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World Series Of Poker
 Jesse May Reports
May 14th - 18th, 2001

Day Zero - Day One - Day Two - Day Three - Day Four - Day Five - Final plays -  Explain it all
Jesse May in
Las Vegas
WSOP Day One - Trap Day
Day One at the World Series of Poker is trap day. With the small blinds and weak players still in, the buzzwords are catch them and cripple them, and unlike the later stages of the tournament, it was not unusual to see on Day One a seven way action pot. It also wasn't unusual to see someone with the second nuts standing up from the table and scratching their head, one last stunned mumble before tripping over their chair on the way out of the tournament. Yeah, Monday was trap day, and if you weren't careful, someone popped out of a hole and bit your head off.

I got new respect for poker players as athletes. Eight hours of playing poker with the champions of the world is enough to make your eyes look like sandbags, turn your insides to jelly. About halfway through yesterday's session I hit the proverbial brick wall, where you start stuttering and every hand looks the same and it's almost enough to start a guy crying, as you realize that in order to make any return on your $10,000 you either must deliver yourself into the hands of the Lord or run sixty hours of straight wind sprints with someone breathing fire down your neck and nipping at your heels. Whoever wins the World Series of Poker deserves $1.5 million dollars. Stone cold minimum.

Monday did kick off the 2001 World Series of Poker Championship event, and a record 613 players found ten grand to set into action. Broke the record? It shattered it. There is so much money in this prize pool and winning this thing is so tough, that they're paying $20,000 to the guy who comes in 45th place. To me this makes professional golfers seem like freeloaders, guys who get paid for just showing up, while the poker players they got no one to rely on, no guarantees, and 560 people to wade through before they can even talk about getting money back. I'll tell you the sports achievement equal to winning the Grand Slam of golf, it's a person who wins the World Series of Poker just twice in it's present incarnation. Why? Well, it's possible to play a hand like a champion. And it's possible to catch a card and get lucky in a hand. But fifty hours of poker? Can't happen by accident. Fifty hours, not playing with the leaders of the green felt, but playing against them. Golf would be a whole different story if you were allowed to kick Tiger Woods in the knees every time he was taking a swing.

Who's in and who's out? Fortunes were dying and falling yesterday as players went by the wayside. My poor brother Cong Do, out on the very second hand of the tournament, shrugged his shoulders and said, "What are you gonna do?" Well, as John Bonetti likes to say, "Fugeddaboudit!!" Bonetti was sitting directly across from me all day yesterday, speaking a steady stream of fluent Brooklyneese. There was only one other guy in the room who speaks that language, Gabe Kaplan of "Welcome Back Kotter" fame at the next table, who stood up and said, "Hey! Go back ta ya own neighbahoyd!" The two of them had an entire side of the room on the floor laughing. Bonetti, asked if it was true that he bet on the Germans in the second World War, said, "Hey, I wasn't rooting for 'em, but at 40-1 they were definitely the value!"

I was discussing strategy with the Irish crew, telling my plan to Padraig Parkinson. "Padraig," I said, "all I want to do is make it Day Five, and then it's simple, because I'll just prostrate myself and deliver me into the hands of the Lord." He said, "You got no chance with that, because the rest of the field's already done it on Tuesday night." Hell, Binion's is flying in a team of chaplains just to deal with this mess. More promises have been made to God in the name of winning this tournament then anything since the second coming. And people are positive he's listening, because the defending champion of the World Series of Poker is a guy who's called Jesus.

I'm still in, reason enough to bring a smile to my battered face. $10,600 is my stack size. My high of the day was $15,000, low was $4,000. At four thousand I played the pot of my life and took Nani Dollison off the best hand with the desperation rebluff. At fifteen thousand I let Mike Shag play me for a fool and trap me with a set of aces. I'm so tired I can barely press the typewriter. But there ain't no place I want to be except in that ring with tournament chips and a surviving prayer.
World Series Reports - World Championship Reports

The World Championship - explained
Jesse is reporting on The World Championship which runs 14th - 18th May. Its the last of a month long series of poker tournaments that are known collectively as the World Series of Poker. The buy-in, or amount of money each player has to pay to play, is $10,000. Last year there were 512 players which produced a prizepool of $5,120,000 and 1st prize of $1,500,000. This year there are 613 players, 12 short of the number required to get a $2,000,000 1st prize. Second prize here is in fact the fourth biggest prize in history.

The game these top players are playing is Texas Holdem and the betting rules are defined as No-Limit. This means that when its a players turn to bet, they may bet anything that they have infront of them. It is also a freezeout tournament, which means to say that when all of a players chips are gone, they are out of the event. Until next year.

On each of the five days, players are slowly knocked out of the tournament and the numbers gradually reduce. The fourth day will see the final three tables, 27 players, play on until there are only nine left. These players will be those that make up the final table to play to a finish on the fifth and final day. The last person standing will be the new World Champion. In thirty years three people have successfully defended their world title. Doyle Brunson '76&'77, Stu Ungar '80&'81 and Johnny Chan in '87&'88.
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