Today is the first time in two weeks that no final tables will be decided, but I’m sure that’s just fine for most members of the media. The reason press row is grateful for a little rest today is because the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low-8 or Better World Championship didn’t end today until 7:00 a.m. That means, after interviews and pictures and writing their final wrap-ups, they most likely didn’t get to bed until 10:00 a.m.
For those in the media and on the rail that stayed to watch the Omaha marathon cross the finish line, they got to see Sammy Farha collect his third career World Series of Poker bracelet. For most of the night a decent crowd surrounded the rail, but as the hours went on, the rail went home. The reason for the big crowds, at least to start the night, was that four of the nine players at the final table were previous WSOP winners. Two of the players, Michael Chow who finished in 7th place, and eventual runner-up James Dempsey, won their first career bracelets this year, showing there is a certain amount of momentum that is to be had by winning a WSOP title.
At 3:00 am Farha and Dempsey played their first of hundreds of hands that lasted until 7:00 a.m. Many people felt that Dempsey held an advantage because he was both younger and more used to playing longer sessions than Farha. Additionally, Farha, who addressed this situation himself, usually gets frustrated and loses focus when play drags on for hours at a time. However, Farha was eventually able to get the better of his young counterpart, solidifying himself as one of the best Omaha players in the world, as all three of Farha’s bracelets have come in Omaha.
Farha, who was runner-up to Chris Moneymaker at the 2003 WSOP Main Event, has always been one of the more popular players on tour. He’s also been one of the most confident of his skills. After this tournament concluded, he was asked what it is like seeing himself on TV. His answer started humbly enough, saying “I always laugh…” then he continued, “because I’m always the star.” This morning he certainly was.
Just because there is no final table today doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of activity around the rooms. In fact, there are five tournaments currently taking place. Tomorrow will be even busier, with 7 different tournaments taking place and three of those being final tables. One of the tournaments just kicking off today is the $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event.
It’s always funny to hear people complain about bad beats in Omaha. With so many draws and outs on every single card, it’s still a wonder to some as to how people get so angry with every turn of the card. However, because every hand seems like a good one, it doesn’t take long to thin out an Omaha field (generally, playing the final table is a different story). At the time of this writing we have already seen over 200 of the 596 entrants eliminated. Plenty of big names remain in the event, and many of those are in the top ten. Currently in first is Tex Barch, right behind him is Joe Serock, T.J. Cloutier, Scotty Nguyen, and Bertrand “elkY” Grospellier.
Another field that is really thinning out is the $1,000 No Limit Holdem tournament. At the moment only 27 players remain. A quick look around shows that not many recognizable names are still in, as evidenced by a fairly small amount of railbirds. Recognizable names aren’t always a must at the end of a poker tournament, because whenever someone new wins a tournament they are theoretically bringing more fans into the game.
The second day of the $2,500 No Limit Holdem/Six Handed event is down to 138. Leading the way is David Benefield who is known on the internet as “Raptor.” This event has drawn quite a few fans to the rail because a number of well known players remain in the field. Daniel Negreanu and Annette Obrestad, who have both had slow starts to the WSOP, are in the middle of the pack. Sorel Mizzi, Jeff Shulman, Chris Moorman, and Marco Traniello are all also still in. With this number of big names remaining, one can assume that the final table of this event will draw quite a bit of attention tomorrow.
Day number two of the Seven Card Stud Hi-Low event with a $1,500 buy-in is also taking place. The event normally doesn’t draw that much attention but because Tom Dwan is in it the opposite has been proven true. Many people decide not to watch stud hi-lo events because to them too much is going on, but that hasn’t stopped people from routinely stopping by to see how many chips Dwan has. Right now, it’s not going so well, as he has about 7,000 chips, which is well below the average. Again, as many of you know, Dwan is in line to win upwards of $15,000,000 if he wins just one bracelet due to a number of side bets he has going on with the likes of Phil Ivey and Negreanu.
Finally, the last event taking place is the $10,000 Limit Hold’em World Championship. At this moment the event is just getting underway. It’s imaginable that as players begin to bust from the other tournaments, particularly the six handed event that still has a lot of big names in it, they will make their way over here to sign up for this event. Traditionally, many players don’t show up to their seats at a limit hold’em event right when it starts because of the number of chips in play. Routinely players will show up many hours late, opting to forgo the small blinds.