2008 World Series: The fast and the familiar

As expected the PLO is awash with familiar faces including two of which you could swear you saw playing into the early hours of this morning. That would be Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein and PokerStars sponsored player Kirill Gerasimov.

Team PokerStars Pros are out in force for the Omaha, with ElkY, Dario Minieri, Daniel Negreanu, Tom McEvoy, Bill Chen, Humberto Brenes, Victor Ramdin, John Duthie, Noah Boeken, Chris Moneymaker, Chad Brown and new boy William Thorson all playing today.

Last year this same event attracted 318 players, a figure beaten this year by 16. A feature of the tournament last year will be used again today. Each player starts with 10,000 chips and an additional ‘red chip’ worth a further 10,000 to be ‘cashed in’ at any time before the last level. This effectively makes it a double chance event for a game with a lot of gamble.

Team PokerStars Pro John Duthie had his game plan firmly in mind when he sat down, cashing in his red chip as soon as the game started. “I want as many chips to bully the table with,” he said, taking the proactive stand point. Others hang on keeping it as an insurance policy.

Talking of gamble, there’s already been some at table 3, and few were surprised it was Barry Greenstein in the middle of it.

Hamstrung as he is by a three-hour playing window, before the final of the HORSE begins, Barry was understandably looking for an early double up. A board developed with heavy betting along the way. There was a king, two queens and a jack on deck as Barry turned over his pair of Kings for a full house. His opponent though showed pocket queens for quads – the end of Greenstein’s double-chance multi-table glory quest.

“I figured,” he said, spotting the queens, signing his book and handing it over. Barry’s consolation - a potential $2 million at stake later this afternoon.

But if anything, the first two levels were played amidst a sporting side interest in the European Championship soccer final between Germany and Spain playing on screen along the far wall of the Amazon Room. It had the inadvertent effect of making the Pot Limit Omaha championship hand for hand during injury time with a soundtrack of “Ooooh!” and “Ahhhh.”

Among those craning necks from their seats, perhaps mucking hands they’d ordinarily race to the middle with, were Team PokerStars Pros Humberto Brenes and Noah Boeken, each it should be said, backing different teams. Then there was Jan von Halle, wife of Katja Thater, creator of the PokerStars blog in Germany, and a German...

“I don’t like football,” he said, playing his hands standing up whilst looking over at the screen. “But it’s a big game. Only it doesn’t look too good.” (Germany lost the match).

Another player playing from a standing position is PokerStars sponsored player Kirill Gerasimov. But he has a more nervous disposition. Like Barry Greenstein, Kirill’s PLO spell is restricted to the time he has before a 2pm start in the final of the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event. Barry tried to double up but was unable to. Kirill, pacing, plays on.

It’s past 2pm now; we expect some interesting developments later today.