2010 WSOP Main Event Reflect Part 9 – The real day of survival
After a one day layoff, the Main Event of the 2010 World Series of Poker was back in action with a different feel. On day 3, the remaining 2,557 who still had chips all resumed play on day 3, marking the first time in the event that all the players were in action on the same day. What this meant for the Pavillion room was that just about every table was in action. That wouldn’t last very long.
By the math, 1,203 players would survive the day, marking yet another day in which the gigantic field was trimmed down by about half. At this rate, the words “SEAT OPEN ON TABLE ____” were heard an average of every 21 seconds. It seems staggering, but it’s true. In fact the rate of bust outs did not occur as quickly as the phrase “ALL IN AND A CALL ON TABLE ____”. Some players would survive those. But day 3 represented the fastest table breakings that I’d ever seen. At a rate of 21 seconds per bust out, that means that we’d lose a table in the Pavillion room about every minute and a half on average, for 8 hours. It was a sea of carnage.
The ESPN camera’s were rolling to watch all of the important names hit the rail, with the most notable easily being 2009 Main Event Champion, Joe Cada. The guy who said that he was “just a kid with a dream” and had realized it come true by hitting a couple of two-outers on the way to a Main Event championship run, ended his 2010 World Series in a flip. He’d over ship the pot for his last 60k with A-Q, and his opponent would call with T-T. In an expensive flip, Cada would hit the rail sending the signal to the remainder of the field that there would be a new champion this year.
I spent a good majority of the day watching the play of Daniel Negreanu. “Kid Poker” had spent his previous day in action on the ESPN Featured table and just couldn’t really get anything positive going from what I’d heard. He did end up surviving the lights and the cameras bagging a stack of 27k that he’d bring back to the table for day 3, which was about 1/3 of the tournament average, and he’d get to work. He was located in the Amazon room and at the same table as Hoyt Corkins who had a much healthier stack. The two would do battle early as Negreanu would get an early double through Corkins when Negreanu got JJ in against Corkins’ 88. But that would be the last of the good news for Negreanu. He slowly lost a ton of chips, whittling down to less than 10 big blinds by the end of the night, before the Vulture camera’s pitched up a tent and camped out for the action. Negreanu folded relentlessly, looking for an opportunity to get his stack in, and when he found the spot there were two callers that obliged. On a flop of A-8-J, Negreanu check raised all in from the small blind for a total of 9,900, and the Big Blind and UTG players called. The turn card was a K, and the UTG player led out another bet, inducing a fold from the BB, and he tabled Qh-Th for a turned broadway straight. Still hopeful, Negreanu said “I still have outs” as he tabled J-8 for flopped two pair, and was in need of a 4-outer to stay alive. The river was a 6, and Negreanu went bust. He practically sprinted out of the Amazon room, obviously disappointed in the finish. But he wasn’t taking the time to do an exit interview, or any other interview for that matter. He was heading to vent his frustrations of a World Series that fell way below expectations. He’d finish the WSOP with 5 cashes, including 2 final tables, and a near miss with an 11th place finish in the $25k 6-max tournament. In all, his cashes totaled $157,533 for the series, and he considered it to be a disappointment. I guess he just has higher standards than most players, which is why he’s so interesting to watch.
A notable empty seat at the beginning of the day belonged to Jack Ury, the oldest player in the tournament. Every year, Jack comes and plays, and this year he brought back over 40k into day 2. But his stack of nearly 10k to start day 3 was simply blinded off in the first level of play as he never bothered to show up, ending his 2010 Main Event run. Erik Siedel would also find himself along the rail early, having made a questionable decision before the start of Day 3. The 8-time bracelet winner had just flown in from New York a few hours before the start of Day 3 and he was visibly worn out, yawning continuously throughout the his action at the table. A couple of bad decisions later, and Siedel would hit the rail.
Joining in on the bust outs included other notables like Chris Moneymaker, Phil Laak, Vanessa Rousso, Jennifer Harman, and David Williams. But for me, there were two more bustouts that made the Main Event much less interesting. I had been on the rail for Bill Childs and Pat Ricci for their first couple of days in the main, but day 3 would be unkind to both. I found Bill’s seat empty about midway through the day, and then found him on Pat’s rail immediately after. On my next rotation around the room, I noticed the empty seat next to Lauren Kling that was once occupied by Pat, and she informed me that he had gone bust as well.
Many people equate the Main Event to a lottery, which I think is a somewhat fair assessment. You’re in a massive field (in this case, the 2nd largest live field ever assembled) and your odds of overcoming that field to win are extremely long. So finding someone to root for that actually makes it through is rare, but it doesn’t take away that sinking feeling in your stomach when you find them not in their seat any longer. I somehow have less sadness when I watch the hand develop, and witness the all in moment. Seeing the action makes it justified for some reason. But when I come back to a table and the person that I’m rooting for just isn’t there, my heart sinks almost instantaneously. I was beginning to find that it was easier to simply watch the action without rooting interests, and simply report on the action that I saw as interesting. Rooting for your player is similar to rooting for your Bingo Number to come up, only to hear some other Old Lady scream the word, and take the money away from you. It was endlessly frustrating.
And so I turned to some of the good stories of the day, like that of the chip accumulation of Johnny Chan. The “Orient Express” continued his domination of the field and ended the day 3 action again among the chip leaders. Bagging up more than 630k chips to end the day, the last Back to Back Main Event champion was making a run this year as he was 9th in the overall chip counts, and looking more and more like it would be the story of the year.
In an interesting side story was the Mizrachi brothers. After Michael Mizrachi won the $50k Players Championship, and his older brother Robert joined him at the final table, the slogan “The Year of the Mizrachi’s” was kicked around early in the series. At the end of the day, it would appear that it very well could be the Main Event of the Mizrachi’s as all 4 brothers made it through the day. If they’d all survive one more day, then we’d have a story of all four finishing in the money.
Other potential developing stories included the survival of WSOP Player of The Year Points leader, Frank Kassela. Kassela had two people left in contention in the field that could beat him for the Player of the Year title, but it would require that they win the main event. Dan Heimiller had min-cashed event #56 to pull within 85 points of Kassela, meaning that a main event win would vault him into the top spot. That prospect would end on day 3 as Heimiller would go broke. That left 1 person capable of taking a 5 point lead if they won the main event, and that was Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi. But, if Frank Kassela cashed in the main event, then Mizrachi could only tie him for the title. Prospects were looking much better for Kassela at the end of the day as he bagged more than 150k in chips.
At the end of the day, 1,203 players bagged their chips up with hopes that they’d be among the 747 to finish in the money the next day. For the top 10 in chips, only 1 of them would make the November 9, but all of them would have championship hopes an aspirations, including James Carroll who was the only player over the $800k mark. But players that were left at the end of the day had something to finally look forward to, as they could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their dream of cashing was merely hours away from becoming a reality. And I’ll address that in the next post.