Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Main Event

ESPN's coverage of the Main Event of the 2005 WSOP began this week, and featured a multitude of noteworthy hands.

Jennifer Harmon was involved in a gutwrenching see-saw hand early on with blinds at 20-50. Jen raised to 200 from early position, and Cory Zeidman called behind her with 8d9d. The small blind also called with A-6 offsuit.

Jen liked the TsJdQh flop, but Cory's ass end of the straight made him even happier. The SB checked, Jen bet 500, and Cory raised to 2,000. Jen, sensing she might have a problem, called.

The turn brough the Ten of Diamonds, giving Jen the second nuts, but giving Cory additional outs if he feared he was up against A-K. As it turned out, since Jen held the Q of diamonds, Cory was drawing to a single out: the 7 of diamonds for a straight flush.

Jen checked the turn, and Cory fired out a HORRIBLE bet: 1,000. Jen check-raised to 3,000, and Cory started talking to himself, wondering how he could possible muck this hand. He eventually made the call, and was delighted with the miracle river: the seven of diamonds!

Jen put him all in, and he Hollywooded a little before calling, which sent Jen right to Tiltville.

ESPN then showed a hand involving Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and a player I've played with previously in NYC: Big Joe Stillman. Now, somehow, Ferguson ends up pushing all-in preflop, but it was still for a respectable sum: 4,400 or so. I believe Chris probably raised, Joe re-raised, and then Chris pushed all-in - but since ESPN doesn't worry about such trivialities, I'll have to guess on that. Joe, on the button with what looks like a decent stack, shakes his head, and shrugs "I don't even care - I'm in this tournament for $225" and makes the call holding only K-9. Ferguson flips over A-A, and Joe quickly spurts "Oh - I'm dead." Joe comes off looking like an "internet player" who's just happy to be there - but from my experience playing with him, that's not the case at all.

The flop of K-9-4 has Joe jumping out of his seat, but when the turn and river come Q and 4, Joe's two pair is counterfeited by Ferguson's aces up.

What would an ESPN broadcast be without the network making the defending World Champion, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer look like he's the luckiest man alive? We see Fossliman win a race with A-K vs Q-Q, and then find A-A against another sizable stack's K-K. Fossilman takes Kx suited and flops a flush, and then flops two pair (and turns a full house) with J-9 against pocket kings. Finally, Greg takes 2-2 against A-A and rivers a 4 card flush.

We got to see the tournament's oldest contestant: 90 year old Victor Goulding get a 10 minute penalty for swearing! Wow. Talk about adding insult to injury when Norman Chad adds "TEN MINUTES? That's like a life sentence for him!" Ouch.

Layne Flack appeared deathly ill at his table, and after doubling up, left his stack to get blinded off as he went upstairs to sleep. Lane later returned, apparently realizing his plan wasn't too sound, and looked like he was in real bad shape physically.

In the second hour of the broadcast, we saw the second half of the field competing on their own "day one" - the field was so big that it was split into two groups, to accommodate the massive number of entrants.

On the very first hand of the second day, we see Sammy Farha raise to 200 (25-50 blinds) UTG with A-T offsuit. Oliver Hudson, son of Goldie Hawn (and brother of Kate Hudson) reraises to 450 with T-T. Only Sammy calls, and they watch in awe as the flop comes:

A-A-T !

They both "trap" each other by checking.

On the turn - an offsuit queen: Sammy checks, Oliver bets 300, and Sammy check-raises to 1300. Oliver moves all in, and Sammy calls, eliminating Oliver brutally.

Sammy proved to be luckier than Fossilman could ever appear to be, as he repeatedly made odd plays and hammered flops. On one hand, with 25-50 blinds, some guy opens for 1,000, holding A-A. Negreanu even comments, "1,000? Are you serious?" But Sammy, confident with some chips to play with, calls from the SB with 3-3. I guess if Sammy knows he'll be able to stack his opponent should he spike a set, this play is acceptable.

The flop come 3-6-7, and Sammy coolly checks. His opponent bets 6,000! Aiyahhh! Lesson learned here kids: watch the overbets! Sammy liquidates another player.

ESPN give Phil Hellmuth ample footage as he rolls in, late of course, in a stretch limo. Phil is all decked out in a "Poker Brat" hat and t-shirt. I guess they were out of "Poker Douchebag" logo-wear. He even brings what looks like two different pairs of Oakleys. D-O-U-C-H-E-B-A-G!

We return to Sammy Farha's antics, and see him make this odd play:

Negreanu opens for 150 (25-50 blinds) in early position with 9-8 suited. The next player re-raises to 400. Sammy calls (a raise and re-raise!) on the button with 9-2 of spades! I just don't understand the play. Of course, the flop comes 5-6-7 with two spades, and when Sammy rivers a flush, Danny gets away from his flopped straight without going broke.

Negreanu continues to catch cards, get outflopped and outdrawn, and fail to see any of his own draws materialize. He's seen commiserating with model/actress Shannon Elizabeth, and Norman Chad is the highlight here, shouting in disbelief on the color commentary: "Get her number! How does he NOT get her number? MAN he's running bad!" I think Bones knows why Danny didn't try to get Shannon's number.

All in all, ESPN got lucky with some ridiculous hands and colorful personalities in this coverage of the Main Event, and I expect it will only get better in the weeks to come.

until next time,

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