Tournament director, Jack Effel, started the proceedings in the $1,000 NLHE with rebuys with an announcement that changed the dynamics of many tables. In these events, it is not uncommon for three or four players to agree to go all in blind pre-flop. Insanity ensues for the first five to ten hands or so before play resumes to normal. Effel said prior to the cards being dealt that any players agreeing to go all in blind with one another at the table would be given a stern warning for collusion and if a 2nd offense took place they would be disqualified.
Don't get me wrong, there is still craziness going on (where else can you see a player move all in for 40 big blinds pre-flop with pocket kings and get called in two places by J-9 suited and pocket 3's) but this definitely changed the way some players approached things. I didn't see Sorel Mizzi moving all in blind 10 hands in a row.
John Phan is proudly displaying both of his WSOP bracelets on his right wrist along with his WPO bracelet that he won earlier this year. He said to me that he was just wearing the WPO bracelet to show everyone that he'd upgraded. A player next to him laughed and said, “Yea, that's quite the upgrade.”
With the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event kicking off later tonight, a lot of the names that you would normally expect to be playing in this event are absent. Lindgren, Negreanu, Ivey, and the usual gang of free spending professionals are nowhere to be found. It is still a very tough field though. I saw numerous top Internet players playing as well as some of the tougher NLHE players (like Phan) doing battle. Among those in action were Jeff Madsen, Hevad Khan, Michael Banducci (who won the $1,000 rebuy event earlier this year), Steve Dannenmann, Lee Watkinson, Humberto Brenes, Antonio Esfandiari, and Brandon Cantu.
As I was walking by Theo Tran's table, he was facing an all in decision from two players and I could tell he didn't want to fold, but he forced himself to do so.
“I had twos,” Tran said.
The other players revealed A-10 and 9's and of course a 2 flopped. Theo shook his head in disgust but after it came runner-runner hearts and the 9's won with a flush that would have beat Tran's set, Tran patted himself on the back, and laughed. Tran would eventually win a monster pot that would put him up over 20K, but it took him several rebuys before doing so.
I am sitting in the media box and I hear what sounds like Elvis coming from over by the final table. I look at the monitor that hovers above the final table and see that indeed a white, jump suit wearing Elvis is kicking off the Seniors Event final table. I try and get over there before he finishes to snap a photo of him but I'm not as nimble as I used to be and he's finished singing Johnny Be Good before I can get over there and well... I've always wanted to say this... Elvis has left the building.
Harrah's staff is prepping the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event by putting free WSOP coffee mugs at each seat. I guess if you throw down 50 large, you should at least have a $10 cup to enjoy your favorite drink from. It might be all some of the players have left at the end of the week.
It's always interesting to watch the shifting tactics after the rebuy period has ended. Some players continue to fire away as if they can reach into their pocket and get more chips, but most players revert to their normal game. The thing about a rebuy tournament is that if you've done your job during the rebuy period, you've accumulate enough chips that your stack is deep relative to the blinds. Even if you just do a double rebuy and add on at the break and have 8,000 in chips, you'll have 40 big blinds once you return. This allows for a lot more pre-flop play than most of the lower buy in tournaments.
I ran into Rich Murnick, a guy I first met at last year’s WSOP when he took 2nd in a NLHE event. Rich would take me out to dinner with his brother and Dad at Buzio's every day during the Main Event because he swore I was his good luck charm. He ended up finishing 74th so I guess I wasn't that lucky. I hadn't seen Rich yet this year so I asked him why the late arrival. Apparently, winning an election for your local town will keep you busy. I guess that's about as good a reason as you can have to not playing poker.
There's going to be a lot to talk about with the H.O.R.S.E. event starting soon, so I am going to wrap this one up. More later tonight!