Thursday, July 29, 2010

Poker Politics and Business: Party Bwin Merger and HT2267 Markup

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm still on an extended holiday, but there's been a bit of somewhat important poker news that transpired over the last few days on the business/financial and political front. Here's a few links that I used to catch up to speed...
For an update about the murky waters of the American online gaming market, start with the Guide to HR2267 Markup day and check out a proper link dump of other bits and pieces including a spankworthy pic. Boobs (and Vicodin) makes political scribblings palatable. (Pokerati, Wicked Chops Poker)

And then read Shamus' take... House Financial Services Committee Passes H.R. 2267 (Hard-Boiled Poker)

Oh, and this is huge: Party Gaming and bwin are merging. Check out what the financial sector is saying...
2 Big Internet Gambling Companies to Merge (NY Times)

Party Gaming to Merge With Rival
(The Guardian)

PartyGaming, Bwin Announce Merger (Wicked Chops Poker)

PartyGaming to Take Control of Bwin in $1.76 Billion Deal (Bloomberg)

Party Gaming stock shot up 20% in one trading day after the merger was announced. I hope you gobbled up shares a few weeks ago and made a nice profit off of this merger. (Financial Times)

And before we go, Milton Friedman sounds off on greed...

OK, that's it for political and business news. NGTFOOMO.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recap: 50K Players' Championship on ESPN

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The 50K Final Table

The WSOP returned to ESPN with the final table coverage of the 50K Players' Championship. 441 Productions, the crew responsible for putting together the WSOP broadcasts, are the best in the business. They don't get enough credit for their diligent work, and a lot of uninformed people mistakenly give ESPN accolades instead of 441 Productions.

Inherently speaking, poker tournaments are boring affairs, but the producers at 441 (Matt Maranz and David Swartz) are fantastic story tellers. They have a difficult assignment -- make tournament poker appealing to an audience that is comprised of players from different levels of poker acumen and expertise -- and they manage to rise to the occasion year after year. The WSOP on ESPN appeals to a wide range of demographics from hardcore junkies to the causal observers. As much as poker is sports entertainment, it's also a advertisement for the entire industry. For almost a decade, the WSOP broadcasts on ESPN have been an introductory course for many new poker fans. It's the most popular gateway and portal into the poker world for players aged 17 to 77.

Poker needs a constant flow of new players in order to survive, otherwise we'll become like the horse racing industry with many of their constituents in the twilight of their lives. When they die off, the racing industry is fucked. In poker terms, players die off when they go busto. Some reload, others are done for good, which is why we need a new stream of players. The WSOP on ESPN helps attract these new players by providing a friendly and non-intimidating environment.

Before cards went into the air of the final table of the 50K Players' Championship, it was pretty easy to guess that the main plot line would surround the Mizrachis after Robert and Michael (aka the Grinder) advanced to the final 8. And if one of them happened to win, especially the Grinder, it would enhance the story even more so and be the cherry on top of the sundae.

And let's look at this in broader terms with the November Nine. Considering that ESPN is only airing the 50K, Main Event, and the TOC, they couldn't have scripted a better story than what the Mizrachis accomplished during the Main Event -- all four brothers cashed, with Robert and the Grinder both went deep. Everyone in the poker media was thrilled because they had a sensational story to report on -- without having to hype it up. The story really wrote itself. With 7,319 runners in the 2010 Main Event, everyone had their fingers crossed about the potential final table. Would there be one or more familiar faces or will we have nine unknowns playing for $9 million? Last year, Phil Ivey advanced to the November Nine what seemed like a gift-wrapped miracle from the poker gods. As each day progressed in the 2010 Main Event, the list of "known pros" became smaller and smaller as the definition of what a "named pro" grew wider and wider. But one name on the list was circled -- Michael Mizrachi. In the back of everyone's mind, if the Grinder advanced it would be a sensational ending to what ended up being an epic summer for him and his family.

When I sat down to watch the first episode of the 2010 WSOP, I couldn't help but think about that the Player of the Year needs to be revamped. Frank Kassela is currently the Player of the Year leader. He can't lose it, but he can share the crown with the Grinder -- only if the Grinder wins the Main Event. Kassela played the best poker of his career and had a better all-around series than the Grinder, but how could the Grinder not win the POY outright if he takes down both the 50K and the Main Event? As is, Kassela is the top dog for now.

Moving on...

The 2010 version of the $50,000 Players' Championship shifted from the original HORSE format to 8-Game. The winner still gets awarded the Chip Reese Trophy, but the final table was exclusively NL instead of the 8-game. I wasn't thrilled with the decision to play NL at the final table. I know why it was done because NL is more appealing for TV viewers than Mixed Games -- but that doesn't mean I agree with it. Question to ponder -- we all know that the Grinder won the bracelet, but would he have still won if the final table was Mixed?

441 Productions is always enhancing their screen graphics and the information that they are providing. For someone who has to wear glasses, I appreciate the fact that I can distinguish a spade from a club without the benefits of an HD TV. They also did a better job with providing more chipcounts and letting the viewers know the position of the players still in the hand. They even added the kitschy "hijack" to the mainstream poker vernacular.

Random thoughts that I jotted down while watching the 50K Players' Championship...
- The episode kicked off emphasizing the word "players". I was too stoned to count the number of times, but it was a lot. Maybe I can get Kevin Mathers or Timtern to give me an accurate count?

- One of the dealers at the final table is someone that we nicknamed "Schecky Lite" because he's a doppelganger for John Caldwell.

- David "Bakes" Baker was playing this final table without his girlfriend, Maridu, to sweat him. The Team PokerStars Pro from Brazil had a prior work obligation and had to fly to South America for an event on the LAPT. Norm Chad mentioned that Bakes had hired Vanessa Selbst as a coach a few years ago. It obviously paid off.

- The Mizrachis held a family reunion in the stands surrounding the featured TV table. They couldn't even fit everyone in allotted area so many members of their vast entourage had to hang out in the beef jerky lounge. Both Robert and the Grinder are rather quiet players. They don't say much which would normally make for bad TV, but their vocal supporters picked up the slack. Mama Mizrachi's boisterous voice carries all the way across the room.

- A few of my friends in the media are in love with the Grinder's wife, Lily. She's a beautiful woman and when she got face time on cameras, she looked like a nervous wreck. Every year have an awkward experience with Lily. Here's what happens -- I spot her on the rail, but I don't immediately recognize her so as I struggle to recall who that is, I get caught staring at her. Of course, she thinks I'm scouting out her mountainous regions and I get the stink eye, which makes it even more frustrating because nothing is worse than getting caught by a hot chick sneaking a peak when you weren't sneaking a peak!

- On the first hand of the broadcast, the Grinder opened with A-10 and Bakes called with pocket sevens. Bakes was ahead on the flop despite one overcard, but check-called a C-bet from the Grinder. The turn was an Ace. Bakes checked and the sneaky Grinder checked behind his top pair. A seven spiked on the river, giving Bakes a set. He fired out and the Grinder insta-paid him off. Bakes wondered aloud what would have happened if he had checked his set... would the Grinder bet, and then call a check-raise? Who knows what would have happened if Bakes played the river differently. Maybe the Grinder loses more of his stack which affects the outcome of the rest of the tournament and perhaps alter the future of the November Nine?

- The Lone Scandi, Mikael Thuritz, had his ass violated in two tough hands. He was ahead with Jacks when he called an all in against short stacked Danny Alaei's Big Slick, but an Ace on the turn saved Alaei and he doubled up. Thuritz then got ambushed by a cooler when he four-bet shoved with Kings against Vladamir "Rich Russian Guy aka RRG" Shchemelev's Aces. Thuritz couldn't suck out and he got crippled. The RRG doubled up and rocketed into the lead, while Thuritz was down to the proverbial "chip and a chair." The Scandi eventually busted out in 8th place.

- I love a classic "suck/re-suck" and one such hand was aired. David Oppenheim got it all in with Aces on a King-high flop. Danny Alaei had called with K-Q. A Queen on the turn gave him the lead and Op was on the brink of elimination until an ace on the river saved his ass. Alaei was crippled and Op rocketed into the lead. He had started the final table as one of the shorties.

- The Grinder really came from behind in order to win. He was crippled to under 1M in chips after he overvalued his A-Q. He got it all in with TPTK against Oppenheim's set. Op improved to 9M on that hand while the Grinder had around 900K. That's how the first episode ended -- with the Grinder on the ropes and Op on top with 5 to go.

- You can call this one... Cain vs. Abel. The Grinder got involved in a hand with his brother where he had to call an all-in with Q-J. They were both low on chips and the Grinder was priced in. Robert was ahead with A-10 and was surprised that his brother called with such marginal holdings. A Jack on the turn put the Grinder in the lead. His hand held and he busted his older brother Robert in 5th. The final table lost a Mizrachi, but the cheering section gained another supporter.

- Rich Russian Guy's (RRG) pocket tens held up against John Juanda's Kd-9d. How come I always lose in that situation (running nines or a flopped flush is the usual outcome for me online when I have Jacks versus K-9 sooted). RRG's tens held up and Juanda bowed out in 4th. In his couch interview Juanda admitted that he was suffering from burnout and lost his motivation until Daniel Negreanu talked some sense into him. I wonder if Juanda is motivated by bracelet bets or if he really refocused himself?

- Ah the benefits of real time condensed for TV purposes! Change100 pointed this out in a hand between the Grinder and Oppenheim that took over ten minutes to complete with Op in the tank for over five minutes. Op made a bad call, well more like a cash game call with 7h-6h vs. Grinder's K-7 on a A-A-7-5-3 board with two hearts. Op flopped a flush draw but never got there. The Grinder bet on the river and an indecisive Op wanted to show the Grinder his cards to gauge a reaction. Robbie the floor guy told him that he'd get a penalty. You can do that in a case game, but not in a tournament. Anyway, Op called and was beat as the Grinder gobbled up more chips.

- When action got short-handed the Grinder seemed to have Oppenheim's number. The Grinder made an astute call on the river in a hand that was the battle of the blinds. The Grinder trailed with 10h-8d vs. Op's Jh-7s. The flop was As-Qd-8s and both players checked. The turn was the 5c. Grinder fired out 100K and Op called. The 4d fell on the river. The Grinder bet 300K, Op raised to 850K with Jack-high, and the Grinder called with third pair. He must have sniffed out that Op held Jack-shit.

- "Fuck it, I'll gamble." That's the mantra of so many players I know, but that's what the Grinder uttered as he called Op's all in. The Grinder held Kc-Qs versus 8d-8c and was flipping for his life -- in more ways than one. "What a call, man," mentioned Op who knew that although he was ahead, that he was about to die. The flop was 9-6-4 rainbow. The turn was a 7 and Op was still ahead, but the river was the Qd. The Mizrachi clan went berserk. Op shrugged his shoulders and made his exit in 3rd place.

- Heads-up battle was set between Michael Mizrachi and Vladamir Shchemelev. Shit, let's just say the Grinder vs. RRG. It was really the battle of the bling. The Grinder had his shiny collection of accouterments while RRG sported a pair of alligator boots that probably cost more than the Grinder's net worth (pre-WSOP).

