WSOP Main Event: Stars of the small screen

wsop2009_thn.gifThe common perception of Jason Alexander these days is that he's a man continually trying to shake his shadow, the follically-challenged, Kung Pao chicken-loving, former marine biologist/architect Art Vanderlay George Costanza from "Seinfeld". But here's the first reason to cast doubt on that received wisdom: why would anyone want to forget their portrayal of inarguably one of the best characters in modern television history. Secondly, if Alexander was all that concerned about leaving Costanza behind, he would surely have chosen to dress and act slightly differently today.

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Jason Alexander

In Las Vegas this afternoon, Alexander is seated on the ESPN feature table for day two action from the World Series of Poker. He is appearing again in front of millions of viewers, yet he has a fanny-pack strapped to his side, he occasionally gets up from the table to perform leg-stretching exercises propped against the back of his chair, and during the past level, he and his table-neighbour Greg Raymer spent a good few minutes discussing the relative merits of cold remedies.

That particular conversation ended when Raymer picked up his bag, ferreted around inside, and brought out a sachet of something red, which Alexander deposited into his small bottle of water, swilled around, took a sip from, and offered an approving nod in the direction of Raymer. It was 100% Costanza (and that's not even mentioning more than a slight resemblance between Raymer and the Seinfeld character Newman).

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Greg Raymer

The principal difference between Costanza and Alexander, at least in the past few days, is their relative success. Costanza may be the inveterate loser, but Alexander has been putting in a poker performance in Las Vegas that is distinctly un-George-like. At the end of day one, he bagged up more than 90,000 chips -- more than triple his starting stack -- after a hugely prosperous four levels. So far today, he has increased that to approximately 120,000, including getting his aces to stand up against pocket sevens in a pot worth close to 30,000.

True to form, Newman Raymer is not necessarily letting him have it all his own way, however, and even as the cold remedy discussion was ongoing, the Team PokerStars Pro was taking a pot from Alexander. Alexander had raised pre-flop from under-the-gun, one player called in mid-position, and Raymer came along from the big blind. The flop was 2♣A♣5♣ and Raymer fired 2,500. Alexander bumped it up to 6,000, and after the other player folded, Raymer paid the additional 3,500.

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Greg Raymer gives Jason Alexander the stare down

The turn was a dangerous K♣ and Raymer seemed to like it. He flipped out 13,000 and that was too much for Alexander. He folded, and was shown Q♣7♣ for the flopped flush from Raymer. It's some contest.

No, not that kind of contest.

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TWEET AND ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR

"Folded jacks when I could have raced against Ace King . Then called with jacks against kings. Out of main event." -- @barrygreenstein

TWEET FREE ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR

Jason Mercier is out. Ace-jack versus ace-king. No miracles.

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STATISTIC OF THE HOUR

Number of massage therapists working on customers in the orange and blue zones: 11
Number of said massage therapists working on customer muscles below the knee: 2

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FIELD REPORT OF THE HOUR

PokerStars players triumph at the Palms
By Mad Harper

There's no doubt the main action in Vegas right now is the Amazon Room at the Rio, but for dozens of PokerStars players, the Key West room of the Palms has also been proving quite a draw with a freeroll tournament for qualifiers.

No $10,000 buy-in for this admittedly rather smaller event - "freeroll" means quite the contrary - but unlike the WSOP, no one who takes part walks away empty-handed. Through all four day ones of the Main Event, the PokerStars $1 Million Freeroll Summer Spectacular gave players the chance to compete for one of the best prizes in poker: a ticket almost anywhere in the world to take part in one of PokerStars' live events.

More than 660 PokerStars players took their seats for the series of single table tournaments, and more than 120 got through to the online freeroll to take place on July 26, when they'll compete for a share of more than $800,000 in PokerStars global live event passports. The winners also snagged $500 cash while second place got $300.

The Supernova player Guang Lu, a 35-year-old electrician from Vancouver, was the last player to triumph and was so excited he even forgot to pick up his $500 cash winnings. We caught him today just as he was heading down to play Day 2a of the Main Event.

"It's great," he said. "I had been hoping to play this freeroll all week and now I've won. I play a lot of poker online so looking forward to the chance to win a passport for live events. "

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JOE GIRON'S PHOTO HOUR

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Stars of the small screen