After spending a week each on The Poker Players Championship and the Tournament of Champions, ESPN began its coverage of the 2010 WSOP Main Event tonight with action from Days 1A and 1B. With Mike “The Mouth” Matusow at the featured table wearing an “I Am McLovin’” t-shirt, and an opening day field that included Erik Seidel, Barry Shulman, Ted Forrest, TJ Cloutier, Bobby Baldwin, Chris Moneymaker, and Greg Raymer, the first of many weeks of shows leading up to the November Nine was aired. Here’s what it looked like:
In the first hand shown, Alex Carr raised to 250 with A-6, which Matusow called with in the cutoff. The player on the button called with the and a mystery card, and Alan Carter in the big blind also came along with 5-3. The flop brought 4-Q-6, and Carter led out for 600, which only Matusow called. The arrived on the turn, and Carter continued his aggression, betting 1,050. Matusow raised to 3,000 and Carter called. The fell on the river, and Carter checked. Matusow bet out and Carter immediately folded. Commentators Lon McEachern and Norman Chad pointed out that Matusow has had four top 100 Main Event cashes, including two final tables, in the past decade.
One of the best parts of ESPN’s coverage is their uncovering of the stories behind the players. One of the best ones from the first night was a tale told by Erik Seidel, who talked about a hustler taking his mother for $170 playing Scrabble, only to have Seidel win it back from him playing backgammon, and then continuing on until he had all of the man’s money, as well as his boots, which he keeps as a trophy to this day.
Meanwhile, Seidel was having a tougher time of things at the table. Taylor Larkin raised to 725 with A-K in the cutoff. Seidel decided to three-bet to 2,325 with A-6 in the big blind, but Larkin made it 6,500. Seidel tried to buy it with a five bet. To 17,000, but Larkin pushed all-in, and Seidel finally laid it down.
In the first wild-card hand of the evening, Carr raised to 750 with pocket nines, which Matusow called with , as did Pisano with the mystery hand. The flop brought 7-8-2 with two spades. Pisano checked, and Carr bet 1,500, which the other two called. The turn card was the , and both Pisano and Carr checked. Matusow bet 3,050 into a pot of 6,900. Pisano then raised to 8,100 and the other two players folded. Pisano showed for the turned nut flush.
Interestingly, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi was in the field on Day 1A, and although we got to see glimpses of two of his hands during the first hour, and were told that he was amassing a huge stack, not that much was made of him at this point, which was surprising considering that we can expect he will be the biggest story leading up to November.
Matusow’s bad Day One continued as he limped in second position with . Carter raised to 1,225 with A-Q, and Matusow called. The flop brought Q-8-4, with one diamond. Matusow bet 1,325 and Carter called. When the turn revealed the , Matusow continued with his aggression, this time putting out 3,500. Carter called once again, and Matusow fired a third bullet, 7,000, when the came on the river. Carter called and took half of Matusow’s remaining stack.
Matusow made the mistake of saying that he never busts on the first day of the Main Event (only twice in the previous thirteen years), and then did just that, when he raised to 850 with K-J offsuit, and was called in two places, by Carter with pocket eights and Jason Lester with . The flop was a brutal one for Matusow, 5-J-8. Matusow pushed all-in, and Carter called with his set. The and the finished the board, and Matusow made his exit.
For Day 1B, although it was Gavin Smith who was at the featured table, most of the pre-show focus was on Annette Obrestad at the secondary table, making perhaps the most-awaited debut in Main Event history. Although she had cashed four times in the World Series thus far, she had not had nearly the impact on the tourney that some people anticipated, and was looking for a bit of redemption here.
Obrerstad showed her prodigious skills in an early hand where she flopped a full house with pocket fours on a flop of 4-J-4. Her opponent made trip jacks with J-7, and then hit a better boat when a 7 came on the turn. After Obrestad bet all three streets, her opponent put in a good-sized raise on the river, and she was able to get away from the second-best hand.
Smith lost a big pot to former Main Event runner-up Ivan Demidov, which began with Smith raising to 250 with A-10. Demidov re-raised to 800 with pocket nines and Smith called. The flop was 9-10-2, and Smith checked. Demidov bet 1,050 and Smith called. Another deuce fell on the turn, and Smith checked once again, whereupon Demidov put out 2,800, which was called once more. The on the river changed nothing, and this time Demidov bet 6,550, and Smith made the call and saw the bad news.
Later on, Smith found himself with pocket nines and made it 800 to go, only to have Steven Thomsen three-bet to 2,100 with A-Q. This time, it was Thomsen who got into big trouble on the board of 7-9-Q. He bet 3,200 and Smith pushed all-in, which Thomsen, somewhat surprisingly, called with almost no hesitation, creating a pot of 31,350. The turn brought another queen, putting Smith at risk, but he dodged Thomsen’s outs when a 10 fell on the river, and Smith doubled up.
Obrestad, whose stack had been eaten away, pushed all-in on a board of 3-5-10 with pocket nines. Grantland Hillman hesitated somewhat before making the call with a pair of jacks, causing Obrestad to become quite annoyed over what she felt was a slow roll. Regardless, she hit a third nine on the turn, and doubled up to 19,200 to, at least temporarily, survive.
The best behind the scenes story of the second hour focused on a young woman in the tournament, Thuy Doan, who has struggled with cancer and wound up having one of her legs amputated below the knee to remove a tumor that didn’t respond to any other treatment. Barry Greenstein put together a head-shaving solidarity event to support her, and he, as well as such well-known pros as Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey, shaved their heads to help her spirits during the ordeal. She was to make it through the first day, although with a short stack.
In the second hour’s wild card hand, Balazs Botond raised to 800 with the mystery cards, which Smith called with , as did Demidov with in the big blind. The flop brought 9-A-Q, with two clubs. Demidov checked, as did Botond, and Smith bet 1,650. Demidov raised to 4,450 and Botond called, as Smith got out of the way. Demidov made his flush as the hit the turn, and he bet out 6,000 which Botond called. The river was yet another club, the nine, and when Demidov slowed down and checked, Botond bet enough to put Demidov all-in. He thought long and hard about it, and finally folded, and Botond showed the for the successful bluff. Soon after, Demidov was all-in for the rest of his chips with A-K against Botond’s K-Q, but both the turn and the river were queens, and Demidov was sent to the rail.
In the final televised hand of the night, Obrestad, who came across surprisingly as somewhat of an obnoxious bully during this telecast, called a raise to 900 from Chris Bjorin (who had pocket queens) with A-J in the small blind. The big blind also called with Q-10. When the flop came 2-2-9, both blinds checked, and Bjorin bet 4,500, only to have Obrestad push all-in for 19,950. Bjorin called, and the and eliminated Obrestad, who thought she could push Bjorin off his hand, from her first Main Event.
As always, ESPN came up with some good stories, and a large number of interesting hands for the viewers to watch. There is a long way to go until we finally get down to the November Nine, but if this was any indication, ESPN will once again be up to the task. See you next week!