|Jesse May in
you dont think Im excited? Im going to Las Vegas tomorrow.
Im going to the World Series of Poker at Binions Horseshoe Casino,
and Im gonna sweat it. Its been a whole month of World Series
action so far, those two day events that divvy up money and provide a form
guide for the sweaters and bettors. You can talk about players
performances in these preliminary events as dominating, you can see that
someones added to his bankroll, but most importantly, were looking
for guides to who is in form. Because come Monday morning, the last month has
no memory at all, and the only thing on anybodys mind is who is gonna
take the $1.5 million first prize in the five day title event of no limit Texas
Holdem, $10,000 buy in. Who is gonna be the next poker champion of the
Although Carlos Mortensen was a bit of a darkhorse when he won
the championship last year, he was clearly in form, having won the Shooting
Stars tournament in California a month before, which is no slouch title. Now
there are some guys who have warmed up to the main event by playing every
preliminary tournament every day for the last month. And that is not always the
greatest preparation for the $10,000 event, because the championship event is
so draining, so mentally and physically consuming, that the best preparation
might just be a month on a deserted island in the Pacific. Im not joking.
Because after a month of trudging up and down every day to that tournament room
and sitting at a table with those tournament chips and those tournament
players, people start looking like zombies. And behaving like them as well. And
that wont do for the World Series of Poker.
Because to win the
World Series of Poker you have to be the most creative youve ever been,
you have to seize every single opportunity, and you cannot make even one
mistake. And then you have to get lucky to boot. And that is over more than
forty hours of poker, playing the most mind freezing game thats ever been
invented, no limit Texas Holdem, or as my from the closet pick Brit David
Colclough would say, one monster game of two card chicken.
preparation for the Big One seems to be to play one or two preliminary events,
get your feet wet, get focused, and get in form. Dont be drained come
next Friday. Now here are some players with form.
Ian Dobson. Theyre down to four players in the pot
limit Holdem and Dobson raises with pocket jacks and gets called on the
button. The flop comes four, five, seven, and ninety-nine out of one hundred
people would be thinking bet and win and on to the next hand. Dobson checks.
Ian Dobson is thinking trap. Hes thinking hes gonna get a guy to go
for all his chips. Hes always trying to win the tournament. Now its
easy to try and trap a guy when you got the nuts, but Dobson will stick it in
there on a margin, and that takes a cool customer.
Tough? Tough as
nails. And the kicker is that everybody thinks Ian Dobson is Irish. Hes
not, but everybody thinks so. Jim McManus told me about the hand that put him
out of last years Poker Million. Ian Dobson had raised seven out of nine
hands, and on the tenth McManus called Dobsons raise with ace-deuce of
diamonds. The flop came ace, jack, deuce, and McManus got trapped for all his
chips. Dobson had pocket jacks. He plays those pocket jacks pretty strong,
commonly known as the toughest hand to play in no limit Holdem. French
champion Teddy Tuil just throws them away. I swear.
The only worry is Phil might be a little tired after winning three bracelets
and being countless other times in the money during this lead-up month. Phil
Ivey is good, he is young, he is focused. And he is from Philadelphia. Ivey was
in the second wave of Atlantic City players, He learned in the shadow of
stalwarts like John Hennigan, Dave Rosenau, Cyndi Violette, and the esteemed
limit Holdem specialist Joe Moon. But he may be the best poker player out
of Atlantic City yet. People say the deck has been hitting Phil Ivey in the
face lately, and that bodes well for the final event.
forget the D-train. Stanford man Diego Cordovez has had a banner year
already, going from being the best young player about to burst out to being a
poker playing snowball. He won a half million dollars earlier in the year in
the biggest limit Holdem tournament ever and has ripped up more turf
since then. Can he play no limit? You better believe it. Cordovez went out on
the bubble last year, around forty-sixth out of six hundred, and that
experience likely served him well for a real assault on the crown next
Barny Boatman. This Hendon Mobster is really on fire, and
as the highest placed British finisher the last two years running in the Big
One, he is no pretender. His unorthodox game throws a lot of people off. I
still cant figure it out, and Ive seen it from under the table.
Barny brings changing gears to a new place entirely. Only the Hendon Mob could
live up to the level of hype theyve created for themselves. And they
Everybodys talking about Layne Flack, that
tow-headed nuclear power plant from Montana, who has picked up two bracelets
already in that ramming jamming style of his. Is he the bad boy of poker? What
do you care? The guy is playing. Hes like Babe Ruth, he can be out all
night and still make a play come game time.
Could this be the year of
the first womens WSOP champion? No reason why not. Jennifer Harmon is in
torrid form, and dont forget about Cathy Liebert. Melissa Hayden or JJ
Bortner would be no surprise at the final table, and from there its
anybodys ball game.
Thats why poker is great. A final table
of the best players in the world could easily see a fast lane wild man, a
studious boy from the burbs, a gorgeous blonde, and someone impersonating an
Irishman. Thats why we love the World Series of Poker. That, and trying
to borrow money off the winner.