Championship Day 3
|Jesse May in
Maybe from now on everything will
be back to normal. Its possible that Days 4-7 of the World Series of
Poker will begin to resemble what we have known in the past, but on Monday,
when they combined the field and played everyone remaining for all of Day 3,
you almost wouldnt have known what was at stake.
The first few
hours were predictable. Players on short stacks had been up all night, and
somewheres around 5am after tossing and turning for hours they said the hell
with it and just watched the dawn. Their last thought before entering the
tournament room was likely to have been, Ill gamble. Double up quick or
the worst thing that can happen is I can finally get some sleep. And so after
beginning with 1108 players at twelve noon on Monday, the first few hours were
an absolute carnage. It was 800 in no time, no time at all. But then you would
have thought it would slow down, that the play would get careful. It
didnt. Seasoned veterans were spitting about the lunatics, about players
who wouldnt lay down anything, didnt know where they were at, or
what they were doing. That dreaded word was being spewed out all day, the one
word youd never want to hear at the World Series of Poker, crapshoot.
But if it is a crapshoot then some of the best in the world still have
hot hands, and I like to think the final table will be an adequate
representation of what went on. Well see. 276 players will begin the Day
on Tuesday. With 225 paid, so close you can taste the money. So close you can
taste it. But lets look back to Day 3.
405 players left. Its only
9pm but the yawns are coming out. Big names on short stacks. Trying to survive
the carnage. Like E-Dog Erik Lindgren on 9500, and The Owl Bobby Baldwin with
under 8000. Swedish hope Sargon The Giant Ruya has got 40,000 in
four low neat stacks and cool rider glasses wrapped round his face. He sits
backwards in his chair.
Ive come upon a table with Julian
Gardner. There are cameras all around, and you figure theyre on the 2002
WSOP runner up, whos trying to be obscure with 100,000 in chips. You
figure the cameras are there for Julian but when a portly white man in the 9
seat gets in an all-in coup, king-queen vs. ace-jack, the cameras follow the
portly fellow, baseball cap and Hawaiian shirt, all the way out the door and
then they return to interview the Welshman who has busted him. Who was
that? I ask a crew member. I only knew he was no poker player. The crew
man looks at me aghast. Thats Sals cousin man! I was
blank. From the Jimmy Kimmel live show! Oh. Never gambled on
poker before in his life
Why? Anyone else famous on this table?
Small blind vs. big and Julian comes with a 2500 raise from the small
one. A Pokertropolis visor and expensive silk shirt who has 65,000 comes over
the top for a broken down stack of ten yellows, ten thousand more. Julian
doesnt look perturbed in the slightest, he briefly considers and looks at
your man with the side of his ear, sits back slightly and waves his left hand.
Im all in, he says, bouncing a little in his seat. Your man
folds instantly. Good read.
1995 world champion Dan Harrington never
looks at his cards before its his turn. Never, not once. His baseball cap
looks perched rather oddly on his head, but its only because the green
cap is brand new, just out of the box, brim cardboard flat without a speck of
wear. His body slumps out slightly from that point down, however, body a bit
lumpy inside an old T-shirt and shorts. White socks, old tennis sneakers. Day
at the beach. Tournament director Matt Savage announces on the PA. We
have six former world champions still in the tournament. Doyle Brunson, Hamid
Dastmalchi, Russ Hamilton, Bobby Baldwin, Chris Ferguson, and Tom Mcevoy
and Robert Varkonyi. Harrington never moves a muscle. Two
players at Dans table stand up and point, but the moment passes. Dan
smiles and chuckles, says, They always forget. He doesnt
Harringtons no Amarillo Slim. But he aint
silent neither. Dan has a very disarming way of talking, self-deprecating
pokes, calling himself tired and keeping the ones around him on a friendly
basis. When the Pokerstars player on his right doesnt have anything
smaller than a twenty for the waitress, the same player who folded a pair of
aces on the flop to a small Harrington raise, Harrington pulls out his own worn
wallet quickly. Hes got plenty of ones. Dont worry about
it, he says, in his slight Boston accent, Just maybe give up your
small blind every once in a while. Laughs, then, A secret Ive
found, when negotiating, is dont get too greedy
And then, a
few hands later after hes raised from the button and the small blind
reraises all-in, Dan hems and haws before giving a big sigh and folding.
All right, he laments, I guess you had me beat. Im just
tired. I think you notched my ace. The words are friendly and smiling,
and Dan keeps everybody chatting, no matter the subject. He wants to know all
about them, you think, but its a powerful weapon. Like a lawyer, I guess,
which Dan actually is. But one thats so good that he kind of breaks the
The Devilfish. He comes walking out on break in a buoyant mood,
been low chipped all day but hes finally moved comfortable, up to 65,000.
Devil says, in an accent thick as Hull, All these namby pamby poker
players on the Internet, I used to play in places that were rough. I walked in
one night and they had sawdust on the floor, it was last nights
furniture. They had a pigs head on the bar for air
Thirty minutes left in the night and Julian Gardner has
done his Day 2 usual. Run over them with a steamroller. Gardners chips
are piled like a Great Wall of China in that way that says hes winning
three out of four pots. Julian has two cup holders lined up and a full Heineken
in each. Over the past level and a half, Julian has gone from eighty grand to
over 200 thousand, and the hangers-in that are left are mostly folding up shop
before the actions come around. A red haired lady in a Prima Poker
t-shirt has nearly as many on Julians right. Shes chomping gum like
its cud, and has her chips evenly stacked and is constantly counting.
Shes made her big plays for the night, and Julians raising her
limp-ins at every opportunity. The four players on the other end of the table
are all shuffling their chips fast. Tilt, shuffle, tilt.
to tell whos been winning lately by the small chips they have, and Julian
owns nearly every hundred chip on the table. He always loves the small chips.
Ante 200, blinds of eight and sixteen, folded to Gardner who bends the corner
of his cards before raising it up 4300 in an aggressive splash. They fold up
like clockwork. One man at the table holding a near empty Budweiser and tilting
in his chair says, I had a half decent hand but I just dont feel
like playing. Julian wants every uncontested chip. A few hands later the
red haired lady doubles the bet. Julian passes but another one calls. 7-5-2 on
the flop. I folded pocket fives, rues Julian, when the hand is
over. Next hand your woman limps, under the gun. Julian immediately makes it
7000 total. Folded to the small blind, whos trying to stall. He
doesnt care about anything but going to bed, and spends three minutes
talking to Gardner about Manchester United while the other players stare. But
theyre all too happy to stall, and Gardner just sits there with his
nothing at all, calm as can be while waiting for everyone to fold.
last players I really do fancy. Marcel Luske, who sings at the table. The
Flying Dutchmans sunglasses are always on upside down, and hes got
a pyramid tower of chips near nights end and singing, in tune I might
add, You just have to call
Strong, ever strong and relaxed.
Dont leave out John Shipley. They dismissed him in 2002 but I see
something else. I see a guy who amassed a million dollars in chips in the World
Series of Poker, and I saw a guy who lasted all day Monday on a table at which
everyone busted out. Everyone else but John. And he never had that many chips.
$80,900 going into Day 4 of the World Series of Poker and the nicest most
unassuming guy you could ever meet, whos withstood years of negative
comments from people he never met about losing the chip lead at the final table
of the World Series of Poker. Lets hear it for poetic justice. Long live
the underdog. Im rooting for John Shipley.
details on the Championship