Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2010 WSOP Day 19: Shorthanded Eels, the Russian Surge, and the Year of the Yang

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I hoped that I bet on the right side of the fix.

While I was sweating the bet on the Lakers, I was also sweating Ivey, who was also sweating the bet. I don't do that to feel like Ivey, rather I do that to reveal the human side of Ivey. We transformed a mere mortal into be an omnipotent Greek God who can leap tall buildings in a single bound. I'm surprised that Full Tilt hasn't used a percentage of the rake to erect Easter Island-like statues on the outskirts of Red Rock Canyon paying homage to Ivey, so that three thousand years from now, a futuristic collective of archeologist stumble upon the ruins of Las Vegas and unearth rampant Ivey idolatry. They come to the conclusion Ivey was the great warrior King of Vegas, succeeding Elvis the God of Fertility and Pork Products.

Photo by Blargggh

When I wasn't stalking pros sweating bets (whether it's the Big Game players sweating a seven figure durrrr bracelet bet, or the head of a Russian staking syndicate degening it up with World Cup parlays, or if it's Ivey and Lindgren betting hoops), I embed myself on the rail and sweat the action, and on Tuesday, I dove into the rail of Shorhanded NL. It's easy to cover the progression of the tournament from inside the ropes, but very few reporters are brave, patient, and slick enough to cross the line into the nether world, and mingle with the unwashed masses. It's rather easy to blend in - just hide your credentials, take lots of pictures, talk loudly, point at a pro and mispronounce his name (man, you'd never guess how horribly some of the fuckers butcher Negreanu's name), and pretend to be belligerently drunk (the key to pulling this off is channeling your inner Bukowski and acting drunk, but only if it's before 6pm, because we simply presume that 84% media is half in the bag anytime after 6pm at this juncture of the WSOP). The best way to take the pulse of the commoners is to assimilate and partake in their revelry -- and then you can peel back the layers of their psyches and analyze the madness to figure out what compels competent people to loaf around and watch unshaven guys in Red Bull-stained hoodies and sunglasses talk trash while playing cards. I have to do it for a living (beats flipping burgers or cold-calling dentists in Tenafly, NJ), but these vacationers are doing it for free. For the love of the game? Nah, it must be the cheap booze mixed with happy pills. That's the only explanation. Can someone be that bored in Las Vegas?

At any given time 63.7% of the rail at the Rio are currently busto. With no money to gamble, and too much pride to give handjobs for buy-ins, they have nothing else better to do that shuffle back and forth between the Pavilion and Amazon Ballroom (much like I've seen the sullen veterans - ten and twenty years off their prime with permanent nicotine stains on their fingers) scouring the carpet in hopes of finding a stray food comp on the ground or perhaps they "coincidentally" bump into a generous friend who tosses them a bone in the form of a guilt-ridden satellite buy-in.

Speaking of satellites... a player got caught stealing satellite chips the other day, which he intended to introduce into play in future sats. And no, his name is not Men.

As Day 2 progressed, Daniel Negreanu was probably the most "known" pro remaining, although it was easy to overlook Jerry Yang. Yes, that Jerry Yang, the fifth son of the Dalia Lama, who I once called the Millard Fillmore of former Main Event champions. Yang cashed for his third time this year after posting a goose egg in 2009. Dare I say... the Year of the Yang?

Yoda - 57th

As per usual, Negreanu was a magnet for spectators, who gathered five deep inside a twenty foot radius, waving camera phones, digital cameras, and one hipster was bold enough to brandish an iPad. A bold, yet short woman marched up to the press box, swiped an unoccupied chair, dragged it down to the rail, stood on top of it, and nearly toppled over while trying to take a photo of Negreanu.

"Isn't it boring to stand around and watch when you can't see the (hole) cards?" quipped Negreanu.

"We're not watching the cards, we're watching you," answered one of the jackals.

"So where are you from?" Negreanu asked, like an emcee at the Comedy Store warming up the crowd and cracking jokes.

Negreanu was putting on a good show and chipping up at the same time. I actually did a chip count at 11:11pm... and he had 420,000. No shinola.

Javier "Anguila" Etayo sat to the right of Negreanu for several hours. Anguila (Spanish for "The Eel") and I first met in Barcelona when I was covering an EPT event. He's a pro from Madrid with impressive results on different European circuits, and he's actually the third most popular European pro who wear a a scarf (behind Italy's Dario Mineri and Germany's George Danzer). When I asked him if the scarf was a fashion statement, he smirked and said that he uses the scarf to cover up a tell. I couldn't tell if that was a reverse tell and he was actually a very fashionable man but didn't want me to make fun of his choice of accouterments.

About a dozen Spaniards railed Anguila including the lovely Leo Margets, who drew a spume of attention from many of the male spectators in the room, like a thousands desperate moths on a steamy summer night fluttering towards an illuminated street light. On the other side of the red section, an assortment of serious-looking Brits huddled around an empty table with James Akenhead sitting at the head, and Praz Bansi (2010 bracelet winner) at his side. It almost looked like the Hit Squad was in the middle of the quarterly board meeting. They scribbled down on a piece of paper and all took turns pointing at it. They were either playing high-stakes tic-tac-toe, or devising a scheme to rob the Bellagio vault.

