2007 World Series: A new track

There is a point in which the important of an event is not only palpable in the movement of chips from one stack to another or the anxious looks on the players' faces. Now, that the HORSE event is down to the final few tables, the importance of the event is measurable by the depth of people on the rail. Now moved into the quarter of the room reserved for TV production, the HORSE event had a rail four people deep. A full television crew is recording nearly everything that happens. The Harrah's big wigs are powdered up and keep an eagle-eye view on the action.

At Table 66, success and failure walk hand in lock step. Rumor had it, early in the day Matt Hawrilenko fell victim to a common mistake in HORSE events. Although I wasn't able to confirm it with Matt (a really, really nice guy who bought in with PokerStars W$), gossip said he accidentally played a hand in the Stud round thinking he was playing Stud-8. I walked up just as he was busting out. He said under his breath, "I can't believe I played that Stud-8," and walked to the rail.

Immediately to his right, Isabelle Mercier was glowing. Having started the day with one of the shortest stacks in the room, she had managed to work her way up to a better than average stack in just the first couple hours of play.

"It's the dream scenario," she said, all smiles. "I dreamt about it all night." She then stopped and pointed to her stack. "It happened."

Relaxed, Isabelle sat down and pulled a giant turkey sandwich out of a bag and began to eat. She looked across the room at someone eying her stack and gave them a wink. Bruno Fitoussi walked over and peeked at her stack. With her mouth full of turkey, Isabelle held up three fingers Trois cent.

Greg Raymer, who came out of yesterday with the spirit of a survivalist, started playing hard today. I watched as his AA2x didn't hold against an all-in Andy Bloch in the O8 round. Later in the same round, Gabe Kaplan turned a jack and then checked the river to Raymer. Raymer checked behind.

"Three jacks, ace-five," Kaplan said.

"Three jacks?" Raymer said. He was incredulous. "Nice catch." The look in his eye was a lot like Jon Lovitz as Michael Dukakis in the Saturday Night Live debate against Dana Carvey's George Bush. It said, "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy."

Isabelle, meanwhile, finished her lunch and popped a toothpick in her mouth. Even at just a few feet away, she looked like an old Texas gambler, toothpick bobbing in the corner of her lips, and eyes focused on the table.

Under the TV lights on stage, the story of the tournament became Daniel Negreanu. After spending the first few days playing measure poker, Negreanu has exploded in Day 3 and, at this hour, has taken over the chip lead.

Word on the street is ESPN has requested the HORSE jockeys play down to to 24 players today. Thirty-two players remain with several short-stacks on life support. As players get ready to return to action, I hear that Raymer and Mercier's table is being moved onto the TV stage.

Again...this is a new track for these jockeys. Let's go see how they handle the turf.

Update: Isabelle Mercier has been eliminated in the $50,000 HORSE event in 31st place.

Photos courtesy of Image Masters

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in