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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 13 -Time for a plan

It’s time to talk about the need for a plan. Succeeding at the World Series of Poker without a plan is like playing the old computer game Zork with no map. You might get lucky once through the maze, but forever after you’ll be eaten by grues. Take 100 very successful poker players, and I guarantee that you can split them in half. Half of them center their entire year around the money they will make at the WSOP, and the other half spend the entire year saving up the money that they’re going to blow there. No matter how talented some people are they never seem to solve the pitfalls of May, when having a carefully thought out plan is only helpful until it’s eleven thirty in the morning during the fourth week and you’ve been up all night trying to make up for a bad beat you took on the bubble in your best event by playing seven one-table tournaments, and then you decide to compound things by sticking lord knows how much money in the pot limit Omaha rebuy tournament because you decide there’s not much more to the game than sitting back and waiting for the nuts. It can happen quite quick.

Las Vegas is hard by itself without all the World Series hoopla. We’re standing near the snack bar this morning when approached by a successful Internet player on his first trip to Vegas. “Vegas is so easy,” he says, “Doesn’t bother me at all. For one thing, I never go on tilt. Never ever.” That’s Day 1 talking, the euphoria of the well slept beginning, when the games seem juicy and the bankroll seems large and you’re within your limits. I wish the man well, but I’ll revisit him two days before he’s set to go home before believing. Somewhere after the first week you’ve first been in Vegas, even the toughest nuts find that the wall falls down.

Last night I’m on the rail sweating the last few tables of the Omaha Hi-Lo event, when Paul Wolfe shows up, cracking jokes. You never realize a guy’s been gone until he shows up again, but you can spot a well rested soul from a mile away. “Where you been, Paul?” I ask. “Haven’t seen you in a week…” Wolfe took some time off to visit his daughter and some family downtime. What a disgrace. Gives poker players a bad name, Howard Lederer agrees laughingly from his seat in the tournament. Imagine. Taking time out from the World Series of Poker for rest and relaxation. I mentally move Wolfey onto my players I’ll consider betting on in the main event list. By the middle of the WSOP, a well rested player sticks out like a sore thumb.

It’s nearly eleven pm on Mother’s day and the room is howling. Everything is going on. The Omaha Hi-Low tourney is on the bubble, 28 left paying twenty-seven. The ladies tourney is down to four tables. The 2nd chance event has started, and the final table of the No Limit Hold’em is heads up. What a buzz.

An all-in on the Omaha and a redraw. One lady left in this event, one woman who scoffed at the restricted event for the open side, and no wonder. It’s Annie Duke, sitting next to her big brother Howard, and they’re both still in. Annie had a good run in the NL shootout the day before. Most tables were done when hers was still five handed, but she tortured them in the end. Here she is in the four seat with Howard in three, and Annie’s wearing retro preppy, a green t-shirt over a pink long sleeve. The table’s a bit of a who who – Mel Judah and Erik Seidel along with the joker Artie Cobb, and Thor Hansen to boot. Matt Savage is teasing Seidel fiercely. “Erik Seidel is in the money,” he announces to the whole room. Erik’s WSOP has been a bit light this year, by his standards, but he’s in his usual good spirits, which is to say a wry smile, eyes that take in everything, and a pronounced silence punctured by laughing.

Artie Cobb’s partner is on the rail behind him. “What a line-up,” she says eyeing the remaining Omaha players. “There’s only like two left that I don’t know.” I ask her where Artie’s hats have gone. Cobb was famous for his collection of silly hats, big hats that he’d wear while playing at the Horseshoe, and ten years ago were the times when you’d see Artie Cobb’s hats and name at about six WSOP final tables every year. Apparently they sold all the hats when Jack sold the Horseshoe, and now Cobb only has one hat left – a white leather affair with a rabbit sticking out the top which he’s pledged to don upon making any final. But it’s unlikely that’ll be in this event, Artie’s been desperately short for a while and between hands he whispers, “I’m gonna need some luck.”

John Nguyen wins the No Limit Hold’em shootout at the exact moment that Phil Hellmuth gets knocked out of the Omaha. A roar goes up, and a round of applause, but it’s for Nguyen. Hellmuth is fine about it, on this night he’s not bitter at all, and stands chatting on the rail for a while with Cyndi Violette and Andy Glazer before wishing the remaining players good luck and heading out of the room.

Annie is giggling about how she check-raised Howard on the river and then scooped the pot. Most players might imagine that if their sister checks to them after the last card in a WSOP event then it’s a pretty good time to bet your hand for value, but to these two it means something more. It means that they’re too ethical to soft play each other when integrity is at stake, and you gotta like that. Howard is the perfect big brother straight man, and you can just imagine Annie relentlessly teasing him when they were nine and twelve, Howard bearing up stoically. Although twenty minutes later when Howard gets short stacked and raises with the kings, Annie triple raises with the aces double suited to send him to the rail, and Lederer looks a little like he wants to say, I have no sister. It was pretty funny.

Annie went on to win this tournament along with her first gold bracelet. Poetic justice that it happened off the television table at the same time the ladies only event final table was being filmed by ESPN. Two open bracelets this year have now been won by women, well over their proportionate representation in the fields. I think there’s something to be said.

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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