2010 World Series of Poker Main Event – Reflection Part IV
I covered day’s 1a through 1d in the first three segments, and I’ll continue with the day 2’s from my vantage point.
Some will say that the main theme of Day 1, any of the 4 day 1’s, is survival. I’d argue that this term should be placed upon day 2 and 3. For some, it was about chip accumulation. But for a sea of others, it was how quickly can I gift someone the rest of my chips. There were two Day 2’s again this year at the WSOP Main Event, but in a switch from prior years the combination of players comprising day 2a was differing. This year day 1a combined with day 1c in day 2a, while the survivors of day 1b and day 1d met on day 2b. It sounds all confusing and junk but the reality is there just aren’t enough poker tables to have everyone come back and sit under 1 roof for day 2. So they have to break it up some and whittle through the field to simply create the space necessary to toss cards and chips around. And create room they did.
Each of the day 2’s began with much less fan-fare. It was much more business than usual. On day 2a, Hall of famer Mike Sexton would hit the rail early, and would be joined by a trio of Main Event Champions from the past in Carlos Mortensen and his new chip stack (which I was sad to see go), Tom McEvoy, and Berry Johnston. But the list of notables that hit the rail was long as the fit and trim Ted Forrest was also sent packing. Forrest was looking good on his prop bet with Mike “The Mouth” Matusow and Justin “Boosted J” Smith. They’d wagered a a good sum of money on Forest being able to drop 50 pounds by the end of the summer, and Forest looked fantastic. In fact, shortly after the series was over, he made his weight and collected his $2 million bounty for the prop bet. A little consolation for going broke on day 2 I guess.
2009 Double Bracelet winner Brock Parker never got anything going and hit the felt. I stopped by Greg ‘FBT” Mueller’s table a number of times. He’d began the day with under 10k chips, and the first time I swung by, he’d more than doubled to over 20k. The next time around, it was around 40k. Then he told me about a beat that he’d taken when I came around a third time, where some fish just didn’t believe him and called him down with K-T to river a pair that had him beat. Shortly after the dinner break, FBT when bust. Joining him on the rail at the end of the day was Dennis Phillips of November 9 fame. Phillips was the chip leader heading into the final table of the 2008 Main Event, and ended up going broke in 3rd place for a cool $4.5 million. Dennis was well remembered by his host of what seemed like 50 or so people in matching Orange jumpsuits showing up and blowing a truck horn every time he shipped a pot. Last year, he made another deep run, getting unlucky on his final hand when he shipped in AK suited, and got called by AK suited. His opponent rivered the flush to eliminate Phillips in 45th place, and end the blaring truck horn sounders again. The truck horn made yet another appearance at the Rio this World Series on Day 1 and 2, and it was LOUD, and it was annoying. I must say that I like Dennis as a person. He’s great to talk to, with a lot of insight on the game, and a warm and affable person. But I was happy to see him go broke if for no other reason than I didn’t want to hear that blasted horn another time.
But there were a number of players that thrived on day 2a, jumping over the 200k chip mark. Probably the best story was the accumulation of chips by Johnny Chan. Chan was stacking people left and right, and it seemed like every time I went by his table, he was in a pot, rolling over the nuts, and stacking more chips. In thinking back on it, I can’t remember a hand that he played where he didn’t win on day 2. I’m sure that it happened, but in the times that I was by his table, he was always involved and he was always rolling the winning hand. It was quite a show that I don’t know if the camera’s will get, and I don’t know that anyone other than those that were at his table were able to appreciate because he was located at one of the tables far away from the rail, in the center of the Blue Section of the Amazon Room. But he played like the mystical champion that was revered in Rounders, just pounding every player that he was up against, rolling sets, flushes, and two pair, time and time again to ship pot after pot. It was a great show. In the end of Day 2a, he totaled around 280k, and it made you wonder, could Johnny Chan do it again? Did he have a winning run in him?
