I decided to hit the Plaza noon tournament before heading to the Rio. I did okay, finishing halfway through the 31 man field, but got busted with 7-4 in the big blind with a flop of 7-6-3 when the small blind went all in and I didn’t think he wanted a call. It turns out he didn’t as he had a 5-8 for an open-ended straight draw. But a turn 5 for my straight and then a river 4 for his higher straight did me in.
I made it to the Rio about 3 p.m. after the $2,500 NLHE field had dwindled, providing more open tables for the satellites and cash games I wanted to play. I spotted Greg Raymer leaving a table so I grabbed him for a golden interview opportunity. He and I had chatted via email so he knew who I was.
I asked him how things have changed for him since last year’s World Series, when he wasn’t a total unknown on the tournament circuit before his main event win, but also wasn’t an easily recognizable face to many.
Raymer said he’s now the target of the “touristy types.”
“Now I get asked for pictures and autographs pretty much constantly,” said Raymer, who doesn’t mind the attention and is very accommodating to those fans. “A girl licked me the other day.”
A comment like that doesn’t go by without a follow-up question so I inquired further. Raymer said the woman requested a photo, and a friend of Raymer’s who was trying to take the picture couldn’t get the camera to work. While the woman waited she cuddled up to the poker pro and asked if she could lick him.
“She just licks me before I can say a word,” Raymer said, laughing.
Regarding the World Series of Poker’s new home, Raymer pointed out things he likes and dislikes. He noted that an event this large could never be held at Binion’s, or anywhere downtown, for that matter.
“I like the fact we’ve got all this room,” he said. “If you took all the slots and tables in Binion’s out, you couldn’t fit this in there. There’s not enough floor space.”
On the other hand, Raymer liked the convenience of downtown. He could walk across the street and buy a soda and beef jerky in a souvenir shop across the street.
But given the two options, Raymer prefers the new location.
“I would rather it be bigger and here than smaller and down there,” he said.
I asked Raymer if it is a realistic goal for him to win back-to-back World Series main events. His reply? Of course not.
“My goal is the only goal I ever have when I play poker – that is make good decisions,” he said.
Raymer said tournament players who come into a tournament with a mindset that they are going to win it are doomed for failure.
“You can be the greatest player in the world and not meet those goals,” he said.
Raymer was able to accomplish a feat on Friday that was never reached before. He made the final table of the $1,500 NLHE event that began on Wednesday, becoming the only player to make a final table in two events with more than 2,000 players. Only three times have tournament fields been that large – last year’s main event and this year’s second event, another $1,500 NLHE, were the other two.
Raymer started the final table as the chip leader, but finished sixth.
As we concluded our meeting, Raymer added, “Oh yeah, Poker Stars, Poker Stars, Poker Stars.”
After my brief chat with Raymer, I was finally able to grab a $10-$20 seat (my favorite hold’em limit.) I had a great three hours, pocketing $415. I then proceeded to enter a $225 satellite to attempt to win some tournament chips, but I could not catch any hands and went out 5th when my K-7 that I called with in the dark from the big blind was vanquished by 8-8.
I ran into Andy Bloch on the way out and gave him a copy of the Sims article. Still no word from Bluff on that. Bloch was wearing his Full Tilt Poker jersey like most of the rest of that group. He ended up with lucky No. 7 on his. We talked about how much FTP has grown since he first told me about it last April, when it was just an upstart. I thought it had grown more than it has. Bloch said it’s more toward the lower part of the top 10 of online poker sites.
He went on a bit of a diatribe about the U.S. government’s stance toward online poker and we both agreed that it will never be legalized with Bush in the White House. (Bloch has a running count of the cost of the war in Iraq on his home page http://www.andybloch.com/, if that tells you anything about his thought on the president.) He said the Party Poker IPO, about to take place on the London stock exchange, will open some eyes. It will be interesting to see what happens with that.