Today is the seven-card stud tournament, which I’m not playing, so it’s a good time for me to post an update on my progress at the WSOP 2006. I had forgotten what a great party this is, and it’s even better this year. Full Tilt expanded their hospitality suite and many of the other sites have opened suites nearby. Harrah’s addressed three of the major issues from last year, adding restrooms, banning smoking in the hallways (although a few self-centered jerks are ignoring the rule), and improving the food near the tournament area. Lines are short, there is valet parking by the poker area, and in general everyone is having a blast. It’s not quite poker heaven yet but it’s the best we’ve got. The major remaining issue is the tournament chairs. They are back-breakers.
I cashed 24th out of 824 in the six-handed No-Limit Hold ‘Em event after taking a sick beat when I called Gavin Griffin’s reraise all in with Ace-King of Diamonds. He flipped over Ace-King of Clubs. The flop came a Diamond and two Clubs and he rivered a Club in a 140,000-chip pot to leave me with only 800 chips. I was all in for the big blind, which Gavin raised, and hit one of my rags to get back up to 3300. I put the rest of those in, reluctantly, in a three-way pot with Gavin and Freddy Deeb with Ace-Four offsuit but I made a Full House to get up to 11,000. I won a round of blinds and antes but then lost a coinflip with Todd “Dan Druff” Witteles, Ace-Queen suited v. his Jacks, and was back down to 3500. He raised my big blind on the next hand and I had to call with the Octocrab – Eight-Trey offsuit – and was ecstatic to see his Ace-Nine suited. I turned an Eight to pull ahead but he rivered a Nine and the Lion was slain. On the way, though, I knocked out Todd Brunson, Dustin “Neverwin” Woolf, and many others. Deep is fun.
As usual tournament staff is not nearly as careful with our money as casinos are with their own. At the start of day two, they could not find the bagged chips of one of the players at another table, so a decision was made to bring in over 100,000 in new chips from the cage and introduce them to the tournament. It will take me a while to enumerate everything that is terribly wrong with that decision. In the first place, the chip counts were never verified – they simply had each player count, bag, and seal his own chips. If that count was off, and the player somehow caused his bag to disappear, not only could he potentially wind up with extra chips, but he would also have a bag full of tournament chips he could sneak into another event! But the kicker was that the chips were on the table all the time, at an empty seat, being blinded off for an hour before being discovered! This level of incompetence is unforgivable in my eyes, and should result in termination of the staffer involved.
These guys need to understand that these chips represent real money to us. Can you imagine if a player was playing blackjack and returned from the restroom to find 100,000 in chips missing? Would they just bring him another 100,000 from the cage? Of course not! It’s their money! They would bring a dozen security guards, review the tapes, find out who took the chips, and send someone to jail. In a house-banked card game they change out the decks every four to eight hours, mutilate the used decks, and if a marked card is found there is an investigation. In a poker tournament if a marked card is found they grudgingly bring in one card to replace it and grumble at the extra work I’m making for them. The decks are never changed. It would cost about a dollar per player to buy new cards for every tournament, but I guess along with the $10 off the buffet they are giving back that would be prohibitively expensive. The casino is taking 6-9% out of the prize pool for each event, along with making tens of millions in advertising and TV rights.
I didn’t get to day two in any other events. Rafe “Tiltboy” Furst, formerly notable for being the first one out in a previous Main Event, busted me early in the pot-limit Hold ‘Em event and went on to win it for Full Tilt. Nicely done, Rafe! One of Full Tilt’s newest pros but oldest players, Mark “Pokerbok” Vos, took a bracelet in another event. The betting line on Full Tilt bracelets was 2.5 and we’ve already got two. If I win the big one that will tip the score.
In yesterday’s $5000 No-Limit Hold ‘Em I treaded water through about half the field, getting moved to a table with Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Richard Tatalovich, and Chip Jett to my left. I got my chips in with pocket Aces against Chip’s under-the-gun limp and a limp behind by the guy to his left. Chip called me with Ace-Queen but made a sick flush and knocked me out yet again.
I played in two limit Hold ‘Em events. Both were filled with überdonks but, alas, in limit you need to hit your hand and my pocket Sevens that flopped a set were no match for Six-Trey of Spades played for three bets on the small blind. He flopped a flush and I’m not lion when I tell you I was out of the contest. Tomorrow is another $1500 limit event.
With everyone playing poker it’s tough to coordinate my usual fine-dining outings but Matt Maroon and I had a couple nice meals including the sommelier’s tasting menu at Alex, which I was sad to hear is being discontinued. SW steakhouse remains one of the best in town, and Okada, where I dined with Michael Craig and an old gambling buddy who prefers to remain anonymous, remains one of the top Japanese restaurants anywhere. They had the 2003 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon in and while not as lush as the 2002, it was delightful.