WSOP Diary Day 3: Safari, so good for Noah Boeken

wsop2010_thn.jpgImagine you are sitting under a Wild Date Palm tree in the middle of the Serengeti, sipping a nice cup of tea while enjoying the awesome view towards a distant mountain range (okay, this is unlikely, but stick with me). As the sun begins to sink below the horizon, and you swat away a fly with a copy of your favorite poker magazine, you hear a rumble; it's faint and you can barely make it out, but a rumble it is.

You sit upright and now that rumble gets louder. A small cloud of dust rises from the parched earth several miles away. Louder still, and now that dust fills the air - it's something big and it's heading your way. Before you have time to finish your cuppa, you realize you are caught in the middle of a wildebeest migration, thousands of them charging through, caring not for your personal well-being. The sound is deafening, the dust choking. It's scary but exhilarating rolled up in one. Just as well you can climb up the tree to get out of the way.

Now you have some idea of what it was like to stand at the end of the hallway that leads from the Rio down to the convention center, home of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Dateline 11.45am yesterday. In the distance, a rumble. It got louder, then louder still. This migration would be far more scary than anything in Africa - these were the wild beasts charging towards the Amazon room and Pavilion for the first mass-market tournament of the WSOP, the $1,000 No Limit. In all, 2,601 of them! The $1,000 events attract the masses, drawn to the Rio for their shot at a 'cheap' bracelet. They may not be the best players, certainly not the most wealthy, but this gives them a chance at the big time - and they came in their thousands to take it. And this was only Day 1A.

You may think that many pros would not bother with a $1,000 event, but the big numbers and alleged 'softness' of the field made playing a no brainer. So it was that Team PokerStars Pro had a big showing for the start, including current WSOP world champion Joe Cada.


Joe Cada

But more of the $1,000 event later. For while that particular feeding frenzy was getting under way, a much smaller but richer game was reconvening across the hall. This was day two of the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship, home to the majestic lions compared with the wildebeests in the $1,000. They had already played day 1, where only five had perished from the 116 starters. By the end of the night, that field had been slashed by half - only 54 lasting the pace.

Among them, Noah Boeken led the Team PokerStars Pro pride. He finished with 439,000 chips, in 12th place and one of three Team Pros to get through. The others were George Lind, the PokerStars 2010 SCOOP Player of the Series, and Barry Greenstein. Boeken, who shot to fame winning EPT Copenhagen back in season 1, is a prolific cash game player on PokerStars but not necessarily known as a mixed game tournament specialist. This 8-game mixed event would sort the men from the boys - and Boeken stood up to the test.


Noah Boeken

While household names such as Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu and Greg Raymer, together with top colleagues like Jason Mercier, Dario Minieri and Alex Kravchenko perished on day 2, Boeken blossomed, winning a succession of big pots, including one big stud hand against wiley Eli Elezra, who got all the way to seventh street with xx/Q♥9♠3♣2♣/x but was way behind the Dutchman's K♦K♥/7♠6♦4♦[10c]/K♣.

Lind survived the day with rather less - 68,500. He had lost a chunk to end-of-day chip leader Kirk Morrison (741,000), but then busted Mike Matusow in a stud hand, making a flush against 'The Mouth' who had aces and fours. Greenstein, who had started the day tenth with 240,1000, scraped through with 32,000, describing his day in typical understated fashion as "sad".


Barry Greenstein

Of the fallers, Mercier had been sliding and, despite predicting a heater to get himself back among the thick of it, busted in a stud 8/better hand against Eugene Katchalov. Dario Minieri had lost most of his chips in a trademark bluff attempt against Nick Schulman - a big bet with air on a [10c]8♥6♦K♠8♣ no-limit hold'em board no match for the American's pocket aces. He fell soon after to Steve Zolotow, a hand that sent the latter up to second in chips.


