End of Day 3
|Jesse May in
I was on my fifth beer at the
Golden Gate coffee shop when an Irishman came running in with the sheets. And I
had to kick myself for missing the last hour and a half of Day 3 of the WSOP,
when the world turned upside down. I thought all the excitement would happen
early in the day, when the pressure was on, but I guess I was wrong. Because
from the money tables down to 45 players, when the nailbiters opened up and
tried to get up or go, the leaderboard took so many surprising twists and turns
that they might as well have been playing on a blanket with a pair of dice. The
final Day 3 leaderboard is no indication of how Day 3 went, and I have to
wonder if some of the players didnt temporarily leave their seats and
invite the audience to play.
To win the World Series you have to do the
least obvious, open it up when the pressure is on, and play tight as a drum
when the wheels start to spin. And thats why I separate the leaders into
two groups, those who amassed their chips before they hit the money, and those
who went nuts when the pressure was off. Because early in the day you could
steal without showing a hand, and those who were courageous slowly climbed up
the board. But once 63 players were left, $15,000 was guaranteed all around,
and there was 30 or more who wanted to get rich or go home. They didnt
fancy trying to stick around without any chips, so the last two hours of play
were one massive free for all. My feeling is that those guys are the ones whose
chips are for sale, theyll come into Day 4 and shut up their shop.
Theyll have had all night to think about how lucky they got, and will
bleed off their stack like slow dripping leaks. Day 4 will be a major
separator, and the pressure will be back and luck less a factor. Bruno Fitoussi
is the World Series chip leader, but he was rocky all day like a flash in the
pan. Bruno amassed his chips in some giant late swoops, and I have to believe
hes still a dog for the final. Sammy Farha same story, he plays like a
seesaw, calling and raising and seeing the turn.
Paul Darden is the
second shortest stack in the tournament. Whats likely to happen is that
hell bust out quickly and never get his due. Never get credit for one of
the most inspiring Day 3s that Ive ever seen. Darden recovered from
a short stack early in the morning with a massive run. And as they neared end
of play he was far to the front. But after getting all the money in with an
hour to go and a set of tens on the flop, Darden had to watch as a king hit the
river and took all his chips, leaving him with only ten thousand. Now Darden
had every right to stick the 10,000 in on the very next hand, just as an
afterthought to a World Series disaster. But to his immense credit he hung on
and finished the day with 17,000. Dardens got both types of game, and is
down but not out.
Some players were steady all day and I see them in the
final, staying out of danger and picking up chips. Ill pick nine just for
fun, the ones who look good, the ones who played well every step of the way.
Scotty Nguyen, Phil Hellmuth, Jeff Shulman, Humberto Brenes, Dan Harrington,
Marcel Luske, Men Nguyen, Kevin Song, and of course Phil Ivey. Im sure
Im just dreaming, it never could happen, but enough superstars are left
so that one thing is for sure. The final table of the 2003 World Series of
Poker has every chance to be the best one in history. Every chance in the
I might as well as give out some Day 3 extras, for junkies
Twenty minutes in and Paul Dardens raised Howard Lederer 26
thousand more and all in before the flop. Howard thinks for a God awful time
before calling. Ace-queen of diamonds for Darden, ace-seven of spades for
Howard, and with a flush on the turn, Darden doubles right through and in
position to make things oh so tough for Lederer, who sighs and stares into
space for a full five minutes after the hand. Ten minutes later and Howard is
still going over it in his head, chin in his hands and gaze fixed towards the
center. Its 12:30 pm and Paul Darden is suddenly healthy. Not twenty
minutes after and Darden has darn near busted the table, his two short stacks
have given way to gardens of gold. The money places are coming up plus
theyre on the TV table, so Darden takes advantage while the rest of them
freeze like an ice storm. Its 1:15 pm and Darden has gone from shortstack
to tournament favorite. Hes over 120,000.
Table 74 has a lot of
Europeans. Pepe Klinger in seat 1, Rory Liffey in 3, and Marcel Luske opens up
for 3600 from seat number 6. Elvis Sr. Atkinson in 7 raises up to 9000 straight
and Marcel thinks not too long before showing an ace and folding up shop. Elvis
says, Ill show you one, and flips up the ladies. Marcel
breaks into song. With the upside down sunglasses he may be the most relaxed
guy in the tourney, certainly at the table. Hes all smiles. Pepe,
whos been to this stage of the big one once before is just focused, but a
bit short stacked in the thirty grand range. Mark Gregorich in seat 2 makes it
five thousand one off the button, and Irishman Liffey is having not a bit of
it. Fifteen, he says, snaking three stacks down. Your man in late
position folds up shop quickly, and the Irishman sips his water out of danger
with the well timed second raise.
Jeff Shulman in form with a whole
bunch of no names, in very good spirits. The man on his left raises and then
looks at Jeff, whos staring at him hard while out of the hand. Your man
is nervous as a hen pecker flitting this way and that while the decision is on
his left. He looks at Jeff again, whos eating into him with a scary
stare. I wouldnt look at me if I were you, says Jeff,
the actions over there! I do believe the intimidation play is
working if thats his intention. Shulman sees a chance to dominate this
table, and hes lean and mean. One pm and twelve tables to go. Seven
tables to be paid, and 45 get nothing. Which forty-five get nothing is the
question of the day, but the ones who open up now and tighten up later are the
guys who know theyll be in position to go for the final table on
Day number 4. Its near to the break and Jeff has padded up to 160,000
without any danger.
