2008 World Series: Leave the HORSE puns by the door

This is the HORSE event, so amidst the rush of an Amazon Room shoehorned full to the doors with poker tables, a few equine puns and references might inadvertently slip in. Bear with me.

Here’s the first. In the racing world the term “mudder” is a one of endearment and refers to a thoroughbred horse that favours difficult conditions (read muddy ground) – the type of turf able to render the competition sluggish and ready to quit. Well, at the risk of comparing Daniel Negreanu to a horse, he may be this tournament’s “mudder.”

Back on day one it started well for the Team PokerStars Pro, his usual chipper demeanour in place all day. But as the day became night a few hurdles appeared, a few bad hands that left Daniel towards the back of the pack with some difficult ground to make up and down to 26k he was at risk of being among the first fallers.

"It was a whole load of hands" reasoned Daniel on day one. "I couldn't scoop anything. And you can't bluff...not as effectively."

His plight wasn’t helped by the tough scenery at his table, one that featured Phil Ivey on the one side and Phil Galfond to the other. But Daniel rallied in the conditions (after a back rub), defying the expectations of the vulture press to finish the day on 70k. Not a lead exactly but certainly close to the pace. From there the conditions changed from harsh to fair, bringing him to where he began today on over 370,000.


Even a time lapse of these tentative stages of day three would show little action, just more of the careful atmosphere at the table with no one among the all star list of names ready to blow it all and risk a shot at $2 million - and perhaps the most distinguished title in the modern game.

They’ll do it their way thanks. Marcel Luske chews peacefully on a green drink straw, occasionally using it to get the attention of whomever he wants to talk to. Team PokerStars Pro Chad Brown in seat one mixes it up with a few pots, one of which he gives up to the Flying Dutchman without a fight...

“Do you know how hard it is to give Chad Brown chips?” joked Marcel, getting a quick laugh.

As play went on Daniel stepped out of his seat to go through a series of stretches. This is long distance poker, a poker pentathlon with the events coming up over and over again in an endless procession worth over $7.1 million. Being in peak condition certainly helps but few doubt Daniel to be among the most serious when it comes to this.

Take the green bag for instance. Sat by his feet, it’s full of whole foods and various assorted goodies – the type that are unlikely to shorten your life in any way. It strikes guilt into the nearby reporter who just inhaled pizza for lunch.

So play goes on, switching from Razz to a round of Stud and collectively the railbirds mentally shift gears, re-organising their mind into what’s now a good hand and what’s bad.

The trouble behind him, Daniel plays on into level 13 with 348,000, alongside the 59 players remaining. Sure he may be a mudder, but he’s a fair weather stayer too.

That’s it. No more references to horses from me.