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

Main Event, Day 5 – Main Event Madness

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As a member of the media, it can be overwhelming at times trying to keep up with all the action. I'm thankful I'm not one of those media members whose job is keeping track of chip counts and providing live updates. I did that my first year at the WSOP back in 2007, and while I had a lot of fun doing it, it could be tiring, and mind numbing work. Just to give you an example of what it's like though, here is some of the action that took place in just the first level of play on day 5 at the World Series of Poker Main Event.

The set up today is spacious. They have big gaps in between all the tables which allows plenty of room for media members and ESPN and their camera crews to navigate. It sucks for the railbirds though because with the exception of 5-6 tables, they are far away from the action.

I walk by one table and see a guy peek at his cards. Looks like pocket 5's or 4's, I can't tell for sure, but he limps in. There is a raise from late position and the limper re-raises trying to make it look like he has limped in with a monster. It doesn't work, however, as the raiser calls. The flop comes K-9-3 and the limp raiser bets about ½ of his stack. The pre-flop raiser moves all in and after a brief tank the limp raiser folds and tells they guy sitting next to him, “Damn king, I had pocket queens.” Ummm, sure you did buddy. Damn poker players are a bunch of liars.

I see Nick, aka Nicky Numbers, all in at another table and go over there. He has pocket kings against A-J on a jack high flop. Nick tells his opponent, “I like my hand.” He likes it until an ace hits on the river. Nick looks at the board incredulous. “Really,” he says, still not believing his eyes. Finally, he leaves the table, shakes the hands of the other plays at the table, and makes the long walk out of the Rio.

A few tables over, I see a guy reaching across the table and shaking the hand of another player. The other player accepts the hand shake and then goes “Whooooo!” loudly and claps his hands. I walk over to the table and see a board of A-J-7-8-5 all diamonds. The one player has A-K with no diamonds and the happy guy has pocket 6's with the 6 of diamonds. Apparently, the guy with A-K had thought the board flush played and they chopped the pot. Realizing the error of his ways, he sat there with a dejected look on his face as the chips get shoved to the guy with pocket 6's and his once healthy stack was now crippled.

Luck had its way moments later when a player opened with pocket queens and a moderately short stack moved all in from the big blind with A-9. The queens snap called but was punished when the board came A-8-7-5-9 to double up the short stack. “Sorry brother,” the short stack says. “I got lucky.” The short stack lightly slaps his cheeks and goes, “Aaahhhhh!” – it's obvious that he can't believe his good fortune. The other player is not as happy as he lets out a big, exasperated sigh.

Kevin O'Donnell was one of the lucky people who got in late on day 1D. Having made it this deep, he probably felt he was more than free rolling. I walked over to his table with the board reading Q-7-7-2 and 400K already in the pot. His opponent was all in and biting his shirt (literally biting it). O'Donnell asked the dealer to count the all in stack and found out it was 359K more to call. The all in player let go of his shirt and is tapping his foot nervously on the ground a million miles a minute. His arms are folded and he's looking quietly at one spot on the table. O'Donnell starts talking out loud to himself, replaying the hand in his head.  Everyone else at the table, including Antonio Esfandiari, is standing and studying the two players.

“Will you show if I fold,” O'Donnell asks.

The all in player nods his head back and forth to indicate that he would not.

“No?” O'Donnell asks. Finally, Kevin folds A-Q face up and the all in player does show... pocket queens for a flopped boat.

One of the few remaining women move all in. She is called by a player with pocket jacks and she turns over a dominated hand in pocket tens. “I feel it,” she yells. “Ten on the flop! Ten on the flop!” The flop comes K-Q-5 keeping the player with jacks in the lead. The turn, however, gives the all in woman some life as it is a jack. “Ace, 9, or 10,” the woman yells. A player laughs and says “a ten won't do it for you.” The woman realizes the error of her ways. “Ace or 9 dealer,” she pleads. The river is neither and the woman is eliminated. “Oh My God! Oh My God! Oh My God!” she says, acting as if she has just suffered the worst beat in poker history. She hangs her head for a moment, regains her composure, lifts it and smiles.

Phil Ivey was at a table right next to the rail and as expected it was jam packed, including the old couple who always follows him. I go over to watch Ivey for a few minutes and see him bet 30K on a 10-6-2 flop and get called by the one other player in the hand with him. The turn is a jack and Ivey's opponent check raises his 55K bet to 200K. Ivey after thinking it over for a minute makes the call. The river is another jack and Ivey's opponent quickly checks. Ivey looks as if he is going to make a wager and even asks his opponent how much does he have but at the last minute decides against it and checks. His opponent shows 7-6 off suit for 3rd pair and Ivey looks as if he wants to punch himself in the face.