Back at the European table, Marcel is still moving
like clockwork, padding his lead and raising seven out of ten, always in with
the first raise before the flop. Here comes Pepe with a raise to six thousand
and its Rory again from the small blind as he thwunks to a total of 18
straight. Meanwhile, Ladbrokes entrant Pre is in the middle of the table drying
up like a desert. Shrinking and shrinking, that $15,000 payout sounds good to
him, and I think hes realized the fun is over as he goes into his shell.
Too much too soon, this year will be a valuable lesson, but I cant see
him making it out of Day 3 alive. Rory has finally found his voice, hes
settled right in, he says to Marcel, Were just waiting ffor you to
keep quiet, but I dont believe itll happen today. By
any chance are you Irish? says Marcel with a laugh. He can afford to
laugh, he has over 200,000.
Lyle Berman raises 4,000 from the button
and Phil Ivey just calls from the big blind. Flop comes A-k-9, check-check.
Ivey leads out when an 8 hits the turn, and Berman comes all in for about
40,000 more. Ivey calls and flips over the 8-9 offsuit, while Lyle was
slowplaying his ace-jack. He tried to get fancy against Phil Ivey, and Phil
just flat busted him. Not every trapper is a loud mouth fool wearing a fur hat.
And Berman can go home and tell everyone for the next five years that Ivey
called him with the 8-9 offsuit. 1:25 pm and Odd Erlund moves into the one seat
at Phils table with about 100,000. Phil just has masses. And Amir Vahedi,
with a big fat cigar, moves into Bermans seat with over 200,000, two
seats to Phils right. Phil is just gazing in at Amir. Tough table?
Rgper Jonathon Kaplan has every right to vomit all over, but hes
raising from the two hole instead, 1600 becomes 5600. Its Amirs
first hand and hes setting up his chips, he says, 20,000 more. I
came to gamble. Call, motions Kaplan, and then with his hand still in the
center he waves the other one while saying, Im going all in.
Baseball cap and sunglasses, chewing his gum. Faster and faster, he looks
nervous but I think hes trying to look nervous, hes just stuck in
his 90,000 stack. Amir is taking no shortage of time, and now theyre
exchanging words. Where you from, buddy? says Amir, before flipping
up the big laydown, queens going in the muck.
Back from the break, and
Annie Duke has battened the hatches. Shes down to about 50,000 and is
playing two long stacks. But she has Humberto Brenes as a hoover three seats to
her right, hes got sunglasses up high on his eyes and prescription lenses
low on his nose. And with a red kerchief around his neck, which must be for
luck, I mean its the worst darned color combo I ever have seen, the Costa
Rican is comfortable. Do you know who I am? Is his trademark line
in an accented lilt. Im Humberto! Next hand Humberto makes it
6 grand to go one off the button. A shortstacked redshirter comes over the top
all in for 40,000. Humberto aint doing nothing anytime soon. He fiddles,
faddles, and looks at your man before giving him a moustachioed smile and
laying them down.
Dan Harrington at the corner table with his hat down
low. A former world champion exactly where he likes to be. Out of the spotlight
and thinking about the money. Its said that about twenty years ago
Harrington was a good young player, and then he met Ray Zee. Ray Zee, the Bobby
Fisher of poker, the trout fishing oddball with more secrets than the royal
family. He and Harrington became tight as two clams, and the rest is history.
Most people see an older gentleman with a slightly dazed look, and dont
realize Harrington is oh so capable. Dans sitting to the left of New York
supergamer and nice guy, Jason Lester. Dan takes Lester off the pot after a
jack high flop, and Lester mutters to Dan after folding his hand. Respect. Guys
in the know give Dan Harrington respect, everybody else just wonders.
Harrington is dressed like a green billboard, I wish I knew why.
are one thousand and two, and Lester has raised his third pot in a row, up
scope to 6500. Called in the big blind by a grey wearing shorter stack. Ace
high flop, and its Lester to act. 14,000, he says, and rakes the chips
Dan Harrington opens for seven thousand in middle position, flat
called in the small blind. J-5-2 with two clubs is the flop, checked to Dan who
fires ten thousand again called by the blind. Turn pairs the board and after a
check-check the six of clubs hits the river. Check yet again, and Dan splashes
four orange chips, 20,000 straight, which is called by your man after an
interminable time. Harrington shows the ace-four of clubs for an ace high
flush. Now Harrington sticks a small needle in, telling the guy, I
thought you were gonna raise on the flop. The fellow says nothing, just
swallows hard and looks like he wants to sink in the earth. But you cant
run check-call against Dan the man Harrington.
Its 3:09 pm and
Julian Gardner gives a yawn. Hes got 89,000 and sits in the middle of the
table drinking from a large bottle of green tea. His sunglasses are off and
folded in his shirt. He yawns again. Its Julian vs. Ivey, theres
three hearts to a 7-6-3-9 bosrd and with about 30,000 already in the pot Julian
leads out for a stack of blue, 20 thousand more. Ivey asks for a countdown and
finds he covers Gardner easily, Julian has about seventy thousand back, Ivey
has all that plus about seventy thousand more. Hes thinking intense,
shuffling chips, and then and then, throws it away. Julian says nothing, and
just stacks them up.