2008 World Series: The 55 Steps

The final table of the $2,000 no limit hold’em - a World Series bracelet at stake with the additional reward of $770,540 in prize money to the winner. It’s a chance to strap to your wrist something all poker players dream of winning, the jangly gold mark of a champion and a signpost to your poker playing brothers and sisters that you’re one hell of a player.

You’d think you’d need to devote all of your focus and energy to winning it, right?

Wrong. Forty yards away stands PokerStars sponsored player Kirill Gerasimov in the business end of the $10,000 pot limit Omaha; standing rather than sitting, squinting across the Amazon Room trying to time perfectly that moment he cuts ties with Omaha and makes a run for it to play hold’em. And you thought multi-tabling was strictly an online thing?

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Choosing his moment Kirill heads on over, but before he gets half way he notices the chips are still being unbagged. He makes an immediate U-turn and is back at his PLO hand a few seconds later; standing, looking, mucking, before starting back towards the hold’em, a 55 step walk towards a potential bracelet. I know it’s 55 steps by the way – I counted them.

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But when he eventually takes his seat in the final (after missing the formal introductions) it’s slow going. The Omaha blinds are 150/300 meaning every two-and-a-half rounds of hold’em are costing him roughly one thousand chips in Omaha. When he left them he had 31K. The question of how long he can last presents only one possible game plan for the Russian - win, but make it fast.

‘Why bother?’ you ask. Why risk it? Surely it’s best to concentrate on the final. Well, they’re all good points, but not to the mind of a poker player, who I suspect with all the good luck Kirills, envy the chance to give it a go.

There’s another factor too, something which came two weeks ago in the $5,000 pot limit Omaha event, the smaller cousin of the tournament today. In that Kirill finished fifth for over $192K. He may feel he’s good to go further.

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“How much do you have in the PLO?” asks a friend form the rail. Kirill waves his hand in a ‘more or less’ way and says 31K, grinning like a man who knows he’s pushing his luck. But pushing your luck never looked so much fun.

It’s likely to go on for some time. We’ll keep tabs on how things develop.