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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009 | The Works

Day 7 Of The WSOP: I Love You Man

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I pulled up to the Rio after making the short drive from my hotel and the parking lot was rapidly approaching full and it was still 30 minutes until noon. I hadn't checked the schedule yet so I wasn't positive what event was going off today, but I had a sneaking suspicion. This feeling inside of me was confirmed as soon as I walked into the Rio and saw the masses looking awe struck... almost like a kid the first time he goes to the toy store and his mother tells him to pick anything he wants. Yep, there was a 1.5K NLHE tournament, or what we in the media affectionately refer to as donkaments.

I survive the long walk and take my seat. The entrance to the media area is one of the very last doors in the hallway and it's one of the few unlocked doors prior to them letting in the players. Shortly after I came in, one unsuspecting player walked in, took a look around, and as if nothing was out of the ordinary (after all there's only about 200 tables with no players at them and just a dealer, nope nothing unusual about that) started walking towards his table. This started a chain reaction of players walking in and doing the same thing, and soon there was a steady stream coming in. The unaware security guard who had been on the other side came rushing over, but it was way too late by then. Thankfully the guard was given a reprieve when the tournament director announced to let them in.

As I made my way through the 1.5K tournament, I ran into a quiet and subdued Hevad Khan . He's much more reserved then he was several years ago and his hair and beard almost give him the appearance of a wild man. I talked to him briefly and he whispered to me that he was going to travel the circuit for just a little bit longer and then take a long break from poker. I asked him what he was going to do and he told me that he was going to travel to Europe and just relax and party and have a good time. I told him a break from poker was always a good thing and to enjoy life while he could. I have a feeling though that if he went deep in an event, that his mind might change.

I've known Tim Lavalli for some time. I used to teach at an online poker school and he was a member there. He recently, along with Amy Calistri, co-wrote the autobiography, Check-raising the Devil, for Mike Matusow and this morning Tim gave me a complimentary copy. I wanted to get Mike to sign it and Tim told me he was out in the hallway signing copies. Perfect timing, I thought. I grabbed the book and headed out to the hallway. It was just a couple minutes before the first break from the donkament and there was a ton of people standing around, many of them taking pictures of Mike sitting in his booth.

Mike is yelling at the top of his lungs, “No standing around! Either buy a book or get the fuck out!”

People are laughing and this just encourages Mike to get even louder. I quickly scurry over and get my book signed as Mike's yelling convinces two people to walk over and buy a book. Now that's a salesman.

Today was a crazy busy day. There were tournaments going on everywhere and it was hard knowing what was being played where. The 1.5K PLO tournament re-started right in front of the media area. The 10K Stud event was on the other side. The 1.5K took up the rest of the Amazon Room tournament area, half of Brasilia, and the Miranda room. In one corner of Brasilia, they re-started the 1K Stimulus tournament. I didn't realize they were re-starting the Stimulus tournament there and as I walked into the room, I was thinking to myself that these players sure had a lot of chips for a tournament that had only been going on for a couple hours (I thought initially it was the 1.5K tournament).

I stopped to watch the 1K tournament for a while. Mandy Baker, a young Full Tilt professional was still in. I felt like her cooler though because two minutes after I started watching her, she ran queens into aces and was eliminated. Over at another table, it was folded to the small blind who moved all in. The big blind looked at his cards and muttered, “uh oh.” The dealer said “call” and before the big blind could freak out, the tournament director who was standing right there corrected the dealer. And that's a big reason why you need to make sure you speak loud and clear at the tables.

I met Rich Murnick in 2007 as he was making a run in a preliminary NLHE event. He asked me if I would take his picture and put it up for his family to see, and I obliged. Murnick would go on to take 2nd in that event and I was there to follow his progress most of the way. When he was playing in the Main Event that year, he insisted on taking me to dinner at Buzio's, a nice seafood and steak restaurant inside the Rio, every dinner break. Day after day, he'd make it and take me to dinner. I saw him last year and again he would insist on feeding me. Who was I to say no?

So imagine my delight (or rather my stomach's delight) when I ran into Rich today. “The usual,” I laughed.

He shook my hand and said “Buzio's? Absolutely.” He makes it to the dinner break and we go to Buzio's. I'd left a little early to get us a table and had texted him to let him know where the table was. The back room was filled with poker players including the likes of Kevin Saul, Dustin Woolf, Bryan Micon, and Michael Gracz. Murnick ordered and excused himself to go to the bathroom. I decided to send my girlfriend a quick text message. “I love you very much!” I typed into my phone and selected a name and hit submit.

Rich comes back from the restroom and we start talking and he looks at his phone with a puzzled look. “What's this about,” he asks, and shows me his phone. There on Murnick's phone was a text message from me saying “I love you very much!” Murnick stood up, joking, and said “I'm leaving now.”

I don't think I've ever been more embarrassed.

And on that note, I'll end this. Tomorrow is going to be a hectic day. Three final tables, day two of the 1.5K NLHE, and two new events starting. Until then...

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