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World Series Of Poker
 Jesse May Reports
April 19th - May 24th, 2002

Other Jesse May Reports : Warm-Up - Thirty Hours To Go - Jeez !! - Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Days 4&5
- The Final Action
Jesse May in
Las Vegas
#6 Day Three

Maybe you didn’t grow into it. Maybe you didn’t find a World Series Of Poker magazine when you were sixteen years old and dog-ear the pages like a Playboy. Maybe you didn’t see the tape where Hal Fowler gutter-balled Bobby Hoff when it was still winner take all and see Hoff’s heart fall to the bottom of his feet. Maybe you don’t know about Brunson, Chan, Moss, and Ungar. Maybe you just see the money. But, it’s a whole lot more than just the money. It’s a dream. And it’s been the dream of almost everybody I know since as long as I’ve known them.

So you’ll forgive me if my first action upon seeing the World Series Of Poker winner come Friday afternoon is to prostrate myself at his feet, kiss his toes and call out “We are not worthy.” If I treat the man like a religious deity, please understand. Because the last man sitting come Friday afternoon will definitely deserve it.

There are some guys who are never going to win the World Series of Poker. Some people hope that if they sit there and get lucky, other players will bust themselves out, and they’ll hand you the championship of the world on a silver platter. Keep on dreaming, because that’s never happened and it never will. The WSOP can only be won by somebody who wants it so bad that his cards don’t matter. If you want your name on that wall and that bracelet on your wrist, then you better stop sitting there praying. You better get in there and take it.

Now every one of the forty-five players left in the 2002 WSOP hopes that they sit down today and pick up aces six times. Everyone would love to get hit with the deck and play twelve no-brainers, and cruise to the final table with four million dollars. That’s fine, but that better only be the A plan. Because if you really mean to win the WSOP, you better bring out plans B,C, and D. You better be willing to get in the muck and get your hands dirty. Sometimes you have to pull out the stops. Sometimes you just have to win.

Nobody won the World Series of Poker yesterday, on day three. But a lot of guys lost it. A lot of guys got scared. Hey, twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money. And if a man wanted to play for that twenty thousand guarantee to forty-fifth place, if he wanted to lock that up before taking any chances, then that’s his prerogative and I wish him luck. But the guys who want to win that twenty thousand the most are the ones who are most likely to get that amount and not a dollar more. Because those guys got scared on day three of the WSOP, and they suffered because of it. And they may be in the money, but their stacks are so short that their only out now is a miracle. They scared themselves out.

I don’t know Robert Varkonyi. I’ve never seen or heard before of the man who’s amassed a half million dollars and currently leads the World Series of Poker. I think class will tell and they’ll pass him by, but one things for sure. And one thing for sure is that Robert Varkonyi is trying to win, that trait that is actually most important of all. He may not have the skills of some who are left, but he’s clearly got heart. He was shoving it in like three dollar poker, and if his moves were suspect his nerves never were. Varkonyi was in there gambling, trying to win the World Series of Poker. Hell, that may be enough.

They were down to forty-one players in the 1999 WSOP, and they were paying thirty-six spots. And Padraig Parkinson’s partner approached him and said, “Well, now you can just sit tight and make the money.” And Padraig said, “Yeah, right”, and then he started raising the hell out of every hand.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised last night about seven p.m., when they hit fifty-four players in the 2002 WSOP paying forty-five spots, and another Irishman named Scott Gray arrived at the back table with medium chips and just started firing. And in the three hours it took to lose the last fifteen players, when everybody was playing like a combination vault, Gray increased his stack from 50,000 all the way up to 236,500. And he done it without showing a hand. He done it because they were playing scared, and he was playing to win. You can’t win the World Series of Poker on day three, but you can damn sure put yourself in position to make it happen, or reduce your chances down to slim or none.

When Scott Gray filled the three seat in one of the six remaining tables yesterday, poker theorist David Sklansky was sitting in the one seat with more chips than Scott. He limped in a hand, so Scott raised it on up and Sklansky passed. That was the last hand David Sklansky played in three hours. During the next three hours he was an empty chair. He anted himself down from seventy thousand in chips to less than ten. He made the money. And when they pay him his twenty thousand they’ll say, “Sir, thank you very much for attending. Please come back next year.” But in the words of Yeller from The Cincinnati Kid, “Man, you better write yourself a new book.” Because the gold bracelet ain’t being awarded by a voice vote, nor to the guy who can do the fanciest fractions. The winner of the World Series is the guy with balls as big as Montana, and a heart to match.

So anybody who really wants to win the World Series of Poker, please come forward. It’s time to start playing the game.

There’s flack and there’s press about how Binion’s Horseshoe is running this tournament, and I want to say, I don’t know what everybody’s grumbling about. Some guys are grumbling about the buffet. Who the hell cares about the buffet, man, you’re playing for two million dollars. And in that department Binion’s has been second to none, because this World Series of Poker has been run like a dream. Binion’s has done a hell of a job, and they deserve the credit for it. And Benny Binion Behnen really is the legacy of his grandfather, because he knows what’s important. He’s giving people a fair gamble. He’s giving people a chance at two million dollars, and he and his excellent staff have done it without a hitch. And man, besides giving people a fair gamble and the best run tournament I ever seen, there ain’t a damn thing else that’s important.

Two million dollars is a lot of money, and it will be the biggest prize ever awarded in tournament poker. But just to put everything in perspective, I asked Amarillo Slim how old he was the first time he won two million dollars. “Well,” he said, “I was seventeen.”

Other Jesse May Reports : Warm-Up - Thirty Hours To Go - Jeez !! - Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Days 4&5
- The Final Action
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