Day 11 - $5000 No-Limit
|Jesse May in
A man sits at a Harrahs
Horseshoe tournament table just behind the rail, where a pretty blonde dealer
readies nine tournament stacks. Hes got an Arkansas Hogs hat, a blue
button down shirt, and hes sitting and reading Phil Hellmuths
Play Poker Like the Pros. Welcome to the start of the $5000 No
The $5000 No Limit Holdem event at the WSOP
is, for many players, the start of the tournament. For those who want to do the
World Series in one shot, for those who dont live in Las Vegas, for those
with wives and families and kids at home, many big money poker players looked
at the 2004 WSOP schedule and decide, the $5000 NL event is where theyll
make their entrance. And then of course, there are many more who have been in
Las Vegas the whole time but just dont show up until the money gets
serious. So I made sure to get there early, and forty minutes before the
tourney kicked off I was perched at the tournament desk, watching the
Eleven thirty am and theyre prepping in the upstairs
tournament room. A shortish fellow with a beard, a grey cap, and a minder is
standing at the desk and pulling a huge roll of wrappered cash from faded
jeans. Its actor Tobey Maguire. Tobey counts the money and then looks up
and sees someone he knows. Daniel! he yells. Whats up,
bud? says Daniel Negreanu, sloping over from across the room. I got
Out in the hallway, the milling is still
mostly restricted to unknowns. Twenty minutes until the start and Chris
Moneymaker walks by carrying two Red Bulls. He eyes me suspiciously, sunglasses
on his forehead. He looks hungover as hell. Back in the room, Phil Ivey is
talking to Dewey Tomko, whos swinging a steering wheel lock like a golf
club. Phil is yawning. Ten minutes until the start and John Hennigan enters the
room with Huck Seed. Hennigan looks like a tourist, with Jean shorts, a blue
t-shirt, and high white socks. It looks like Huck is doing his own laundry, the
clothes are clean but far from ironed. Dan Harrington saunters over in Bermuda
Shorts. I just got in last night, he says. This is my first
tournament. Hendon Mobster Ram Vaswani ponies up the dough at 11:59 am.
Just think, Ram offers, If luck evens out, tomorrow morning
Im gonna be all caked up!
12:01 pm, and the cards are in the
air. Theres still a double line to buy-in. Kenna James is near the back
of it. Hoo wah! He says. Million in the prize pool
already! Kathy Liebert comes in at 12:05. Shes lost thirty pounds
and has blonde permed hair, looks great. Scotty Nguyen and Andy Bloch still
havent bought in. Neither has Jeff Schulman. Andy is black Full Tilt from
head to toe, and Jeff is, just Jeff. He must own twenty-seven button down
college shirts. Mike Matusow comes strolling by singing something about his
baby. Its you babe, he croons on his way to the
Mickey Appleman is at a table in the back sitting next to Barry
Schulman. They call Mickey Spats but he doesnt just look
messy now, I swear to God he looks exactly like Bob Dylan. Im wondering
if it is Bob Dylan. I need to start following Mickey Appleman around. Maybe we
12:11 pm and Barny Boatman is shuffling his chips angrily.
Hes already a short stack. Lost 4300 on the very first hand after
flopping a flush. 12:14 pm and Barnys not even the first guy out at his
table. Scotty Nguyen must have had a car waiting. Bought in late, knocked out
early. I think he may have yelled Raise all-in on his way to the
A European themed table has James Vogl, Dave Colclough, Roy
The Boy Brindley, and Harry Demetriou. Plus Cyndi Violette and
Billy Baxter. A few hands in, Cyndi decimates Roy with a gutshot straight. How
could she call my raise on the flop? Roy moans. Two days ago Cyndi won a
bracelet and last night she came in twelfth. I dont think shes
planning on nursing a short stack today. But then you never know. Form is
legendary. 12:31 pm and Annie Duke walks in with a Mandalay Bay shopping bag
and sits at a table with Alan Goehring and Tony Bloom. Annies missed half
of the first level, and last night she was leading a conga line through the
cash game section, drinks in tow.
254 runners, when the money is all
counted. 100% gain from last years event. Poker is up all over. Im
thinking, this is almost like the main event. All thats missing is three
million dollars of dead money. And its a lot fewer hands to decide the
LATER THAT EVENING
10 pm and the first thing I see
is Moneymaker walking out of the tournament area towards his room. Hes
fiddling with a one thousand chip lightly in one hand. The other fist clutches
a Red Bull. Hes just been knocked out. Later I find out that Chris had
over 100,000 with eighty players left, and didnt make the money. Some
bleach blonde big guy took all his money.
