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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
#3 Jeez !!

T-minus twelve hours and counting. Someone take a ratchet to the radiator, because it’s getting hot in there. The temperature at Binion’s took about four sharp turns upward today, with so many people trying so hard that you’re left wondering if the goal has nothing to do with winning. A lot of guys are just trying to get in. And that won’t do. Because a sleepy-eyed B game ain’t gonna take you to first base in the World Series Of Poker. Those tanks need to be filled up and topped off, which is why I told everybody I saw the exact same thing. “For crying out loud, get to bed!”

The Irish are assaulting the one table satellites, where you slog it out with nine others in a winner takes the seat $1000 buy-in format. Scott Gray and Leslie McClean picked up seats, young 21 year old future star Steven McClean picked up some cash, and LNP veteran Dave Cleary was just picking up a lot of experience. The Irish may have upwards of twenty runners in the big one, and as Padraig Parkinson said, they’ll be ready to celebrate if they can just get one guy through to Day 2. The Irish don’t need much of an excuse to party, and the fact that you can’t get them to take themselves seriously belies the fact that they’ve shown up with an exceptionally strong contingent for the main event. And there ain’t any of them that have ever gotten satisfied with coming in second.

Speaking of second place, it may have a severely reduced payout in the new WSOP prize structure. Now they only need 604 runners to guarantee a $2,000,000 first prize instead of the trifling $1.5 million paid out for the last several years. I’m talking about this development with Diego Cordovez and Kathy Liebert, who have won the two biggest poker tournaments so far this year respectively, and are my front runners as the poker man and the poker woman of the year. A top heavy prize fund encourages deal making, Kathy said, is there someone who’s not gonna be happy with getting 1.5 million? Diego pointed out that most PGA golf tournament winners only take down about 20% of the prize fund, while poker winners typically take 33-40%. I’ll never tell a poker player what they should do with their own money, but I also can’t say I’m disappointed at the prospect that I’ll be seeing poker’s first $2,000,000 winner come Friday night.

I promised Paul Phillips I wouldn’t tell, so you should know he was playing the triple draw Lowball event, and whooping it up at the final table. The blonde was resplendent in evening thongs emblazoned with the words, “I’m a rebel”. His T-shirt read, “A draw is forever”. When I left they were down to five players and Paul’s eyes were locked on that bracelet, but he still had John Juanda to contend with, who Diego Cordovez calls “The most focused man in poker, and one of the all around worst drivers I’ve ever seen.” How John Juanda was planning to win the Lowball tournament, get some sleep, and still be bright-eyed come kick off time is anybody’s guess, but I ain’t knocking success.

It’s crucial to know who’s relaxing at the bar, and I found it was half of Blackpool, England. They practically chartered a plane for this event, coolly deciding to forego all the preliminaries in order to show up fresh on Friday with their eyes on the prize. The young phenom Julian Gardner may finally be ready to make his name a household word, and not just the pick and pride of those in the know in European Poker. Julian had us rolling as he recounted the horrible super satellite beat he took after getting it all in with a jack-three. “How’d you get all your money in with jack-three in the first place?” Someone asked.

“Aaahh,” said Julian, “I knew he had nothing.” Padraig Parkinson was quick to point out that while he had personally witnessed jack-three take a good many poker pots, the vast majority of them were uncontested. Do you know there’s only one man in the world who has won two WSOP seats on the Internet? He’s known as Slimmouse from Blackpool, and he’s part of that Blackpool Internet poker Mafia that shows up wherever there’s money for grabs online. Slimmouse defeated 350 runners at the PokerStars site to get his seat, a feat he duplicated last year at PokerPages. He’s a champion of online poker, and if he has it his way, he’s gonna parlay that title into World Series winner. Blackpool, England, is all business this week.

Binion’s most famous dealer, Razzo, told me that he’d been promised a dealing down for Friday’s final table. Razzo picked up his nickname breaking into the Razz games at the old Stardust poker Room in the early eighties, so the man is pretty handy with a deck and a chair. And he ain’t shy with a camera, either, sticking up World Series cameos and interviews on his PokerWorld website.

With twelve hours to go, 400 people are already registered for the 2002 World Series of Poker. Though Razzo might be a bit optimistic with his 748 bid on the final entrant tally, 600 seems a foregone conclusion. Two million dollars is not going to fall in anybody’s lap over the next five days, but it is sure that somebody with the desire and the ability is gonna walk into Binion’s Horseshoe Casino and flat out take it.

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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