Monday, November 08, 2010

2010 WSOP November Nine Heads-Up: Semi-Live Blog

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Down to two. Jonathan Duhamel vs. John Racener.

Photo by Flipchip

One of them will become the next superstar of poker and biggest swinging dick in Las Vegas. The other? Will become a footnote in history as the runner-ups and the few people who vaguely recall their names will nudge the guy next to them and whisper, "Don't I know that guy? He looks familiar?" But then again, a couple of runner ups in the modern era like David Williams and Paul Wasicka have parlayed their second place finishes into notable poker careers (and I didn't forget Sammy Farha because he was already well-known in poker circles).

Action begins at 8pm local time. Hall of Fame ceremony kicks off at 7:30pm. Stay tuned for semi-live blogging updates, tweets (follow @taopauly), and Tao of Pokerati podcasts.

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New Episode of Tao of Pokerati Podcast: Drunken Candiens vs. Sasquatch

N9 - Episode 12: Drunken Candiens vs. Sasquatch - With the heads-up battle between John Racener and Jonathan Duhamel set to kick off, Dan and Pauly discuss the possibility of a drunken brawl between Sasqautch and Duhanel's supporters, who are die-hard hockey fans sporting Montreal Canadiens jerseys.

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Frank Kasella Wins Player of the Year

Shortly before the Hall of Fame ceremony kicked off, there was a short ceremony for 2010 WSOP Player of the Year. WSOP Veep Ty Stewart delivered an eloquent speech before awarding the POY to Frank Kasella. Coming into the November Nine, Kasella was tied for POY with the Grinder, but the Grinder needed to win the Main Event in order to lock up the POY race. Kasella flew out to Vegas to sweat the action, but when the Grinder busted in 5th place, Kasella believed a sigh of relief. Congrats to the newest POY winner. He joins an elite fraternity that includes Allen Cunningham, Jeff Madsen, Tom "DonkeyBomber" Schneider, Erick Lindgren, and Jeff Lisandro.

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New Episode of Tao of Pokerati Podcast - POYs R Us

N9 - Episode 13: POYs R Us - The episode kicks off with WSOP VP Ty Stewart introducing the 2010 WSOP Player of the Year Frank Kasella. Dan and Pauly chat about the significance of the honor along with the potential tweaking of the points system for future POYs.
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Hall of Fame Notes

- Dan Harrington credited Go Fish as a gateway drug to poker. He started grinding Go Fish when he was seven and the rest is history.

- Harrington shared a gem of a story about many moons again, Harrington declined a chance to play Stuey Ungar for high stakes.
Jack Binion: "Dan if I had your ability, I'd higher and higher."

Harrington: "Jack, if I had your money, I wouldn't play at all."
- Harrington was a bit teary eyed by the end of his speech.

- Doyle Brunson is giving the intro speech for Erik Seidel. Doyle said that Seidel reminded him more of Chip Reese than any other player he's come across. Doyle also said that he was bummed out that Seidel opted to play tournaments instead of grinding high-stakes cash game. Doyle though Seidel could have been one of the greatest cash game players of all time and that he was wasting his time and energies on MTTs.

- Seidel took the mic and said: "Thanks for the members of the media for voting me in before Tom Dwan."

- Seidel was not done and said that he was in favor of an age rule that prevents pros from getting a HOF nod if they are not old enough to see an R-rated movie by themselves.

- Seidel thanked Howard Lederer (as expected) and Steve Z (who backed him early on), but I was a little surprised that he thanks X-22 aka Paul Magriel. Seidel also said his wife was awesome because she had more gamble in her (marrying him) than most poker players.

- Seidel has hot daughters. Hubba hubba. Both flew in to see him at this ceremony.

- OK, quick photo op for the HOF inductees and the heads-up match will kick off shortly. Stay tuned.

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And We're Off.... Heads-Up Begins

Credit the WSOP staff... they got the heads-up match kicked off rather quickly considering both the POY and HOF ceremonies ran a little long. While facing the stage from my seat in the pressbox, a big pile of cash and the bracelet is in the middle of the table (opposite of the dealer who has his back to us). Duhamel is sitting on the left wearing shorts and his trademarked dark hoodie, looking like the Lord of Death, meanwhile, Racener is sitting on the right side in his standard fare: jeans, collared dress shirt with a tons of logos. He was wearing a Card Runners hat yesterday (he missed the cut in being one of three November Niners who got to wear FT gear at the final table), but tonight Racener is wearing a FT logo on his shirt and a backwards FT cap.

Duhamel's red Candiens sweater-wearing fans are sprinkled throughout the theatre. The Rio should have put up a wall of glass and boards (similar to a hockey rink) in front of Duhamel's fans so they can bang on the glass every time he's in a hand.

Racener's fans are back with little white signs spelling out "GO RACENER!" They are not in a distinguishable color (especially for TV purposes) like Cada's yellow-clad crew from last November.

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Tennis Anyone?

Compared to the amount of chanting and crowd participation from both November Nines of past and from Saturday's action, Monday's heads-up match sounds extremely subdued. We only got one mediocre-sounding chant of "Ole! Ole! Ole!' And when cards went into the air and the heads-up play began, it got even quieter inside the theatre. Sounds more like a tennis match than a rowd crowd in Vegas. Maybe everyone needs to be drinking more?

The energy here is more worrisome than electric. even though there are two players remaining, there are moments when the only thing you can here are the clattering chips from Duhamel and Racener -- with Racener really the only one shuffling chips with his right hand.

