former champion played leading up to the final table.

Day 51 - Main Event Day 8: Meet the November Nine
- The Grinder advanced to the final table after a marathon November Nine bubble.

* * * * *

FYI... 2010 Main Event Semi-Live Blog Links: Day 1A - Day 1B - Day 1C - Day 1D - Day 2A - Day 2B - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7 - Day 8

That's it for now. Thanks for following along this summer. See ya in November.

Also, if you liked what you read, then I encourage you to purchase a copy of my book, Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.


  1. PokahDave11:15 AM

    Great coverage this year at the always. You are the king of poker multi-media....

  2. Fubusama10:06 PM

    solid coverage. Read a lot, but lots was tl;dr :)

    Keep up the great work Dr. Pauly!


  3. Schizohedron6:22 PM

    "Aw, mama, can this really be the end?"

    I dig the photo. Has a Kubrick feel to it. Or maybe because the Rio was getting to be like The Shining's Overlook Hotel near the end!