2010 WSOP Reflection – Part 3
The first two reflections focused more on the downside, and then day’s 1a to 1c. I want to talk a little about day 1d, which was a different animal from the first 3 day 1’s.
When I say a different animal, I mean in large part because of the names that were present. Doyle Brunson and Darvin Moon took the center stages at the event on day 1d, with Moon at the primary featured table, and Texas Dolly at the secondary. I don’t think that a single person with any knowledge of the game of poker really gave either player much of a shot at the November 9, much less a shot a winning the thing. But the reality with both players is that they are interesting, and I think ESPN did a good job of casting them as features, despite the host of other names that were in the field that day. Phil Ivey played in the Amazon room, and started fast chipping up well, then took a ridiculously tough beat. I walked by his table as he’d called a large bet on the river for about half his stack on an A-K-Q-T-6 board, and his opponent tabled A-A for top set. Phil look dejected as he angrily opened up KK, and showed it before tossing it into the muck. I said “wow, what’re you gonna do” as he took off his headphones and asked “huh?” I repeated myself and he said “yeah, he played it so bad though.”
Phil’s table was easily the deepest rail with people about 8 deep trying to get a glimpse of the great Phil Ivey. I felt pretty blessed as I was able to walk right up to him and ask him for a count whenever I wanted, and sweat his hole cards and watch him play. Phil has a unique way of intimidating his opponents to make ridiculously tight laydowns. People are simply afraid to give him chips, and you can see it at the table. It’s a unique situation watching the table dynamics and the circus that surrounds Ivey, and I got a sense of why he simply prefers to step outside of the spotlight when it comes to interviews and discussing strategy. Ivey doesn’t really do anything super spectacular. He plays his cards a little. But he’s really a master of figuring you out when he’s at the table, and knowing what buttons to push on you to get the result that he’s looking for, either by making you call a weird bet, a value bet, or anything else to simply increase his stack. Or to make you fold a good hand, that’s probably better than his. The “Ivey experience” was one that surprised me about how good Phil Ivey really was. It’s one thing to see it in his results as he’s the player with the most money in tournament cashes in the history of the sport. It’s quite another to witness the frustration on the people’s faces first hand as they just can’t figure this guy out.
It reminded me of the final table of the $50k players championship. Michael Mizrachi earned his nickname (the Grinder) when he simply soul owned both David Oppenheim and Vladimir Shchemelev in due order. You could see it written on their faces, “Oh Crap! I just can’t beat this guy with my play” and “I thought I was really good, but I’m going to have to get freakishly lucky to beat this guy.” He forced them into making mistakes and then pounced in for the kill. It was a beautiful and an ugly thing to watch take place at the exact same time.
Ivey has that kind of awe in his play, but what makes him so unique is that he has the ability to apply that level of thought to players that are well respected in the game. Some of the games elite are simply dumbfounded as they know it just takes a lot of luck to beat him. And watching it take place is a sight that television camera’s don’t really pick up. You see it in the dejected souls of the others at the table, and it’s pretty eerie, awesome, and incredible all in the same breath. I’d highly reccomend it.
Other players that were in the field on day 1d were Joe Hachem and Steve Dannenman, the 2005 winner and runner up. And to make matters funnier, they were seated just one table away from one another in the Pavillion room. Phil Gordon, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Andy Bloch, John Juanda, Allen Cunningham and David Benyamine were among the Full Tilt pro’s in action, with Phil stopping me to say that he loved the giant 1% Bad Beat on Cancer patch that I was wearing as I walked around snapping photos. I said that I was hopeful that he could give a ton back to the Prevent Cancer foundation, and he said “you and me both.” I’m glad that I got to him early, as within the first hour he’d get it in with 2-2 on a 6-5-2-5 board, and his opponent tabled 6-6 for a bigger full house, and Gordon, fresh off his win at the only non-bracelet event in the World Series of Poker (the Ante up For Africa charity event), would hit the rail and have to wait for another summer to claim his first bracelet.
A favorite moment in the day was when someone asked Chris Ferguson from the rail “Jesus, we want to see you play a hand,” as he’d been folding for quite a while. He quickly replied “How much time have you got” which made everyone around the area laugh.
