#5 Day Two
|Jesse May in
And then there were less. In the
beginning there were 631, and day number one saw them falling like flies. On
the first day of the World Series of Poker pretenders get lopped in giant
bunches, leaving the tournament like clumps of hair. But yesterday was day
number two. And the second day is the fat getting trimmed. As the field for the
2002 WSOP slimmed down yesterday from 357 to 131, we were seeing the outline of
what will be, and who it is that will be the ones doing it.
arent too many excuses for going out on day one. You got trapped with
your stack, you played too many hands, Johnny Chan was on your left. You can
whinge all you want, but there arent too many excuses for hitting the
rail on day number one.
Now a lot of good poker players hit that wall
on day number two. And while its possible to be a pretender and still be
there, its just not very likely. Because by the end of day two
youve played sixteen hours against the cream of the crop. You checked
your guts at the door and stuck your heart on the felt. And if youve
found yourself one of those 131, then my hats off to you. Because
youve just gone and done a lot of things right.
From peak to peak
goes young Julian Gardner. With 199,000 hes the current chip leader, in
torrid form. Hes skinny in his blue checkered button down with the ice
cold sunglasses and a ramrod spine. Whats Julian Gardner doing? Hes
raising the shit out of everything. Hes scaring them back to prehistory,
taking people off their game like derailing trains. I seen him bust a man for
forty thousand with a ten and a deuce. And listen to the hand because it was
poetry in motion. The action is folded around to a hotshot in the small blind,
who raises Julians big blind to two thousand dollars. Julian calls for a
flop of ten-seven-four, at which point the raiser leads out for two thousand
more. Julian sticks a toe in the water, with a tester raise to five thousand
straight. Now the hotshot does the double deep reach, and reraises all in for
thirty-five thousand. Julian thinks, and Julian calls. Julian calls thirty
thousand more with a ten and a deuce. Top pair, bottom kicker. And its
good . The man has ace-queen, no pair, and he stuck in a fortune because he
knew Julian couldnt call. Or maybe he just doesnt know Julian.
Because if the kid gets an inkling, hell back it to the hilt. And
thats a key in no limit Holdem.
Who else has chips? Well,
David Chip Reese. One of the games old timers is in with a vengeance, a star of
the seventies whos still got game. Hes got 176,000 and thirty years
of desire. Because the World Series Championship is the only spot missing on
one of the top resumes in the whole poker world. And this may be the best
chance hes ever had.
The pride of the Irish is now Alan Betson.
And with 130,000, hes in a nice spot to keep on cruising. Early yesterday
and Betsons pissed off. He comes flying out of the room and sucks down
half a cigarette in one breath, cursing himself in Irish epithets. Got
myself in trouble, I did, he muttered in that thick mustached accent.
Cost me six thousand, it did. I didnt have to do that. I could have
just seen a free flop with those two damn nines. But I went and tried to win it
from the big blind. The hand set him back to about thirty grand. And all
the while hes pacing, back and around in the little anteroom between the
tournament area and the bathrooms. It aint like hes not missing
hands. But two things were more important - the cigarette, and he had to
And regroup he did. Because he went back in and just got
busy. For the next four hours he raised every hand. He was like a mosquito,
buzzing around in every pot. He made a guy lay down two queens before the flop.
In a raise and reraise against a dude in an eggplant shirt, Betson stuck it all
in to the tune of 23,000. Long pauses and deep stares, and while the eggplant
sweats, Betson is cool with a sip of his water. And over the course of what I
later found out were four of the longest minutes of Betsons life, the man
in purple became convinced that Alan could beat two queens, and he flipped them
up and threw them in. I aint saying what Betson had, but the fact is that
he made a man lay down two queens. Thats not just strong. I call it
Dont give up. The cards can run as salty as a sea
lick, but if you dont give up you still got a chance and things can turn
on a dime. And sometimes the short stack exhibitions are the most impressive of
all, because the grim reaper is breathing down your neck at every second, and
if you even so much as turn to glance, hell slay you cold. Keep your head
front and dont stop fighting.
Just ask Jack Fox. The Nevada lawyer
has been sixteen hours and always short chips, but hes still one of the
131. Jack Fox may be mild mannered, but thats deceiving. Hes
crumpled in a gabardine suit, and his little hands are still double the size of
his pifflerous stack. But his heart is as big as the whole damn room. He could
have stuck it in and had a hundred excuses, but the plain fact is that he
wouldnt go out. Down to 4300 early yesterday, he managed to stay one step
ahead all grueling day. And the 16,000 hes got now is the most hes
had since the tournament began. Hey, at least hes still in.
day two is a great divider, and its not only the big stacks who attract
the attention. Everybody whos still in has a got a story about avoiding
the hangmans noose.
One hundred and thirty-one players will enter
day three, and only forty-five will survive. Still being in it is a tremendous
accomplishment, but as Chris the Greek says, Its a lot of work from
here. Its like you just started walking from Las Vegas to Atlantic City -
its just that far.