WSOP Main Event: Cold deck accounts for Kevin Schaffel

wsop2009_thn.gifKevin Schaffel had pocket aces twice at the 2009 World Series Main Event final table, and both times his opponent had pocket kings. While this is ordinarily the stuff of poker players' dreams, Schaffel will have this down as a nightmare. The big news from the past hour is that Schaffel, the PokerStars qualifier from Coral Springs, Florida, is out in eighth. Eric Buchman's kings ended up as quads. The bullets turned around and deposited themselves one in each of Schaffel's temples.

"I had a plan but it never works out that way," Schaffel said of his final table. "Obviously, it never works out the way you planned it."

Here's how the nightmare played out. Schaffel raised to 1,200,000 from mid position and Steven Begleiter called, one seat to his left. On the button, Buchman made it 4,500,000 and that was encouragement enough to prompt Schaffel to move all in for his whole stack of 10 million-ish. Begleiter folded but Buchman made that call, and that's when we saw those two monsters: A♣A♥ for Schaffel; K♣K♥ for Buchman.

With even the suits covered, this was looking like the hand that would send Schaffel up to more than 25 million and get him right back in this one. But the dealer had other ideas. The K♠ was in the window, joined by Q♠J♥. That put Schaffel on the ropes, but gave Schaffel six outs as either of the two aces or four tens would now do it. But the turn was the miracle/disastrous K♦ and from then on it was academic.


Schaffel sees the bad news

And so we lose the popular Schaffel, who has entertained many of us in the media over the past couple of months, especially on his sojourns to the European Poker Tour.

"There's nothing you can do," Schaffel said." It was a sick flop. No regrets. It was a great tournament. I look forward to coming back."


Kevin Schaffel tells us all about it

We look forward to seeing you, Kevin.

Dive over to the chip-count page for, guess what, the chip counts.

As you'll see there, the consolation, at least for us on this blog, is that Schaffel chips went to his fellow PokerStars player Buchman, who can now look down at a stack of about 52 million. That's only a handful behind the chip leader Darvin Moon. Buchman is looking very strong indeed, and was tipped for victory by none other than Greg Raymer, who talked to our video blog team:

Watch WSOP 2009 Nov9 Greg Raymer on


What else has been happening? Have some colour:

Just like (and I mean, exactly like) the television ratings sensation "Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed", I'm going to tell you how we're working here at PokerStars Blog at this World Series final table. Every hour, one of our two writers people here watches the action at the table and writes the "action" section of our post. At the same time, the other watches everything else and writes the "colour/color" section. We then merge our contributions seamlessly together (look for the give-away "And here's the action from that hour" indicator to spot the joins), and thus the finest tournament coverage from any poker event is born. Oh yeah.

I'm on colour/color duty this hour (and you can guess whether this is the Brit or the American writing by the presence or otherwise of a "u" in that word). But here's the thing: it's pretty dark inside the Penn and Teller Theater and the most colour/color can be found elsewhere. The lobby, for instance, is buzzing with activity as spectators go in search of refreshment. There are several film crews huddling in the same area, grabbing interviews with whoever happens to be passing.

As mentioned previously, many of the players' cheering sections have kitted themselves out in matching livery, meaning its easy to spot who is supporting whom. But even if Joe Cada's supporters weren't dresses as canaries, you'd be able to spot them by their boisterous presence in front of the cameras -- "Ship it one time!" -- and occasional trip to the bar.

Antoine Saout's fans are dressed in the blue of the French football/soccer team, known colloquially as Les Bleus, with their hero's name written across their shoulders and a specially-woven scarf draped nonchalantly there too. There's also a fug of cigarette smoke above most of them, confirming most lazy stereotypes, and I dare say Starbucks is currently restocking their croissant supply.

The French fans were central to the funniest moment from the most recent brief trip to the lobby. A radio crew stopped a group of five or six of them and asked them to sing a song. Not just any song, but the one they'd been using to support Saout from the back balcony. There was no acrimony, but there was a stand-off.

From my viewpoint, which was from behind a big turkey baguette, it seemed as though the French fans didn't understand the request from the radio crew, and the radio crew didn't understand that the French fans didn't understand. They stood there, microphones in hand, preparing to be treated to a raucous chorus of Francais, while the startled rabbits stood in silence.

"Song," said the radio guy. "Sing."
"Can. You. Sing. A. Song."
Silence. Then: "No English."
"We know. Can you sing a song."
Silence, etc. Fade to blackout.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in World Series of Poker