Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WSOP Main Event -- The Final 27

Tuesday claimed a few more of the guys I had any specific interest in heading in to the Day 7 action of the World Series of Poker Main Event, starting right off the bat with pro Prahlad Friedman and just a short while later with PokerRoad guy Joe Sebok. Not that I particularly care about or even like Prahlad Friedman or Joe Sebok, but they are known poker pros, and I think if a known poker pro wins the Main Event, that would actually be huge for poker right now. What pro won't be chomping at the bit to play all the World Series events every year for the rest of time once someone demonstrates to them that, with skill, it is possible for a pro to navigate even the largest minefields in live tournaments? These days, you've suddenly got the many of the pros staying away from the smaller-buyin "donkaments" that comprise the ever-growing World Series of Poker, but if a known pro can win this tournament, I think it could actually spark pros' interest in playing in all the Series' events in the future. If you really know these poker pros, then you know that each and every one of them believes that if Phil Ivey can survive 6500 donks in one tournament, then so can they. Every single one of 'em. Anyways, it's something I would love to see for a lot of reasons and I think it could have an interesting aftermath just like Moneymaker's win back in 2003. But it won't be with Prahlad Friedman or Joe Sebok in 2009.

Another sad moment was later in the afternoon hours, when 2008's last remaining November Nine participant, Dennis Phillips, busted from the tournament in 45th place. He nabbed another $178k to go along with last year's 4.5M take from the Main Event. I don't know what it is about Phillips that seems to have made him such a fan favorite (myself included), but ultimately I suspect that it comes down to this feeling that Phillips is just an all-around good guy. It's certainly the aura I pick up from watching him play, talk in interview, etc.

A couple of hours later, just before the dinner break in fact, the last of the non-huge poker pros busted in 34th place in Blair Rodman. I never liked Kill Phil -- can't believe I paid money for that thing in fact -- but I do kinda like Blair Rodman nonetheless and I would have loved to see a guy who not only plays professional but wrote a well-known poker book and essentially crafted a known tournament poker strategy run deep in the biggest tournament of the year. When no name players were among the last few eliminations on the day, the action stopped around 10pm local time with 27 remaining in the field of the WSOP Main Event.

In a way, all of the eliminations above made things easy for me and probably for a whole bunch of others of you out there, because it really leaves only two names in the field who most of us will recognize and thus have any inherent level of interest in. Of course, the November Nine will be studied, vetted and pried into by the media in the coming months and we will be well aware of whatever stories lurk among the details, but I'm talking about inherent interest -- interest in how these guys do even before knowing anything new about them. In this case, those two players left in the final 27 players of the 2009 WSOP Main Event are Antonio "the Magician" Esfandiari -- another guy whose book I've read, and actually enjoyed for the most part -- and the immutable Phil Ivey. Who hasn't written a poker book unfortunately, but I imagine that's probably because he's too busy prop betting on poker, golf or anything else he can dream up to fulfill his fix.

When the action starts up for Day 8 on Wednesday at noon local time, Darvin Moon, who I believe was also chip leader after Day 6, will once again be in the top spot with 20.1M in chips. Billy Kopp is in second with 16M, and then there is a crush of eight different players in the 9M-12M range, including Phil Ivey who is currently in 4th of 27 with 11.3M.

Esfandiari is not in nearly as good of shape, currently in 20st of 27 with 4.5M in chips. That being said, the very favorable structure of the Main Event means that even someone near the bottom and significantly below average this late into a huge field still has plenty of play, as Round 29 will begin early on Wednesday, which features just a 10k ante and blinds of 50k-100k. So even the Magician in 20th place out of 27 remaining is sitting on almost 45 big blinds, meaning that he has plenty of time to wait for a good spot rather than get involved stealing with total crap. And that means that he will have more of an opportunity to use his skill advantage over the other players to make something happen for himself.

With just 27 players remaining in this 10k buyin event with nearly 6500 runners, we are playing for massive money with every elimination at this point. On Wednesday, those players eliminated from 19th-27th place will each receive $352,832 from the prize pool. Finishers 16 through 18 will each win $500,557, 13th-15th will take $633,022, and finally for today 10th through 12th place will each win $896,730 for their time. It's pretty awesome when you think about it, and although as anyone whose had some real deep tournament runs knows, it's always bittersweet, given a little bit of time everyone who is eliminated today will come to appreciate just how awesome this whole run has been, and how great the institution of the World Series of Poker really is. When the action begins today with 27 players remaining, the average chipstack will be 7.2 million, but as often happens very late in large tournaments when a few enormous stacks can really skew the overall average, only 11 of the 27 players are actually above that mark. So even the shorties around 4-5M like the Magician are still more than half of average. Plenty of room still to play some poker, and two pros whom we've all seen play huge with big, big money on the line are still lurking, one having some work to do and the other in fine shape.

From, the Day 8 starting table assignments:

The Chick table (Leo Margets is the last woman alive in the 2009 WSOP Main Event):

Jesse Haabak - 2,750,000
Ian Tavelli - 4,385,000
James Calderaro - 6,475,000
Jonathan Tamayo - 3,300,000
Warren Zackey - 5,485,000
Eric Buchman - 10,005,000
Leo Margets - 1,530,000
Tommy Vedes - 5,070,000
James Akenhead - 8,615,000

The TV table (current chipleader plus Phil Ivey):

Phil Ivey - 11,350,000
Jeff Shulman - 10,170,000
George Caragiorgas - 1,615,000
Nick Maimone - 1,545,000
Andrew Lichtenberger - 5,625,000
Marco Mattes - 5,285,000
Joseph Cada - 6,565,000
Darvin Moon - 20,160,000
Jordan Smith - 4,510,000

The Magic table (Antonio Esfandiari plus current 2nd place in Billy Kopp):

Jamie Robbins - 9,795,000
Antonio Esfandiari - 4,470,000
Francois Balmigere - 1,440,000
Ludovic Lacay - 5,610,000
Steven Begleiter - 11,885,000
Ben Lamb - 9,410,000
Antoine Saout - 11,135,000
Kevin Schaffel - 11,245,000
Billy Kopp - 15,970,000

Pauly's coverage has been awesome as always, it's still the best way to follow along with the action for any casual observer of the game. I know I'll be responsible for about 150 hits on his site tonight, just me. Maybe I will see some of you there while I invent new ways to run bad on full tilt. Hey wait, didn't the Mookie used to be on Wednesday nights?

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Blogger BWoP said...

I'm rooting for Steve Begleiter. He's from Chappaqua and plays in a home game with a friend of mine.

12:23 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

If Ivey wins this thing, will anyone be surprised? Or will the poker cognoscenti just say it was only a matter of time?


1:12 AM  
Blogger Jerrod McJunkin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Jerrod McJunkin said...

I would not be surprised with that. After all he has made this event more exciting. A history in poker is about to be made.

3:08 PM  

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