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

Day 31 – HORSEing Around

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I am admittedly not a huge fan of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. Why? Because to me it's a boring game to watch and I like to be entertained. I'm sure it's much more fun to play but since I don't happen to have an extra 50K laying around I'll probably never get the chance to find that out. Besides it'd be kind of embarrassing after I beat all the big name pros so I'll spare them the humiliation.

So yea, the 50K H.O.R.S.E. got underway today and it didn't do so without some controversy. A little before the scheduled noon kick off, there was only 40 some players registered and perhaps five of them were wandering around the tournament area. Jack Effel decided that they would delay the start time to 1 o'clock. Just about that time, Mike Matusow and Phil Ivey walked in and when told about it both were not pleased. Ivey was quiet in his displeasure, talked to the tournament director, and quickly walked off signing a couple of autographs before sneaking out a back door.

Matusow was not as quiet. “This is bullshit!” he yelled, loud enough for the entire room to hear. “I get punished for showing up on time. I've already taken my meds, this is going to screw me up.”

Matusow went on for a while about this but as is usually the case in this type of issue, it was a losing cause and nothing was going to be done about it.

The issue that caused the lack of people showing up is the way the late registrant system has worked. In the “old days” the seats were filled with stacks and they were blinded off until the end of the first two levels. If a player bought in late, they took one of those seats and the depleted stack. Now a player can buy in at the very end of the 2nd level and come in with a full stack. In a limit tournament, especially one with this many chips (150K) to start, this is advantageous to many players. They get to avoid the first couple of somewhat meaningless levels and come in with a full stack.

I know I've read Negreanu saying that he hates the first couple levels of a limit tournament and I'm sure many other pro's feel the same way. Jeffrey Pollack came up to the media area while all of this was coming on and acknowledged that there was an issue and that it was something that would be addressed in the off season before next year’s WSOP.

The field is the smallest the H.O.R.S.E. event has ever seen. Thirty minutes into play there was only 70 players registered. By the end of the registration period, they ended up with 95, easily making this the smallest field ever. There are probably a couple of reasons for this, one of them of course being the economy. I'm not sure the economy has affected the size of playing fields as much as people and members of the media like to think. What it has done, however, has changed the relationship between poker and television. When ESPN decides to broadcast a lame ass Champions Event over a $50,000 buy in tournament, you know something is wrong. The fact that this event was not on television had to be a deciding factor in whether people signed up or not.

Another problem was the late registration issue. I talked to Greg Mueller, who had won the $10,000 Limit Hold Em event, and asked him why he wasn't playing. He told me that he was going to play but when he saw that there was only forty some people registered he decided he didn't want to play against such a small field for such a large amount of money. Add in the fact that there was a $40,000 NLHE event earlier in the series, money that in the past might have been earmarked for this event, and you have your smaller field.

Despite the bad stuff about the 50K H.O.R.S.E., make no mistake about it... the tournament draws out the rail birds in droves. It was the largest rail I'd seen at the WSOP by far, three to four deep, as poker fans clamored to see their favorite player and perhaps get an autograph or picture with them. On the break, the fans would gather right outside the VIP room waiting for the players to return. Most of the players obliged, taking a few minutes of time to accommodate the fans.

Another big controversial moment (although I think people are over reacting a bit to this one) was when they played the Sex Pistols version of God Save the Queen for John Kabbaj's bracelet ceremony today. Apparently, this angered some of the UK poker community and was not sanctioned by Kabbaj, who stood on the podium with a weird look on his face as if to say “what the bloody hell is this about?” According to Pollack there was some miscommunication and Kabbaj will be given a new ceremony tomorrow with the proper anthem. Personally, I thought it was pretty damn cool and it's a shame some people have their head up their asses.

Jeffrey Lisandro is running so hot in Stud events right now that he can't seem to lose a hand. After scooping a big pot in the 50K HORSE in the Stud portion of the game (shocking I know), Matusow asked him if he ever lost a hand in stud. Lisandro cracked a smile and said, “It's a new era in Stud, I use a lot of imagination. It's not about the hand you start with, it's about the hand you end with.” Ahhhhh, if it were only that easy.

Speaking of running good, Brandon Cantu was en fuego in the $1,500 PLO8 tournament. At one point with 25 players left, he had 1/3 of the chips in play. He told one media member that he had been dealt aces like 10 times in 30 hands. Hellmuth was at his table and Cantu told him “I've never ran this hot in my entire life.”

So when a guy raises and everyone, including Cantu, folds, he looks at Cantu and says “No aces Brandon?”

Cantu smirks and the guy flips over four aces and the table roars with laughter.

“If you would have had an ace that time Brandon, I would have had to pat you down,” the smiling quad aces guy says. Cantu would end the day still having a big chip lead entering the final table but others had narrowed the gap.

Today, day 2 of the HORSE and another 1.5K NLHE. Good times! Until then...

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