WSOP Diary Day 38: Hachem in Hollywood; Kravchenko to final table

wsop2010_thn.jpgNothing tells the story of a celebrity invasion better than a crowd-control rope stretched across a patch of carpet it has never been stretched across before. Every day for the past two weeks, this reporter has boldly headed down the central aisle of the Pavilion Room on his commute into work, making a right at the front of the stage, and entering the corridor opposite the merchandise stand for This Poker Tat™ (previously known as That Poker Tat®). From there to the media room.

However, yesterday afternoon the right-hand turn was not available; a belt of authority was blocking the route because Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and co were in town.

The Ante Up for Africa tournament has quickly become an established date on the poker calendar. Typically held on the eve of the World Series Main Event, it gives the hordes of spectators a chance to glimpse some hot talent from the worlds of movies, television, sports and poker - and it raises a bunch of money for a worthwhile cause.


Joe Hachem in the Ante Up For Africa tournament

The buy in is $5,000, but the structure is designed to get it done within a day. That means the emphasis is on fun and fundraising rather than subtle poker moves. Most winners donate large portions of their swag to charity - and it is very gratefully received and put to use.

This year was no exception. Inside that rope were Matt Damon, Evander Holyfield, Brad Garrett, Shane Warne and others and they were rubbing shoulders with Joe Hachem, Tony Hachem, Carter Phillips and Fatima Moreira de Melo, et al, from the world of poker.

Eventually, Phil Gordon beat Shannon Elizabeth heads up for the title and donated his entire $129,086 winner's prize back to the charity.

That was far from the last of yesterday's poker action though. The $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship had also entered its critical stages, with 32 players chasing Tom Dwan and attempting to stop the young star from bankrupting the Vegas poker community. (Dwan has a bet worth a lot of money that he can win a bracelet this year.)

The Team PokerStars Pro duo of Alex Kravchenko and Jason Mercier were among those trying to peg back Dwan, and Mercier in particular had a good chance to make a hero of himself. He was on the same starting table as durrrr - but only a fool could ignore the likes of Phil Hellmuth and Dmitry Stelmak also on that table.

Mercier is no fool, and it was Hellmuth with whom Mercier tended to tangle the most, coming out on the right side of several notable confrontations. In one such, Hellmuth was forced to fold a set of kings, on a king-high board as the Team PokerStars Pro represented a straight.


Jason Mercier, on a run to 10th in the $10,000 PLO

Both Hellmuth and Dwan ended up busting from the table, leaving Mercier trying to edge into the final nine. He came up short, though, and finished in 10th for $50,867, losing with Q♠Q♥[10c]6♥ against Daniel Alaei's A♦Q♦J♠5♠. All the money went in on a flop of A♥[10h]K♠ and Mercier missed his draws.

Afterwards, Mercier was angry with his elimination as it came just seconds after Alessio Isaia had bust in 11th. Mercier tweeted: "I'm out 10th place. Sigh absurd. Awful awful timing. Wouldn't have even opened w hand I did if I heard player busted in 11th 5 seconds earlier as we were combining at 10. Life tilt. Gnite all. Happy 4th of July!"

Meanwhile Kravchenko, who had already notched his sixth cash of the Series before play began today, did manage to make the final table. It was his third visit to the final in the past few weeks, and although he's eighth from the final nine, it's been another excellent tournament from the Russian.


Alex Kravchenko, heading for his third final table

Kravchenko has 325,000 coming back today. The leader, Ludovic Lacay, has 2,295,000 and they'll play to a winner today.

Are you still with me? Because there's more.

The mad rush to win one of the last bracelets before the Main Event starts meant that 3,844 players entered the fray for the latest $1,000 no limit hold 'em tournament, and 1,941 in the $2,500 no limit hold 'em event. Both had reached day two with and 586 and 502 left, respectively.

The idea was to play to a final table, or ten levels, and the latter was always the more likely scenario in both cases.

In the $1,000, Team PokerStars Pro hopes were on the shoulders of Thierry van den Berg, Florian Langmann and Anh Van Nguyen, with George Lind wearing the Team Online badge. By the end of the day, all had busted, but three had made the money. Lind finished 153rd for £3,182; Van den Berg picked up $2,733 for 200th and Van Nguyen won $3,701 for 99th.


Thierry van den Berg


George Lind

The $2,500 event had Jorge Arias, Veronica Dabul, Andre Akkari, Victor Ramdin, Vicky Coren, Ivan Demidov, Angel Guillen and Salvatore Bonavena at the start. Bonavena was still there at the end too, and will return for day three. Ramdin cashed in 153rd, for $5,491, while Akkari was also in the money.


More money for Andre Akkari

The preliminary events are almost at an end now, but like a child trying to fit their name onto a painting and rapidly running out of space, there's going to be one last crush on the final day before the Main Event. Today, the Amazon Room will welcome back the players in all three of those bracelet events, plus the competitors in the Tournament of Champions, who will also play to a winner. Joe Hachem, Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein are still in with a shot there.

We'll be shifting attention fully to the Main Event from Monday onwards, with our full permitted allocation of one post per hour bringing you all the action from the Pavilion and Amazon Rooms. We hope you enjoyed the WSOP Diary, and look forward to having you along for the Main Event.



Last but not least, here's a cry to our readers. PokerStars Blog will be at the World Series Main Event in great force. Well, not that great, but there will be three writers and a terrific photographer in town just for the English language side of operations--and we want to hear from you. Yes, YOU. (Especially you if you've read this far down the page.)

If you want to keep your family and friends updated on your progress through the Main Event, the best bet is to come and introduce yourselves to us and we can keep you on our radar throughout. We'd like to hear your story of qualifying; we'd like to learn a bit about you and put some flesh on the bones of a chip count. We can put your picture on the blog and make you a person with their picture on a blog famous.

In 2008, we featured both Darus Suharto and Ylon Schwartz on their first day of action--and tracked them all the way to the final table. We're good luck charms and even if you don't fancy rubbing our magic lamp, just give us something to write about.

The four of us are Brad Willis (look for Ecco shoes, bags under the eyes, Diet Coke and a few stacks of red at the $2-$5 no limit tables); Stephen Bartley (red hair, crisply-ironed shirt with a maximum of one button unfastened, "Bobbie" sandwich and a rage just beneath the surface), Joe Giron (dextrous camera skills, earrings, tales of rock-star debauchery, bump on the head) and Howard Swains (tall). If you see any quartet answering that description and sitting in a media gantry, that'll be us. We'd love to hear from you.

And if you're following this from afar, please get in touch at and tell us who you want us to follow. It would really help us out if you could tell us a bit about your friend/family member and maybe find out their table assignment. Then we can begin our stalking of them into the deep stages.

See you all soon!


Previous WSOP Diary entries

WSOP Diary Day 37: Welcome PokerStars players!
WSOP Diary Day 36: Deal me a winner. Meeting the dealers
WSOP Diary Day 35: Vanessa Selbst and David Williams sign for Team PokerStars Pro
WSOP Diary Day 34: The De Meulders and the Hachems. Team Pro's band of brothers
WSOP Diary Day 33: World Series Rio style
WSOP Diary: Day 32: Bracelets only for Tournament of Champions
WSOP Diary: Day 31: Soccer sickness infects the Rio as WSOP pauses for World Cup
WSOP Diary: Day 30: Climbing the cash ladder with Humberto Brenes
WSOP Diary: Day 29: Mandy "roxy24" Thomas mixes it with the big boys
WSOP Diary: Day 28: Barry Greenstein eyes final as shark attacks the Rio
WSOP Diary: Day 27: PokerStars party goes Dogg style

Read all WSOP diary entries here.