- RRG's couch interview was in Russian, but one of the best from the final table players. I loved some of his quote like "I am only interested in first place." Ha, he's so rich that the money meant nothing to him -- he just wanted to win. He boasted that Russians excel at "intellectual games" and I would like to think that poker can be intellectual at times despite its pedestrian and egalitarian nature. RRG also said that he's always ahead at the end of the month -- thanks to the oil barons and mafioso types who lose millions of rubles to him in a game in Moscow where they play Pot-limit Stud.

- At the beginning heads-up play, it looked like RRG was going to cruise to a victory after winning a couple of sizable pots. He essentially silenced the Mizrachi clan. But that was just for show to add more drama to the Grinder's eventual comeback. Like any Hollywood action hero, he must overcome a last second obstacle before defeating the evil Russian bad guy dressed in a track suit with snakeskin boots more apt for a pimp than a businessman.

- Rigged? That's what the Russians in Schemelev's corner thought after a suspicious hand. Here's some back story that you couldn't tell from the broadcast -- this particular hand was the first hand played after a break, which is why the Russians called shenanigans. They felt as though a cold deck was set up during the break. The playing action was all-in preflop. RRG held a dominating Ad-Js against the Grinder's Ac-7s. The flop was Kc-10s-9c and the Grinder flopped a draw. His supporters unleashed furious chants of "Club! Club! Club!" The turn was the Qh as RRG improved to a straight. He failed to fade the flush when the 5c spiked on the river. Grinder was all smiled as he got smothered in kisses from his wife and mother. Afterward, he was mobbed by his brothers, fellow pros, and his boys. RRG and the Russians huddled and were not pleased. RRG's supporters called booshit. BJ was snapping photos nearby and overheard a heated RRG and the man in the mysterious satchel discussing the possibility of foul play. It wasn't the case, just a bout of lingering Soviet-era paranoia. Alas, the crowd woke up after the hand. The once sedated Mizrachi clan was rejuvenated. The Grinder knew that he got lucky, but sometimes that's what it takes to get you back on track. RRG had a 3-1 lead before the hand started, and still retained a slight lead after the Grinder doubled up.

- Ah the magic of TV. The Grinder all of sudden held a 3-1 lead. It happened over a series of uninteresting hands, otherwise it would have been televised. Let's just say that the Grinder lived up to his namesake and grinded out 3-1 lead over a stretch of 40 or 50 hands.

- RRG's hopes quickly vanished during a hand where he got runner-runner'd by the Grinder. He thought his Q-5 and top pair would be good enough to beat Grinder's 3-2, but, running treys became RRG's demise. The Grinder grossly overbet the river which worked because he induced a call from RRG. That was the beginning of the end of the RRG.

- On the 78th hand of heads-up play (I dunno how many they actually aired, ahem Mathers, a little help?), a winner was finally decided. The Grinder was behind with Qs-5c against RRG's Qd-8s, but everyone knew he was going to win the hand. The Grinder took the lead with a 5 on the turn and he never looked bacl. The Grinder won, shipped the bracelet, and defeated the unknown rich Russian businessman, Vladimir Shchemelev, who finished in 2nd place.
With the Grinder's victory in the 50K Players' Championship, his comeback was set in motion and he crossed his name off the list of outstanding debtors to the IRS and the list of "best players who never won a bracelet." Stay tuned for future episodes of the WSOP Main Event where the second act of his epic story gets played out in front of the cameras as he makes his journey to the November Nine.

$50,000 Players' Championship 8-Game Mixed Final Table Results:
1 Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi - $1,559,046
2 Vladimir Shchmelev - $963,375
3 David Oppenheim - $603,348
4 John Juanda - $436,865
5 Robert Mizrachi - $341,429
6 David "Bakes" Baker - $272,275
7 Daniel Alaei - $221,105
8 Mikael Thuritz - $182,463
* * * * *

In case you wanted some background info to accompany the broadcast, check out the Tao of Poker's coverage from the $50K Players' Championship...
Day 1: The Cold Open
Day 2: Not So Easy Rider
Day 3: Scandi Mafia and Donkulus' Comet
Day 4: Band of Brothers and Here Come the Russians Reprise
Day 5: Redemption Song - The Grinder Wins Player's Championship
Photos by Benjo.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Psycho Killer: Ron Fanelli the Mad Yank

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"Bit concerned about how many people I know turn out to be murderers."

It all started with a cryptic tweet from Dana, one of my friends back in London. I thought it was snarky British humour and supposed to be a back-handed compliment to a mutual friend. We often joke around that our colleagues in the press are mentally deranged. Well, joke is the wrong word, because mostly everyone I know in the poker circles is batshit crazy. You have to be in order to do what we do, so yeah, we're all a few cans short of a six-pack, but despite everyone's mental instability, no one has gone off the deep end -- yet. We've had a few incidents when people disappear for days, weeks, and months without a trace, but they resurface a bit later. However, no one has actually succumbed to violence, although I did once threaten two drunk German railbirds to a fight in Leicester Square at the WSOPE in London. But aside wanting to beat the shit out of a few loudmouths in the pressbox in Vegas over the years, it's a fairly mellow scene.

Getting a gig in poker media is sort of like becoming a union member because you have a job for life no matter how hard you fuck up. It's more similar to being a cockroach during a nuclear war. No matter how massive the blast, you get nuked to all hell, yet still scattering across the scorched Earth in search of some scraps.

Yeah, you can do anything short of killing someone without getting fired in poker media. Heck, I still have a career and I'm a known drug fiend. Most of my peers are outrageous alkies who spend most of their lives drinking away the misery in hotel bars (have you seen the "expense reports" from the EPT?), but compared to all of the basket cases, drunks, pill poppers, and known-plagiarizers, I'm still employable.

As you can tell, the poker world is somewhat forgiving. Heck, even if you steal millions from your fellow poker players, you can still get away without any semblance of retribution. Thieves in poker don't get imprisoned, whacked, or have a hand severed with a butcher knife. Heck, if anything, the more of a lying stealing douchebag you become in poker, the more press that you get.

With that said, poker is a forgiving community because many of us are misfits and outcasts who took up refuge in the poker world for whatever reason, so we tend to look the other way when we come across a fellow fuck up. I know a few folks in poker who actually come from well-adjusted former lives, but they are well aware of the hazards involved. I guess they want to travel on the road less traveled, and seeking out something alternative than the proverbial rat race.

And then you have people like me who have no other place to go.

But despite frolicking in the darkness with the vampires, zombies, and urchins, I've never actually come across someone who took another life. After the EPT Berlin robbery, scenarios were hypothesized among the British about a Columbine Massacre at the WSOP or at a regional poker tournament. That's everyone's biggest fear, isn't it? Someone losing their shit? I've never worked at the post office, but I read enough Bukowski to know that that job can drive civil servants mad to the point of rampant alcoholism and in the worst case scenario -- an outburst of violence. But postal workers killing with weapons have since calmed down a bit, and the term "going postal" is so early 90s that you kinda roll your eyes when you hear it, just like an old Pearl Jam record.

We have come a long way since the days of the wild wild west and having to keep a loaded gun nearby as both a car protector and a life protector during a card game. Over the last few years, murder has popped up in the same breath as poker. Home game robberies or underground card room heists gone bad are the usual culprit. A few years ago, a woman killed her husband who was a (broke dick) poker pro in Vegas. Then there was the incident at the Taj in Atlantic City that involved a stabbing when two players go into a spat. Considering the testy nature of poker, usually the worst thing you have to worry about is getting flamed on 2+2. You don't think for a second that someone would actually carry out premeditated manslaughter.

One of my friends pointed out an article by Vicky Coren titled Ron Fanelli was my friend. How did he go on to be a murderer? The PokerStars pro from the UK is also a fantastic columnist at The Guardian. Coren gave some insight into Ron Fanelli, the American known as "Mad Yank" whom she came across during the early 2000s at the Gutshot Club, renown poker room in London.

Fanelli was under arrest in Thailand for murdering Wanphen Pienjai. In a drunken rage, Fanelli plunged a knife into the back of the bar girl. He attempted to dispose of the body by cutting up parts of the corpse and breaking her wrists and ankles in order to stuff the remains into a suitcase, which he carried on his scooter before dumping it alongside the road. He told police that it was an "accident."

"You remember that guy from the 2006 WSOP," said Benjo. "He (Fanelli) was sitting in the hallway in front of the Amazon Ballroom playing nonstop poker. That was years before Unabomber's attempt at the endurance record."

Once I saw Fanelli's photograph (the ones above circa 2006 courtesy of Benjo), the handlebar mustache was a trigger to an instant flashback. I don't have my of notebooks from 2006 with me, but I'm sure somewhere in them, there's an entry about the "dude who looks like the Super Size Me director" who is probably jacked up on speed while playing nonstop heads-up poker.

At the time, Fanelli was an American ex-pat living in the UK. He was a frequent player at the Gutshot, although the regulars were not particularly keen on the "Mad Yank." Benjo pointed out the defunct blog, Poker Bastard, which was penned by an anonymous British pro who was not fond of the Gutshot. In a post from October of 2004, the anonymous pro didn't have too many nice things to say about Fanelli and referred to him as "That Cunt."

Poker pros make a living at reading people. But it seems as though many of them dismissed Fanelli's quirkiness because having propensity of kinky and violent sex with multiple prostitutes hardly constituted him as a criminal. Obviously, he became somewhat detached from the poker scene and drifted away from London when he moved to Southeast Asia full time. A series of bad relationships and dissolved marriages sent him spiraling out of control. He eventually snapped.

Dead hookers have become such a cliche that I drove my Lost Vegas editors crazy with that hackneyed phrase. But in this case, the cliche fits.

Glancing at Fanelli's scant Hendon Mob database will tell you that he was hardly a pro with less than $45,000 in live winnings, and nothing since 2004. He's supposedly had a few scores online, but nothing to sneeze at. If anything he was one of thousands of players who took his shot and missed. His fifteen minutes of fame came and went. Well, until now, as he pops up in Google alerts as that crazy poker player who chopped up a dead Thai hooker.

I hope the mainstream press chooses not to sensationalize this as a "poker-related" murder, when it's far from it. That shouldn't be too hard right now. Lindsay Lohan is in jail, so the jackals running the MSM are distracted with a starlet in distress. But if you're an anti-poker politco type in search of ammo, then expect one of those Bible-beaters to wrongly utter Fanelli's name in congressional hearings when preaching about the evils of online poker.

Fanelli was another bad drunk with too many demons to overcome who reached the end of his rope. It just happened by sheer coincidence that this guy traveled in the same circles as friends from the UK. Many of them thought he was an asshole, while a few others, thought he was just another oddball miscreant amidst the poker fabric.

Except... they were wrong.

I get paid big bucks to write fabricated rubbish about the dozen or so players who take the shot and succeed. We put them up on pedestals but we often ignore the plight of those who take a shot and fail. Ron Fanelli is a causality of war, but what about the collateral damage that happens in the wake of his implosion? This time it was a young woman, who will eventually be forgotten because no one cares about another broke-dick poker player disposing a prostitute's mutilated corpse.

