Championship Day 6
|Jesse May in
All you can do is play. And the
look on Marcel Luskes face when he left the room tenth last night at the
World Series of Poker, Marcels countenance exemplified the frustrating,
mysterious, and yet wonderful nature of the game of poker.
Poker is a
game of incomplete information. In the future well probably know more and
theres always the tendency to think we know everything, but poker is a
game of incomplete information, and most of us spend our time trying to muddle
around and just pass judgment. How did Marcel play? Dont know. I can tell
you that he left everything on that table. Everything he had. When he finally
exited the tournament area it all came crumbling down; everything except the
shards of his gentlemanly bearing, the knowledge that he tried his best, and
the burning desire he had to win the World Series of Poker.
spend long nights reliving his six day ride of glory and hell. Hell
wonder what he could have done different, and whether he should have checked or
folded. Well wonder what would have happened if another sat in his seat,
and where were the differences between luck and skill. We stare at the nine
players remaining in shock and awe and try to decide what they represent. This
2004 World Series of Poker has made some players mad, some furious, and many
confused. Has this been a test of ultimate skill and stamina, or a cruel hoax
outing the game we love?
Its hard to say. We need to know more.
Poker will be bigger, and one day youll sit on the Internet, and while
watching a poker tournament youll know every stat. Every card every
player was dealt, every time they raised or folded, and how many times that
they connected with the flop. Statistical categories will be created that go
well beyond most money won, and geeks will pore through the data and write new
theories. Maybe well see that Dan Harrington is leading all players in
never playing out of position, or the free card on the turn. Maybe Matt Dean
hit 85% of his 50-50 confrontations, and maybe Greg Raymer won a total of
$12,400,000 with the worst hand after a raise on the flop. Its hard to
say, and right now we all just stare at the nine players left and wonder where
they caught lightning in a bottle, and what would have happened to me if I was
sitting in that seat?
Televised poker has made the game exciting, but
we hunger for more. ESPN will show us the hole cards, but who chooses the
hands? I want a list of every hand dealt at the final table. I want to see
Sklanskys groups 1-10 broken down by player, I want to know who bets the
highest percentage of his stack, I want to know exactly how many times each
player has been all-in. And even then it wont be enough. Even then
Ill still be peering through a fog, and trying a muddle about luck and
Poker is a game of incomplete information, and like Nick the
Greek said and probably knew best, The next best thing to playing and
winning is playing and losing. The main thing is to play. All you can do
is play. Just play your heart out.
Nine are left in the 2004 World
Series of Poker: Heres some of what I know about the nine who are left,
which frankly isnt much. I imagine thatll change.
Raymer: Fossilman. At ten minutes to one before the final table
started, Raymer was standing outside the tournament area sorting out seating
tickets for friends and family, wearing Mardi Gras beads and drinking one of
those supersize drinks in the giant plastic cup.
Matt Dean: Came from
near worst to first on Day 6. That worries me. He woke up Thursday morning
expecting $120,000 at best and now hes got a whole load of guys telling
him hes worth 3.5 million. Im thinking he had the hardest time
getting to sleep. Its a recipe for a freeze up and settle to a fourth
Josh Arieh: This is embarrassing. Im still not sure
which one is him and which one is Michael McClain.
Glenn Hughes: The
first hand after the dinner break, Marcel opens the pot for 200,000 and Glenn
Hughes comes all-in over the top. Hughes has got owl eyes behind big round
spectacles and a red shirt, and he either got a good nights Wednesday
sleep or has done a long line of coke because his eyes are wide and moving.
Marcel thinks for a long long time and sits back in his chair but it
doesnt look like hes calling. Nobodys calling the first hand
all-in when they want to make the final table. Marcel folds. Hughes flashes an
ace as he folds, swinging his cards in a big wide arc to the muck. David
Williams asks for a decision, show one show both? The floorman is called over
and the hand is exposed from the muck. Ace-four offsuit. So thats Glenn
Dan Harrington: Ive heard a great story about Dan
Harrington, told long ago, and without much detail. All I can tell you is that
when Harrington reached the final table of the 1995 World Series of Poker, he
was widely regarded as a rock. I knew him in 93 and 94, when he
played in the big game in Atlantic City, and everyone knew him as the best game
chooser in three states, a protege of Ray Zee, and a rock.
Now the story
goes, that he was generally dismissed when finally reaching the final table as
way to conservative to win. And somewhere during the beginning of this final
table, Dan Harrington played a hand, and I dont know the details but
suffice it to say it was a jack-six or something like that and he played it in
such a way that when it was flipped over at the end, the other five players on
the table were so scared and shocked by the hand, that after that Dan
Harrington ran them over like creamed corn.
Remember this. Dan
Harrington is not a rock. Dan Harrington is a man who looks like a rock, and
that is all, and hes been playing the hell out of that image for his
entire poker career, right down to the T-shirt, tan slacks, and brand new
David Williams: Doesnt play a lot of pots. Looks
like David Blaine.
Al Krux: When Al Krux goes all-in in a pot the worry
lines crease up on his forehead, about six lines up and down, but besides the
lines creasing down he doesnt look worried. 9:30 pm on Thursday and Al
takes out his white towel, rolled up and folded like for a wet stinger in the
locker room. Als eyes are down on the table, hes frozen in granite.
Mattias Andersson: For the Swede, yesterday was the end of the
tournament. And now hes on a freeroll. Clearly the money means a lot to
him, and the pressure of a medium stack was wearing on him as he moved up the
place pool. But he came in Friday morning looking like he actually slept a good
nights sleep, like he was willing to gamble, like hed done better
than he expected and just wanted to gamble for the big money. If this kid gets
chips hes gonna be dangerous. Hell be a 24 year old with nothing to
lose. If that doesnt scare you, nothing does.
details on the Championship