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  • 2008 WSOP – Day 5

    By Anthony Holden

    Rivered again. Or maybe, this time, I should say canaled.

    Two weeks ago today, I was in the real Venice, Italy, Europe, Civilisation. This morning I took a cab via Dean Martin Way and Frank Sinatra Drive to the replica Rialto, San Marco and Grand Canal of the vast Venetian, Las Vegas.

    I’d kept hearing about its daily Deep-Stack freezeout, which sounded worth a try. For a $500 entry fee, you start with 15,000 in chips – which I’d doubled by Level 7, when the following hand came along.

    With pocket nines in the cut-off seat I raise the $1,200 blind to 5K. Get one caller, down the far end of the table, with a few more chips than me. The flop comes 3-9-K. I push all in. He goes deep into the tank, then calls, and rolls over A-J to my set. The turn comes a 10 and the river a Q.

    ‘That’s sick’, said the guy next to me, whom I could only commend for the depth of his discernment as I gathered my worldly goods and headed for the exit with my latest deep sigh. So long to that $80,000 first prize.

    And, even worse, to my $50 buck last-longer bet with fellow-poker writers Des ‘Swimming with the Devilfish’ Wilson and Michael “Professor, Banker, Suicide King’ Craig. It was settled over dinner close to the Main Event action, at the Rio’s Buzio fish restaurant, in circumstances that seem to have moved both Wilson and Craig to their purplest prose.

    Down the Rio corridor in the world-title event, meanwhile, the sums at stake at the Venetian (let alone Buzio’s) were barely tips. With 189 players from 26 countries remaining, the average starting stack for Day 5 was 724,233. Every player in the room was guaranteed a payday of $38,600, which went up to $41,816 (100162) as we lost some of the few remaining big names – Gus Hansen, Chip Jett, Hoyt Corkins, sometime chip leader Jeremiah Smith and Britain’s Ben Roberts – early in the day.

    It would end at 1am with Phil ‘Poker Brat’ Hellmuth in the sin-bin. At least, for Hellmuth fans, that means he’s still in the tournament. The opposite is true of more than half Day 5’s starters, 110 players in all. Before Hellmuth’s inevitable blow-up, of which more later, events unfolded something like this.

    By the mid-afternoon break there were 144 players remaining on 16 tables. The average stack was just over 950,000, with Ireland’s James (‘NOT the Writer’) McManus in the lead with some 3.4 million. Five women were still alive, led by PokerNews’ Tiffany Michelle on 1.7 million, with the EPT’s Canadian-born hostess, Kara Scott, on 345,000.

    At 4.20pm, with 136 players left, the average chip stack passed the mllion mark. As the tables continued to thin, out went Matt Lesinger, Karen Manfrede, Sweden’s Pontus Khosravi, Brent Sheirbon, Robert Betts, Finland’s Minna Ritakorpi, Terry Stewart, Deng Dong, Jeff Anderson, Alex Tinsley, Anton Nikaj, Jason Su, Dan Assor, Brad Johnson, Britain’s Dale Hoy and Andrew Teng, Raja Kattamuri, Doug Ashmore, Keith Ferrera.

    By the next break, they’d been joined on the rail by three of the surviving favourites, Allen Cunningham, Shawn ‘Sheiky’ Sheikhan and Jeff Madsen, as well as Bristol’s Will Brewin and Adam York, Matthew Jensen, Steve Pestal, Robert Ford, Ireland’s Reggie Lyons, Canadian Greg Debora, Nghia Le, Nathan Hayes, Tri Nguyen, Finland’s Petteri Pirinen and Italy’s Vito Branciforte. Plus, I regret to report, the lovely Kara Scott.

    The field was now down to 99 players, which meant that the money jumped by 10K to $51,466. Soon out at this level were Aditya Agarwal of Calcutta, Dwayne Stacey of Romsey, Darren Grant of Toronto and Yde van Deutekon of the Netherlands.

    First to go after the 90-minute dinner break were Americans Robert Hwang, Tim Taylor, Geoffrey Herzog, Jeffrey Papola, Argentina’s Jose Barbero, Finland’s Santeri Valikoski, Karle Wilson, Reagan Silber, Cedric Kolstad, Russia’s Alexander Kostritsyn, Lonnie Heimowitz, Ireland’s Stephen Kenna and, on the last hand of the night, South Africa’s Mark Vos and Italy’s Davor Lanini.

    Throughout all this carnage Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow were seated next to each other on the TV table, which should make for good viewing this fall. Matusow has 1.17m, Hellmuth 721,000, which leaves them way behind the chip leader, California pro Mark Ketteringham, on 5.8 million. Breathing down his neck are 
Andrew Brokos of Baltimore on 4.08m and Russian rookie Nikolay Losev 4.058m. Nine players (including Tiffany Michelle) are in the 3 million range, 15 over 2 million (including Ireland’s McManus on 2.4m) and 28 over one million, leaving 24 (including Hellmuth) in the mere six figures, propped up by Thomas Keller on 245,000.

    All 79 are guaranteed $77,200, with one en route to a cool $9 million in November. By the end of Day 6, with 27 survivors, the minimum will rise to $257,334 (full payout structure here).

    Right at the end of Day 5, as the strain of Hellmuth’s quest for a record twelfth WSOP bracelet began to show, came a hand on the TV table (i.e. you’ll see it soon) in which Romanian Cristian Dragomir opened with a raise to 80,000. Re-raising to 225,000 from the small blind, Hellmuth said ‘I hope he doesn’t have aces’ as Dragomir asked for a count, then called. After a flop of 9c-7c-10s, Dragomir bet 300,000, which drew a deep, pained sigh from Hellmuth before he folded As-Kh face-up.

    Matusow erupted in gleeful laughter, urging Dragomir to ‘show your bluff’. When Dragomir flipped 10d-4d, Hellmuth flipped too. To roars from Matusow and the gallery, the ‘Poker Brat’ leapt from his seat and roamed the room ranting about Dragomir calling his re-raise with a mere 10-4 (or, for older readers, a ‘Broderick Crawford’). ‘Listen, buddy, you’re an idiot!’ yelled poker’s Mr. Suave. ‘This is the Main Event,’ he continued, ‘and you are the worst player in history!’ As the Tournament Director headed over to the table, and Hellmuth persisted in making a public ass of himself yet again – to the delight, of course, of ESPN’s cameras – Dragomir urged some restraint with a cautionary ‘Enough is enough’ as the clock ticked through to the end of the day’s play. Finally, Hellmuth shook Dragomir’s extended hand, and Matusow yelled, to no-one in particular, ‘Thank God for Phil Hellmuth!’

    Later, after the crowd had begun to disperse, it emerged that Hellmuth had continued to berate Dragomir for humiliating him on TV, and yanking him way down the end-of-day leader-board, to the point of a formal warning from floorman Robbie Thompson. When supervisor Steve Frazer arrived to listen to Thompson’s report, he promptly banned Hellmuth from the first round of Day 6.

    Well, The Ego never turns up on time, anyway.

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    Comment from Gerard ‘t Hart
    Time: July 13, 2008, 10:42 pm

    Good to read your blog! Following it on the WSOP website, it seems that it is getting quite hectic. Pity to see that your fellow Poker Stars and my compatriote Yde van Deutekom are out. Keep up the good work. Gerard

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