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World Series Of Poker
 Jesse May Reports
April 16th - May 24th, 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
Preview [ T-4 ]

The same question goes through every gambler’s mind about three days before an impending trip to Las Vegas. If I go to the airport right now, one wonders, would they let me on an early plane? It seems worth a shot. Because the closer one gets to going to Las Vegas the more worthless other activities become, until all that’s left is that can’t sit down can’t stand up ants in your pants excitement, where you check and recheck your tickets, your reservations, and your bankroll while idly scouring books, magazines and the internet for shreds of information. That’s what I usually do before I go to Las Vegas, twice a year since the age of sixteen, half a dozen stints of five weeks or more, and a six month stretch when I turned twenty-one.

Preparing for the World Series of Poker magnifies Vegas anticipation times twelve, because it is exactly what Benny Binion intended when he set out over thirty years ago to host a yearly tournament in Las Vegas. In the greatest gambling city in the world, Binion wanted a gathering of the greatest gamblers. Sure, there’s a plethora of billionaire businessmen, politicians and hedge fund investors who have never set foot in the hallowed halls of Binion’s Horseshoe, but that fault is their own. Gamblers can prove themselves at the poker table, and when over seven hundred players tee off for this year’s World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in main event, it will be the largest poker tournament in the history of the world. And a whole lot of people who reckon themselves good decision makers, who think that no amount of pressure can take away their courage and that they can think clearly and aggressively in the chasms of hell, they’ll all be giving it a whirl. The World Series of Poker is not for the faint of heart. Not at all.

Betting on the World Series of Poker has been possible since Irishmen Terry Rogers began to book the event in 1981, but this year the markets have ratcheted a sharp turn upwards. Because the advent of exchange betting has made overround books a thing of the past, and between and prices are so competitive as to be peppered with value, and the persistent investor will have already found arbitration opportunities galore. Bettors look at past World Series of Poker results and say anybody can win, but in my mind that’s just not true. Anybody can get second, and anyone can get sixth, but to win the World Series of Poker it takes a true nutcase, and most of the entrants aren’t nearly that crazy. They may be good, but they’re not nearly that crazy. When it comes to betting on the World Series of Poker, I want to be riding on two types of people. The unknowns, and the nutcases. Sane fellows need not apply.

A look back at recent winners could confirm my theory. Robert Varkonyi made a name for himself last year by raising Phil Hellmuth all-in with the queen-ten of clubs. “You nutcase!” said Phil before hitting the rail. Those, by the way, were the exact words that Mike Alsadi used on Phil Hellmuth after Hellmuth made an over the top raise of Alsadi’s two tens with an ace-ten only in 1989, when a young brash nutcase from Wisconsin ended Johnny Chan’s reign. Carlos Mortensen in 2001, a crazier Spaniard never may be, as he cackled with glee while bluffing with gusto. And Chris Ferguson, Jesus, in AD 2000, was asked why he called with an ace and a nine, for all the money when he knew he was beat. One of the smartest people in poker, a seventh decimal kind of game theory individual, will always have trouble putting into words what he knew to be true. To win the World Series of Poker, he had to be a nutcase. Noel Furlong, enough said, he made Huck Seed look like an Oxford tie and showed the reason why Irishmen tend to excel at the main event. Because in no limit Hold’em, it’s no use waiting for cards. You must make do with what you have, and everyone else must think you’re crazy. One of the most exciting final table stories I’ve heard involved Dan Harrington in 1996. Harrington was a Boston lawyer before he turned to poker, and his style of play was steady like the ocean and everyone knew it. And at the final table of the 1996 World Series of Poker, early on, Harrington played a hand, a jack-four I believe, and he played it so strange and he played it so crazy that the entire table gasped in horror when he turned it over to rake the pot. Lawyer becomes nutcase, wins the World Series of Poker.

In my mind some people just don’t have it in them. When it gets to Day 5 they’ll be counting their money, looking for deals and praying for second. And that’s the best they’ll ever do. But some folks are more interested in the glory than the money. They would be the nutcases, and I definitely want to be betting on them. See you in Vegas.

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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