Other notables included Jason Mercier, Sorel Mizzi, and hall of fame NFL running back, Emmitt Smith, who’d do the “shuffle up and deal” a little after the scheduled noon start time, and hit the felt after. In fact, Smith was running so late to the pre-start ritual that Frank Kassela (the leader in the 2010 WSOP Player of the Year Standings) waited in the wings to do the honor in the event that Smith didn’t show. But show he did, as he smiled and took the mic. Someone at one of the tables in the Amazon Blue Section shouted “HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS!” and Smith quickly quibbed back “Yeah, how bout them Cowboys.” It was pretty cool. I tried getting a few photo’s of Smith at the table, but he had a posse of a couple large men saying that “he had a contract that only allowed a few outlets to get his picture.” I laughed and took some more anyway.
One of my favorite stories was later in the day from “The Snuggie Boys.” I refer to them as so, because their attire tells the story. Basically, it’s freakishly hot in the Las Vegas desert in the middle of July. Not exactly a shocker there. But inside the Rio, you could probably hang meat from the ceiling and have it preserve for a long period of time because it’s so damn cold. The AC is kicked up to make it in the mid 60 degrees it seems like, but in some areas of the Pavillion room it felt downright Arctic. In fact, the AC was cranked up so high at one table, the overhead light was swaying from the air blowing down on it. The guys at this table decided to invest in a series of “Snuggies” which one player sent a friend to find, and he returned with 9 blue and white poncho looking things that the entire table dawned for the remainder of the day. In fact, the person who got them for the group was the first to bust at the table, and when he did, he left his snuggie behind for the next player. But the others at the table got his information so that they could return the snuggie to them at the end of the play.
Day 1d stands out even more as they announced the final number of the players sometime after the 2nd break. Jack Effel took to the mic to announce that the 7,319 registered particpants in the 2010 Main Event represented the 2nd largest live tournament field in history of poker, and generated a $68,798,600 prize pool, which offered $8,944,138 to the lucky dude that came out ahead of the other 7,318 players. It was the second largest 1st place prize money ever (which made sense) next to Jamie Gold’s $12 million pay day when he bested the largest field ever. But the payout structures were flatter this year, and the first place prize money wasn’t all that much more than the numbers that Joe Cada took home or even Jerry Yang the year that he’d won it. It seems that the folks at the WSOP have learned that a more even distribution of the prize pool accross the entire field was something that the players deserved, and they are right. You’d figure that after the players were through fighting through 4 days of play in such a tough field in order to simply finish in the money, that should be rewarded. And getting into the top tier of players should have bonuses, but not at the expense of those that got bad beat out of chances later in the tournament. You need to get lucky to win these things, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain wrong. Just look at the recent winners and tell me 1 that was ahead every single time. You need to be good to get to the money, but you’re going to need some luck in order to win it. And flatter payout structures benefit everyone.
After the announcement of how many players were in the field, I did my first Twitter Poker Tour Live show from the World Series of Poker. I set up by myself in the spot that PokerRoad camps at in the hallway just outside the Amazon Room. It was vacant as PokerRoad did their shows in the morning just before the day’s action began. So it was a perfect spot to set up with a comfy bench and some tables, and a power outlet. The trouble was, Full Tilt decided to crash just moments before the tournament began, so the entire show was a little over an hour talking about my experiences from the first four days, as well as some other stuff. It was alright, but I was itching to play some poker. After watching it for so long, I wanted to mix it up a little. But alas, it was not to be. We called it quits after staring at the FTP cards being shuffled as “A connection to the FTP server is waiting to be established,” and we scratched the TPT tournament, as funds were awarded back to everyone’s account. I headed back into the Rio to watch the play.
I spent the latter half of the evening on the rail of Bill Childs. Bill was playing great and taking a number of pots away from the people at his table, en route to more than doubling his starting stack by day’s end. I found a couple of friends on the rail, and some that I didn’t know were friends until we exchanged cards. Jena Delk handed me her business card at the same time I exchanged with her, and we realized who each other was almost instantly after we had. It’s funny how social media can develop a friendship to the point that meeting someone for the first time doesn’t really feel like meeting them for the first time. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantry’s, and cheered on Bill who seemed to figure out that you don’t win this tournament on Day 1. This is something that others hadn’t exaclty figured out as I saw some ridiculous gambles and some stupid plays, and the rate of bust outs began to increase at a remarkable rate. It was evident that the majority of the field had no idea how to play deepstack poker.
Again, this has become a lot longer than I’d anticipated, and I think that I’ll take a stop here. I’ll have more later in the series.