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World Series Of Poker
 Jesse May Reports
April 23rd - May 28th, 2004

Jesse May Reports : Champ D6 - Champ D5 - Champ D3 - Champ D2 - Champ D1 - T - 1 - T - 2 - T - 3 (II) - T - 3 (I) - T - 4 - T - 7 - Day 13 - D 12 - D 11 - D 10 - Return (9) - D 4 - D 3 - D 2 - Carborundum
Championship : The First 6 Days - The Final - Places & Prizes
Picture Series : Winners - Ted Forest - $5000 Holdem - John Hennigan - 2 to 7 Draw - A-Z Player List - The Final
Jesse May in
Las Vegas
Day 12 -$5000 No-Limit Deuce to Seven Draw

“Rebuy! Bill Baxter rebuy number three! He’s going for the record!” It’s Doyle Brunson in his Texan accent and a big smile.

“This was a strategy rebuy,” says Baxter, smiling as well. “If Doyle’s gonna keep moving in, I’m gonna rebuy.”

The game is no limit deuce to the seven lowball draw, and the table is tough. Every table is tough. Deuce to the seven has long been considered a bracelet of prestige, the event for the heavy hitters, the big bankrolls, the players who don’t mind rebuying four times at $5000 apiece for a good bit of jewelry. Forty-five players today, and that’s a big field for this event, last year there were only twenty-eight.

Long considered a man’s game, a Texan’s game, but the defending champion this year is the only woman in the field, petite and blonde Jennifer Harmon, who last year conclusively proved that tigers have no gender bias. Jennifer is dressed in black leather today, and sitting at a table that says run and hide. Chris Bjorin, O’Neill Longston, Freddy Deeb, Bobby Baldwin, and Scotty Nguyen are the only players she has to get through right now, but she did it before.

Seven tables, and they’re all so star struck that I must describe them. Ted Forrest playing with Johnny Chan, Chau Giang, Howard Lederer, and Brian Haveson. Erik Seidel squaring off with Carlos Mortensen and Chris Ferguson. Chip Reese battles Men the Master, Mohammed Ibrahim, John Juanda, and Jeff Lissandro. Doyle got moved, he’s now with Lyle Berman, Mike Wattel, Hoyt Corkins, Tony Bloom, and Erik Lindgren. Then there’s Spats Appleman, Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, David Grey, and Layne Flack. In the corner Billy Baxter, Allen Cunningham, Paul Phillips, and Dewey Tomko. What is the significance of this list? All of these players are caked up, as they say, big bankrolled and money to burn. Or else they just really like their game. The first two hours of this event don’t resemble a WSOP tournament so much as a private game among friends. But the good buddies are the best poker players in the world, and this is a day that hearkens back to the old west – when Texas was the center of the universe. As far as deuce to the seven is concerned, it still is.

Doyle Brunson and Barry Greenstein are having some friendly crossbooking bets. Friendly bets in the neighborhood of the tens and hundreds of thousands kind. They’re laughing and joking like a day at the races.

“All-in Barry!” shouts Doyle Brunson.
“Against Lyle!” “I’m crossbooking him, Lyle,” says Barry. “Don’t do anything stupid!”
Doyle’s fiddling with his draw card. “Gotta squeeze it… It’s a liner… I think it’s an eight.” It is. Lyle mucks his hand. “Hold on a second, I wanna see that hand!” says Doyle laughing. He’s teasing Berman, and then after a few minutes, “I wanted to make him show that queen he was calling me with.”
“I didn’t have no queen!” retorts Berman. “It was jack-ten-nine!”

Ten minutes later it’s Barry with his chips in the center “Doyle, I’m all in!”
“Who you all in against?”
“A better player than Lyle!”
“You mean a tighter player than Lyle!”
“Well, I mean, a player who rates to have a better hand then Lyle… I’m breaking a ten, that’s how much respect I have for him.” Ten what? Says his opponent, it is ten seven that Barry breaks and he is right, the fellow had him pipped on the third card. Barry lifts up one side of his draw card. “I caught a three across, so I’m a 2-1 favorite.” These number guys even have percentages for a one sided squeeze. Barry looks strong, slow lidded and whiplash thin with a brain the size of the whole table. He sits sideways in his chair, mild mannered and a dry sense of humor, wearing a patterned silk shirt, leather brown dress shoes and belted slacks.

Later on, nearing the dinner break, and the action has got more serious. Rebuys are over. It’s either the toughest field in the world, or a hell of a spot if you want to buy a bracelet. Some players, in fact, do call this event the buy-a-bracelet tournament, but then maybe they’re underestimating who you have to get through. They should make it a $20,000 buy-in and then see how bad who wants it.

5:25 pm. It’s level five and fourteen players have dropped, rebuys have been over for quite some time. Paul Phillips is chipped up, same hat, same flip flops. Howard’s carrying on a conversation of a range of topics while reraising Brian Haveson for half his stack. Howard’s got position. Brian folds. A few hands later and this time Howard is the opener, for $1800. Ted Forrest reraises from the button to 5500 and Howard calls. Pat goes Howard, Ted takes one. Tap-Tap. Lederer wins with a jack high. Courageous. Howard’s up to about 20,000 now and in a chatty mood. The whole table’s got opinions about the main event, the size of the field, and the likelihood of a no-name winning. Howard’s always been man of strong opinions, and he’s never shy about backing those opinions with money, with cash. He’s ahead.

I’m starting to think it’s all about the ten lows in this game. A late position player raises and Ted Forrest is over the top all in from the button for a over tenthousand more. It’s a sturdy reraise, and now Chau Giang barely hesitates before coming all in himself from the small blind. The original raiser folds and now it’s time for the draw. Chau taps pat. Ted thinks, thinks, and then he taps pat as well. “Ten-eight,” Ted says. Chau turns over quickly. Ten-seven. Ted grabs the card on top of the deck, rabbit hunting. It’s a nine. He curses softly under his breath as he walks away from the table. The whole table looks on in amazement. No one can believe Chau called all that money with a ten low. “You get all your chips with eights and nines,” he says to Howard, smiling. “I have to work it hard with the tens.”

Jesse May Reports : Champ D6 - Champ D5 - Champ D3 - Champ D2 - Champ D1 - T - 1 - T - 2 - T - 3 (II) - T - 3 (I) - T - 4 - T - 7 - Day 13 - D 12 - D 11 - D 10 - Return (9) - D 4 - D 3 - D 2 - Carborundum
Championship : The First 6 Days - The Final - Places & Prizes
Picture Series : Winners - Ted Forest - $5000 Holdem - John Hennigan - 2 to 7 Draw - A-Z Player List - The Final
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