Others stacking up a sizeable stack included Patrik Antonius. Patrik was seated at the secondary featured table, and had a monster sized stack that was just all over the place. I tried counting it to no avail. He had Orange, Yellow, and Blue chips sprayed out in various chip stack amounts that really had no correlation, and made it impossible to count. I figured that he was like Mortensen, and just knew how much he had. So when I asked him, I figured he’d just say “somewhere in the neighborhood of 200k.” Instead, Patrik shrugged his shoulders and said “I really don’t know. I’m not playing a ton of big pots, so I don’t really need to know. It’s a lot though.” He was right. His official chip total at the end of play was in the neighborhood of 250k according to the media sources that saw him write that total on his bag at the end of the day.
I also watched Amanda Baker rack up a huge stack to end the day. I was cheering for Mandy B, who’d always turned up as a Full Tilt Red Pro for our Bad Beat on Cancer charity tournaments on Full Tilt. She was very cold in the Pavillion room at the beginning of the day as she kept herself bundled in her scarf and kept her headphones on just focusing on her play. At the end of the night, I found her with a giant 200k stack, and sitting in the Amazon Room to the direct left of Annie Duke who’d accumulated a nice little 170k stack of her own. In what was dubbed in the beginning of the series as “The year of the Woman” thanks in part to Vanessa Selbst’s NAPT win at Mohegan Sun, and Liv Boeree’s win at the EPT, as well as Annette Obrestad’s first ever Las Vegas WSOP, seeing Duke and Baker side by side with dominant stacks made me think that this might actually be the year of the women. I would learn that no one wins the main event on day 2 either.
Sammy Farha gathered himself a nice sized stack as well, ending the day with more the 200k. I never saw Sammy in a hand, but its was awesome seeing the media cheer for him. He was always smiling and just seemed legitimately happy that he was playing poker, and he was hard not to root for. I felt the same way about Cole South who fewer people know about. CTS ended the day with over 300k chips and seemed to do so by dispatching of people with great ease. Some of these pro’s just know when to flip a switch and run over a table. The great ones can accumulate a massive stack in a flash, and before you know it, they simply have a massive tower of chips in front of them. South was one of those pro’s. I saw him do the same thing at the $50k Players Championship back at the end of May, but his stack fizzled then. I wondered if he could continue the run good.
At the end of the night, we bid adieu to Eli Elezra who ran KK into AA to go broke, and then the Magician, Antonio Esfandiari would find himself on the rail in a pretty gross hand. I got to the table as Antonio pumped his fist with excitement. The two had gotten it all in preflop in a flip, with Esfandiari holding AJ, and some random dude that held two Tens. The flop had hit K-J-2 and Antonio leapt up with excitement, having taken the lead by paring his Jack. A player at another table saw the action and asked Antonio “Did you just double?”, and Antonio said “I’m on my way.” But in poker, we learn that the hand isn’t over until the river card is dealt, and the dealer cruelly led a Q on the Turn and a 9 on the river to give the amateur dude with pocket tens a straight, and end Esfandiari’s 2010 Main Event on a bitter sweet note. As day 2b closed, it was all about finding guys to root for, and hoping that those people that you found interesting could simply survive the next day.
So when someone tells you that day 1 is about survival, tell them “You obviously haven’t seen a day two.” More than half the people that started the day had to find something else to do with the rest of the their summer other than play poker at the World Series, because they’d gone broke. It’s hard to describe the scene of a poker tournament that busts more than 1,200 players in 8 hours of play. At that rate, a bust was happening all day long at a rate of about every 30 seconds. The phrase “all in and a call on table ___(insert table number here)” was frantic and heard about as often as “seat open on table ___(insert same table number here).” Despite the chip average being VERY healthy, and a more that favorable tournament structure, guys just wanted to gamble and win the tournament in a single day.
At least the carnage wasn’t as bad as the next day, which I’ll address in the next post.