* * *

Update: Check out Bill Rini's post Should We Feel Sorry for Him?. He pointed out an organization where you donate money to a scholarship fund that will assist Wanphen Pienjai's children.
Rotary Club of Patong Beach Charity Account
Siam Commercial Bank
46/3 Chao Fah Rd
T. Taladneung, A. Muang
Phuket Thailand 83000
Account: 633-2-49363-2
Phone: 076-222010
Thanks for the follow up, Bill.

Monday, July 26, 2010

2010 WSOP Begins Tuesday on ESPN With 50K Players' Championship

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday night poker returns to ESPN.

The 2010 WSOP officially kicks off Tuesday with the $50,000 Players' Championship featuring the Brothers Mizrachi. This event attracted 166 runners and started as an 8-Game Mixed event, but switched over to only NL once the final table of 8 was set.

Check local listings for the exact time. Here's a teaser...

In case you wanted some background info to accompany the broadcast, check out the Tao of Poker's coverage from the $50K Players' Championship...
Day 1: The Cold Open
Day 2: Not So Easy Rider
Day 3: Scandi Mafia and Donkulus' Comet
Day 4: Band of Brothers and Here Come the Russians Reprise
Day 5: Redemption Song - The Grinder Wins Player's Championship
Yes, sorry to spoil it for you, but The Grinder wins. But watch ESPN Tuesday to find out how.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Godfather of Online Poker, Girls on the Rail, Reporters Notebook, and Andy Bloch aka Internet Freedom Superhero

By Pauly
Malibu, CA

Good morning boys and girls (and the odd alien or three). Welcome back to the Sunday Morning link dump... just a little something for you to enjoy before your Sunday brunch, or something to masticate on while grinding out the Sunday tournaments...
The amount of photoshop talent on 2+2 amazes me. Another epic thread... The Godfather of Online Poker, which stars some of your favorite photoshopped pros and personalities. A+ all around. (2+2)

The best of tits and ass (mostly ass, but some glorious tits) at the 2010 WSOP. Without further ado, the Best of the Girls on the Rail. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Snoopy's ruminations about food at the Rio gave me a hearty chuckle. Just thinking about that disgusting food gave me heartburn. (Black Belt Poker)

Andy Bloch is Superman meets Green Lantern meets Captain America. He returned to the Rio last week to defend Internet freedom. (Pokerati)

Shamus indexed all of his posts from this summer at the WSOP which he titled "A Reporters Notebook", and of course, it is a must read. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

I forgot to mention this installment of the Life of Ivey called Suited Up and Slow Rolled by Barry. (Poker Road)

If you're a music freak or if you're someone who is seeking out new music, then you should download the latest mix from BTreotch. He's one of my musician buddies who has turned me onto an eclectic mixed bag of music over the last few years. He posts four (quarterly) mixes a year and the 2010 2nd Q Mix is up for your enjoyment. (Coventry Music)

I recently published the (always late) July issue of Truckin'. I contributed two short stories. Everest was inspired by one of those hoarding reality TV shows. Free is an excerpt from a novella about a serial killer from Seattle that I started, but never finished. This month's issue features stories from Kat, Waffles, and Ernest. (Truckin')
That's it. NGTFOOMO!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 WSOP Tao of Poker Review

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Photo courtesy of Benjo

After another insane summer in Las Vegas, I'm on the cusp of heading on a much needed vacation. I'll be taking a couple more days off in order to detox, recharge, and refocus. In the meantime, use this specific post as a launching pad for reviewing the Tao of Poker's coverage of the 2010 WSOP as it progressed.

Day 1: The Cold Open - Opening lines to several great novels inspired the opening post of the 2010 WSOP, but none more fitting than Charles Dickens. The 50K Players' Championship also kicked off the WSOP, while many scribes and photographers were on alert just in case the federales were going to drag away a couple of the poker pro owners of Full Tilt Poker.

Day 2: Not So Easy Rider - The official WSOP live updates page crashed more times to count due to a crush of traffic. It turned out that a hamster and a drunk Lithuanian was to blame. Editor's Note: This particular piece got me into a little bit of hot water with the humorless powers to be.

Day 3: Scandi Mafia and Donkulus' Comet - The first potential headache of the WSOP arrived with the field in the $1,000 Donkulus event got decimated at a much faster pace than expected. Could the elusive donk get extinct at the 2010 WSOP? Meanwhile, as the 50K Players' Championship progressed, the Scandi Mafia arrived on the rail to keep a keen eye on the outcome.

Day 4: Band of Brothers and Here Comes the Russians Reprise - The Brothers Mizrachi made waves when two of them (The Grinder and Robert) advanced to the final table of the 50K Players' Championship. Also advancing to the final 8 was a mysterious wealthy Russian businessman named Vladimir Schmelev. I hopped on the phone, made contact with an old friend in Moscow, and got him to spill the vodka-infused beans about the unknown Russian.

Day 5: Redemption Song - The Grinder Wins Player's Championship - The Grinder achieved redemption, something very few poker players have a shot at. Along the way, he had to knock out his brother and survive a heads-up battle against the mysterious Russian, Vladimir Schmelev, who proved to be a worthy adversary.

Day 6: Welcome to the Sausage Factory and the Return of Triple Draw Fargis - I arrived at the Rio in the middle of a massive dealers' shift change. That got me wondering and thinking that the WSOP reminded me of a factory -- a sausage factory -- to be precise. Meanwhile, a blast from the past, Chris 'Triple Draw' Fargis, re-emerged after stepping away from the pro circuit to take a real job on a trading desk down on Wall Street.

Day 7: The Marvelous British Invasion - After a conversation with one of the British scribes, Snoopy, I was convinced that he was warning me that the Brits were going to make a waves at the WSOP and gobble up as many bracelets as they can while the Scandis were sitting out the preliminary events. Little did we know, that Snoopy was being overly conservative about the potential British dominance during the opening weeks of the WSOP.

Day 8: Darth Hellmuth - The Dark Lord returned to the WSOP. He's the villain that everyone loves to hate. Hellmuth went deep in a donkament which got everyone inside the Rio buzzing during his hot pursuit of bracelet #12.

Day 9: God Save the Queen Reprise and Seven for Men - Less than a week after his prediction that a British player will win a bracelet, Snoopy looked like the oracle when his fellow countrymen, Praz Pansi and James 'Flushy' Dempsey shipped events. Oh, and much to the dismay of Men the Master haters (or I should say, people who despise cheaters), the slow-rolling controversial figure won his 7th bracelet.

Day 10: Most Likely You Go Durrrr's Way (And I'll Go Mine) - Tom 'durrrr' Dan had the entire high stakes poker community by the collective balls when he went deep in one of the donkaments. They all had to squirm on one side of the Amazon Ballroom, sweating millions of dollars in potential lost prop bets, as durrrr took center stage and played heads-up for a bracelet. Looking back, Day 10 was one of the most exciting nights at the WSOP that I ever experienced.

Day 11: Durrrr Hangover, Hooker Quota, and Orange Tossing - The night after the durrrr saga left many at the Rio walking around in a daze. Not much to report aside from everyone experiencing a durrrr hangover. I managed to squeeze in a bit of commentary on the decline of working girl sightings at the Rio and a witty story from Flipchip about pros betting on orange tossing during the olden days of the WSOP at the Horseshoe.

Day 12: The Kassela Chainsaw Massacre - The 10K Stud World Championship included a stacked final table featuring six known pros and two Russians: Jen Harman, Steve Zolotow, John Juanda, Frank Kassela, Chainsaw Kessler, Dario Mineri, Vladimir Schmelev and Kirill Rabtsov. After several hours of brawling, it came down to a heads-up battle between Frank Kassela and Chainsaw Kessler. The event went late into the night and was not settled until 4:20am as Kassela emerged victorious. That win would thrust him into competition for the Player of the Year race.

Day 13: The Carter Phillips Show - Going into the final table of NL six-handed, everyone assumed that Carter Phillips was going to win the bracelet at one of the youngest final tables ever assembled at the WSOP. It was essentially a race for second place as Carter joined an elite group of players who won an EPT event and a WSOP bracelet.

Day 14: No Soup for Yellowsub - I had fun writing this post which included a brief history lesson about the origins of the Beatles album Yellow Submarine. Meanwhile, Jeff 'yellowsub86' Williams made a deep run in the 5K NL event but got sunk in third-place, despite the echos of his friends chanting the chorus to Yellow Submarine.

Day 15: Dude Looks Like a Lady and Get Baked - Every year, the Ladies Only tournament stirs up controversy. How come most people are silent 364 days a ear (and 365 on leap years), and then only bring up the issue on the eve of the event? At any rate, even though at the root, I'm against Ladies events, I sounded off on the reasons why I would never play in a Ladies Only event (simply put -- out of respect). As long as it's on the schedule, let them play I say.

Day 16: God Save the Queen... Thrice - The third Brit, Richard Ashby, collected a bracelet in a two week period and by that point, the mainstream poker press caught onto the British Invasion, even though thanks to Snoopy, we were chatting about this story before it even happened. Oh, and all of this happened on the same day that the US tied the English's squad in World Cup play.

Day 17: Durrrr's Grandma, Dutch Boyd 2.0, and the French Win...a Ladies' Bracelet - A little fun with captions after I saw a hysterical photo of an old woman sitting at the same table as Tom 'durrrr' Dwan. Oh, and just in case you missed it... new bracelet were awarded to the (still) controversial Dutch Boyd and a French woman who won the Ladies Event.

Day 18: Sammy Farha Wins a Bracelet, Flushy Leading the POY Race, and Orphaned Notes - The ever cool Sammy Farha took down a bracelet, meanwhile one of the British bracelet winners jumped out into the POY lead. I also shared a bunch of orphaned lines from my notebook. I figured that even though they didn't fit in anywhere specific, they were too good to flush down the toilet.

Day 19: Shorthanded Eels, the Russian Surge, and the Year of the Yang - I hoped that I bet on the right side of the fix as the NBA finals were coming down to the wire, and everyone's favorite degen sports bettor, Phil Ivey, took center stage as more media were interested in what he was betting on, than the cards he was playing. Alas, I embedded myself on the rail and noticed some unusual things such as the run that former world champion Jerry Yang was making.

Day 20: Femme Fatales, Hallway Punches, and the Bubbling Eel - Another dull day inside the ropes, but lots of action outside the ropes. I caught a pro bringing a hooker back to his room and someone sucker punched David Levi in the hallway. Meanwhile, a friend from Madrid, Spanish pro Javier 'anguila' Etayo, had bubbled off the final table of a 6-handed event.

Day 21: Pappa Johnny Road - The official end of the third week mark of the WSOP was not without any side drama not to mention -- drunken girls roaming around the Amazon Ballroom and the Rio's hallways. I also breakdown the game plan that different pros have when deciding what events to play in the WSOP.

