WSOP Diary Day 28: Greenstein eyes final; Shark attacks the Rio
The early hours of the World Series yesterday - and by "early", I mean before 5pm - were all but bereft of Team PokerStars Pro action. Everyone deserves a break and the Team took something like a mass holiday. Only Barry Greenstein and Team Online's Mandy Thomas were required to return for the second day of a three-day event.
Greenstein was third in the overnight counts going into day two of event #41, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better, which also takes the prize for the longest tournament name of the series. Thomas was some way further down the same leaderboard, but going strong.
From a starting field of 847, 136 returned for day two, and 81 would be paid. The money bubble, therefore, was the first target - and both Greenstein and Thomas managed to ease on through that without too much trouble.
Never far from the top ten throughout both days' play, Greenstein actually edged into the tournament chip lead during the later levels yesterday, before being pegged back to ninth (from 15) at the very end of play. His 204,000, plus a run of the cards, might well be enough to take him to the final table today. And possibly further.
As for Thomas? She endured the highs and the lows but also made it to day three. She took a big chunk out of Mike Matusow, but then doubled up Jeffrey Baker in the closing stages. She is 14th out of those 15 coming back to play to a winner.
BRING OUT THE BIG GUNS
Greenstein's continued participation in the Omaha Hi-Low precluded an almost certain entry to the $10,000 HORSE Championship, which got under way at 5pm. As expected, the big guns belatedly came out in force for this event - and all the familiar faces set themselves a solid foundation to build into day two.
These Championship events are not won on day one. There's a very slow structure and a massive starting stack. And from the field of 241, 169 progressed to day two. Here are some of those players. (Their closing stack size is in brackets.)
Sebastian Ruthenberg (96,100)
Ville Wahlbeck (49,700)
Joe Hachem (34,000)
Day two action begins at 5pm.
All the refined intricacies of the HORSE event were nicely off-set in the Rio by the third $1,500 no limit hold 'em tournament, which attracted its usual monstrous field. It took nearly six levels even to determine the number of runners, but eventually the abacus showed 2,521, of which only 278 survived at the end of the day.
Much is made about the lottery-style nature of these smaller buy-in hold 'em tournaments at the World Series, with the general opinion being that luck probably has its very highest influence in these events. Certainly the starting stacks are relatively small - 3,000 chips - and the blind increase is rapid. It's about building a big stack early or busting early - and often lady luck has much to do with that.
Martin Hruby and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier were early fallers. Dennis Phillips, Joe Cada, Richard Toth and Gualter Salles all followed. But Arnaud Mattern, Veronica Dabul and Fatima Moreira de Melo all pressed on, while Humberto Brenes surged to second in chips overall.
You might expect a soft table at the start of these events, but things are not always as predictable as you might think. On my first sweep of the room, I heard the distinctive tones of Brenes proclaiming that he was "the king". He was also waving pocket kings above his head by way of proof, and was busy felting Andy Black in the process. Black's eights were second best on a board of 3♦5♣3♥2♦J♣.
"I think I might be gone," Black said as the dealer counted the two stacks. He was actually left with 275, but was out the next hand.
Yeah, so that table would be tough enough with only those two there. But Andrew Lichtenberger was also present, likewise Evgeniy Zaytsev, the Russian who made quite a splash on the EPT last season. That's no walk in the park.
But Brenes certainly made it seem like it. He became the big stack bully - even busting someone late on with A♥2♦ against A♦K♠ on a K♦J♣2♣ board (the 2♠ rivered) - and will return with 146,400, behind only one other player in the counts.
POKERSTARS BLOG WATCHES THE FOOTBALL WITH....GERMANY
The World Cup is on. You might have noticed. And in the early hours of the Vegas morning (practically the middle of the night, in truth) both the USA and England qualified from their group. The US left it spectacularly late to beat Algeria with a last-gasp goal from Landon Donovan; England squeaked past Slovenia.
The later kick-offs, however, would determine who they both played - and if Germany could beat Ghana, they'd end up against England. The Team PokerStars Pro Germany contingent assembled at Vegas's slice of Munich: the Hofbrauhaus on Paradise Road to see what would happen.
Allow the pictures of Robin Scherr, from the German PokerStars Blog to speak a thousand words.
Germany ran out 1-0 winners over Ghana and so a date is set with England.
REFRESHMENT COUNTER REVIEW CORNER
There are hundreds of options for food and drink at the Rio. In a selfless series, PokerStars Blog samples some of the delights and brings you a daily snack review from the shelves of the poker kitchen and beyond.
Day #3 - Pizza Hut 7" cheese pizza
Available from: Poker Kitchen or corridor stand
There comes a time during everyone's World Series of Poker when they'll end up buying a Pizza Hut 7" pizza from one of the stands in the corridors outside the tournament room. I've eaten a few of these villainous discs before so decided to get this out the way quickly. I was not looking forward to it.
I opted this time for the cheese variant - pepperoni and "supreme" are also available - but I hoped that the fewest ingredients meant the fewest to be ruined. This year, the pizza stands also carry the threat: "OPEN PACKAGES MUST BE PURCHASED DUE TO HEALTH REGULATIONS", but the cynical might also find economical reasons for this. Once the box had been opened and examined, there's a very slim chance the contents would be purchased willingly.
Here's the rub: these pizzas are dry. Bone dry. And they look like shriveled faces of unfortunate adolescents. The blaze of warming lights, burning the cardboard wrapping, parches the contents and turns it into a substance that defies common physics. The pizza is at once crunchy and chewy; stale and soggy.
I know you'll buy one when you're here, and I know you'll regret it. I'll probably buy another 15 or so before I'm done too. We are slaves to our stomachs and convenience. We are all idiots.
RIO SIGHT: THE POKER WIDOW
You see all sorts in the corridors of the Rio. This occasional series describes some of those sights.
During a bathroom break from the $1,500 no limit hold 'em, Dario Minieri and his Team PokerStars Italy colleague Alfio Battisti were taking a stroll. Minieri was stopped in his tracks, however, by a fan asking him to sign his autograph on a chip.
Minieri obliged (although he could barely fit his flamboyant scrawl onto the chip; he's small but he signs big) and then the fan quickly handed his camera to his girlfriend, put his arm around Minieri and posed for a photo.
The poker widow grinned and did her bidding. Got to love poker; the only environment in which a girlfriend would willingly snap her boyfriend in a tight embrace with a pint-sized Italian.
Previous WSOP Diary entries
WSOP Diary Day 27: Party goes Dogg style and Dennis Phillips hits the rink
WSOP Diary Day 26: Bill Chen: Poker player, wedding planner, bridesmaid
WSOP Diary Day 25: Cutting through the throngs
WSOP Diary Day 24: Last chance to join us in Las Vegas
WSOP Diary Day 23: Anh Van Nguyen, remember the name
WSOP Diary Day 22: Love to hate Phil Hellmuth? You gotta see this
WSOP Diary Day 21: Classic rub down for Daniel Negreanu
WSOP Diary Day 20: Maria Mayrinck, something in the water
WSOP Diary Day 19: Who needs a rest anyway?
WSOP Diary Day 18: An apology
WSOP Diary Day 17: George Danzer just misses first bracelet for PokerStars