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World Series Of Poker
 Jesse May Reports
April 16th - May 23rd, 2003

Other Reports : T-4 - T-3 - T-2 - Sunday - Day One/I - Day One/II - Day Two - Day Three - Day Four - Final - Pictures - Championship - Jesse May Montage
Jesse May in
Las Vegas
T-3 (jet lag)

It took twenty-four hours of travel and two missed stand by flights, but no amount of jet lag was going to keep me from going over to Binion’s on my arrival into Las Vegas, especially when I heard they were down to five tables from 400 runners in the $3000 No Limit Hold’em, and three boys from County Antrim, North Ireland, were in the mess of all of them with a whole bunch of chips. And Phil Hellmuth, they said, so I trooped on over.

But not before I ran into Ram Vaswani on his way out. Poor Ram had just played his heart out for eleven hours straight, outlasting more than 350 players before succumbing to oblivion with thirty-six left and getting nothing to show for an event that paid twenty-seven places, except for the knowledge that his game is way beyond tip top shape. Ram didn’t have a cross word to say, but the look in his eyes said he deserved better. Strange event this, but it would have to be strange when they’re giving away $1,000,000 in only two days, and reports are that 80 out of 400 didn’t make it past the first level, making the $3000 no limit Hold’em start out like the largest super satellite in the history of poker.

Yes, the money men can be cruel, but as they are giving out $400,000 for first place honors in a $3000 freeze out tournament there were still thirty-five left with every reason to be happy. And one of them was not, by the way, one of the kindest men in poker, crazy Mad Marty Wilson, who was reeling in shock out in 40th place, bolted by some poker God with a sick sense of humor who deigned to give Marty pocket kings in a hand where another player was dealt pocket queens, one had the ace-king suited and a fourth player completed the cold deck equation with his third pair of pocket aces in the last sixty minutes. Las Vegas can make you the happiest man on Earth and the most forlorn stranger to ever hold thirty dollars, and that’s just on day one. Yes, cruelty is the last fifteen players going out on the bubble in a 400 runner tournament, so anyone with a shred of stomach lining left should give up poker right now, because life is not fair.

When I finally did get upstairs in time for the last two levels of the day, it was midnight on the dot and there were thirty-one left at four tired tables and four vacancies for the electric chair. A murderers row at a table against the wall saw Daniel Negreanu in seat two, Tuna Lund in seat three, and Julian Gardner in seat four. Frenchman Pascal Perrault in the one seat has all of them on his left, all of the chips, and the big blind to boot. Fold, fold, Julian raises to 4000 and everyone tosses. About ten minutes later Julian has bet 25,000 in on the flop after your man Tuna led out for 6000 to a raggedy board, and with thirty players left and paying 27, Tuna stood down. And then went out twenty minutes later, leaving just 29. 27th place paid out $6,600, so it was worth trying to hang around even if you were the short stack in the tournament. Which was the battle Irishman George McKeever bravely fought for what was an eternity before succumbing to that mind numbing experience of being the last player with no paycheck at one am.

It was time for the redraw, three tables and one more hour of play with blinds of $1,000-$2000, ante three hundred, before a break for the night. Table 1 was a nightmare, Phil Hellmuth in seat four with over 150,000, Julian Gardner in seat 7 with 36,000 and Daniel Negreanu to his left with over 100,000 himself. Table 2 was no easier, featuring among others, The Camel Keith Hawkins nursing his stack to the right of Pascal Perrault, Billy Baxter, and Suds Jay Heimowitz. And table 3 against the wall had Erik Seidel in the one seat with over 100,000, Louis Asmo, Tony Ma, and a Northen Irish fellow named Ivan who quickly pumped his stack from 20,000 to over one hundred grand from the kindly assistance of pocket aces when he needed them. The same fortune was not afforded to some poor schlemiel in Table 1 seat 9, when his pocket aces ran into the motor mouth Phil Hellmuth himself. The action went your man raise to 6000, Hellmuth reraise to 20,000 and your man set himself all in for 90,000 total. Hellmuth called like a shot and was only momentarily disheartened to turn over his cowboys, because one moment later the king came spitting on the flop. And all credit to your man who left with nary a word, which would have been hard to imagine had the positions been reversed. And just like that, Hellmuth was the dominant chip leader with 250,000 and just twenty-five left.

With fifteen minutes left to play, tournament director Matt Savage announced, “Don’t forget play will resume promptly at noon.” An unknown player from Ohio, mild mannered on Table 2, mentioned, “But I’m supposed to be in a golf tournament at the Venetian tomorrow, that’s what I came out here for!”

“What time’s the tournament?” somebody asked, to which the Ohioan quickly replied, “I don’t know. I haven’t checked in yet.”

The final 21 players have their work cut out for them when play resumes early on Friday, and it’ll be a barn-burner. Between Seidel, Negreanu, and Hellmuth, all with chips, you have to figure one of them can pick up a half million pay check when the totals are tallied. But with the likes of Gardner, Ma, Heimowitz, Asmo, plus more, the one thing for certain is that it’ll sure be worth watching.

$3,000 No Limit Holdem Details

Other Reports : T-4 - T-3 - T-2 - Sunday - Day One/I - Day One/II - Day Two - Day Three - Day Four - Final - Pictures - Championship - Jesse May Montage
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