Jason Mercier

Raymer was on the wrong end of it all day. He kept trying to convince himself - and everyone else - that he was simply setting up a brilliant comeback story, but there was no happy ending. Ted Forrest felled the Fossilman. What of Daniel Negreanu? Kid Poker was on the rough end of hands and lost a big limit hold'em pot to Phil Ivey, then a significant Razz hand against Eli Elezra just before a break. That left the Canadian with only 8,400 and he busted first hand back against Elezra again, this time in a stud hand.

The other Team PokerStars Pros to fall were Kravchenko and Pat Pezzin, while Friend of PokerStars Bill Chen also exited, a victim of Justin 'BoostedJ' Smith. Chen had A-K on a king-high no-limit hold'em flop but Smith had a set of queens. All the money went in on the turn and Chen never caught up. The 54 survivors of this one will return at 3pm today (Sunday) for the day three re-start.

So what of the $1,000 Day 1A? Well, with that massive 2,061 starting field it was always going to be carnage. Only 276 survived. For carnage, read complete and utter massacre. The wildebeests were slaughtered trying to reach their lush vegetation and watering holes.

Team PokerStars Pro Joe Cada had started in jovial mood - being presented at the start in the cavernous Pavilion as his huge 2009 Main Event victory banner was unfurled before the masses. There then followed a rendition of the US national anthem sung by Matt Goss, starring on stage here in Vegas but otherwise known as one half of the brotherly act Bros (geddit?).


Joe Cada in front of his banner

Cada was to fall early, his K♦J♦ bested by A♣9♥, and he was joined on the rail by a list of Team PokerStars Pros so long my pen nearly ran out of ink: Chris Moneymaker, Hevad Khan, Tom McEvoy, Humberto Brenes, Lex Veldhuis, George Danzer, Richard Toth, Martin Hruby, JP Kelly and Johannes Steindl among others who may have been lurking in some corner or other.


Richard Toth

Out of all that lot, only Vanessa Rousso survived, bagging up 25,700, a long way behind chip leader Terry Fleischer on 119,300. She had started well, and after one hand, when she flopped a full house holding 5-5, said: "So sick! I'm running the best I ever had!". But there was to be no huge stack building after that.


Vanessa Rousso

Day 1B of the $1,000 event starts shortly. There should be an even bigger field than 1A, nudging the total entries to something like 6,000.

That's another herd of wildebeests charging through the Rio. Find that Wild Date Palm tree, climb up, and keep well out of the way.

* * * *

Congratulations to Hoai Pham, a dealer at the Village Club Card Room in Chula Vista, California, who bagged the first bracelet of this year's WSOP in the Event #1 $500 Casino Employees tournament. He picked up $71,424.

* * * *

Tweets of the Day (large edition)
@PappeRuk: Back to amsterdam after a very nice weekend.. Almost sure im going to vegas on friday.. Gonna play some limit events including the 10k:)

@MarcinHorecki: @NoahBoeken GL!

@MarcelLuske: @NoahBoeken Time 4 a new champion in the 50k.. { dutch would be nice yess . GL tomorrow }

@MarcelLuske: before you know, people just dissapair,, D, Hopper , RIP... We better enjoin us alongside in this world while we can. Gl 2 All {;

@GeorgeLindIII: Got up to 340k then got crushed for an hour all in limit games. Ended day with 68,500. Need some rungood tomorrow

@barrygreenstein: Sad day. I have only t36k. 54 are left. Average is 325k.

@JasonMercier: Busto 50k 8 game. Playin day 1b of the 1k nlhe 2moro

@FossilMan: Something happened to the script. No comeback this time. Stud hand 3 diamonds vs. medium pair. Whiffed.

@RealKidPoker: I'm out. Stud hand Eli raised in last position with. Q I was bring in with 22J needed a 2 on river. Sweated the card it was 2 or 3. 3 brutal

* * * *

Thought of the day
A safari holiday in the Serengeti sounds appealing

* * * *

Previous WSOP Diary entries
WSOP Diary: Barry Greenstein mixes it up in the $50K
WSOP Diary: Going supersize in Las Vegas

* * * *