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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
T minus 3 update

Main event update. When the rumor came through this morning that 2200 players are already confirmed for the main event, I went to the source, tournament director Matt Savage. He would neither confirm nor deny it, but did offer this. “I can confidently say that we will have at least 2000 runners.” Wow. At least 2000. And apparently twenty more tables are already on special order so that the Horseshoe can accommodate more. Is 2500 out of the question? It seems like the only outer limit now is how many gamblers in the world can get the weekend off.

It’s early Thursday afternoon in the temporary center of the world, and it feels like the epicenter of an earthquake. The line for the $225 super satellite for the main event yawns and jaws with long legions of hopers, stretching past the buffet. The $3000 no limit Hold’em is back in swing down to the last 23 players. And the $5000 pot limit Omaha event has just ended its rebuy period, with bundles of bills flying like confetti as Jodi Ivener struggles to parcel out yellow thousand chips to every player and his mother. It’s a mad scene.

Let’s take the Omaha event first. The pot limit Omaha event is the game for sure where the Europeans have the edge. No matter how many good old boys from Mississippi and New Orleans profess different, they haven’t been playing the game as long as the Brits, who have every one of them cu their teeth on Omaha cash games. A Tunica fellow wearing a Big Bob’s Seafood House T-shirt comes over to the rail and calls over his man. “Brett!” he says in a strong southern accent. “You get over to my room and get ten thousand from the safe. Hell, I don’t need it now, but just go get it!”

This tournament plays big. The rules say that you can rebuy anytime you have 5000 or less in chips, so players have the option of doing a double buy-in at the start or anytime they go broke. This makes the event five thousand buy-in, or ten grand if you’d rather. And many of the players are buying ten at a time. I was trying to count out who had the most pull-ups but soon gave up in the flurry of bills and chips. One Afghan fellow was in for 35,000 already. Chris Ferguson played the last hand of the second level, went broke, and immediately threw out three $5000 chips. Double rebuy plus the add-on. Julian Gardner had worked hard for two hours to triple his stack and now found the big wallets at the table even or past him.

The big pot limit Omaha game at the Vic in London is the breeding ground for the terrors of this game, and they are out here in force. Like Surinder Sunar, who sat down as an alternate one hour late, or “Choirboy” Gary Jones, Donnacha O’dea and Robin Keston sitting in a line as a murderer’s row. Tony Bloom and the always dangerous Jeff Duval are also chipped up, and Irishman George McKeever, who placed 7th in the main event in 1999. Never leave out the Devilfish, who’s in a crisp custom shirt with starched cuffs at the end of long blue sleeves, and is in some circles regarded as the most dangerous in the world.

But maybe the Americans know how to pound these rebuy events. Phil Hellmuth himself has 35,000 after the first break, and Daniel Negreanu’s not far behind. About twenty minutes in Negreanu shouts over to Allen Cunningham, “Allen did you bring much money? I didn’t, I was too scared!” Negreanu’s making fun of the fact that he had 27 rebuys in the last rebuy event, and maybe the fact that PL Omaha’s not his best game. But Ted Forrest has the faster retort, he looks dead on at Daniel with his expression dry as tinder and says, “Don’t worry, Daniel. I’ve got some money for you.” He’s sitting at Daniel’s table. The place breaks up laughing.

The American with the strongest results in Omaha events is Texas man Robert Williamson III, or as one European calls him, Robert Williamson number one and a half, because the former big man has shed over two hundred pounds in no time at all. Williamson is chip leader at his table in the early going, headphones have him banging to the beat and frequent big bets.

Why do the Europeans fancy their chances in Omaha? It might have to do with, as one European puts it, the ace players. Too many Americans raise with aces, he says, and call with everything else. In Europe they specialize in ace cracking, cracking those fellows who think two aces is worth anything. Pot Limit Omaha is more about gambling. Knowing when to gamble and betting on the draw. And never making the hand until the last card is dealt. And the Europeans like that.

But the weirdest story right now is one John Juanda. How surprised was the room when they saw him in the Omaha event, sipping his coffee at 12:35 and peeping at four cards. Surprised, because Juanda was scheduled to start the last three tables of the No Limit Hold’em at 2pm, and with 50,000 in chips and half a million for first, you’d have to figure he liked his chances. Ted Forrest complained from one table over. He’d put Juanda first on his fantasy pool team and was far more interested in John making some points at the final table rather then wasting his focus on the four card game. Maybe Juanda’s theory was to be aggressive early on in the No Limit, go big or go home, and when they finally did kick off the last 25 at 2pm that seemed to be the story because Juanda went to war, playing and raising several pots right off the bat. He immediately built his stack to 85,000, and I have to figure that’s the end of the Omaha for him. Weird, though. Weird.

It’s also possible that people are losing their marbles. Tomorrow we’ll talk about players to watch, and one of them might be Paul Phillips. He hung around forever yesterday with no chips at all, and in the last hour of the NL Hold’em last night, the thirteenth level, when bats and cuckoos came out to roost, Phillips zoomed near the chip lead, to over one hundred grand. To have gas in your engines come three am is quite strong indeed, and when I asked him about it this morning his comment was, “Yeah. And I didn’t even need to get lucky. Just stole and stole.” That’s good.

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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