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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | The Works

The Bubble Bursts – More From Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event

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6:25 p.m.

I wonder why some players feel the need to get involved in monster pots with hands that are vulnerable. At the table right in front of me, I just witnessed a guy ship over 250K of his chips on a 9-6-4 flop with pocket jacks. His opponent who had put in a re-raise and a 4th raise had the obvious set with pocket 6's and the guy with jacks went from being one of the chip leaders at 600K to a still healthy but definitely different 350K. After the hand was over, he got up and left the room, slamming the door behind him. He came back a few minutes later and raised the first three hands he was in. No one wanted anything to do with him and he was able to pick up the blinds and antes.

766 players left, 100 to go. 30 minutes until the dinner break.

6:50 p.m.

Brian Schaedlich has recovered nicely and isn't as frustrated as he was the first two levels. He is back up to nearly half a million in chips as we approach the dinner break. I talked to Steve, the tournament director, and he told me they would go hand for hand when they get to 675 players and that if multiple players busted out on the same hand when it got to 666 that they would split the money for those spots.

The amount of media, tournament personnel, and Harrah's employees walking through the decreased number of tables makes it at times impossible to navigate the tournament floor. In fact, media director Nolan Dalla issued a statement telling the media that they cannot stand in the aisle way and that there would be further restrictions put in place once they start the bubble. Dinner break is in five minutes and there are 747 players left.

7:54 p.m.

I returned from dinner and there are now 733 players left, which means we lost 14 players in 5 minutes. Who said play tightens up as we are about to hit the money?

9:10 p.m.

When the players returned, I was standing in between all the tables and was talking with a guy whose face looked very familiar but I couldn't remember who it was. We were talking about his tournament and finally I couldn't take it any longer.

“You look familiar, where do I know you from?” I asked him.

“From this event last year,” he answered.

Aha, that was it. He was the guy that busted Maria Ho and had a bunch of drunken friends and family on the rail. Kevin Farry. He ended up finishing in the top 20 and was primed to make the money again since he had 170K at the break. I walk over to his table to snap his photo, and I see that he is all in with K-J suited against aces. Ummm, well so much for that. Farry looked pissed at himself as he left the Amazon Room.

There are still the occasional all in and a call cries from the dealers, but the bust outs have slowed down. There are 702 players left, meaning in 45 minutes we lost 31 players. I doubt very seriously that we lose 31 in the next 45 minutes. A guy just walked past the media area, his head down, muttering to himself. He ran into the door and nearly kicked it trying to open it. Educated guess = busto.

At another table, a player snap called an all in on a K-Q-8-10-3 board with pocket 8's. His opponent turned over A-J for the turned Broadway straight and the player with the 8's started to celebrate thinking he had won the hand. He went over to some friends on the rail and gave them a high five before the players at his table told him he had lost the hand. Embarrassed, he ducked under the ropes and eased his way through the spectators.

10:00 p.m.

678 players are left. They have removed spectator access in between the tables and the fans are congregated in one area, five to six deep. Anxious wives, girlfriends, and buddies look on hoping to catch any glimpse they can of the player they are cheering on. People ask me if I can help them out and I do assist a couple but it's not something I can do for everyone, so I tell them I have to move on.

Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth continue to accumulate chips. This is shaping up to be a very exciting Main Event as there are still quite a few big names left in the field. Others that I saw include Allen Cunningham, Robert Mizrachi, Victor Ramdin, Shawn Sheikhan, Hoyt Corkins, Gus Hansen , and Mark Vos. All have above average stacks.

10:05 p.m.

We've reached hand to hand and the tournament director has asked the dealers to stand up when their hand is complete. Players are sprinting out of the room for an impromptu bathroom break while they wait for it to get started. Nolan Dalla said that media has to stand on the sides.

11:35 p.m.

There is NO moment in poker like the bubble of the WSOP Main Event. The tension and excitement in the air as players get closer and closer to the money is intense. Players are on the edge of their seat... some are afraid to play a hand, while others are taking advantage of the fear of others. One player was sitting at a table outside of the tournament area. I asked him why he wasn't playing and he told me he wanted to make sure he didn't get aces or kings and go broke. Hevad Khan on the other hand was able to take advantage of the bubble and add nearly 40% to his stack without even picking up a hand. Other professionals and aggressive amateurs did the same.

Every time there was an all in and a call, cameramen would run to the table, players from other tables would join in the crowd, creating a large circle around the table five deep. The tournament director issues blind threats of one round penalties for players leaving their table. No one listens.

They reach 667 players and I make a prop bet with another member of the media on how many hands it will take to burst the bubble. I say three or fewer. The first hand goes by and no one busts. The second hand takes place and ESPN swarms a table in the back corner. A player starts jumping up and down and soon there is a ripple of applause, which turns into a roar as players whoop it up.

Everyone is happy. Professionals and amateurs alike. It doesn't matter if your name is Phil Hellmuth or Brian Schaedlich, this is a special moment.

Players give each other five, some embrace, others buy a round of beers and toast one another. Immediately phone calls are being made to loved ones to tell them the good news. Three days of intense play and finally they've reached their first goal. It might not be the ultimate goal, but the pressure of getting their buy in back has been lifted. One guy calls his friend and I hear him talking on the phone. He says, “You just had to be here for this moment. It was incredible. One of the most amazing things I've ever taken part of.”

Yea, it is. They still have two more hours of play, but I think that's a great point to end the night on.

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