Chris Moorman, one of the key names on Snoopy's Brits to Watch List who has yet to make a final table, was also lurking late on Day 2 but busted out in 53rd.

Maridu cashed, but Tao of Poker's favorite spicy Brazilian dish busted in 80th place. French actress Alexia Portal cashed in her second event so far with a 38th place finish. She's my third favorite French actress behind Virginie Ledoyen and Jeanne Moreau.

Alexia Portal

My favorite Alexia Portal story involved Wicked Chops Poker. When she went deep in last year's Main Event, they posted her pic with a link to the title to one of her films where she's beaucoup naked. Most celebs would have been hella-pissed and sent a team of lawyers after Los Hombres. But not Alexia, who kindly sent them a thank you note, and she also included the titles to several other films in which she also appears naked.

Ilya from Moscow stopped by the press box to tell me that Max Lykov was going to win this event.

"Max is the best tournament player in Russia," explained Ilya. "No one is better at NL."

Max flew to Vegas for one reason -- to take money away from capitalist American pigs. Get a good look at him. If you come across him at your table, well, then I feel sorry for you, because he will destroy your soul, crush your skull, and take everyone one of your chips if you are not careful.

Max Lykov - The Best Player You Never Heard Of?

Despite Ilya's prediction, Max ran into a straight flush and lost a ton of chips, before he busted out soon after in 43rd place.

BoostedJ held the chiplead with four tables to go, and just before play was suspended for the day, Negreanu busted out in 16th place.When Day 3 ended, 15 players remained with Steve Cowley out front. Anguila is still alive with a little more than 500K in chips.

The final 15 will return to the Rio tomorrow to pay down to a final table of six. Anguila told me that he was going to make the final table with about 40 players to go. The confident glint in his eyes convinced me that he could see into the future.

* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 19...

The limited schedule on Sunday and Monday meant that Tuesday lacked the excitement of a final table, but that didn't stop me from finding my own fun. Five events ran on Tuesday with three final tables set for Wednesday, which meant that late Tuesday (well, actually early Wednesday) was crunch time for those Day 2 events coming down to the wire. It takes a special breed to consistently make it to Day 2 of a WSOP event. It takes a super breed to consistently be playing on a third day of a (non-Donkulus or 50K) WSOP event.

Thanks to the advances in technology, I was actually able to stream the second set of Phish's concert in Virginia and listen to it while I wrote parts of this draft. Someday, we'll be able to get live streaming of forty or fifty different tables while flying monkeys with iPhones dive-bomb tables for chip counts.

Event #29 10K Limit Day 1: It's hard to get jazzed about a Day 1, especially LHE, but this "championship" event included some high quality talent, which in turn attracted some spectators. Hey, I think watching NL tournaments are kinda boring... sweating LHE tournaments? It's like mixing Xanax with Valium and Klonopin and then sprinkling it with Ambien. Since the field in this "fetish" event had less than 200 players, a few tables were easily labeled "TOD" or tables of death. When Day 1 ended, Shaun Deeb, Vladimir Schmelev, and GetCrunk were in the lead pack.

Event #28 PLO Junkiement Day 1: PLOaments are like running into a two-headed donkey in a dark alley. Scott Seiver and TJ Cloutier (seriously) were the leaders at the dinner break -- which doesn't mean much, but it was interesting to see those two contrasting names (and stories -- Ivy leaguer turned poker pro vs. poker pro turned craps junkie). When Day 1 ended, almost 1/6th of the field was wiped out. Welcome to the killing fields, where mutant donks feed off the ravished carcasses of the defeated. Christian Harder, TJ Cloutier, and 2010 bracelet winner Richard Ashby ended Day 1 with big stacks.

Event #27 Stud 8-ament Day 2: Coach busted early on Day 2 somewhere around 188th place. I barely paid attention to his event, but when I left the Rio around 3:20am, David Levi was in the chiplead with three tables to go.

Event #24 Donkulus 3.0 Day 3: The next to last day in these arduous five-calendar day events happened to be a rare short day since the field had weened itself fairly well on Day 1s and Day 2. Thanh dat Tran was having one of those epic days when he could do no wrong and jumped out to a scary chiplead with two tables to go. JD "BubbaKGB" McNamara was also lurking near the top before he snagged the lead which he has going into the final table tomorrow.

Don't forget you can always follow me on Twitter (@taopauly) for random updates throughout the day. And don't forget to check out my twit pics.

Photos courtesy of Harper & Benjo.


  1. Simon Y11:50 AM

    Another must read, although I was a little unnerved at the thought of Ivey being the God of Fertility and Pork Products

  2. Ray L Bird7:27 PM

    Any updates on FT Pro and your former roommate KG?