Days 22-24: OFF

Day 25: Phil Ivey Beats Supercomputer for Bracelet Ocho - Phil Ivey is the real fucking deal after he beat a supercoputer heads-up for his 8th bracelet. Ivey also collected an unknown sum (worth millions I'm told) in prop bets. One thing is for sure, humans prevailed over the machines in this battle as Ivey proved that he is truly superhuman.

Day 26: Dispatches from the Razz Event - Swollen Testicles, Ivey's Hoodie, and Vigorous Confusion - Razz is never fun to watch, but one good story to come out of this event was the Phil Ivey hoodie story involving Mickey Doft.

Day 27: Kassela Wins Dos, Sinking Norwegian Queen, and Ivey's Bracelet Ceremony - Frank Kassela distanced himself from the rest of the pack when he won his second bracelet inside of a month. And the pavilion was a buzz during Ivey's bracelet ceremony, meanwhile, Annette Obrestad came up short in an attempt make a final table American WSOP debut.

Day 28: About My Very Tortured Friend, Phil Hellmuth - I couldn't believe that I was going to write about Phil Hellmuth again, but I did trying to fully understand what it's like to be the tortured soul.

Day 29: Redemption Songs, Part II: Gavin Smith and Dean Hamrick - Bracelets were won by two people seeking redemption. Las Vegas is a city where a lot of people are looking to exorcise past demons, but very few people get an actual shot at doing so.

Day 30: The Sun Wields Mercy; Gavin Smith Wins First Bracelet
- Breakthrough day for Gavin Smith as he won his first bracelet.

Day 31: TOC Hoopla, Flashmob of Brazilians, and Erik Seidel Goes for Number Nine.... Number Nine... Number Nine... - It was TOC day at the Rio, and I sound off on all of the controversy surrounding the event from the voting to players trying to big-time the event thereby changing the schedule of the event. I also gave my suggestions for three different versions of the TOC.

Day 32: Le Boucherie, Ripple In Still Water, and TOC Day 2
- The donkanments have turned into something that would resemble a butcher shop, meanwhile, the TOC seems like it's more of nuisance than a celebration as the middle of the fifth week of the WSOP becomes a dead zone.

Day 33: You Are What You Eat and Watch What You Tweet - Food and social media are among the topics of discussion. Ah, I also three everyone a bone and included an installment of Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...

Day 34-38: OFF

Day 39 - Main Event Day 1A: The Seekers - The Main Event is off and running and I pay homage to the courageous souls who said, "I don't give a fuck!" and plopped down $10,000 in pursuit of a dream.

Day 40 - Main Event Day 1B: Great Expectations - Annette Obrestad's first WSOP Main Event and all of the hoopla surrounding the 21-year old Norwegian wunderkind's first appearance on US soil is the subject of my musings. I also wondered if she could ever live up to the hype and hysteria that we created for her in the media? It also made me question how much of an impact that we the media have in potentially setting up certain pros to fail?

Day 41 - Main Event Day 1C: The Odium of Hellmuthstein - Ah, the spectacle of the Phil Hellmuth Entrance. If you hate him you can skip this one. If you really hate him, you'll end up reading it twice.

Day 42 - Main Event Day 1D: The Unluckiest Champion in the World - Robert Varkonyi took his seat in the Main Event, but without the pomp and circumstance of other former champions. I examine the story of the unluckiest champion in the world.

Day 43 - Day 2A: Moneymaker - The Shadow of a Dream - I love comparing Chris Moneymaker to Jay Gatsby. While Robert Varkonyi chases Moneymaker's shadow, Moneymaker has to constantly chase his own shadow. Will he ever win a second bracelet or does it not even matter because after all, he's Chris Moneymaker?

Day 44 - Day 2B: The Last of the Mohicans - I was wicked hungover after getting hustled in bowling the night before. I phoned it in for this piece. Don't even bother reading it. My apologies.

Day 45: OFF - Media Day

Day 46 - Main Event Day 3: Johnny Fucking Chan, the Butcher Shop, and Here Come the Scandis - Johnny Fucking Chan made a run and I got to proudly write "fucking" instead of bleeping out his infamous nickname. The field continued to thin itself out on Day 3 while a couple of Scandi sleeper cells were activated and sprung into action.

Day 47 - Main Event Day 4: I Want to Take You Higher - Inspired by a Sly and the Family Stone song, I riff about the ghosts wandering around the Amazon Ballroom, brutal casualties of the killing fields.

Day 48 - Main Event Day 5: Fookin' Bonkers, Scandi Ambush, and Disco Inferno - Tony Dunst began the day as the leader while most of the Amazon Ballroom began to empty out as the field was thinned to just 204. The Scandis continued their assault while a Dutch pro named Fokke Buekers became everyone's darling. Meanwhile, California's Breeze Zuckerman became the Last Woman Standing in the Main Event.

Day 49 - Main Event Day 6: Never Mind the Mizrachis, Here Come the Scandis - The Scandi sleeper cell was in full effect as everyone remaining in the Main Event was jockeying for a spot during the homestretch of the November Nine. Meanwhile, all four Mizrachi brothers cashed in the Main Event, but Robert and the Grinder could not replicate their 50K Players' Championship feat with both of them advancing to the final table.

Day 50 - Main Event Day 7: Shine A Light - With 27 players remaining, the next superstar was sitting in front of me. I reflect on previous Main Events specifically on the first hand that I can recall watching from the rail that each former champion played leading up to the final table.

Day 51 - Main Event Day 8: Meet the November Nine
- The Grinder advanced to the final table after a marathon November Nine bubble.

* * * * *

FYI... 2010 Main Event Semi-Live Blog Links: Day 1A - Day 1B - Day 1C - Day 1D - Day 2A - Day 2B - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7 - Day 8

That's it for now. Thanks for following along this summer. See ya in November.

Also, if you liked what you read, then I encourage you to purchase a copy of my book, Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Final Episode (of the Summer) - Tao of Pokerati

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

We survived another summer in Las Vegas covering the WSOP. Along the way, we recorded 78 episodes which chronicled our journey starting from the day before the WSOP kicked off in late May and all the way through the Main Event mayhem and this final episode.

Episode 78: The WSOP Summer Session Final Episode with Benjo, Dan, and Pauly - The entire crew assembled at the unofficial media wrap party hosted at the bowling alley in the Gold Coast. We all say our farewells after an arduous seven-week journey during our 78th and final episode to end this chapter of the Tao of Pokerati.

Don't forget you can listen to other 2010 WSOP episodes by visiting the Tao of Pokerati archives.
It's really been an amazing summer as we cranked out an astonishing 78 episodes. We actually recorded a bunch more that missed the cut for whatever reasons (usually technical issues). The Tao of Pokerati is my favorite piece of collaboration that I've had the pleasure of doing the last three summers. I can't wait for the November Nine -- if only to record more episodes.

With that said, thanks to Dan Michalski, Benjo, and all of our other guests who made cameos this summer. Lastly, thanks to you the listener for your support.

We'll be back on the air in November.

Monday, July 19, 2010

2010 WSOP Main Event Index

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Yes, the November Nine is officially set. It's been a long and wild ride this summer. I didn't do 51 straight days, but I managed 42 days that I sat in the pressbox at the Rio to cover the WSOP, and only sat out nine days (compared to a leisurely 20 last summer) -- primarily so I could see my favorite band play six concerts in upstate New York and in three Southern cities.

I will eventually post a complete list of links to everything I've written this summer. In the meantime, I encourage you to step into my time machine and peer through the progress of the Main Event since it began two weeks ago by checking out both the daily semi-live blog and end of day recaps.
2010 Main Event Semi-Live Blog:
Day 1A - Day 1B - Day 1C - Day 1D
Day 2A - Day 2B
Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 - Day 7 - Day 8

2010 WSOP Main Event Recaps:
Day 1A: The Seekers
Day 1B: Great Expectations
Day 1C: The Odium of Hellmuthstein
Day 1D: The Unluckiest Champion in the World
Day 2A: Moneymaker - The Shadow of a Dream
Day 2B: Last of the Mohicans
Day 3: Johnny Fucking Chan, the Butcher Shop, and Here Come the Scandis
Day 4: I Want to Take You Higher
Day 5: Fookin' Bonkers, Scandi Ambush, and Disco Inferno
Day 6: Never Mind the Mizrachis, Here Come the Scandis
Day 7: Shine a Light
Meet the November Nine

And check out the Tao of Pokerati archives. We recorded 77 episodes of your favorite and fastest poker podcast on the intertubes.

Don't forget that you can purchase a copy of Lost Vegas book by clicking here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Meet the November Nine - 2010 WSOP

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The moment that you have all been waiting for...

Photo courtesy of Benjo
The November Nine:
Seat 1: Jason Senti - 7,625,000
Seat 2: Joseph 'subiime' Cheong - 23,525,000
Seat 3: John Dolan - 46,250,000
Seat 4: Jonathan Duhamel - 65,975,000
Seat 5: Michael 'The Grinder' Mizrachi
Seat 6: Matthew Jarvis - 16,700,000
Seat 7: John Racener - 23,525,000
Seat 8: Filippo Candio - 16,400,000
Seat 9: Soi Nguyen - 9,650,000

Final Table Chip Counts:
Jonathan Duhamel - 65,975,000
John Dolan - 46,250,000
Joe Cheong - 23,525,000
John Racener - 19,050,000
Matthew Jarvis - 16,700,000
Filippo Candio - 16,400,000
'The Grinder'- 14,450,000
Soi Nguyen - 9,650,000
Jason Senti - 7,625,000

Quick Numbers
2010 Main Event Entrants: 7,319
Payouts: 747
First Place: $8,944,138
Prizepool: $68,798,600

November Nine/Final Table Payouts:
1st - $8,944,138
2nd - $5,545,855
3rd - $4,129,979
4th - $3,092,497
5th - $2,332,960
6th - $1,772,939
7th - $1,356,708
8th - $1,045,738
9th - $811,823

Here's a complete list of 2010 WSOP Main Event money winners.
See you in November.

FYI... The November Nine will be held at the Rio on Saturday, November 6th and the heads-up battle will conclude on Monday, November 8th.

ESPN will air the WSOP Main Event final table on Tuesday, November 9th at 8pm ET pr 5pm PT. Check local listings.

Lesbian Kisses Reprise and Main Event Day 8 - New Tao of Pokerati Episodes

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

We recorded a bunch of episodes on Day 8 as the field went from 27 to the November Nine, including a few late night as the final table bubble seemed to last forever...
Episode 72: Logo Wars with Benjo - With three tables remaining in the Main Event, Benjo and Pauly discuss the battle for product placement on the heads of the final 27 players, which has been dominated by either Full Tilt or Poker Stars. They discuss the future of logos and longed for the throwback days of logoless final table players (e.g. Sammy Farha in 2003).

Episode 73: Eurodonk Chipleader with Benjo - Benjo and Pauly discuss the "hand" that propelled Italian player Filipo Candio into the chiplead. Benjo insists that every Main Event final table needs a "donk" in order to keep harmony in the universe.

