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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009

ESPN’s WSOP Coverage Review – August 25, 09

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ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker moved to Days 1C and 1D of the Main Event.  With the crowds for the two days greatly eclipsing those of the first two sessions, a number of questions hung in the air.  Would the network spend any time on the controversy surrounding the closing of registration on Day 1D?  Would it even address the wide disparity in the number of players from day to day?  Would there be some mention of the different number of levels played on the various first days?  Or would it just treat the starting field as if everyone had the same conditions from the start, and ignore the difficulties that plagued the beginning of the event?  Let’s see what transpired.

The pre-show teaser made it clear that the first hour was going to focus on Daniel Negreanu, seated at the featured table, and Phil Hellmuth, on table two.  Commentator Norman Chad did a quick comparison between the two players:  While Negreanu brings positive energy to the table, Hellmuth not so much.  While Daniel doesn’t do well in the Main Event, Hellmuth tends to do very well.  And finally, Negreanu never wears a loin cloth to the table, while Hellmuth…….  

The Poker Brat entered dressed as Caesar, surrounded by models in togas.  He walked up to the table and immediately played the hand sitting in front of him, which he folded to a flop bet from his opponent, saying that he knew the player was bluffing (he was), but that he would let him have it this time.

Jeff Lisandro was briefly featured in a piece on the Player-of-the-year race, and we got to see him in a hand where his pocket aces were played against by two players with pocket queens and Q-10.  The flop had both a Q and a 10, all the money went in from the three players, and Lisandro back doored Broadway when the turn and river were J-K, eliminating both his opponents.

It was obvious from the beginning of the hour that Negreanu was quite ill.  His nose was red, his eyes were runny and he didn’t have any of his usual joie de vivre.  His usual uncanny card-reading skills were muted at best, and his stack gradually dwindled away through a series of ill-advised calls.  He was finally eliminated when, on a flop of 10-10-7, an opponent bet out and Negreanu went all-in with pocket threes, only to run into pocket queens.  It was a lesson in how important it is to be in the best possible mental and physical state when you sit down at the table, especially if your game relies on being able to read your opponents accurately.

Meanwhile, Hellmuth had an up-and-down first session.  He was bluffed out of a pot when the board showed four diamonds, with his opponent needling him that he learned by reading Hellmuth’s book.  He flopped a nut straight with J-8, and raised all-in with it, causing his opponents to muck.  He had a couple of mini-meltdowns, when first, his raise with pocket jacks was called by a player with K-8 suited, who then flopped a king and rivered another, bringing a barrage of insults from Hellmuth, and next, when he flopped yet another straight with J-8, only to have his opponent river a four-flush.  All in all, it was business as usual for the Poker Brat.

The two players that were featured in the second hour were 2008 Player of the Year Erick Lindgren and defending Main Event champion Peter Eastgate (supposedly, Phil Ivey refused to sit at the featured table, having been up all night playing in the big game at the Bellagio, although this was not mentioned on the telecast).  The only reference to the crowds on day 1D was the pronouncement that, for the first time, the Main Event had sold out, turning away hundreds of players.  Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!

Despite Ivey’s absence at the televised tables, it was clear that ESPN was going to begin building his story as early as possible, in anticipation of his presence in the November Nine.  A short feature included lavish praise from such notable pros as Daniel Negreanu, Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Mike Matusow, and 8-time bracelet winner Erik Seidel, who compared Ivey to Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.  During the hour, we saw Ivey eliminate a player with A-A over K-K, and bully his table a couple of times, on his way to a big first day stack.

Meanwhile, the featured table showed Lindgren playing the underwhelming style that plagued him throughout the 2009 WSOP.  Interestingly, during the first hour, a few minutes were spent on the side bets Negreanu and Lindgren had made before the series, where they challenged all comers to two-man team total Player-of-the-Year points bets.  The only player they refused to go up against was Ivey, but Barry Greenstein chose to pair up with Jeff Lisandro, who only wound up winning three bracelets!  As Lindgren commented, “Good choice.”  Although Negreanu was his usual gracious self in refusing to slam his partner, Lindgren made it clear that he had let the two of them down, and, depending on how the Main Event finished up, the two of them were possibly on the hook for as much as a million dollars.

The hand that best summed up Lindgren’s hour on camera saw two limpers already in the pot with pocket eights and A-7 offsuit.  When Lindgren CALLED with pocket aces, it wound up creating a five-way pot when the blinds called.  After a J-5-5 flop, Lindgren CHECKED even though the hand was checked to him in position!  After a king on the turn, the player with A-7 took a stab at the pot, and then made an even bigger bet on the river, causing Lindgren to fold much the best hand.  The commentators were stunned by Lindgren’s choice to invite a multi-way pot with aces, and his overall passive play of the hand.

Eastgate, on the other hand, had an hour filled with some luck (rivering three-of-a-kind when he was way behind), a lot of playing from behind, and finally, a great read with pocket kings against a possible flush board, when his opponent made a big raise on the river with a busted draw.  He was active, he was somewhat unpredictable, and he survived to continue his defense of the crown.

Next week’s show will move on to Day 2, and we’ve been promised a feature table line-up including both Greg Raymer and Jason Alexander, as the comedian tries to extend the “summer of George”.  I’ll be back next week with the review.  See you then.

*Read Clearspine’s Blog*

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