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WSOP 2002

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ales of Team Carborundum
    2nd Sep 2002
Jesse May
Jesse May, multiple author in the gambling field and sometimes dubded the "voice of poker", writes a regular column.
Most people know Jesse as "the voice of poker" from his colourful commentary in CH4's late Night Poker. Jesse is also the author of the widely respected novel, Shut Up And Deal, which looks deep into the poker playing life. Its the hard faced 21st Century Cincinnati Kid.

Jesse is also the creator of The Gambler's Guide to the World, an insiders look at the action and games around the world.
Email : Jesse May

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I’ve been away gambling. When a gambler goes away, he goes away gambling. The tennis hasn’t been that exciting, but I’ve been watching it. I saw Lleyton Hewitt double fault twice in key situations while his girlfriend sat picking her nails in the stands. Something is amiss in camp. Hewitt is prime to get toppled for his US Open crown, and as he’s the 8/5 favorite going into the second week, Team Carborundum is looking to take the whole field against him. The other half of the draw has opened up wide, with Andy Roddick and the Frenchman Clement both in favorable paths to the semifinal.

I saw Came Home go four wide to beat War Emblem in the Pacific Classic, a race that will live in infamy as the race where Came Home established himself as the best horse in America. I watched from an orthodox wedding hall as the horse went off at the longest odds ever in his life, odds never to be seen again, 12-1. If there’s a rabbit in the race, bet Came Home.

Betting on poker has been offered multiple times by varied Internet sportsbooks and never found much volume. The markets have been difficult to bet with confidence, as markets containing no field entry made “skinners” for the books and dampened bettor enthusiasm. Value was spotty at best, like betting on the Eurovision song contest.

But thats changed because The Hendon Mob has stepped in with the move that will catapult poker into the sporting world as a live betting sport to parallel golf. The Hendon Mob has teamed up with Betfair to offer betting on major poker tournaments, beginning with the main event of the 2002 Master Classics in Amsterdam in November. First and foremost, there is a field option for all poker betting events. Secondly, because Betfair is a betting exchange, punters can both back and lay players. Because of this, the book’s middle, or edge, is only what punters set it to be. The Hendon Mob is offering a form guide on all quoted players plus pictures of the runners at, and if you sign up through The Hendon Mob site you get a twenty pound free bet in which you get the stake back if you win. The Master Classics had 170 runners last year, and figures to have near the same number this November.
Suffice it to say that Amsterdam is a very particular tournament. You could take one wrong turn in Amsterdam and wake up four days later in an alley, happy as a lark. Some people have. It’s difficult to succeed your first time to the Master Classics. Americans have a history of going to Amsterdam and going down. That includes big names such as Phil Hellmuth and Erik Seidel but with the noted exception of TJ Cloutier, who I believe could play world-class poker in a boxcar. In Amsterdam you look towards the players who know the town.

Europeans with a good history at the Master Classics include Surindar Sunar, who owns the town, and Padraig Parkinson, who would also be quite happy to play poker in the boxcar after first hearing on whether refreshments would be made available. Marcel Luske is quite a terror and while he doesn’t actually own the town, he’s quite happy with his five percent. Lay O’Dea. I’d also want to be laying the Devilfish. I’ll never question their ability, but a shrewd bettor knows the big draw in Amsterdam is not the main event but the big cash games, and because it’s tough to play in both cash games and tournaments, it’s smarter to back tournament specialists. It’s smart to back guys like Mickey Finn, who’s been coming to Amsterdam since the beginning and knows the hotels and knows the town and the tournament and wakes up every morning and has a long sauna and then comes in and plays the tournaments and that’s it. Every day. Because the cash games don’t get started until afternoon and the casino closes at four am. I might lay Julian Gardner, who is young for Amsterdam, and Carlos Mortensen, who is not a regular there. I’d be careful about laying Lucy Rokach, who is in absolutely torrid form and is an Amsterdam long timer, or the poet Peter Costa.

As for the field, let’s be frank. The line is probably well chosen, but I’d still rather be backing the field at 5/4 then having to lay them at 2/1. Unknowns dominate the Master Classics tournament’s results, with the bulk of entries in through qualifiers. The field betting will dominate this market. Two interesting possible field entrants who have been left out of the main betting include Americans Chip Winton and Randy Holland, who have both been to more Master Classics than not. Holland is a former winner of the tournament’s best overall player award. A good longshot would have to be Robert Cohen of France, the man who tortured Phil Hellmuth on Late Night Poker.

The matchup I like is Slotbloom against Fitoussi. On the one hand you’d like to bet against Slotbloom, him having too much going on in the side games in pot limit Omaha on his own turf to focus on the main event, in the second part Hold’em is not his first game. On the other hand I’ve seen Fitoussi play on television and he doesn’t have much of a Hold’em game either, but he does possess a vivacious capacity to win. The hell with it. I’ll bet the tie.

Editor's note
View points expressed are those of the author.