Theyve been playing ten
hours now, ten long hours and its down to the nitty gritty. Its the
bubble. 29 players left and paying 27 places. Not far off from the chip lead is
Eskimo, and as I walk in the big bearded husk of a man is facing a reraise. Ten
thousand more on top of his six thousand opener. Eskimo, who once uttered this
line while in a four and eight hundred game at Foxwoods casino,
Youve never lived, son, until you walk three miles naked through
the midnight snow, lays the hand down. The reraiser was Joe Beevers, and
it looks like Joe is finally going to make the money after three bubble
finishes. Hes on thirty thousand and sitting next to the steady Mel
Judah, whos healthy enough. Twenty-eight thousand, Mel says
to me when he can see Im trying to count him down.
A bleach blonde
with a goatee and black T who Ive never ever seen before looks to be chip
leader in seat #7. Mel doesnt know who it is either, and he calls over a
floorman to find out your mans name. Thomas, says the kid. First name or
last? Other big names still in the tourney include the always joking and
laughing Young Phan, Dewey Tomko, Kenna James, and Dan Harrington sitting near
Barry Greenstein. Bracelet winner James Vogls still in but desperately
short stacked. Hes pacing between hands trying to find who else might be
next to fall. Maybe itll be Maureen Feduniak whos down to ten
thousand and all in black, with a tight lipped frown. Swede Deknijffs
still in, how good does he play? Trying to extend on his 2.7 million lead this
year already. Blinds are six and twelve hundred. Ante 200. Nows the time
to steal like crazy. Now its time to see whos got guts.
big pot develops on the table near the rail. Five cards are out and a whole lot
of moneys in the middle. Action to Brian Haveson, who after a long dwell
up says, I call, and stands from his seat. The man on his right flips over his
hand and Haveson shakes his head slowly, before pushing over about 23,000.
Brians left with less than 13,000 in chips and now has to worry about the
bubble. Two more to go. Haveson takes a swig of his beer and continues to shake
his head slowly. Former World Champion Dan Harrington, out in 29th. He raised
with jacks and Barry Greenstein moved on him with a king and a queen before the
flop. Harrington calls all in, and when a king hits the flop he goes to the
rail. Just grabs his cell phone and walks.
Bunch of players left in that
nobody knows, but thats the mo of the NL Holdem world today.
Its now hand for hand. A motion is made by a short stack to take
something off the top for 28th place. Its quickly snuffed. Mel Judah is
out on the bubble a few hands later. Aces cracked. Eskimo calls with two sixes
and hits one on the turn. Mel is pissed. Really pissed.
Chips are pretty evenly distributed, more than a dozen guys with over 60k. One
player looks really mean. Its Martin Deknijff, and while backslapping
relief is the order of the day, Deknijff quietly takes his seat, stares
straight ahead, waits for the resumption. Superstar alert. $2.7 million usually
means youre drunk for a month. How can Barry Greenstein still be
underrated, but there it is. He must be recognized as top of the poker world.
Hes not afraid to gamble, and arent those smart guys just
Theres a murderers row of aggression on table 98.
Eskimo, with Kenna James on his left, Barry Greenstein to the left of them, and
Dewey Tomko mopping up everything in sight. Tomkos come out way ahead so
far. Deweys a steamroller. A fifty-something bulldozer of a player, raise
raise raise before the flop. Eskimo opens for 6000 and Kenna James is over the
top all-in Instantly called all-in as well by a grey beard on the
button. How bad is it? asks James after Eskimo folds. Neither
player wants to turn his hand over. Finally, they both flip at the same time
and no wonder. Jacks for James and ace-king for the beard. An ace hits the
board and Kenna is philosophical with his straw deep in his cocktail. Hes
down to 5000.
A man named Jim Sousa is making havoc at the corner table.
He acts like he owns the town and knows it. Sousa has a personal photographer
and gets kisses and hugs from every dealer in the joint. Hes loud and
funny and all-in nearly every other hand, as he downs beers one by one,
ironically ODouls. What job, Im wondering, is a position of such
lofty power in this town? President of a casino? Bigger. Owner? Even bigger.
Jim Sousa is the head of the union.