WSOP Main Event: On and off camera

wsop2009_thn.gifShortly after midday, as players were preparing to begin day 1D of the Main Event, the PokerStars qualifier Serge Pouliot was looking for his friend. "I want to tell him I'm going to be on the feature table," Pouliot said.

The 27-year-old from Montreal had arrived to what he thought would be an outer table in the Amazon Room, but then at the last minute was shifted under the ESPN studio lights. The reasons were twofold. Firstly, there were rumours that Phil Ivey had initially been scheduled to appear on the feature table, but requested to play in the main room instead. The producers scoured the list of names, found Erik Lindgren sitting to Pouliot's direct right, and moved that table to the stage instead.

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Serge Pouliot

All the better for Pouliot, who might be playing in his first World Series but has been playing poker across America, in tournaments, home-games, online and as a kid for pennies, for something like 12 years. "I'm due to play this event," he said, with obvious delight that he would do so for the first time in view of the watching millions.

But Poliot's gain was Ketul Nathwani's loss. The qualifier from the United Kingdom was drawn on that table with Ivey and dispatched to the outer reaches of the orange section. As a victory on the UK's televised GUKPT, winning the equivalent of $240,000 in March 2008, Nathwani was clearly more comfortable even than Ivey on the television table.

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Ketul Nathwani

But in the raw terrain of the main tournament floor, Nathwani ran A-J into Ivey's A-Q in a button versus big blind batlle, and Nathwani was vanquished.

The Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes is hardly a shrinking violet, either on or away from the feature table. Today, he has had a couple of seats in the Amazon Room, but both have been close to the rail, offering him the chance to entertain the masses gathered around his table. They have seen the full gamut of trademark Brenes celebrations this afternoon, but one hand stuck out in particular.

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Humberto Brenes

The Costa Rican ended it with arms held aloft, bellowing his happiness at the outcome, but he did not actually even win the pot. Instead, he managed to lose only 2,000 chips when his straight was outdrawn on the river by a flopped two pair, which made a full house. Brenes was ecstatic at the outcome. "He could have gone broke there," noted one impressed bystander.

A long discussion about cameras is also underway on the table featuring Jordan Farmar, the Los Angeles Lakers' point guard who has moved from court to poker table with some aplomb. "They should get you on the feature table," said a table-mate. "The camera loves you."

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Jordan Farmar

As a blogger on, an occasional guest star on network television shows and a newly-minted NBA champion, it seems unlikely that Farmar would disagree. And the table-mate was right: during a single round at Farmar's table, also featuring Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, the ESPN roving crew was poised ready to focus on Farmar.

The basketball star raised to 900 from under-the-gun-plus-one and the small blind called. "I'll give you a spin," said the player as he tossed in the call.

"Put the cameras on!" Farmar shouted.

"Ohh, now you want the cameras on. That must be a big hand."

The flop came 6♥K♣6♠ and after both players checked and saw a turn of Q♠, Farmar repeated his demand. "Turn it on!" he called to the circling crew.

"Apparently I'm on demand now," said the cameraman. "I'll be here when you're all in, don't you worry about that."
"See, that's the kind of guy you are," Farmar said. "I knew it."

He threw in a bet of about 2,500 and his opponent folded. Farmar is edging up to around 80,000 in chips and could well find himself the centre of attention for a good few days yet.

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"Chips went from 61k to 66k to 49k to 72k to 28k to 40k to end a very crazy
level. 2 more hours in night. Avg 38k or so I think." -- href="//">@VanessaRousso

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Dave Ulliott: "You call me on the turn with just a jack?"
Opponent: "You raise me on the turn with five-deuce?"

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