ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 WSOP Main Event continued last night with Day 2B, the session that featured the single largest number of players of the entire tournament, with 2,734 starting the day from among the survivors of Days 1B and 1D. The focuses of the brief pre-show were Phil Ivey, who was not to last very long, and the featured table pairing of Dan Harrington (former Main Event champion and FOUR time final table participant) and Jeff Shulman (a member of last year’s November Nine who also made the final table in 2000).
With the blinds at 200-400-50, Shulman raised to 1,100 with pocket jacks. Chris Emmeluth called in the cutoff with and Harrington also called in the big blind with Q-10 offsuit. The flop brought 9-8-7 with two spades. Harrington checked, Shulman bet 1,200 and the other two came along with their draws. Harrington made his straight when the hit the turn, and tried to protect his hand with a bet of 4,000. Shulman folded, but Emmeluth called, and then made his flush when the river brought the . Harrington checked, and Emmeluth made a very small value bet of 3,000, which Harrington couldn’t resist calling.
Meanwhile, at an outer table, Ivey was crippled when he ran pocket queens into kings. Although Ivey seemingly escaped when he turned another queen, his opponent immediately caught a king on the river to leave Ivey with just a tiny stack, and he was eliminated soon after.
Back at the featured table, Tibor Hegedus made it 1,050 to go with A-K, and was called by Shulman with in the big blind. The flop was Q-3-Q, with two hearts, and both checked. The fell on the turn, and Hegedus called Shulman’s bet of 1,000 chips. The on the river changed nothing, and Shulman led out once more, this time for 1,500. Hegedus called with his two pair and lost the pot to Shulman’s flush.
Shulman had started the day very short-stacked, and needed to make up some ground. In the next hand in which he was featured, Kyle Ray raised to 1,000 in the hijack with A-Q, and Shulman called in the small blind with pocket jacks. Hegedus then raised in the big blind with , causing Ray to fold, but Shulman called. The flop of Q-4-J was a thing of beauty for Shulman, and he checked. Hegedus bet 6,500 and Shulman immediately went all-in. Hegedus was pot committed and called, and Shulman took down a pot of 37,150 when the and completed the board.
In the first wild card hand of the night, Shulman limped with the unknown cards under the gun. Emmeluth also limped with Q-J, as did Ray with K-5, Mark Tschirch in the small blind with and Harrington (checking his option) with . The flop was with one diamond. After three checks, Emmeluth tried to steal the pot with a bet of 2,000. Harrington called, but Shulman put in a raise to 7,000. Emmeluth folded right away, and Harrington reasoned out that Shulman had either pocket fours or the J-10 of clubs, and folded. Shulman showed the pair of fours to the camera and took the pot.
Perhaps the strangest hand of the tournament thus far was shown next. At an outer table, Ted Bort was barking like a dog in between bets that he was firing out against Prahlad Friedman. Bort put out a huge bet on the river, enough to put Friedman all-in, and kept up a steady stream of manic dialogue in between barks. Bort finally called the clock, and the tournament official started counting down the final 10 seconds. With one second remaining, Friedman called, and Bort showed a winning hand, which would have eliminated Friedman. However, the official ruled Friedman’s hand dead, despite the fact that he had clearly called before zero was counted. Another player at the table, Mike Mustafa, was furious, and called over a second floor man, but the ruling stood, and Friedman was allowed to continue, with a large part of his stack still intact.
The features in this episode were not nearly as compelling as in the last few weeks. We got to see Friedman set a record by sinking 23 free throws in one minute, using just one ball and one rebounder. And there was a story on Phil Laak (who was playing at Table Two) breaking the Guinness Book record for consecutive hours playing poker, which he had accomplished while the early WSOP tournaments were being contested. Neither of these stories was news to poker junkies, who had previously been exposed to them through online media, nor was there anything interesting added to either story by ESPN.
Laak, ever the oddball character, was enjoying himself getting other players to pay him cash to show his hands after he won pots, trying, as he stated, to offset some of the cost of the tournament buy-in. However, that strategy might have backfired on him when, after he showed a huge bluff when he made a big river bet to push a player off second pair, he was involved in a hand with John Corsi, in which Corsi raised pre-flop with pocket aces, only to have Laak call with . After both checked a flop of 8-2-5, Corsi checked the on the turn, whereupon Laak bet out 3,500. Corsi called, and the river card was the . Corsi checked again, and Laak put Corsi all-in. Corsi made the call, and took the 52,000 chip pot.
Back at the featured table, former third place Main Event finisher Josh Arieh joined the table, and proceeded to plow through his entire chip stack, much of which he lost when he fired two barrels with second pair, and then called a big river bet, losing to top pair-top kicker. His stack took a further hit after Shulman raised to 2,200 with , which Arieh called in the small blind with . Arieh was in big trouble when the flop brought A-7-6, and after he checked, Shulman bet 3,000. Aireh raised enough to put Shulman all-in, and Shulman called. The and another 6 completed the board, and Shulman doubled up to 38,100.
Shulman’s reprieve was temporary, however, as with the blinds at 500-1,000-100, he raised under the gun to 2,200 with . Ray called with , and Mark Tschirch made it 7,200 with pocket aces. Shulman pushed all-in, Ray folded and Tschirch naturally called. The board ran out 2-8-8-4-7, and Shulman was eliminated.
Tonight’s coverage was somewhat lackluster, perhaps due to the fact that the players ESPN put its cameras on, Harrington, Shulman, and Laak, are not exactly known for providing lots of high-wire play. While it was great to hear some of Harrington’s table banter - “They (other players) sometimes forget that I’m the guy who wrote the book!” -there weren’t a lot of juicy hands to create a compelling two hours. Ah well, better luck next week.
See you then!