The craziness that is the initial $1,500 NLHE event is set to get underway. Dealers are filling every available table in the Amazon Room in what is sure to be a record field for a non-Main Event tournament here at the WSOP. I've had the fortune, or misfortune, of playing in three $1,500 NLHE events in the past and one thing I've learned is that it is a lot like playing a $5 NLHE tournament at PokerStars or Full Tilt. The action is fast and furious. Justifiably so as players only start with 60 big blinds and the blinds double the first two levels (from 25/50, to 50/100, to 100/200) and you need to get chips if you are going to be a contender. I'll walk the floor during the day and see what kind of craziness I can capture.
The room temperature in the Amazon always goes up about ten degrees in one of these events. Normally it's freezing in here but I am sweating my fat ass off right now. I know... too much information.
It didn't take long for me to witness a bust out although this one was understandable. The button raised first to act and the small blind re-raised. The button moved all in, a huge over bet. The small blind looked pained as if he knew what he was going to run into if he made the call. He couldn't fold the cowboys, though, and threw the rest of his chips into the middle. His worst fears turned to reality when his opponent turned over aces and when no miracle king came, he walked out the door down $1,500 for five minutes of play. Poker. Gotta love it.
It really is a sea of no names. About once every five tables I'll see someone I recognize but most tables are filled with wide eyed and eager amateurs ready to make their mark on the poker world. Imagine their surprise then, when Bill Edler and Hevad Khan found themselves seated next to one another. To add to the confusion, the tournament is being split up between various locations. Some players had to make the half mile jaunt to the other end of the Rio and play across from Buzio's, the seafood restaurant here, or in the Rio poker room. A few players even sat down to find out they weren't playing until tomorrow. Oops.
When I go to sleep tonight I'll be dreaming of people saying “Seat Open.” It really is like a $5 online tournament. Half the field will be gone before I can even blink.
I have a feeling more professionals will play tomorrow than are playing today. I could be wrong though as some of the bigger name players avoid these $1,500 tournaments like the plague. That doesn't mean there isn't nobody playing today. Among the faces in the crowd are Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel, Greg Raymer, T.J. Cloutier, Gavin Smith, and Billy Baxter. Hevad Khan and Bill Edler both are done for the day already, something that doesn't surprise me. In these events, the pro's typically try and chip up early or go lay out by the pool. I don't think a vision of Hevad Khan sunbathing is one I need to have.
The 2nd day of the $10,000 PLHE event has gotten underway and it didn't take long for the moderately eccentric Rolf Slotboom to get his chips in bad. It was folded to Rolf in the small blind and he completed. Josh Egan was in the big blind and raised the pot. Rolf didn't take long to announce that he was going to re-raise the size of the pot and Josh quickly put the rest of his chips all in. Rolf looked at Josh and said “I have a hand sir” and put the remaining 10K or so in chips he had left in the middle.
Rolf held and saw he was in bad shape when Josh turned over . “Hearts and jacks,” Rold pleaded with the dealer. The dealer obliged turning over a flop containing two hearts. “More hearts, more hearts,” Rolf asked. The turn was no help but the river was a beautiful jack for Rolf. Josh shook his head, got up and walked away from the table, crippled to approximately 10K after the hand while Rolf started to stack the nearly 70K in chips he had just won.
I've learned lessons from past years at the WSOP. One of them is to find a corner and hide (preferably under a table to avoid being trampled) approximately two minutes before the break of a $1,500 event begins. If you need to use the restroom, a wise decision would be to sneak out before the break begins. Unfortunately, many players do the same thing, so you need to gamble it up a bit (hey it is Vegas, isn't it?) and time the rush at about ten minutes prior to break time. Funny line from the tournament director as the players filed back in... “no running or diving in the Amazon Room.”
Poker is filled with personalities. It is one of the things that is appealing about the game and a big reason why poker's popularity surged so quickly. When I was in high school (no jokes about how long ago that was please), it was “cool” to wear a thin gold necklace. I saw a gentleman playing today that has apparently taken this to a whole new level. If size does matter, he's the clear winner.