And much to the delight of Change100, Racener is not chewing gum and buttoned up his top button on his shirt. Er, wait a sec...Racener is chewing gum. He just stops the chew while in the middle of a hand. Maybe he thinks Duhamel picks up a gum-chewing tell on him?

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Racener's Double Up Wakes Up Crowd

Many fans, poker media, pros, the Vatican, Pravda, Tela the hooker, and a few aliens were speculating whether or not this was going to be a quick heads-up match. Duhamel entered today with a 6-1 advantage and a heads-up specialist, which made him the heavy favorite to win. A few veteran poker reporters knew that it could be a quick death for Racener, or we could be in for a prolonged affair, especially if Racener doubles up early and could silence Duhamel's hooligans in Habs jerseys.

It only less than a dozen hands before everyone jumped to their feet. On the 11th hand of heads-up play, we had our first all-in and a call preflop. Racener woke up to pocket Queens and was fighting for his tournament life against Duhamel's K-4. Duhamel was way behind and failed to hit the flop, turn, or river. It was barely a sweat for Racener, who doubled up to over 36M. Dahamel had passed the 200M mark a few hands before, but that was shortlived.

Racener's fans erupted with applause and a few chants of "USA! USA! USA!" echoed around the theatre. Duhamel's fans attempted to drown them out -- but they couldn't match the boisterous shouting from Racener's crew (and the few Americans in the crowd who were causal observers and decided to pull for the underdog).

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New Episode of Tao of Pokerati Podcast - Making the Break

N9 - Episode 14: Making the Break - Dan and Pauly chat during the first break, something that many of their colelagues didn't think would happen. They also wonder if the production team at 441 Productions wants more heads-up hands to choose from for their broadcast.
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Breaking Hopes of a Short Night

It wasn't a scheduled break as much as it was a piss break. TD Jack Effel said that there would be a brief 10-minute break so that the players could go to the bathroom. A lot of spectators filed out of the theatre. A few headed to the toilets, while others went in search of beverages (the lines at the bar in the lobby had been vacant and finally filled up, and the Starbucks outside got an influx of customers), and the few smokers in the crowd raced outside for a quick smoke.

At the time, Racener had lost most of the ground that he gained during his double up with Queens. Duhamel charged towards the 200M mark, a barrier that he passed once before.

A few hopefuls figured that Racener was just prolonging the inevitable, while a handful of us prepped for the long haul. Who knows how long this could last?

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Jonathan Duhamel wins WSOP Main Event for $8,944,138; John Racener Eliminated in 2nd place ($5,545,855)

Guess we spoke too soon. On the 43rd hand of heads-up play a champion was finally decided. Blinds were 800K/1.6M with a 200K ante. Duhamel didn't mess around and shoved all-in. Racener had under 15M and called.

Duhamel: As-Jh
Racener: Kd-8d.

The flop was 4c-2s-2d. The turn was the 6c and the river was 5c. Duhamel's Ace-Jack held up and he dragged the pot. Racener failed to come from behind and he was eliminated in second place. Racener won over $5.5 million for his runner-up performance. Meanwhile, French-Canadian Jonathan Duhamel won his first bracelet, the 2010 WSOP Main Event, and almost $9 million in cash.

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New Episode of Tao of Pokerati Podcast - Duhamel Wins

N9 - Episode 15: Duhamel Wins WSOP Main Event - Dan and Pauly capture the atmosphere inside the Penn & Teller Theatre moments after Jonathan Duhamel beat John Racener heads-up for the 2010 WSOP Main Event championship. The November Nine is officially over and they describe the frantic scene onstage and in the crowd and wonder what his official "winner's photo" portrait that will be enshrined for the ages will look like.
For more episodes of the 2010 WSOP and all of the November Nine episodes visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

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Final Words

Photo by Flipchip

"This a dream come true," an overwhelmed Duhamel said. "Come join the party. It's gonna be a good time tonight."

Duhamel picked up a brick of cash in each hand and thrust them in the air as camera flashes went off illuminating the stage in a blinding white light. His faithful crew in red habs jerseys launched into a "Du-ha-mel! Du-ha-mel!" chant that sounded like a muffled "USA! USA!" chant. After a few seconds, they switched and unleashed a bong-rattling chorus of "Ole! Ole! Ole!"

Congrats to John Racener for hanging on long enough to get a shot at the big time. And congrats to Jonathan Duhamel for winning the WSOP Main Event. I hope he has a good accountant and changes his phone number ASAP. Get ready to get hit up for cash by thousands of distant relatives, friends, ex-girlfriends, and brokers cold calling from Goldman Sachs.

I guess that's it for semi-live blogging coverage of the 2010 WSOP. If you like what you've read, then please buy my book -- Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

I honestly don't know if this will be my last WSOP. I usually don't plan more than a few months into the future. But if this is my last run, well, I wanna say thanks for following along this year and in previous years. I never would have gotten this far or had this much fun without y'all.

Stay tuned for an end of November Nine recap, an authentic Flipchip winner's photo, and maybe even a drunken episode of Tao of Pokerati from the Hooker Bar.


  1. #1 of Seidel's daughters or nans.

  2. Thanks for another great year of WSOP coverage. Selfishly I hope you decide to cover at least the ME in the future.

  3. o-hole-ne5:57 PM

    Hey, I was born in Dubuque, IA - I object to your "derisive" reference in Tao of Pokerati... Fuck It - I moved away as soon as I could.   ANOTHER GREAT YEAr (HOPE ITS NOT THE LAST) - THANKS!