Friday, July 11, 2008

Recent updates via FTP posts

The latest update is that Iggy is now out. He lost a coin flip in the first level when he pushed in with A-J and was called by Jeremiah Smith and his nines. Iggy finished something like 405th for $28K. Not bad, sir, not bad at all...

Here's what I've been sending the last few days to Full Tilt Poker for the Blogger from the Rail posts:

Greetings from the World Series. I’ve been here for more than two weeks now, but am just now officially posting as the Blogger from the Rail. (Doesn’t it sound like a title of such importance?) If any of you reading this have never been to the WSOP or even Las Vegas, you need to plan a trip. If you love poker you have to come experience it.

This is actually my fifth year at poker’s grandest event. The first time, in 2004, the tournament was still held at Binion’s Horseshoe. It’s really hard to think of the size of the WSOP then with the size of it now. Today, for Day 2B of the main event they’ve got players spread all over the Rio, from the main play area of the Amazon ballroom to the Rio poker room, which is a good third of a mile away. I hear it’s in the neighborhood of 2,700 players playing today. Insane. I remember in 2004 when they were trying to find space for the nearly 2,600 players at Binion’s. Here in 2006, before the UIGEA was passed, there were nearly 9,000 runners. There were still nearly 7,000 this year. I think this poker fad has legs.

Let me share a quick history of my WSOP play. During that first trip in 2004, I took a shot at an event. It was the $1,000 with rebuys and I was attempting it on one buy in (Dumb move, I know. But as a novice what did I know?) At my table at various times were players with names like Vahedi, Tomko, Plastik, Longson, Rodman, Shoten and this guy they call Hellmuth. You may not be surprised to learn I didn’t fare so well.

I played one $1,500 NLHE event in 2005 with no luck and another in 2006 with similar fortunes. I won a main event seat in 2006 through another online poker site and was a card rack on Day 1, catching aces five times and flopping quad deuces against Patrik Antonius. I managed to take half his stack in another hand in which I turned a set of nines. My good fortune continued until I ran kings into aces shortly after making the money in Day 3. The 770th finish was good enough for $16,500.

Last year I played no WSOP events, but thanks to Full Tilt Poker and its Battle of the Bloggers Tournaments I was able to play the $1,500 HORSE event. I sat with Mike Matusow, himself a FTP pro. As seems to be usual in the $1,500 events I play here I didn’t last long. In fact, Matusow and another player busted me in the third level during Stud/8 when I missed both my low and flush draws.

I’ve used my Vegas bankroll I earned through the blogger tournaments to play other tournaments around town, but haven’t had much luck. I finally cashed last night in a $340 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza event, but only got $740 for the effort.

I’ll be bringing you more from the Rio in the coming days. Thanks for your patronage.

I have to admit I have watched the main event the last two years with great envy. After taking part in 2006 and experiencing the highs and lows of playing in poker’s biggest tournament, I am jealous every year I have to watch and not participate.

I felt a little thrill in railing Iggy, one of our most famous poker bloggers. He has been called the “Blogfather” because he was one of the first and best. This year, he won his first main event seat and I could sense the joy he had in getting to play the thing. It was like when a little kid opens his presents on Christmas. I remember that feeling. Well, then I asked him how it felt to play in it on Day 2 and he looked uninterested. “It beats work,” he said as he continued to fold his rag hands.

Players were eliminated briskly on Day 2. More than 63 percent of the field survived Day 1, but many hit the door quickly as the blinds and antes grew. At the end of the day less than 1,300 survived and prop bets were made among poker writers on whether or not enough players will be eliminated on Day 3 to reach the money line of 666.

By the end of the day you could sense palpable excitement in Iggy as he held nearly 87,000 chips (close to the average) entering Thursday’s Day 3 play. As we walked from the Rio to the Palms in search of beer he threatened to let out a primordial scream. Finally, as the afternoon had grown long he caught some hands.

Day 3 is the most treacherous day of the Series. It provides great disappointment for half the remaining field and great joy for most of the rest who survive into the cash. After all, $20,000+ is big money for most people, especially since many of them got into the main event for much less than $10,000.

I personally have a rooting interest in a few people today. There is Iggy, of course. There’s also Stephen L. from Toronto, a guy I met in Reno a couple of years ago and have been friends with since. And there’s Hoyt Corkins, my fellow Alabamian who I’ve gotten to know over the last few years, especially since I’ve been working with Rounder magazine where we feature a monthly Q & A segment with him. Hoyt and I are supposed to go hiking on Mt. Charleston when he busts out of the main event, but honestly I hope the trip can wait until next year. I’d be just as happy to see him make the final table.

Hand for hand play lasted an eternity Thursday at the Rio. I’m sure it seemed that way for the short-stacked participants, at least. The most amazing story was that of Argentinean Fernando Gordo, or more accurately his stack. Gordo did not show up Thursday to play his 140,000 stack and was blinded off as the day progressed. When the money bubble burst his stack was still alive, but down to 1,500. That stack earned him $21,230.

The three guys I was tracking had mixed results. My Toronto pal Stephen Ladowsky nursed a short stack most of the day and finally went out around 480th when he pushed with A-Q and ran into aces. Iggy managed to maintain and build his stack with some blind steals and re-steals and finished Day 3 with 177,000. Hoyt Corkins fared even better, using his aggressive style to build his stack up to nearly 480,000. It was funny watching him pace the aisles before play began this afternoon. Hoyt seemed more nervous today than he did before the final table of the World Poker Open in Tunica in January. (He finished second there.) I guess that shows you the importance of the World Series of Poker to people.

Iggy seemed very relaxed and drew fellow poker writer Jeremiah Smith two seats to his right. I talked with Jeremiah (who enters the day second in chip count with about $1.3 million) quite a bit last year so it’s good to see the former PokerWire reporter doing so well in this event. Plus, Jeremiah was dressed in Full Tilt Poker gear so of course we love him here on Poker From the Rail.

Phil Hellmuth and Jean Robert-Bellande are at the ESPN featured table today. There’s a dynamic duo for you that should make for good television.

I probably won’t stick around the Rio long here on Day 4 because if I want to make my fortune before I leave Vegas I need to try to satellite into the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza main event on Sunday. Maybe if I can win a mint it will give me a good bankroll for the upcoming FTOPS events.

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