I walked by a table just in time to witness a thing of beauty. Big Lick (a.k.a. 6-9 offsuit) cracking a slow played pocket Aces. Back in my home game when the flop comes with two sixes or two nines or 8-7-5, my buddies cower in fear. It's nice to see others utilizing the power of the best hand in poker.
I don't know an exact number but considering players are now consolidated into about ½ of the Amazon Room I would guess that we've lost approximately half the field in under four hours of play. Repeat after me. B. I. N. G. O... and Bingo was his name O.
In the “how could you fall for that” hand of the day, Jean Robert-Bellande did a fake fold, fake all in on four occasions before moving all in. His opponent couldn't wait to call him. Bellande's hand? Of course it was a monster... Aces. The good old I'm pretending to be weak but I'm really strong pretending to be weak when strong reverse, reverse tell. I have no idea what I just said but whatever the ploy was it worked for Bellande as he doubled up when his opponent's jacks did not improve.
Something I've failed to mention yet and it's probably because I didn't notice it because there was nothing to notice. Last year, the lines for registering for the $1,500 NLHE event would go back hundreds of feet and take up the entire corridor, making it difficult for anyone to get anywhere. This year, the line's are nowhere to be seen. I'm not sure what Harrah's did to address the problem but whatever it was, it worked (so far).
I'm walking by a table where a lot of chips are already in the middle and another player with a big stack in front of him is mulling over a decision for his tournament life. From what I could tell the action went raise in early position from a huge stack to 2,000 with the blinds at 300/600. A short stack in middle position moved all in for approximately 6K and another short stack called all in for 5K. The 2nd biggest stack at the table, a Sammy Farha wanna be with an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth, re-raised to what looked to be 10K in an attempt to isolate the two shorter stacks. That failed, however, as the big stack moved all in.
“Alright, I call,” said the other big stack after contemplating what to do and asked “You don't have a big pair do you?” as he flipped over A-K. The big stack did indeed have a big pair. The two shorter stacks held pocket 8's and pocket 10's. The flop came all low cards but contained three spades. The player holding A-K had the king of spades. You could see the look of disgust come over the big stack's face, as if he knew the 4th spade was going to come. The A-K holder held his breath, wanting... needing... that 4th spade to come if his WSOP dream was to stay alive.
The turn was a red card. No help to anyone and the kings were still in the lead. The river was proof positive that it's not just online poker that deals out the river beats as it was a 4th spade. The big stack threw his hands up in disgust and walked away from the table saying to his opponent, “That was the worst call ever.” The player with A-K started celebrating, doing his best Hevad Khan impersonation, yelling at the top of his lungs, “That's how we do it baby, that's how we do it!” He was so vocal the floor had to come over and tell him that there was an excessive celebration rule at this year’s WSOP but I don't think Mr. A-K cared at that point. His hands were shaking so much he asked the floor to count out his stack for him. The end result was an over 100K pot that put Mr. A-K at or near the tournament chip lead. The big stack took a big hit, but was still in good shape with at least 30K in front of him.
The $1,500 NLHE event will likely end early tonight as they are playing down to 225 players and there were 400 remaining at the dinner break. Of course, play will probably tighten considerably as they approach that magic number so there are no guarantees. Among the players still remaining in the field the last time I walked through were Gavin Griffin, Shane Schleger, Terrence Chan, the now infamous Chris Vaughn, Todd Witteles, Theo Tran, John Cernuto, Bill Chen, Bill Gazes, Todd Brunson, and Shannon Shorr.
In the $10,000 PLHE event they are down to three tables and 23 players and it's still a star studded event as Phil Laak, Patrik Antonius, Eli Elezra, Andy Bloch, Mike Sexton, Rolf Slotboom, Kathy Liebert, Nemad Medic, Chris Bell, and Dustin Woolf were all still playing.
This wraps up my coverage of Day 2, I'll have tournament recaps of both events when play has concluded for the day.