Episode 74: Lesbian Kisses Reprise with Benjo - Back by popular demand! We recorded a special episode reprising your favorite episode from this year's WSOP podcasts, where Benjo and I watch lesbian kissing videos on YouTube and provide commentary.

Episode 75: Here Comes the Sun - Dan and Pauly hang out in one of the back hallways and reminisce about the trials and tribulations of year's WSOP and being able to survive WSOPs of previous years. They also riff on the agony of defeat and being able to capture the tournament as it happens.

Episode 76: On and On and On and On with Benjo - Some four hours into the Final Table of 10, people are getting antsy about getting to the November Nine. Alcohol is wearing off and drugs are kicking in … causing some people to sleep on chairs and others to run randomly across the Amazon. (Everyone’s got the munchies, but the cupboard is bare!) Tony the security guard gets nervous about his staff having to go home at 7am, and the players … it's call-bet-fold, maybe bet-raise-fold.

Episode 77: The 5:41am Finale - After an exhausting evening, Dan and Pauly capture the 10th place elimination in the Main Event as Brandon Steven bubbles off the final table. The November Nine is finally set and you get to hear the celebration going on the background as everyone rushed the stage.
For more episodes visit the Tao of Pokerati Podcast Archives.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

2010 WSOP Main Event Day 8 - Semi-Live Blog

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

This is it. The final day of the summer session of the WSOP before we adjourn only to return again in November. We have 27 players remaining and we won't stop until the November Nine is set. Come along for the ride with me on the final day of semi-live coverage. Remember, please do not feed the animals and keep all hands, arms, and legs inside at all times.

* * * * *
Quick Numbers
2010 Main Event Entrants: 7,319
Players Remaining: 27
Payouts: 747
First Place: $8,944,138
Prizepool: $68,798,600
Chipleader: Joseph 'subiime' Cheong - 24,490,000

Day 7 Money Jumps:
10th-12th - $635,011
13th-15th - $500,165
16th-18th - $396,967
19th-27th - $317,161

Top 10 Chipcounts:
1. Joseph 'subiime' Cheong - 24,490,000
2. Cuong Nguyen - 23,100,000
3. Pascal LeFrancois - 15,780,000
4. Jason Senti - 13,550,000
5. Matthew Jarvis - 13,300,000
6. Matt Affleck - 12,515,000
7. Jonathan Duhamel - 10,520,000
8. John Racener - 10,470,000
9. Filippo Candio - 10,020,000
10. Benjamin Statz - 9,885,000

Click here for a list of 2010 Main Event money winners and payouts.
Stay tuned for semi-live updates.

* * * * *

Cards in the Air; Day 8 Begins

It was a special day at the WSOP -- high end pimpage of some MMA stuff with a bulky and mean-looking Kevin "The Monster" Randleman handling "Shuffle Up and Deal" honors. Hey, I'm not one to mess with a guy who can break my tibia by just looking at it, but an MMA fighter? Come on. I wanted a legend like Doyle or a former champ. Or that honor should have gone to someone like Ty Stewart or even Jack Effel himself -- they've done a kick ass job over the last 50+ days (and longer) running the 2010 WSOP. I give them a lot of guff on Tao along with the occasional cheap shot and back-handed compliment, but deep down I have a tremendous amount of respect for what they do -- the WSOP is a daunting undertaking and sometimes that effort goes unnoticed. So three cheers to those guys. Oh, and Seth, Nolan, Dave, and Alan too. I have to give them shoutouts along with Tony aka head of security aka head of the GOON SQUAD, or they'll have me hauled off to county lock up for possession.
* * * * *

Cramped Quarters

The crew set up a third table near the featured table area. if you have never been to the Rio's Amazon Ballroom let me set the scene for you. There's a massive structure in the corner of the ballroom that houses both the featured TV table that is surrounded by stadium style seating on three sides. Attached to the back of that is the beef jerky lounge which overlooks both the TV table and the secondary featured table. I'm sitting in a press area in the beef jerky lounge. Last year, this was the Milwaukee's Beast bar. Now it's a haven for fried meat products.

My view

The third table (and first to be broken) is set up behind the entire structure off to the side. That's technically behind me as I hover over the secondary table. I'm squeezed into a tiny area in between Merchdawg from Part Time Poker and one of the Dutchies aka Web Joker from Poker News. I miss the Frenchies whom I were embedded with for most of the WSOP. Since they have zero players left aside from a few French-Canucks, they are absent from the mini-press box. Seriously we're so packed in here that I can stretch out my arm and smack Jess Welman and Vin from Casino City Times in the head. Flipchip is nearby and that's comforting. My father figure in poker, and one of the people responsible for getting me into the poker media, is within earshot so we're gonna be finishing up this run together. Fitting, because this might be the last time we both do this for the long haul.

I took three twit pics of the final three tables whiele players were unbagging their chips. Check out the featured table, the secondary table, and the tertiary table.

And here's one of Benjo's pics of the featured TV table...

* * * * *

Scandi Down; Johnny Lodden Eliminated in 27th Place ($317,161)

Short-stacked Norwegian PokerStars pro, Johnny Lodden, made a stand with pocket 8s. He was all in against Matt Affleck who called with A-10. Lodden faded any overs on the flop, but a ten on the turn sunk his ship. he couldn't suck out on the river and Lodden was toast. He became the first player to bust out on Day 8.

One Scandi down. Two still left. Sweden's William Thorson is really their only hope.
* * * * *

Matthew Bucaric eliminated in 26th Place ($317,161)

It was a frenzy to keep up with action to the right of me, action to the left of me. There was an all-in at the secondary table with Scott Clements 10-10 calling John Dolan's Kh-Qh. Dolan flopped a Broadway straight and doubled through Clements.

On the TV table, Matthew Bucaric was all in with a pair of nines on an 8-high flop with two hearts. Filippo Candio, the wacky Italian, had a flush draw and got there on the turn. it held up and he busted Bucaric in 26th place.
* * * *

Scandi Down; Mads Wissing Eliminated in 25th Place ($317,161)

Scandi on Scandi violence. All in on the flop. Mads Wissing from Denmark had top pair. William Thorson held bottom pair. Thorson turned two pair and it held up. Wissing busted out in 25th. Alas, he next to last Scandi is out. Only William Thorson is here to carry out the directives of the Scandi Sleeper Cell.

Down to 24. Joe Cheong is still the chipleader with around 24 million. Exact numbers are not available because no one is allowed on the stages when filming is in progress.
* * * *

Sponsorship Update by Benjo; Introducing!

Thanks to Benjo for the research... "Here's the final tally among last 27 : 13 Full Tilt, 12 Poker Stars, 2 UB, and 0 BrokeDickPoker."

Yes, stay tuned to my new website that I'm launching shortly called it's a joint venture with Benjo that were going to use to launder money for the French mafia from Marseilles. We're hoping that we can secure the live updates contract with the WSOP. Our goal is to hire flying monkeys with iPhones to do chipcounts with a dedicated monkey following around Negreanu -- wherever he goes. We'll even broadcast a live feed of the Negreanu/Monkey Cam... for a cost of just $4.20/day.

I'm super excited about our new venture, which will also include player management of everyone's favorite broke dick player. Simply put, if you're a broke dick, then we can help find you backing and sponsorship. That's what we do at

We're about to launch our coup to take over the poker media. Soon come.
* * * * *

Ronnie Bardah Eliminated in 24th place ($317,161)

All in pre-flop at the TV table. Ronnie Bardah was all in with Ah-Kh against Filipo Candio's As-Ad. The Italian assassin knocked out another player and climbs up the food chain. Meanwhile, Ronnie Bardah is the last Ronnie standing at the Main Event. Does he get a trophy for Wicked Chops Poker for that?

Down to 23
* * * * *

Today's Semi-Live Blog Sponsored by Lost Vegas

Tao of Poker's WSOP updates is a free service done out of a sheer love for the game. What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment. I won't ask you for a cent for reading the Tao. However, if you like what you have seen here, then help a brother out and purchase my book Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

Please support an independent writer and buy 2 or 3. Lulu is the third-party site that is selling Lost Vegas and they offer up FREE shipping options (for US residents). For more info, check out the Lost Vegas FAQs.

Click here to purchase!

* * * * *

Habib Doubles Through ODB

Flipping for the November Nine. Habib took Big Slick to a fight to the death against Original David Baker's pocket nines. An ace on the flop was good enough to keep Habib alive. The short-stack ninja doubled up to avoid an elimination.
* * * * *

Robert Pisano Crippled On Last Hand Before Break

I was leaving the pressbox to take a leak on the break, but one hand was still in progress. I caught the hand on the flop of 7c-3s-2d. Jonathan Duhamel check-called a 1.6 million bet from Robert Pisano. The Ac fell on the turn. Duhamel fired out almost 2 million. Pisano shoved and Duhamel insta-called. he had 5s-4s for the Wheel. Pisano showed A-K and was fucked.
* * * * *

Updated Chip Counts

Subiime is still the leader with 25M.
Top 5 Chippies:
1. Joseph 'subiime' Cheong - 25,130,000
2. Jonathan Duhamel - 21,600,000
3. 'Soi' Nguyen - 18,800,000
4. Pascal LeFrancois - 16,800,000
5. Jason Senti - 16,655,000

Matt Affleck - 14,225,000
Michael Mizrachi - 7,380,000
Scott Clements - 6,625,000
William Thorson - 5,155,000
Adam Levy - 4,720,000
Hasan Habib - 4,295,000
David Baker - 3,545,000

Robert Pisano - 320K
* * * * *

Robert Pisano Eliminated in 23rd place ($317,161)

In the first hand after the break, Pisano was short and shoved for his last 300K or so. He couldn't double up and hit the rail. Down to 22.
* * * * * *

William Thorson Eliminated in 22nd place ($317,161)

The Nordic jihad is over when William Thorson busted in 22nd place. He had gotten it all in with Jd-10d against John Racener's pocket kings. Thorson flopped a flush draw but could not catch up to Racener. Thorson headed to the rail amid warm applause. The last Scandi is nevermore. This will be a Scandi free November Nine.
* * * * * *

New Tao of Pokerati - Logo Wars

Benjo and I chatted on the first break and recorded a quickie episode. The topic? Online poker room sponsorships.

Episode 72: Logo Wars with Benjo - With three tables remaining in the Main Event, Benjo and Pauly discuss the battle for product placement on the heads of the final 27 players, which has been dominated by either Full Tilt or Poker Stars. They discuss the future of logos and longed for the throwback days of logoless final table players (e.g. Sammy Farha in 2003).
For more episodes visit the Tao of Pokerati Podcast Archives.
* * * * *

Battle of the Matts, Round 1: Jarvis 1, Affleck 0

Crazy hand between Matt Affleck and Matt Jarvis. I caught it on the flop of Qc-9h-4h. Affleck bet 1.6M and Jarvis called. The turn was the Jc. Affleck bet 2.7M. Jarvis bumped it up to over 6M. Affleck called. The 2c spiked on the river. Affleck checked. Jarvis shoved for under 5M and Affleck folded. Wow, Jarvis dragged a monsterpotten worth over 18M or so. He increased his stack to over 23M, while Affleck slipped to 4M or so. Jarvis is now second in chips behind subiime.
* * * * *

Battle of the Matts, Round 2: Jarvis 1, Affleck 1

Matt Affleck got a little revenge when he doubled up with Aces against Jarvis' A-K. He's now back around 10M or so. Jarvis is hovering under 20M or so. Hard to tell. But he slipped out of the Top 5.
* * * * *


Nothing worse is getting the Vegas Crud, which is a virus that includes nasty flu-like symptoms. At some point, if you're at the WSOP for the duration, you come across the virus. If you're healthy enough to repel it -- that's awesome. But as soon as you catch it -- it's hard to shake and you're battling with it for the remainder of the WSOP. Once someone in the press box gets it -- everyone will eventually become infected.

