ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 WSOP Main Event continued tonight with action from Days 1C and 1D. The big question on everyone’s mind, naturally, was “Just how much time will they give to THIS year’s over-the-top embarrassment of an entrance by Phil Hellmuth?" The answer to that and other pressing issues would be answered in tonight’s two-hour show.
Although Day 1C was ripe with top-named professionals, including Daniel Negreanu, Patrik Antonius, Tom Dwan and eight former Main Event champions, the pre-show focus was on last year’s champion, Joe Cada, seated at the featured table, and Hellmuth, whose chair was seated at Table Two, minus the Poker Brat himself.
In the first hand of the night, Alex Gregory raised in early position to 600 with 7-5. Cada called with pocket nines and Ed Ross also came along with . The flop was , and both Gregory and Cada checked. Ross bet 1,100 with the nut flush draw. Gregory made a very thin call with a gutshot draw, and Cada then check-raised to 5,000. Only Ross called, and the two saw a turn card of the . Cada bet 6,500 and Ross folded.
Hellmuth finally made his entrance, clad in an MMA fighter’s robe and gloves, after ESPN showed a montage of some of his previous years’ costumes, and Daniel Negreanu suggested that if Hellmuth wanted to show up bare-chested, he should work out. “He’s got moobs!” railed Negreanu. Hellmuth’s tablemates informed him that they each put up $100 as a bounty for whoever busts him. Hellmuth got involved in a hand right away, as he called David Katalan’s (pocket nines) raise in the small blind with 7-6. The flop was 7-10-5. Hellmuth bet 400 and Katalan called. The turn card was the , and Hellmuth led out for another 400, which Katalan called. The fell on the river, and Hellmuth checked, and then folded when Katalan bet 1,000.
Cada continued to have the same type of luck that won him the championship last year when he raised to 800 with pocket sevens, only to have Nils Bardsley make it 2,200 with a pair of kings. Cada called, and seemingly inevitably saw a flop of A-A-7! Both players checked. The was the turn card, and this time Cada led out for 3,600, which Bardsley called. The river brought the , and Cada fired out 11,000. Bardsley called, and Cada took down a pot of 38,900.
The first wild card hand of the night saw James Carroll raise to 800 on the button with the mystery hand. Hellmuth called in the big blind with pocket jacks. The flop brought 4-5-3, with two spades. Hellmuth checked, and Carroll bet 1,300, which Hellmuth called. The turn was the , and both players checked. The came on the river, and now Hellmuth led out for 1,475, only to have Carroll raise to 6,200. Hellmuth called, and Carroll showed for the nut flush, prompting Hellmuth to go on a mini-tirade about Carroll being the worst player at the table.
Cada raised to 800 in the hijack seat with pocket threes, and was called by Tommy Miller in the small blind with . The flop was Q-Q-4 with two diamonds. Miller checked, Cada bet 1,000 and Miller called, and then hit his flush when the appeared on the turn. He checked, and Cada checked behind. Naturally, the river was the !!!! Miller bet 1,600 one street too late, and Cada raised to 8,500. Miller called, and saw that he’d been rivered.
Hellmuth’s death spiral continued when Carroll raised on the button with pocket aces, which Hellmuth called in the big blind with A-4. The case ace came on the flop, along with a five and a nine. Hellmuth checked and Carroll bet 1,550, which Hellmuth called. The turn was the , and Hellmuth checked again. This time, Carroll bet 3,250, and Hellmuth called again. The was the river card, and Carroll bet enough to put Hellmuth all-in. Hellmuth folded, and was left with just 6,675 chips from his starting stack of 30,000.
Hellmuth’s elimination was to follow swiftly. He pushed with pocket jacks, Marion Herring, a shorter stack, also went all-in with A-K, and Daniel Aldridge, who had both covered, called with a pair of queens. The flop was 8-2-K, with two diamonds. The turn brought the , giving Aldridge a better flush draw than Hellmuth, and the river of the allowed Aldridge to take out two players on the same hand, and end the first hour of the telecast.
Interestingly, the main focus of the second hour was not to be Doyle Brunson, who was at Table Two, or even Phil Ivey, who we can guess declined the opportunity to sit at the featured table, but Darvin Moon, last year’s runner-up. Just as we saw Cada continue to run amazingly well in the Main Event, so too were we to see Moon pick up right where he left off last year.
Although Moon seemed to have more plays in his arsenal than a year ago, he still displayed the Everyman charm that he brought to that tournament. In an early hand, he was the last to act on the river, having hit the nut flush, and checked, not realizing that such an action was against tournament rules (he said he knew his opponent couldn’t bet, and he wanted to be able to see his hand). He was penalized by having to sit out for a hand.
Soon after, he played in the second hour’s wild card hand, and after Joe Coraci raised to 900 in the hijack with pocket kings, Moon called with the mystery cards in the big blind. The flop was 5-2-3, Moon checked and Coraci bet 1,000, which Moon called. The turn was the , and this time Coraci bet 2,000 after Moon’s check. Moon called once again, and both saw the on the river. Now, Moon woke up and bet 6,000 into the 7,950 chip pot. Coraci called, and Moon revealed for a flopped wheel!
Tonight’s best feature story was the amazing tale of Steve Sanders (no, not the Beverly Hills 90210 character). You might remember him from last year’s Main Event when, with just 54 players left, he was all-in with pocket aces against Dennis Phillips’ pair of queens, only to have Phillips hit a four-flush on the river to cripple Sanders, who was quickly eliminated soon after. It turned out that the bad beat saved his life, because he had been having chest pains during the day, and he wound up quickly going to the hospital, where they discovered an almost bursting aortic aneurysm, which required immediate surgery and left him in intensive care for four days. Had he been in the tournament any longer than he was, the great likelihood is that he would have died right at the table.
In the final hand of the night, Moon raised to 1,600 under the gun with . Miguel Gonzalez, who was a constant foil for Moon all evening, just called with pocket kings. The flop brought 10-8-5, with one spade. Gonzalez checked, Moon bet 2,500, and Gonzalez check-raised to 7,500. Moon, not to be deterred, made it 17,000, but Gonzalez went all-in, catching Moon with his hand in the cookie jar. Moon only needed another 4,275 to call, but it looked as if his hard work doubling up during Day One was going to go for naught, as he was about to be right back to his starting stack. The turn of the gave him a few more outs, and the on the river brought back memories of 2009, as Moon knocked out Gonzaleaz, and finished Day One with 89,500 chips.
The coverage tonight focused almost exclusively on the two featured tables, and ignored stories such as the great start that Johnny Chan got off to, as well as spending any time with those who took the early chip lead. As a result, the show had a very smooth story line, but didn’t really deal with the immense scope of the field, particularly the 2,400+ players that went at it on Day 1D.
See you next week for Day 2!