All the remaining players in the 2010 WSOP Main Event combined into one large field to play Day 3, the focus of tonight’s ESPN telecast. There were many different roads the network could have taken, with seven former world champions still in the mix, four Mizrachi brothers still active, Johnny Chan with a big stack and lots of other fascinating players in the field. The producers’ choice was to have a featured table with Scotty Nguyen, which also started out with David Sklansky and Adam Schoenfeld (Sklansky busted out almost immediately). Perhaps they were hoping for the type of fireworks Nguyen provided during his drunken march to the Chip Reese trophy two years ago, but instead, they got an O’Doul’s-drinking, genial Poker Prince, who seemed intent upon impressing everyone with just what a nice guy he can be. Unfortunately, it didn’t make for an awful lot of very good poker, as Nguyen was involved in very few interesting hands during the telecast.
Table Two promised a more reliably volatile mix, as Ted Bort, also known as the player who barks like a dog, was seated just to the left of Jason Mercier, who was looking to increase an already sizeable stack. However, after Bort took down a hand fairly early in the first hour, his signature bark was squelched by a tournament director, who gave him a stern warning and a promise that any more loud animal noises would earn him a penalty. Bort had to confine himself to saying things that no one seemed to understand, particularly Mercier, who didn’t quite know what to make of Bort.
Each of these two was featured in a behind-the-scenes interview. Mercier told the story of his EPT win in San Remo, when, while out celebrating at a club after the victory, he and his friends wound up in a bar fight with some locals, who sent Mercier to the hospital for two days with a beer bottle embedded in his back, which just missed severing major arteries and ending Mercier’s life. Bort spoke of being raised in foster care and children’s homes, and spending three years as a male stripper and doing some jail time. He feels that he has taken the negative things he’s experienced and turned them into a positive, and now, when he’s not playing poker, he is actually the founder of an IT company in California.
Meanwhile, most of the pots contested early on at the two main tables were small ones, with the network forced to show things like folds to pre-flop three bets and the like, since there were just not many very dramatic hands to come by. In the first wild card hand of the night, Nguyen had the mystery cards in the small blind and limped, and Steve Toulch checked his option with Q-6. Toulch hit top pair on a flop of Q-2-9, with two diamonds. Nguyen bet out 1,400, Toulch raised to 3,100 and Nguyen called. The turn was the and both players checked. When a third heart, the 4, fell on the river, Nguyen bet 6,000 and Toulch called, only to have Nguyen show down 4-2 for bottom two pair and the win.
Adam Schoenfeld was featured in many more hands than Nguyen on this night, however his perpetual scowl and hangdog expressions made for a less-than-compelling television presence. In one of the final hands of the first hour, Damien Rony raised to 2,800 in the cutoff with A-6, which Schoenfeld smooth-called with pocket tens on the button. Lee Walling also called in the small blind with a pair of sevens. The flop was 3-A-A, and after Walling and Rony checked, Schoenfeld bet 4,300. Walling foded, but Rony called. Both players checked the on the turn, which would have given Walling a full house. However, his hand would have been crippled by the on the river, which gave Rony quads. Rony bet 14,500 and Schoenfeld, not quite believing his aces full of tens weren’t good, made the call.
With the less-than-scintillating hands at the featured table, the cameras were trying to seek out action wherever they could find it, mostly serving up partial hands already in progress. We got to see Daniel Negreanu’s exit hand, where he flopped two pair and pushed all-in, only to have another player stay in the hand with an inside straight draw and then hit it! We were also treated to another horrific ending for Billy Kopp, who turned aces full of eights, only to push all-in against his opponent’s quad eights! The cameras also caught a variety of rivers, wins and losses of the four Mizrachi brothers, as they moved towards a quadruple pay day.
The two biggest hands at the featured tables didn’t involve either Nguyen and Schoenfeld, or Mercier and Bort. The first began with Toulch raising to 3,600 with , which Rony three-bet to 11,200 with . Toulch made the call, and was in big trouble when the flop came 2-A-10. Rony bet 14,600 and Toulch called. The turn was a miracle for Toulch, and after Rony checked, he bet 36,000, whereupon Rony raised him all-in to 104,200. Toulch called, the river was a blank and Toulch doubled up to 263,200, as Rony surrendered half his stack.
The second hand requires visiting a bit of history from Table Two. Earlier in the hour, David Williams (NOT the former Main Event runner-up) limped for 2,000 with . Fillipo Candio made it 5,700 with pocket sixes, whereupon Bill Melvin four bet to 15,000 with A-K. Not to be outdone, Mercier went to 38,200, also with A-K. Williams folded, but Candio, outrageously, went all-in for 216,500!!! Melvin, caught in the squeeze, folded, and Mercier, loathe to play for so much of his stack with Big Slick, also laid it down, as Candio showed a six. In one of the last hands of the night, Candio got into a pre-flop raising war with another player, that finally wound up with over 700,000 chips in the middle, with Candio holding pocket kings and his opponent, aces. Candio rivered the king to vault up among the top stacks in the room as the day neared its end.
As for Nguyen, the last two hands he was involved in didn’t show him at his best. In the first, Massoud Nickjouian limped in the small blind with the wild card hand for the second hour, and Ngueyn checked with . The flop brought 10-K-A, and Nickjouian bet 2,500, which Nguyen called. The turn was the and both players checked. When the fell on the river, Nickjouian suddenly put out a bet of 5,000. Nguyen folded, and Nickjouian showed the cameras Q-5 for the successful bluff.
In the last hand of the show, Nguyen raised to 4,400 in the cutoff with pocket eights, and was called by Rony in the small blind with and Schoenfeld in the big blind with . The flop of 2-6-K brought checks from Rony and Schoenfeld, and a bet of 5,000 from Nguyen. Rony called, but Schoenfeld folded. The turn was the and rony led out for 13,000. Nguyen called the bet, and then called another 27,000 on the river after the finished the board. Not a very auspicious evening for the former Main Event champion.
Next week: Day 4, and the money bubble. See you then!