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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
Day Three WSOP - The Day of Respect
There are some things you can't control at the World Series of Poker. You get all your chips in with a pair of queens against an ace-king, and you'll know what it feels like to have no control. All time stops while tournament director Bob Thompson declares "Player all in," and the cameras cluster around like a gaggle of geese and that big boom mike comes swinging over the table so the whole world can catch your screams of pain or war whoops of victory in the eleven years that you age in the freeze frame of the flop, turn, and river of your destiny. There are some things you can't control in the World Series of Poker, but that doesn't stop Day Three from primarily being a Day of Respect. Because that's when everybody sees what you're made of.

It's nice to dream about becoming a World Series of Poker Champion. You can dream about it, talk about it, and get eleven testimonials as to your skill and edification in the science of Hold'em. But if you wake up on Wednesday morning with chips and a chair, if you wake up at all because you're fortunate to have gotten to sleep in the first place, it's then that you realize that if you want to win the World Series of Poker then the only one who can turn the dream into a reality is you. It's not what you think, it's not what you say, it's only what you do. And for a lot of people, that's a terrifying concept. Because on Day Three everybody sees you for what you are. You wanted to be a poker champion, well here, let's see it. It's enough to make a guy start hugging the porcelain goddess.

That's why poker champions of today have almost no false laurels. There's no champions by committee and there's no prize money for players who don't put up the goods. And when they pared down the field from one hundred twenty players to the final forty-five, when they played down to the people who'll get a minimum $20,000 return on their $10,000 investment, you could hear the mantra of the great poker philosopher Cong Do, it was ringing out as if from a loud speaker, as he tells me again and again, "The battle is from within."

There were a lot of gutsy performances turned in on Wednesday. One was by Barney Boatman, who along with Mike Sexton became one of only two players to finish in the money this year and last. Barney started the day under tremendous pressure, with a very low stack and lots of glad handed advice to just stick it in early and hope for the best. Not Barney. He folded every hand for the first hour straight, before finding the 7-8 clubs in a three way pot with an ace-four-five and two spades on board. Barney sensed weakness and shoved all his chips in the center of the table, practically a stone bluff, but his timing was perfect and his opponents folded up shop. Now with forty thousand in front of him, he calls Caliente Aaron for ten thousand dollars with the board showing queen-seven-four-deuce. I knew what was gonna happen, and apparently so did Aaron. Because when a five hit on the river he sat and thought for over five minutes before checking the action to Boatman. No sooner had Aaron's hand touched the felt before Barney said in a clear voice, "All in," his thirty thousand moving towards the center with the same speed that Caliente's cards flew towards the muck. "Ace high," Boatman whispered to me later, "I knew he had nothing." And then how Barney proceeded to survive for the next nine hours, I'll never know. He always had a short stack, he never had a hand, and yet when the day was over Barney was still in the tournament. Some guys just refuse to lose.

Two players who didn't make the final forty-five, but not for a lack of trying, were Padraig Parkinson and Diego Cordova. Both of them busted out on the bubble in the wee hours after the dinner break on Wednesday night, but they responded to every gut check with the stuff of champions. They should both say to themselves, I tried my best, I'm proud, and I'll be back. And they impressed a hell of a lot of people along the way.

I tip my hat to the final forty-five players left in the 2001 World Series of Poker. Respect.
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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