The “Poker Kitchen” can get a little crowded during breaks. Sometimes when this happens you meet new people simply because everyone is looking for a place to sit so they can stuff some substance down their throats and get back to their tournament table, all within 20 minutes. The members of the media don’t necessarily have to rush as much as the poker players, so they have time to listen to some of the rushed conversations. One conversation at a nearby table caught my attention because they were talking about bad-beats in a new, refreshing way.
You can’t walk down the hallways at the Rio without hearing at least a half-dozen people talking, or in many cases yelling, into a cell phone about the bad beat they just received. This wasn’t one of those conversations. Instead the two guys at the nearby table were talking about the “Anatomy of a Bad Beat.” They discussed that they are sure that at some point during the first month of the WSOP that “four aces have lost to a straight flush and a straight flush has lost to a royal flush” but they were saying when it happened is more important. Losing to a one outer on the river in the first hand of a tournament is certainly easier to take than on the bubble of the Main Event, they argued.
One of the guys went on to say that he saw the worst bad beat of the tournament early Tuesday morning. He was cheering on his friend Steve Sung, who was in a back-and-forth heads-up battle with Sigurd Eskeland at the final table of the $2,500 Mixed Event. The two were virtually even in chips when all of the money got into the middle during a hand of no limit holdem. The hand would determine the winner of the event. Sung revealed pocket queens, putting him way ahead of the of Eskeland. The flop came 3-9-4 with two clubs. The turned giving Eskeland a flush draw, which he hit when the came on the river. It was hard not to agree with the fellas at the next table over. The timing of that runner-runner bad beat may very well make it the “worst bad beat of the year.”
The “Tournament of Champions” is taking forever. The tournament was supposed to get down to the final table yesterday, so they could play it out on July 4th. However, only 10 of the original 27 entrants have been eliminated, meaning the WSOP organizers are trying to figure out another day to have the remaining 17 players comeback. Getting all 27 players to participate in the event to begin with was a chore. Phil Ivey, the top vote-getter for the “TOC,” apparently almost decided to opt-out of the event because it would mean he would miss bracelet events, on which he has millions of dollars of action. He did end up playing, but he was one of the first players eliminated. Many believe Ivey had no hard feelings, as the top prize for the “TOC” is $500,000, a pittance compared to what he’ll win if he is able to secure another bracelet.
The initial idea was to have the “TOC” interfere with as few tournaments as possible, but it turns out it could coincide with three different events, including the popular “Ante up For Africa” charity tournament. At the moment the “TOC” is scheduled to resume July 3rd at 7:00 p.m. to play down to the final table. Then, they will play the final table on July 4th, starting at the ungodly poker hour of 10:00 a.m. However, if any of the remaining players of the “TOC” are in one of the other tournaments scheduled during these proposed hours they would have to figure out Plan B. Or would that be Plan C?
The online version of ESPN, called ESPN3, has recently begun showing some of the WSOP action live on their website. It provides a great service for those that can’t be here to witness the action in person. It also provides a great service to members of the media that can’t be in two places at once. While watching the second day coverage of the “TOC,” Phil Hellmuth was overheard talking about his WSOP Main Event entrance with Mike “The Mouth” Matusow. Hellmuth, maybe not realizing a camera was on him (can you believe that?), appeared to tell Matusow that the Ultimate Fighting Championships is paying him $2,000,000 to show up at the Main Event dressed as a UFC fighter. Hellmuth quickly covered his mouth, as if acting like he shouldn’t have given that information to Matusow. Matusow couldn’t believe what he heard, and said something along the lines of “YEAH RIGHT?? THEY ARE PAYING YOU TWO MILLION MY F****ING A**!” Hellmuth didn’t respond, and instead tried to change the subject before the cameras went to another table in the tournament.
If this is true, this would be incredible. For starters, nobody on the current UFC roster makes close to $2 million for a fight. In fact, one of the most popular fighters in UFC history, Chuck Liddell, made only $500,000 for his last fight one month ago. It’s hard to imagine that the brand of Phil Hellmuth, a professional poker player, is worth $2 million to the UFC, unless part of that contract requires Hellmuth to get into the ring at the next UFC Pay-Per-View. Now that would make sense.