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ales of Team Carborundum
Maybe the two are miles apart. But my brain can’t help lumping Martha Burk with the Bellagio poker tournament. As in there’s not a professional golfer in the world who would dare say squat against Hootie Johnson for two reasons. It’s Augusta National, and they want to win the Masters tournament. And while I am interested in the $25,000 five day WPT final tournament starting today at the Bellagio, I have trouble believing that even if I was standing in the ballroom

    15th Apr 2003
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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  watching the whole thing take place, I have trouble believing that my heart would be pounding faster than a stifled yawn. To me it seems just a little bit like World Series Lite. The diet version of a five day tournament.

So far, all the Bellagio WPT event has proved is that you can’t buy tradition you have to build it, a bit like Martha Burk suggesting that maybe they should play the Masters at a different golf course than Augusta National, as in you have to be a poker player to understand why the guy who wins the WPT final will just be another millionaire who made good on TV, and not someone with their picture on a wall that can be mentioned in the same breath as Benny Binion. In fact it was Benny Binion himself who said, when he came into Las Vegas in 1946 with two million dollars in a satchel and a craps game on a sawdust floor, they asked him why he wasn’t gonna build a grand gambling palace like Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo and his words were, “I ain’t gonna blow my bankroll out of the ass of a trumpet.”

Giving 100 of the best poker players in the world $25,000 in chips and making them play $25 and $50 blinds to start is like, well I don’t know what it’s like, but most of them might be more interested in the first day’s slate of sports bets than the poker game. The only people going out of a $25,000 tournament on Day 1 when the blinds start lower than grass seed are cold deck victims and outright idiots. My read is that tournament organizers have insisted on making it a five day event in order to pretend that the Bellagio tournament has the stature of the World Series of Poker. And while I’ll salute the next poker millionaire, I will gingerly add that going through 100 runners over five days isn’t nearly so grueling as going through seven times as many, especially when they’re playing a short cut six hours of poker a day so that the older generation can get their sleep and the TV crew has plenty of time to apply Lyle Berman’s makeup. Sour grapes partly aside says the field will be tough, really tough, combining many of the top no limit Hold’em players in the world with those whose ego is big enough that no amount of money is going to keep them away from being on television.

So who’s hot and who’s not. 50 players were registered for the WPT final as of yesterday, but there’s probably thirty more floating around who have always planned on buying in at the last second, and twenty more who will use all their powers to beg and borrow for the bright lights of the squawking box. Who’s gonna win? I just have this feeling that recent form will be 100 times more powerful than talent, so I’ll take five names who are bursting like popcorn in Gus Hansen, Paul Darden, Phil Ivey, Chip Jett, (and Surinder, because I never count him out of anything).
Most of the Europeans left town already. Been there, done that, where’s the value. With the exception of some who are in for free, most of the Europeans left Las Vegas for some downtime before the serious business of the year gets underway, May at the Horseshoe and the World Series of Poker. It is impressive that the Bellagio is having a $25,000 buy-in event, and inspiring for poker to make it to American television, but call me old fashioned. I dream of the sawdust floors of Binion’s Horseshoe casino.

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