Poker players are not the healthiest breed. Many of them do what they can to remain a healthy lifestyle and get a lot of rest, but when you don't sleep that much, your immune system gets run down. That's the thing about Vegas -- it's a city that frowns upon sleep and does everything possible to prevent you from sleeping. Alas, it's usually when I've been up for a few days when the germs invade while my defenses are at its weakest.

An then there's the vacillating temperatures inside the Rio. Some places are hot as fuck while other spots are a freezer. I know people who caught colds and how about those Snuggie guys from Day 1? They were awesome but freezing their asses off.

This year, I've managed to avoid the crud. I guess that all of the generic vicodin has made me impervious to the crud, but I haven't been without exposure. My girlfriend was stricken the last week or so and I've been praying that I could fight it off. And then I had not one but two players turn around and sneeze into me while I made the rounds during the opening days of the Main Event. Now, we have the rail right up against the pressbox. I've been getting rained on my germs from people who don't cover their mouths when they sneeze. If it's not the drunks, you got the ill ingrates.
* * * * * *

Redmond Lee Eliminated in 21st place ($317,161)

The British Invasion has officially been thwarted. The last standing Brit, Redmond Lee, hit the rail when his pocket fours could not beat the Dutchie's pocket tens. Michiel Sijpkens won the pot and he's looking strong.
* * * * *

Double Dips

Adam Levy doubled up with set of fours at the tertiary table. And in front of me, Michiel Sijpkens just lost a pot when Brandon Stevens doubled through him (flopped a straight with old 6-4 sooted) to avoid an elimination.
* * * * *

More Double Dips; Eurodonk Snaps Off Aces & Dolan Doubles Through Dutchie

All in on two tables. Tough to cover, but both short stacks doubled up.

On the secondary table. John Dolan open-shoved with Queens. He got called by Michiel Sijpkens's A-10. The Queens held up and Dolan doubled up.

Filipo doubled up on the TV table when he caught a little luck to crack the chipleader, Joe 'subiime' Cheong's A-A. They got it all in on a flop of 6-6-5, but the crazy Italian caught a runner-runner straight with 7s-5s to sink subiime's Aces. He lost the lead and the Italian now has a big stack and should be the chipleader. They are still counting chips. At this point, that was one of the most atrocious hands I've seen played at the Main Event -- enough to give Filipo a new nickname Filipo Candonko.

Update: Candonko has 27 million and is our new chipleader. Subiime slipped to under 10M.

New chipleader
* * * * *

Patrick Eskandar Eliminated in 20th place ($317,161)

I missed the hand (I was writing up both double ups in the above paragraph), but Eskandar just hit the road in 20th place. He was short before the hand began with around 1M in chip. Down to 19. We will consolidate to two tables (and have a pay jump) with the next elimination.
* * * * *

Racener Doubles Through Dutchie

The Dutch have always been merchant bankers and money lenders going back centuries. but right now, Michiel Sijpkens is practically giving his money away. He shipped some chips over to John Racener. He lost a biggie to Racener's trip sixes. Sijpkens is now one of the short stacks, while Racener raced past 20M in chips -- good enough for the Top 3 at the present monment, trailing the Filipo Candonko, and French-Canuck Jonathan Duhamel.
* * * * *

Break Time Chippies
Top 5:
Filippo Candonko - 26.075M
John Racener - 23.53M
Pascal LeFrancois - 22.3M
Matthew Jarvis - 19.7M
Jonathan Duhamel - 19M
* * * * *

Explanations on the Break

I ran into Candio on the break when a fan asked him to take a picture. "You're getting a pic with the new chipleader," I told the fan.

"Lucky chipleader," replied Candio.

According to David Baker, he had acquired his stack after beating Candio in a hand, which supposedly tilted the Italian -- and spilled over into the hand with subiime. At least, that's how the Italian explained his reasoning. He wasn't playing optimal at the time of the A-A vs. 7-5 hand. But he did say that he played with subiime on Day 6 or 7 and had a read on him -- he just didn't think he had an over pair when he called and put him on a much weaker range.
* * * *

Double Dutch

Michiel Sijpkens's 4-4 won a race against John Racener's A-Q. The doorcard was a 4 and Sijpkens' set held up. He improved to around 7.5 million.

And then... a few hands later, Sijpkens shipped most of his stack to John Dolan. Dolan flopped a boat with A-A on a A-2-2 board. He let Sijpkens catch up and he rivered a Broadway straight.
* * * * *

Michiel Sijpkens Eliminated in 18th place ($396,967)

It wasn't pretty, but the Duthie open-shoved with J-J and he was called by JohN Racener's K-Q. A queen on the flop sealed the fate of Michiel Sijpkens. He hit the road in 19th place. With his elimination, the final two tables are redrawing for seats.

Down to 18.
* * * * *


Well, it was a fucking clusterfuck to say the least when the final two tables were set. Spectators ran into the featured TV area and up on the stage while players were trying to rack up to their chips and move to a new seat assignment. Staff did what they could to keep the surge of spectators from trashing the stage and expensive video equipment. Heck, even in the pressbox someone tried to steal a chair! Security sprinted into action and kicked as many people out as possible in order to allow family of the final 18 players to get seats. At the secondary table, a couple of drunken French-Canucks were causing issues with Charlie the floor guy. He almost 86'd them!

Anyway, here's the new table draw...
Seat 1: Adam Levy
Seat 2: Jon Duhamel
Seat 3: Matt Affleck
Seat 4: Jon Dolan
Seat 5: Duy Le
Seat 6: Pascal Le Francois
Seat 7: ODB David Baker
Seat 8: Joe 'subiime' Cheong
Seat 9: Filipo Candio

TV table:
Seat 1: Soi Nguyen
Seat 2: The Grinder
Seat 3: Hasan Habib
Seat 4: Scott Clements
Seat 5: John Racener
Seat 6: Matt Jarvis
Seat 7: Jason Senti
Seat 8: Brandon Steven
Seat 9: Ben Statz

Pascal LeFrancois - 27,500,000
Jonathan Duhamel - 22,400,000
John Racener - 21,700,000
Matthew Jarvis - 21,000,000
Filippo Candio - 18,000,000
Matt Affleck - 16,500,000
Jason Senti - 14,500,000
Soi Nguyen - 12,150,000
Joseph 'subiime' Cheong - 11,600,000
Duy Le - 11,100,000
John Dolan - 9,200,000
Brandon Steven - 7,465,000
Adam Levy - 7,000,000
Michael Mizrachi - 6,295,000
Scott Clements - 4,685,000
David Baker - 4,600,000
Benjamin Statz - 4,525,000
Hasan Habib - 2,300,000
Stay tuned... nine more to go til the November Nine.
* * * * *

Scott Clements Eliminated in 18th Place ($396,967)

AIPF. Clements' A-Q could not chase down Jarvis' A-K. The former bracelet winner could not muster up enough of a run to advance to the final table. Down to 17.
* * * * *

Fame Whores

Some of the folks in the press box are making fun of Trishelle from the Real World who is standing on the rail sweating the secondary table. She's also posing for photos and readjusting those huge tracks of land she's hiding in her dress. I mean, wow. Them some tig ol bitties.

Los hombres from Wicked Chops Poker sent their photog here to snap photos of her cleavage. You could park a Mini Cooper in there.
* * * * *

Thirsty FBT

Greg FBT Mueller is sweating ODB along with Jess Martin and Roy Henson. FBT was thirsty and kept pleading with the staff to send over a cocktail server. He practically tackled an old Asian guy with a tray of water and RedBull. Charlie the floor guy must have 86d the drunken Queebs who were causing trouble at the onset of the seating of the final two tables. They are not here and FBT and Martin are in those seats.
* * * * *

ODB David Baker Eliminated in 17th Place ($396,967)

David Baker just hit the rail when his whiffed on a flush draw. He held Js-7s and had check-raised all in on a flop of Qs-4c-2s. Duhamel held K-K and faded the flush draw. No spades fell on the turn or river, and Baker busted on 17th place.

Down to 16. Don't forget, I have been posting a list of Main Event money winners.
* * * * *

New Tao of Pokerati Episode: Eurodonk Chipleader

With all the commotion of the final two tables mayhem and the near riot (along with minor tech tilt with down wifi), I forgot to post this episode that I recorded with Benjo on the dinner break...
Episode 73: Eurodonk Chipleader with Benjo - Benjo and Pauly discuss the "hand" that propelled Italian player Filipo Candio into the chiplead. Benjo insists that every Main Event final table needs a "donk" in order to keep harmony in the universe.
For more episodes visit the Tao of Pokerati Podcast Archives.
* * * * *

Ben Statz Eliminated in 16th place ($396,967)

Ben got it all in with Ah-5h against Matt Jarvis' Kd-Qh. Jarvis must have been donating portions of his bankroll to the poor or some other worthy charitable organization, but he caught a heavenly flop of K-K-Q. His boat held and Statz was eliminated in 16th place. FYI, Statz is dating the younger sister of Annie Duke and Howard Lederer.

Down to 15.
* * * *

Dinner Break

15 players will return in 90 minutes for dinner break. See you at 8:35pm local time. We're playing down to the final nine.

In the meantime, if you are bored, check out my 20 favorite episodes of Tao of Pokerati podcast that we recorded this summer.
* * * * *


15 players remaining. Post-dinner chip counts courtesy of the flying monkeys with iPhones...
Matthew Jarvis - 32,000,000
Jonathan Duhamel - 30,940,000
John Racener - 21,000,000
Filippo Candio - 19,750,000
Matt Affleck - 17,130,000
John Dolan - 17,075,000
Joseph Cheong - 16,745,000
Soi Nguyen - 15,620,000
Pascal LeFrancois - 14,415,000
Jason Senti - 13,300,000
Brandon Steven - 5,300,000
Adam Levy - 4,695,000
Grinder - 3,210,000
Hasan Habib - 1,545,000
* * * * *

Tighter Security

OK everything got out of hand for a bit and settled down. The security situation is stepped up and hopefully the TV table won't be a zoo with everyone running up on stage. TD Jack Effel had to remind everyone to not step on the stage because it will fuck up the crew's equipment. He was the good cop. Behind the scenes, the security crew were briefed to take a tough guy and no tolerance stance. Hopefully they will bounce people who get out of line instead of just giving them empty warnings.

