Thursday began like any other day at the WSOP, the parade of players and spectators begin the long walk down the zigzag hallway from the Rio casino to the Amazon Room and the $1500 Limit Hold'em Event #4 at the World Series of Poker.
Once the players were seated, I did preliminary cruise of the room to locate our "Spotlight" players. I knew Gavin Smith was still in a Full Tilt meeting when the cards got in the air and I did not find Tony G. on my first pass but there was Liz Lieu at table 71, already building a stack in the early going.
I spot Gavin coming into the room and make his way to table 143, on my first pass by Gavin, he let's me and his table mates know that "I did not get enough sleep last night." It is apparent that he might be playing with a handicap today; ah the best laid plans of mice and poker players. Still no Tony G. sighting, I know he is playing today and I also know that this will not be an early exit day for anyone, it is after all a limit hold'em event. I watch Liz build her stack for awhile and get some notes on several other players I am following. As I wander back across the room there is Tony G. at table 144 within sight and talking distance from Gavin.
"Tim, you got your story for today?" Gavin shouts. "Stick around I think something might develop." And he holds up his 450 chip short stack.
"What's that…?" Tony G. asks from the next table.
"You suck" Gavin fires back.
"You suck worse" Tony laughs "How many chips you got?"
Gavin: "450, whadda you got."
Tony: "800, you want a last longer? $2,000 against $1,800."
Gavin: "Better Odds for a thousand."
Both players were short at their tables and having fun. There was actually some poker being played, Gavin had announced to this table that he needed sleep and was not going to go conservative and try to survive with the short stack. OK, what he actually said was perhaps a bit more ….colorful.
Gavin plays T8 suited in early position and runs down an AK in the Big Blind. Tony calls down a player in a small pot and the stacks now read: Tony 650 Gavin 500.
"Now we are close, 11 to 10 for $2,000." Tony offers.
"I got the blinds coming and everyone over here knows I can't lay down my blinds, I need better odds." Gavin fires back.
True to his word, Gavin plays and loses both blinds and is now super-short with 200, Tony is holding at 650 and makes a 3-1 offer on the now loudly debated last longer bet.
Gavin: "You got me 3 ½ to 1, give me those odds."
Tony: "I need some edge."
Gavin: "Well in my world, its 3 ½ to 1."
Just then Gavin is all-in with J7o with two callers. They check in down and the 8654 board gets a nasty 7 on the river, so the three players chopped the pot instead of Gavin tripling up. This sets off some lively table talk and an entire chorus of:
"All of you suck, taking that pot from the poor short stack."
Tony "You pick up a big pot there....?"
On the next hand, Gavin is again all-in after a flop of JT9 with his final 25 and he gleefully slow rolls his KQ into another player who has been enjoying the fun. Tony offers another odds bet and Gavin says:
Look, we both know we have no chance to take this down today, how about a $2,000 last longer for tomorrow, we might actually both be ready to play by then..?
Tony: "We can come back today."
Gavin: "When? How? Are you going to go rock and nurse that stack? No way, we may not make it to the break."
But both players do make the break at the end of level two without any resolution of the side bet. Mind you we are talking about a 1K or 2K wager in a tournament with a total prize pool of over 1.5 million, but in the early going of this three day event, the 1K is a lot more entertaining than the million.
On the break, Tony and I talk about the size of today's event, 1068 players for limit hold'em. Tony marvels at the still growing numbers at the World Series and we both recognize that the Amazon room may not be big enough next year to hold the 2007 Series. Everyone has been talking about the end of the poker boom and the leveling off of entries to major events. Not here at the Series, at least not yet.
Back from the break and Gavin pushes his pocket eights hard but runs into a top pair of Tens, only to be saved on the river by another eight. Tony G. has opted for a back massage from the strolling therapist and is therefore blissed out and misses the Gavin river victory. With Tony in seat 3 on one table and Gavin in seat 5 on the next, they have players and staff and me and now a massage lady between them, so Gavin's has me make Tony the offer of a straight up $1,000 last longer bet. Tony asks for a chip count and finding that he has 750 and Gavin is now up to 800, Tony fires back with $2,000. I go back and forth with the negotiations (there is a two point broker's fee involved, right guys?). The boys do settle on the $1,000 with tomorrow's wager on hold for now.
Five minutes later Gavin gets in all-in with 45h to a 6h6s8h flop; the caller shows TT but a big olde King of hearts on the turn gives Gavin the heart flush, only to be followed by a Ten on the river giving the other player a full house. Gavin pays off Tony, who lasts another ten minutes before his limit day ends and tables 143 & 144 go back to the grind of Day One Limit Hold'em.
Day Three of the World Series of Poker ends for Tony G. and Gavin Smith. Tomorrow Short Handed (6) NLHE for $2,500 and more "Spotlight" reports from the Amazon Room at the Rio in Las Vegas.