A few minutes later Ivey is tangled in another hand with the same player. The flop is K-5-4 with two spades and there is a bet of 125K. Ivey's nemesis says “I'll show a king. I'd never bluff you twice.” Phil stacks out some chips and his opponent shakes his head as if he doesn't want him to put out a raise. “I will show you,” he tells Phil. I'm thinking the guy is strong but obviously Phil had a different read because he made the call. The turn is another 5 and Ivey's opponent checks. Phil doesn't take too long to check behind. The river is a 2nd king and this time Phil's opponent almost instantly makes a bet of 150K. Phil folds and his opponent shows A-K.

Meanwhile, tournament director Jimmy S. makes an announcement. “The player who just busted, you left your shoes at the table.” The room laughs. I just read in the media release from Nolan Dalla that the shoes were never claimed and are at the lost and found. Now that's a real bad beat story.

You would feel pretty good if you got it all in pre-flop with A-Q against A-6 of diamonds and the flop came Q-8-3 with one diamond right? You would probably want to vomit in the nearest trash can if the turn and river were running diamonds. Such is life as a professional poker player and what happened in the first level today.

Burt Boutin can be a bit of a whacky guy at times, so it was no surprise when he got it all in with pocket aces against pocket kings that he was acting frantic and disturbed. “No king,” he says, pacing back and forth. He sees it coming out of the dealers hand before it's turned over though.

“Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh,” he yells.

“That's sick. That's so sick.” He walks away from the table, his head twitching.

“How does that happen. Aaaahhhhhh.”

The final two cards are dealt and Boutin is out.

“Heh. What a joke. What a joke.”

He doesn't want to leave and is just standing there, staring at his former chips being shipped to the guy who had kings.

“That's unbelievable,” Boutin says and starts laughing out loud.

The bad luck wasn't just happening to Boutin though. Over at another table, a player opened the action and was re-raised by a middle position player. Lou Diamond Phillips made the call and the original raiser moved all in. The re-raiser folded but Phillips, seeing he had the other player covered by 400K or so, made the call. Phillips was way ahead with A-K as his opponent had A-5 of hearts. The flop came 10-3-2 giving his opponent a gut shot straight draw. The turn was a 6 and Phillips says “4 or 5” indicating the two cards that would beat him. Perhaps Lou should have kept silent as the river was a 4 to give the all in player a wheel. Lou shakes his head, smiles slightly, and says “Wow!” Antonio Esfandiari offers his consolation in the form of a, “that's so sick,” uttering to Lou and then looks at the other player and goes, “Weeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Lou shakes it off gracefully and stands up and acts like he just got shot and then does his best Rocky Balboa impersonation by saying “Ahhhmmm still standin, youz didn'ts knocks me downs.”

T.J. Cloutier was walking around the tournament area (why does he get away with this?) in a Dream Team jersey. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

A player rivers a jack with K-J against Dennis Phillips' pocket 10's and says, “Yes, yes, yes!” and gives a big hug to his friend. Phillips says to every one... “by the way in case you didn't know... he won.”

Keith Lehr runs pocket kings into pocket aces and goes into an, “Every year, every year” tirade. He loses the hand and walks off, visibly frustrated and honestly looking a little sad and heartbroken as he is crippled from the loss. He would go out soon after.

Right before the end of the first break I witness what at the time was the biggest pot of the tournament thus far. Tom Schneider opened the pot for 22K and was re-raised by the uber aggressive Kevin Saul (who had told Schneider earlier after he doubled up to one million, “You ready to play some poker?”) to 62K. Tom three bet Saul to 192K and Saul wasted little time in moving all in for one million total, well over 100 big blinds. Schneider snap called with pocket aces and Saul was left with 20K after his A-K did not hit a miracle. That pot put Schneider up to 2.2 million and gave him the early chip lead after the first level of the day.

There were 304 left after the first break meaning that approximately 100 players were eliminated in the first two hours. It's amazing how many people are moving in for ridiculous amounts of chips. I've never seen so many over bets or people hitting the rail at this quick a pace in all my years watching the Main Event. All of this was just one person's observations for two hours of play. I'm sure I didn't even catch ½ of what happened either. It's only going to get better from here on out. I'll be back with more tomorrow. Until then...

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