WSOP Main Event: A round with ElkY and Ivey

wsop2009_thn.gifYou can sometimes have too much of a good thing, but the "A Round With..." series is a great thing, a magnificent thing, and you can never get too much of that. (Just like italics, which are also cool.)

After the relatively quiet but strategically interesting Round With Peter Eastgate earlier in the day, we couldn't resist giving this format another run out for table 102, which features, among others, Phil Ivey, David Levi, Richard Fohrenbach and a kid called Bertrand from France who could turn out to be quite a player if he put his mind to it. Every morning, this quiet and unassuming lad gets up, wipes sleep from his eyes, then goes into his closet and puts on a peroxide wig, a spangly hoodie and appears to the world as ElkY, possibly the best tournament poker player in the world.

This was quite a table. And quite a round.

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Phil Ivey, foreground, with ElkY and Ricky Fohrenbach

The full line up, with approximate stacks at the start of the round, was as follows:

Seat one: Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier -- 450,000
Seat two: Richard Fohrenbach -- 25,000
Seat three: John Monnett -- 350,000
Seat four: Andre Schneider -- 180,000
Seat five: Bob Allen -- 100,000
Seat six: Terrie Rebman -- 110,000
Seat seven: Herbie Gelman -- 270,000
Seat eight: Phil Ivey -- 450,000
Seat nine: David Levi -- 180,000

This was the first round back after the second 20-minute break of the day. It was level 12, with blinds at 1,000-2,000 (300 ante).

Hand one: ElkY under the gun
First to speak, ElkY raises to 5,100 and takes the blinds and antes. Remember that raise. He does it quite a bit.

Hand two: ElkY in big blind, Ivey on the button
Under the gun and short stacked, Richard Fohrenbach moves all in for his last 25,000-odd. It's folded to Phil Ivey on the button, who makes the call. All other players get out the way. Fohrenbach proudly declares: "King nine!" and Ivey shows K♦Q♦ for the dominant hand. The board runs out 4♠[10d]6♠A♦5♥ and Fohrenbach's tournament is over. His seat remains empty for a couple of hands, so we're playing eight handed.

Hand three: ElkY in small blind
Andre Schneider limps under the gun and it's folded round to Ivey in the cut off. Ivey raises to 5,500, which Schneider calls. The flop come Q♥4♥5♦ and after Schneider checks, Ivey bets 7,500 and picks it up.

Hand four: ElkY on the button
It's folded to David Levi in the cut off and he raises to 7,500. Everyone folds.

Hand five: ElkY in the cut off
It's folded to ElkY, who bets his favourite 5,100. Bob Allen calls in the big blind and the flop comes 2♣9♠4♠. Allen checks, ElkY bets 6,000 and Allen now raises to 15,000. ElkY barely blinks before calling. The turn is K♣ and both players check. The river is Q♥ and Allen bets 20,100. ElkY blinks twice this time and calls. He shows Q♣5♠ and it's good against Allen's bluff with [10d]8♦.

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ElkY foreground and Ivey, background

Hand six: ElkY two off the button
Two players get to the turn on a board of K♥4♠J♦5♠ and Herbie Gelman bets 20,000 and wins.

Hand seven: ElkY three off the button
Pre-flop, ElkY peels off 5,100 (one orange chip and one black one, as always) and only Herbie Gelman, in the big blind, makes the call. The flop comes 6♦4♦8♦ and both players check. The turn is the A♦ and again both players check. The river is the A♠ and both players check this dangerous board too. Gelman shows 7♦7♠ and his mini flush is good as ElkY mucks.

Hand eight: ElkY four off the button, Ivey in big blind
ElkY folds and John Monnett raises to 5,200. Ivey calls in the big blind and the flop comes 8♦9♣[10c], which both players check. The river is 7♠ and again both check, but Ivey bets 10,000 at the [10d] river. It's enough as Monnett passes.

At this point, the empty seat two is filled by Bryan Colin, carrying his Kakuro puzzle book and "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. He looks around his table, rolls his eyes, confirms his name and says: "I'm just happy to be here." He doesn't seem to mean it.

Hand nine: ElkY under the gun
First to act, ElkY raises his favourite 5,100 and all but David Levi fold. The flop is A♥[10h]Q♥ and ElkY bets 6,000. Levi calls. The turn is 6♦ and both players check. The river is the A♣ and both check. Levi shows 8♥8♦ but Elky wins with [10c]6♣. Yes, he did raise under the gun with that.

Hand ten: ElkY in big blind.
We're into bonus hands territory again, but stick with it. It's worth it. In this particular hand, ElkY gets a walk in his big blind. That's respect fear.

Hand 11: ElkY in the small blind
David Levi takes the blinds and antes after he raises to 6,000 from the button.

Hand 12: ElkY on the button
After a few limps, ElkY raises to 5,100 on the button. John Monnett and Andre Schneider both come along and Monnett picks it up with a bet of 8,000 on the ten-high board.

Hand 13: ElkY in the cut-off
It's folded to ElkY and he raises to, you guessed it, 5,100. Monnett and Schneider both come along again and the flop comes J♠5♦6♠. Monnett and Schneider both check, a red rag to a bull, and ElkY bets 10,500. Monnett folds but Scheider calls. The turn is the 5♠ and Schneider checks. ElkY bets 22,200, which Schneider calls. The river is the Q♣ and Schneider comes out firing. He bets 42,000, but ElkY reraises to 130,000. Schneider eventually folds and ElkY shows 8♠9♦ for, er, nine high.

That's that then. Apart from eliminating Ricky Fohrenbach, Phil Ivey was quiet. Grospellier, on the other hand, raised every single time the action was folded to him, and pretty much with any two cards. He's some player is Bertrand.

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Greg Raymer and Raymond Rahme are out. No details on Raymer, but Rahme was all in pre-flop with tens against aces.

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On a flop of 4♦K♦8♥ Dennis Phillips bet 12,000 before his only opponent sitting on his right re-raised to 30,000. Phillips had a plan to deal with this - it involved moving all-in. Now the focus was back on the seat eight player. By focus we mean the attention of Phillips, the others at the table, me, and a newly arrived film crew out of breath. Cue the action. Phillips got his call, turning over K♠J♠ to his opponent's K♣9♦. "It aint over yet" he said, trying to buck up the king-nine. After a pause for TV the 4♥ hit the turn. A TV person said "hold on please" and everyone held. With permission the river card came 7♥. Handshakes all round as Phillips increased his stack to 450,000. The seat eight player would remain nameless, leaving before anyone could ask. Last seen being trailed by a TV man with a clipboard.

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Number of tables remaining in Brasilia room (also, not coincidentally, the number of tables to break before all the WSOP players are in the same room): 14

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"God these guys are f***ing idiots. Every time I raise they come over the f***ing top of me. Drives me crazy." - anonymous player in the red zone.

* * * * *


Dutch Boyd was pondering whether to his opponent's all in on a queen-high board.

"Why do I feel like you have fives?" Boyd said.  

His opponent, a man who has seen more years than most of us have seen months, screamed, "What?!"

Boyd repeated himself, but the hard-of-hearing gentleman still didn't understand. Finally, another player at the table got the point across.

Boyd then made his decision, called, and tabled 7-8, good for middle pair.

"How did you know I had fives?" the man asked Boyd.

"Is that really what you have?" Boyd asked, obviously impressed with himself.

"No," the man said, and turned over pocket tens, and then yelled "Televison! I want to be on television!"

* * * * *


As seen on a player's iPod: "Saving Private Ryan."