At present moment, none of the spectators have been allowed inside unless they are guests/family of the final 15 players. Some of them were given wrist bands to get them in first so they can get in the proper viewing They will let everyone else in a few minutes.


and then there was an almost stampede. Tony opened the side doors and people ran into the Amazon Ballroom. Ty Stewart tried to ask them to slow down, but they blew right by him.

Welcome back to the freak show.
* * * * *

Shorty on Shorty Violence; Grinder Crippled

The Grinder and Hasan Habib went to battle. For Habib, it was to the death. His K-K held up against Grinder's A-8. The Grinder was crippled, while Habib avoided elimination and doubled up.
* * * * *

Matt Affleck Eliminated in 15th Place on Testicle Numbing Beat

Secondary table. I caught the hand on the turn. The board read 10d-9c-7h-Qd. Pot size was 10M. Matt Affleck was all-in 11.6M and it took a few minutes for the dealer and floor guy to count down his stack. French-Canadian Jonathan Duhamel tanked for several minutes. The mood was tense even though on the other side of the stands, the Grinder was all-in at the TV table and his vocal supporters were going ape shit. The Grinder won his hand and everyone cheered as the bleachers shook, but Duhamel still sat in silence and tanked. He eventually said, "Call."

Affleck, sporting his Seattle Mariners baseball jersey, turned over A-A and jumped out of his chair. Duhamel sheepishly tabled J-J and was behind -- but with some outs for a set of Jacks or a n OESD. The TV crew got into position to film the reactions of the players as the dealer paused the action. The producer gave the nod. The dealer burned a card and slipped it in the muck. She peel off the river card and the 8d spiked. The two or three French-Canadians in the crowd rejoiced while everyone else let out a collective groan that caused a 3.2 earthquake. A stunned Affleck stared at the board in disbelief. He was brutally beaten by a straight. His face flushed bright read, and I could see an emotional breakdown coming. He tried to hide back tears and bit his lip, with at least two TV cameras in a close up on his face and almost a hundred fans standing on the rail and above in the beef jerky lounge. He did what he could but his quivering lip gave and he pulled his PokerStars hat off his head and sobbed into it so the cameras wouldn't catch the most demoralizing beat of his poker career. Heck, even up in the pressbox, I could feel the testicle numbing beat.

Duhamel seemed embarrassed to pull in Affleck's chips. The shocked and stunned crowd attempted to give Affleck a fitting send off, but they were still too shellshocked to applaud with any sort of vigor.

Affleck left the secondary table with a 15th place pay day. The money means nothing. He'll carry this beat with him to his deathbed.

By the way, Dihamel has 51 million in chips. He's the leader. By a shitload.

14 to go.

(Thanks to Merchdawg from PokerJunkie for the photo.)
* * * * *

Hasan Habib Eliminated in 14th Place ($500,165)

All in preflop. John Racener was looking groovy with A-K against short-stack ninja Hasan Habib's A-9. The way Habib was running, you knew he was going to survive the elimination. As scripted, he flopped a nine to take the lead. However, the board ran out 10-9-3-10-A. He got counterfeited on the river and Racener won the pot with two-pair, Aces and tens, but with a better kicker than Habibb. He went out in 14th place.

Down to 13. Go here for a full list of Main Event money winners.
* * * * *

Duy Le Eliminated in 13th place ($500,165); Hot Asian Tail Departs the Rail; A Nation Weeps

John Dolan is on everyone's shit list who has a severe Asian fetish. Here's what happened. Battle of the blinds. John Dolan shoved from the small blind with Kd-6d. He was snap called by Duy Le in the big blind with Ah-Qd. Dolan flopped a King to take the lead, and it held up. He was sent to the rail in 13th place, along with a bevy of hot railbirds in tow. Who are los hombres from Wicked Chops Poker gonna take pictures of now?

Down to 12.
* * * * *

Grinder Grinding His Way to the Final Table

The Grinder doubled up with K-K. He's the man and managed to hold on and is on the cusp of the November Nine. He's got alligator blood in his veins.
* * * * *

Adam Levy Eliminated in 12th place ($635,011)

Roothlus is nevermore. His K-Q lost to Duhamel's A-A, even though it was a semi-interesting sweat. With Levy's exit, we're down to 11.

We're getting close. One more elimination and we will consolidated down to a single table of ten players and redraw for seats. The floor guys told the crowd that they are going to clear everyone out once one more player busts. They will set up the pseudo-final table, seat the VIPs and family of the final ten players, and then allow the unwashed masses to have a race to the death to get inside to watch the November Nine bubble.

But we're not there... yet. The action has progressed at a more rapid pace than expected, but at some point, this tournament has to hit a lull. I don't want to jinx it, but...
* * * *

The John Dolan Story: 2M to 20M

John Dolan began Day 7 in the back of the pack as 24th in chips out of 27 players. He had a paltry 2M stack, yet he's one of the 11 remaining players with a 20M stack. Impressive indeed. He's currently playing five handed on the outer table and sporting a white hoodie compared to the dark hoodies of the two French-Canadians on either flank. I can only tell Duhamel from Le Francois by their logos. Duhamel is a PokerStars sponsored player while Le Francois is a Full Tilt horse.

Former chipleader, Filipo Candip has been rather quiet since we returned from dinner break. Also at this table is Joe 'subiime' Cheong, who has also been out of the fray since the final two tables were set.
* * * * *

The Fucking Grind

The crowd erupted when the Grinder dragged in a pot to push him over 8 million. He was on vulture watch before/after dinner break and has since chipped up. He's got a little wiggle room with 11 to go and the pressure mounting. As the seasoned vet, the Grinder has the edge here -- experience and a killer instinct on a final table bubble, let alone a TV bubble, and the November Nine bubble.
* * * * *

Updated Chippies
Jonathan Duhamel - 53,260,000
John Racener - 30,100,000
Joseph Cheong - 26,050,000
Matthew Jarvis - 21,825,000
John Dolan - 20,810,000
Soi Nguyen - 15,780,000
Jason Senti - 14,740,000
Pascal LeFrancois - 13,830,000
Filippo Candio - 11,920,000
Michael Mizrachi - 7,820,000
Brandon Steven - 3,380,000
* * * * *

Lesbian Kisses Reprise - New Tao of Pokerati Episode

On the break, we recorded two quick episodes...
Episode 74: Lesbian Kisses Reprise with Benjo - Back by popular demand! We recorded a special episode reprising your favorite episode from this year's WSOP podcasts, where Benjo and I watch lesbian kissing videos on YouTube and provide commentary.

Episode 75: Here Comes the Sun - Dan and Pauly hang out in one of the back hallways and reminisce about the trials and tribulations of year's WSOP and being able to survive WSOPs of previous years. They also riff on the agony of defeat and being able to capture the tournament as it happens.
For more episodes visit the Tao of Pokerati Podcast Archives.
* * * *

Matt Affleck - The Aftermath

By now, you know about Matt Affleck's sick bustout. Shit, my nuts still hurt and it's been a while since he busted.

Anyway, the crew at PokerStars Blog covering the WSOP are some of the best in the business including sensational writers in Otis, Stephen Bartley, and Howard Swains. Let's not forget photojournalist Joe Giron for capturing the moment of utter agony with his lens. His pics are a must see. Also, read the recap of the aftermath written by Howard Swains...

The long, lonely walk of Matt Affleck.

We need more writing and accompanying images like that in poker. Nice work, gents.
* * * * *

Outer Advantage

The secondary table is five-handed with both French-Canadians, Pascal Le Francois and chipleader Jon Duhamel. Subiime is also there along with Filipo Candio and John Dolan. They seemed to be sitting back and playing patiently while the featured TV table is six-handed and featuring the Grinder reality show and a massive crowd hanging on every all-in. The TV table is being announced, including almost every bit of action because Robbie the floor guy is one of the best at calling the action. Anyway, since the TV table is being announced, the secondary table has a slight advantage because they can hear what's going on even though they are separated by the beef jerky lounge and the bleachers. On the flip side, the action is not being called on the secondary table, so the six on the TV table has no idea what's going on out there.
* * * * *

Pascal Le Francois Eliminated in 11th Place ($635,011)

One of the French-Canadian players just hit the rail. OK, so Duhamel opened from UTG. Le Francois called. Joe 'subiime' Cheong re-raised to 2.55M. Duhamel folded. Le Francois shoved and Cheong inst-called with Ks-Kh. He was up against Qs-Js. He had to sweat a Jack on the flop but his Kings held up and Le Francois made an exit in 11th place.

With 10 players to go, the action is paused while they move all of the players to the featured TV table. Security cleared out the entire room and will re-seat VIPs and friends/family of the final ten after everyone has re-drawn for seats and settled into the final table.

We're now on the November Nine Bubble. Will the Grinder advance? Stay tuned to find out.
* * * * *

The Final 10 - Seating Assignments and Chippies

Here's the seat assignments and chippies for the redraw for the final ten.
Seat 1: Jason Senti - 12.5M
Seat 2: Joseph Cheong - 39.3M
Seat 3: John Dolan - 24.5M
Seat 4: Jonathan Duhamel - 49.35M
Seat 5: Brandon Steven - 3.3M
Seat 6: Michael Mizrachi - 7.8M
Seat 7: Matthew Jarvis - 20M
Seat 8: John Racener - 32.6M
Seat 9: Filippo Candio - 13.3M
Seat 10: Soi Nguyen - 17.4M
Thanks to Cards are in the air. We're one more elimination away from the November Nine.
* * * *

Grinder Hits 10 Million

The Grinder went to work right away and dragged the first pot, chipping up to around 10 million. The crowd is overwhelmingly rooting for the Grinder -- mainly because he's the most notable player remaining in the Main Event and the fact that 347 relatives are here and shouting at the top of their lungs. OK, maybe not 347, more like 37. But they are loud and not shy about blurting out the most random things. And someone is feeding free booze to these people.

Anyway, Joe 'subiime' Cheong has a decent sized crew in the stands cheering him on, led by the ultra-degen Bryan Micon. Max Pescatori and a handful of Italians are in the crowd sweating Filipo Candio. But aside from those factions, there's not much of a rival for the pro-Grinder crowd.

The stadium seating is packed without an empty seat. The press area and media row is full with people I have never seen before. I took up shop in the beef jerky lounge overlooking the final table. It's seven and eight deep in someplaces and it feels like I'm playing a pickup hoops game in Central Park and elbowing my way into position to get a rebound. Hey, I prefer it up here at this juncture of the Main Event.

If I plopped down in media row, then I'm stuck there with everyone else and I can't float around and get multiple perspectives on hands, let alone the final table bubble. Besides, there's too many suits and officials there. That always gets me a little nervous.

