Yesterday was Day One of the $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em event. During week one most of the anticipation was directed at the numbers: would the entries keep going up compared to last year? How big would the fields get? Here in week two most eyes were focused on this event. The first "big buy-in" event would or should attract most of the names in the poker world. I made an early pass through the Amazon room and found 50 tables set-up with dealers in the box at 11:30 AM. I was talking to the floor boss about the numbers, when a runner came over from the cage and announced that there were about 90 players in the sign-up line. The call went out for ten more tables, set-ups and dealers. By the time it was all done, all the later arrivals seated the event drew 622 entrants. Once again bigger than last year's event.
It's a bit easier to cover a tournament of this size; yes, I know 600+ is a big field but compared to last week when we had fields double, triple and even four times bigger; this was much easier. This type of event is also just plain fun to cover; the players are all on one side of the room and the tables are loaded; here is where I spent the first two hours. In a small space of five tables the line-ups were: Liz Lieu was at "my" table #1 against nine unknowns; right next door at table #2 were: Josh Arieh, Gavin Smith and Bill Edler and several other players who knew Gavin well, this was a very talkative table. Just behind at table #3: Scotty Nguyen, Allen Cunningham, Kathy Liebert, and Chris Gregorian. Next to them on my table #4, I found Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, Evelyn Ng and well, this stunning woman in green; sometimes its just hard to follow the action when, well you know…. OK back to poker.
A few steps away were Hasan Habib, Clonie Gowen, Annie Duke, Mark Seif, Michael Mizrachi, Barry Greenstein ….all of these players in nine tables at the far end of the Amazon room. I had to walk almost 100 feet to keep tabs on Tony G. and I could fill the page with the name players I saw on that stroll. Tony was seated with Sam Grizzle and Bryant King. This was prime time poker at its best.
Here are just a few of the comments, chats, hands, and 'encounters' from play yesterday.
Liz Lieu was playing at the table with no known players; to be accurate, there were no players I knew and when I spoke to her later, no players Liz knew. The table was ready to gamble as soon as cards were in the air; Liz had AK of diamonds to a all-low black flop; she had AQ of spades to a low red flop; I think she saw more flops in the first two hours then she has in any event so far and she may have seen the fewest turns and rivers during the same time. Sometimes you can't get hit if you stand in the middle of the freeway.
The Gavin/Josh/Bill table was very interesting early on. I really like to see players, who don't just "know" each other but are really truly friends away from the tables. I like to see them at the same table because they play each other hard, sometimes harder than they might strangers. It says something about the integrity of the game and about personal, friendly but intense competition.
I should also mention that Gavin showed up a bit late; apparently he had been out late celebrating something or another???? He may still have been feeling the effects of too much mineral water and lime. Gavin greeted his tablemates in typical fashion and immediately began serving a 10 minute penalty. But it was all smiles for Gavin today; he appears to be on a bit of a roll. Inquiring minds want to know.
While watching the tables I like to see several hands in a row; pro or amateur, fish or shark, I like to see them all. Besides it's rude to walk away just because no name players see the flop. So here is my "hand of the day" between two complete unknowns. Three players see a flop of 872 for 300 (blinds are 50/100); bet 400, call, fold. Turn is another 2; bet 500 call. River is a King, bet 1,000, all-in for 2400. Ponder, ponder, think, think, ponder, scratch head and finally the player who had led out the entire hand says:
"I am going to lay this hand down but I will give you a hundred bucks if you show me pocket Kings." And he mucks his hand.
Now before another word is spoken, a player at the far end of the table says:
"Hey, I'll take that action!"
"What you do mean?"
"I mean I'll go for $100 that he has the Kings."
In about 15 seconds, three players have taken the $100 bet on pocket Kings and then the all-in bettor says:
"All I have to do is show them?" and he rolls over the pocket Kings.
Now I don't know what kind of read the table had on this guy but call, call, call, all-in with pocket Kings to that board? Everyone laughed the $400 was paid out and the single pro at the table just sat there shaking his head and probably regretting not taking the apparently free hundred bucks.
Welcome to the World Series of Poker Event #9: Five Thousand Dollar Buy-In No-Limit Hold'em.
How did our "spotlight" players fair today? Liz again encountered the dreaded KK up against AA confrontation that emptied 90% of her stack. I missed Tony G's exit but when I got to the table I saw Bryant King with an interestingly large stack and asked how many of those had been Tony's? A "whole bunch of them" he replied. Gavin had an early run at his table that looked and felt like domination. When I returned from late lunch interview, however, the baby blue Full Tilt rally cap was nowhere to be seen. I will catch up with Gavin today for details.
As I left the room early yesterday evening, I made one more pass through the tournament area. Here are the final three tables I noticed before exiting the room: table #1-Greg Raymer, Steve Dannenmann, Jason Stern, Dewey Tomko; table #2-Amir Vahedi, Chip Jett, Jean-Robert Bellande; table #3-Evelyn Ng, Michael Mizrachi, Humberto Brenes, and again that mystery woman in green. I am powerless over women in green, but enough non-poker distractions for today, I am so glad I have taken the Liz Lieu oath: No dating poker players. Tomorrow is another day and another color?
Ed note: Vince Van Patten plays at Hollywood Poker. Sounds like you should too.