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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 Four

It’s nearly midnight at the beginning of the second week of the World Series of Poker. Downstairs in the cash game area, the adrenalin buzz that came with the euphoria of the kickoff is gone. The action is hopping, but it’s serious gambling now, mostly just the steady click clack of chips piercing the air like a roomful of crickets. The winners are trying to get more and the losers are locked in tight. The only guys on the rail are the brokes, out of action temporarily while they make their moves. The masseurs are out full force, kneading the aches from tired backs and easing the pain from knotted necks. The usual suspects are all in the room, pot limit Omaha cranked up on the rail and O’Neil Longston with his ever present sportcoat and forehead folded on his hand. “30-60 Hold’em,” drones the desk from the PA. “30-60 Hold’em on table nine, lock up your seats or your name will be removed from the list!” “Player’s chips on 20! We need chips on 20!” “One on eleven,” says a dealer. “Seat open, table eleven!”

Upstairs the lights are brighter, the buzz more insistent. Final four tables of the first Omaha event, a limit Hi-lo affair with some quality players deep in chips. Paul Phillips is jubilant; he’s got a pink cell phone to match his flip flops and three hefty stacks of pink and black $500 chips. On his left is Barry Greenstein, the computer phenom turned cash game phenom turned tournament superstar. As one top player said, when I remarked that Ben Affleck seems to have improved his game one million percent, “Isn’t it funny how that always seems to be the case with the smart guys?”

Mike Sexton in a cleanly pressed white shirt and Party Poker hat is relaxed, though a tad short stacked. They’re all in the money now, and no surprise to see steady Mike getting a payout. I just saw looked at the list of most all time cashes in the WSOP and saw Sexton near the top of the board. Sexton knows how to survive in a tournament. Paul Maxfield is the only Britisher left in the field. The Manchester hope has been on quite a roll of late, beating Dave “El Blondie” Colclough for a big title in Paris and following that up by beating the Devilfish at a major in the British Midlands. Maxfield is paying cash for a suite at the Bellagio, twenty grand for the month, and figuring hell, I might as well enjoy myself. Z is in the hunt as well, or as he’s taken to calling himself, the bald eagle. Steve Zolotov, with the handlebar moustache, ever present fanny pack, and one of the keenest minds in gambling.

But all eyes are on the man – Phil Hellmuth is deep for the first time at the WSOP, and I find out later this is his first event, resplendent in red and black. He inexplicably has a box of Triscuits piled behind his chips and he’s chattering away as is his wont, jabbering about some hand that he played on ESPN. Mirrored shades with reflective gold lenses, when he quiets down he sets his chin in both hands and looks within. The UB hat is pressed low, turned backwards, and after twelve hours of play he must have one helluva case of hathair. Cards come out and raise it, says Phil, bounding out with 3000 from late position. One caller from the blind, who makes a straight when a third heart comes on board and has the tenacity to bet out with it, into Phil. “Jesus Christ!” shouts Hellmuth when the man turns over his hand at the end, jumping up tall. Phil picks his cards apart one by one and tosses them in, in front of your man. How could you, he seems to say, look what I had!

There’s one woman left in the tournament, a bespectacled schoolmarm with long straight hair who is surrounded by 20 grizzled men. The best Omaha Hi-lo players seem to be from the southeast, like Virginia and Maryland where they’ve been playing it near forever, and there’s several left who hail from those parts, big guys like Curtis Bibb, who can stand being quartered without losing sleep.

A big pot is brewing. A drunk cowboy with a scotch on the rocks is betting all the way from the button. It’s three way action and when the flush and low draw miss the river it’s checked around. Ace-king, says Steve Z in a quiet voice from the small blind, showing one pair only. The muted silence that greets him tells the story, and Z rakes a pot that more than doubles his chips. The cowboy pops up from his seat, scotch sloshing and says, “They oughta roast my testicles in purgatory for checking that thing. You could never have called the river!” Steve softly begs to differ, “I put you on the draw.” Three hands later and the cowboy’s still talking. “Ziggity zag, wraparound, how many outs could I have?” Omaha Hi-lo, there’s a game that’ll have you talking to yourself. The cowboy introduces himself as Oklahoma Otto, but later I find out better. He’s no cowboy at all, just Minneapolis Jim Meehan.

Two thirty am and play stops for the night. Minneapolis Jim is giving Matt Savage all kinds of trouble as Matt tries to bag the chips and wrap things up, but Matt is patient with a tired smile. And that’s typical of him and his staff. They don’t work twelve hour days they work fourteen, and you’ll never see them lose control or have a hair out of place. Just smiles and smoothness. Over at the media room, media director Nolan Dalla is typing up the official tournament report on a computer across from Max Shapiro. Nolan’s also been on his feet since noon, and he’ll put in thirty of those before the World Series is over, thirty long days with a tournament report at the end of each one. He says, “I haven’t seen you, where you been all day?” Unlike the rest, sometimes I get some sleep.

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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