Alas, I decided to embed myself with the railbirds. Since it's Saturday night, a lot of them are super saucy. Someone in the beef jerky. A couple of soused Queebs are talking loudly about who knows what and a guy from Switzerland is holding hands with someone I presume is a call girl. Otherwise, he has a very very very young daughter that is accompanying him in Vegas this weekend. My only concern is that the beef jerky lounge will collapse under the weight of all of the rowdy spectators. If it happens, I'll be sure to twit pic it.
* * * *

Racener's Addition

The first orbit was slow aside from the Grinder picking up the first pot. Since nothing has been happening, I figured that I'd tell you about a hand where Racener won a pot that went to showdown -- but then again, it's not that exciting to report. Yes, the action is kinda slow and methodical. The decisions the players are making have been slowed down a bit, and rightfully slow with so much at stake on the November Nine Bubble.
* * * * *

Grinder Takes a Hit; Brandon Steve Doubles Up

The Grinder lost a pot when he doubled up the short-stacked Brandon Steve. The Grinder had As-8s but got outflopped by Steve's Q-J. Steve's hand held up and the Grinder took a small hit, but a hit nonetheless.

Steve avoided elimination and lives to fight another day. He's still one of the short stacks though.

Both players are the shortstacks. The Grinder has around 7M while Steve has around 6M. Jonathan Duhamel is the overall leader and sitting on a mönsterstäcken.
* * * * *

Grinder Gets Some Breathing Room

The Grinder won a pot against Matt Jarvis. The Grinder's A-10 was good enough to ship the pot. He added a few million to his stack and is no longer deep in the shit as one of the short stacks.

* * * * *

Updated Chippies

The players just got back from a break. They are about to start level 35, which is sort of where the TD thought the final table would be set. If that's correct, then someone should be busting soon.

Anyway, here are the chippies. Once filming stops, Mickey Doft can properly go up on stage and count the chips.
1. Jon Duhamel - 49.3M
2. John Racener - 37M
3. subiime - 35.3M
4. John Dolan - 24.5M
5. Matt Jarvis - 18.1M
6. Soi Nguyen - 17.4M
7. Filipo Candio - 13.6M
8. Senti - 12.4M
9. The Grinder - 10.6M
10. Brandon Steven - 6M
* * * * *

Racener Mixes It Up

It seems like John Racener and the Grinder are the only ones playing pots past the flop. Anyway, on one of the first hands back from break, I caught the action on the river. The board was Qx-3c-3d-Jc-9s with over 3 million in the pot. Racener fired out 2.5M or so and Dolan re-raised to 6.5M. Racener tanked for a few minutes... and then folded.
* * * * *

Late Night Color: Burnt Siena

Some random thoughts...

- I saw a woman in high heels and skin tight jeans. I thought she was a hooker, initially, but the accent was a giveaway. She was just a Euro coke slut, who happened to wander down to the Amazon Ballroom. Maybe she's meeting her connection here?

- One of the security guards said something to one of the spectators leaving the featured TV table. "I smell weed. And I smell it on you." I dunno if it was a warning or he was dropping a hint that he'd like some. Hey after a long shift today of maintaining the peace at the WSOP, I don't blame anyone if they want to fire up a fatty once this is done, so they can decompress. Dealing with brokedicks, drunk railbirds, prima donna poker pros, and disgruntled media reps can definitely cause unwanted stress.

- During the break, most of the beef jerky lounge overlooking the featured table cleared out. The few railbirds who stayed improved their viewing spots. A few decided that they were tired and wanted chairs. One guy dragged a chair up a small flight of stairs so he could get comfy. Others simply reached over the rail and snatch up chairs from the seating area at the secondary table. About a dozen or so followed suit. When I returned from the break, two of the security guards were taking the chairs away. It seems they don't want anyone taking advantage of the high ground to cause a ruckus by throwing chairs. Of course, the tournament's action had slowed down so much that I sorta wish someone got so drunk that they starting flinging shit from the beef jerky lounge and onto the TV table.

* * * * *

No Smoking... Or Toking Either

Three plus hours into the final table bubble, things have gotten a bit loopy. The drunks have gotten even drunker and the over enthusiastic ones have lost their steam. Many of them left, others are here, but tired fans giving the occasional golf clap instead of a thunderous applause hours earlier.

Then there's the sleeping people. I can see four or five people sleeping just in eye shot. Security had to wake one guy up because he fell asleep standing up. A few folks in the spill over area were snoozing. Someone in the press is curled up against the press box. Heck, even the always energetic BJ Nemeth was spotted napping on the break.

The British press resorted to drinking alcohol. Copious quantities of it. That's how they cure the boredom... "The gin helps."

The Canadian press is dubbing this the "World Series of Folding."

* * * * *


Since there's not much going on... so let's do some chip counts courtesy of the flying monkeys...
Jonathan Duhamel - 51M
John Dolan - 45.5M
Joseph Cheong - 27M
John Racener - 25M
Michael Mizrachi - 17M
Soi Nguyen - 15M
Filippo Candio - 12.6M
Matthew Jarvis - 11.5M
Jason Senti - 10.5M
Brandon Steven - 7.7M
* * * *

4am Photo Essay by Benjo

OK, Benjo wandered around and snapped photos for his recent update of the tournament. It's lunch time in France now, so he has more readers. He felt that the below pictures explained the extended final table bubble (now past the 4th hour of 10-handed play)...

Thanks to Benjo for the pics.

* * * * *


Happy 4:20am west coasters. This smoke break is sponsored by Lost Vegas book.

Click here to purchase!

* * * * *

Cocktease: A-K vs. A-K

"Chop it up!"

Shit. After hours of inactivity, we finally had a potential knockout blow. Two players were finally all-in...except they both held Big Slick. I won't tell you the players names for fear of retribution. Let's just say, that everyone got hyper-excited and jumped to their feet, only to get let down. What a cocktease. We all have collective blue balls.

Still down to 10.
* * * * *

Italian Doubles, Italy Rejoices...Crowd Groans

Filipo Candio got it all in with A-A and got called by John Racener's A-K sooted. Candio's aces held up and the Italians in the crowd went ferenzi.

Guess what? Break time til 5am local time. Oh, and good morning East Coasters! Welcome back to the coverage of the WSOP November Nine final table bubble....
* * * *

5am Chippies
Jon Duhamel - 55,375,000
John Dolan - 45,300,000
Joe 'subiime' Cheong - 23,700,000
John Racener - 21,100,000
Filippo Candio - 19,850,000
The Grinder - 16,800,000
Soi Nguyen - 9,800,000
Matthew Jarvis - 9,625,000
Brandon Steven - 9,050,000
Jason Senti - 8,475,000
* * * * *


Marty Derbyshire called it the "World Series of Folding", while one of the camera guys mentioned that many of the players were folding without looking at their cards. That's why it's taken over 5+ hours of the final table bubble.

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On and On and On and On - New Tao of Pokerati Episode

Dan, Benjo, and Pauly sit in the beef jerky lounge and discuss the wall that everyone seems to have hit at 4am.
Episode 76: On and On and On and On with Benjo - Some four hours into the Final Table of 10, people are getting antsy about getting to the November Nine. Alcohol is wearing off and drugs are kicking in … causing some people to sleep on chairs and others to run randomly across the Amazon. (Everyone’s got the munchies, but the cupboard is bare!) Tony the security guard gets nervous about his staff having to go home at 7am, and the players … it's call-bet-fold, maybe bet-raise-fold.
For more episodes visit the Tao of Pokerati Podcast Archives.

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5:35 Report: Here Comes the Sun

The Beatles' Here Comes the Sun was playing earlier in the back hallway. Michalski was inspired by the song and wanted to record a podcast. I agreed to do one and wondered if I would see the sunrise... again. OK, I knew that I would, I have seen the most sunrises in my life in Las Vegas. I figured that this would have ended around 1 or 2am, then write in the Rio til 3ish, have a goodbye drink with friends at the Hooker Bar, walk outside and get my eyes burned by the sunlight, and then go get breakfast, finish writing my recap, listen to a few Grateful Dead songs, rip a binger, and then take a sleeping pill so I can crawl into bed next to my girlfriend's warm body and crash for several hours.

That was my plan. Now it's 5:30am and I was supposed to be finishing off a cold one at the Hooker Bar. Instead, I'm seated next to Michalski who is actually busting his ass today, helping me with Tao of Pokerati podcasts. We're one of the few folks who are not angry that this is going late. Shit... I love the traffic numbers. It's good for business and shows the world that the November Nine is a serious thing -- and a bunch of donks were going to five-bet shove with rags on the third hand of the final table bubble.

Yep, it's 5:30am. Lance is the most popular guy in the room -- he's the short Asian guy serving drinks to the feature table. Many of the media left. The rest are struggling to stay awake with caffeinated products, 5-hour energy shots, Red Bull, Adderrall, and gin (the secret weapon according to the Brits).

Hey, whatever you need to do to get by... you do it, as this final table bubble approaches the sixth hour and the Day races towards 18 hours. I dunno about you, but I'm feeling pretty good right now and I'm pumped that people in Europe (lunch time) and on the East Coast are reading Tao of Poker updates and my Twitter updates (@taopauly).

So if you went to bed and then got up and fired up Tao of Poker as the first thing you did when you rolled out of bed... then shit, I'm dedicating the rest of the semi-live blog to you guys. Thanks for following along and we're gonna bring this fucker home. No matter what.

Stay tuned for future episodes of Tao of Pokerati.

You can always check out the list of 2010 Main Event money winners to see who finished where and what friends of yours cashed.

* * * *

Brandon Steven Eliminated in 10th place ($635,011); November Nine Bubble Boy

5:41am... I spoke too soon. After almost six hours of the final table bubble and 10-handed play, we had the elimination that everyone has been waiting for. Brandon Steven is the unfortunate November Nine Bubbe Boy when his A-K lost to Matt Jarvis' QQ.

* * * * *

November Nine Set

Seat 1: Jason Senti
Seat 2: Joseph Cheong
Seat 3: John Dolan
Seat 4: Jonathan Duhamel
Seat 5: The Grinder
Seat 6: Matthew Jarvis
Seat 7: John Racener
Seat 8: Filippo Candio
Seat 9: Soi Nguyen

Check out the list of 2010 WSOP Main Event money winners
* * * * *

The 5:41am Finale - New Tao of Pokerati Episode

That's it. We've reached the November Nine and we recorded an episode as the final hand completed.
Episode 77: The 5:41am Finale - After an exhausting evening, Dan and Pauly capture the 10th place elimination in the Main Event as Brandon Steven bubbles off the final table. The November Nine is finally set and you get to hear the celebration going on the background as everyone rushed the stage.

For more episodes visit the Tao of Pokerati Podcast Archives.
* * * * *

That's it for now. Thanks for following along. The semi-live blog for the 2010 WSOP Main Event is complete. I shall return in November for the November Nine (well, provided that I actually get credentialed and after all the crap I pulled this summer and all of the salacious dirt I dished in Lost Vegas, I might not be welcomed back). So I really hope you enjoy the Tao of Poker's coverage this summer.

If you enjoyed what I wrote during the last 52 days, then I encourage you to help me out by buying my book... Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker. Help support out an independent writer. Buy a book.

Thanks for wasting your time with me for a sixth summer in a row. The highlights were a blast and I had a lot of fun moments that I'll be looking back on for many years to come.

Signing out from the beef jerky lounge at the Rio...