WSOP Main Event Day 2B: A round with John Duthie and Gavin Griffin

wsop2010_thn.jpgArguments rage in the television world as to the first ever "reality show". The Dutch producers of the original Big Brother franchise have a decent claim, as does MTV's "The Real World". But flies carrying cameras have actually been landing on walls all the way back to the 1940s. People simply enjoy watching other people argue and sleep and have done for getting on 70 years.

It's a bit more clear cut in the poker fraternity. Ever since PokerStars Blog began its stellar peerless sensational regular live tournament coverage, we have been bringing you poker's equivalent of a warts-and-all insight into the realities of tournament poker.

Our series, called "A Round With...", promises to record every move around a single poker table for one orbit of play. Tournaments are marathons not sprints, and flashpoints are relatively few and far between in the early period. Although edited poker television would have you believe that chips fly into pots left and right, the reality is something far more sedate - call it "folds-and-all".

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Table 299, featuring John Duthie and Gavin Griffin

Today's "A Round With..." centres on table 299 in the Amazon Room, where the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Gavin Griffin and John Duthie started their day. They were also joined there by the Russian tyrant Alexander Kostritsyn, who was the big stack with more than 200,000, and Eric Assadourian, of Australia. That's a pretty tough table by any tournament's standards, let alone on a day on which 2,734 players started. You might have hoped to have avoided such sharks in such a large field.

You wouldn't quite have detected much panic in the faces of either Griffin or Duthie, however. When I arrived, precisely 30 minutes before the end of level six, Griffin was engrossed in "The Girl Who Kicked Hornet's Nests" on his Kindle, while Duthie was munching through a packet of peanut M&Ms and had a massage therapist stroking his shoulders.

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Gavin Griffin on day 2B

Kostritsyn, for his part, had a couple of packs of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups stacked beside his chips, and when Duthie indicated that he had finished his M&Ms, Kostritsyn offered a pack of his own peanuty goodness to his table-mate, which was gleefully accepted.

So settle back, imagine a whiff of nut, an ambience of sugar-coma and the buzzing of hornets as we bring you: A Round With ... Gavin Griffin and John Duthie.

Blinds are 250-500, with 50 ante.
Table line up:

Seat 1 - Gavin Griffin
Seat 2 - Matthew Chang
Seat 3 - Chad Lauderback
Seat 4 - Shawn Maillet
Seat 5 - John Duthie
Seat 6 - Paul Epperson
Seat 7 - Brian O'Sullivan
Seat 8 - Eric Assadourian
Seat 9 - Alexander Kostritsyn

Hand one: Button with Paul Epperson
It's folded all the way around to Brian O'Sullivan in the small blind and he raises to 1,100. Eric Assadourian calls in the big blind and the flop comes 9♠Q♣6♠. O'Sullivan takes it down with a bet of 1,200.

Gavin Griffin, who did not watch the "action", takes two green chips from his stack in a well-practiced left-handed manouevre, puts them on the felt in front of him, and continues reading about insect nests getting a kicking. He's on chapter 22 and is clearly gripped.

Hand two: Button with Brian O'Sullivan
Shawn Maillet opens to 1,400 from mid-position and John Duthie, to his left, calls, as does Eric Assadourian in the small blind. All others fold and they're three way to a flop. It comes 3♣5♣9♣ and all of them check. The turn is 2♣ and Assadourian took it down with a bet of 3,400.

After the freneticism of the candy exchange, a dead silence descends on the table. Duthie's massage therapist starts on his forehead and Mr EPT sits back, crosses his arms, and enters what looks like yogic reverie.

Hand three: Button with Eric Assadourian
It's folded to Paul Epperson in the hijack, who raises to 1,300. Gavin Griffin diverts his eyes from his screen to defend his big blind with a call. The two of them go to a flop of A♥8♥4♣ and after Griffin checks, Epperson picks it up with a bet of 2,000.

A dealer approaches the table, taps her colleague on the shoulder, and "pushes" him out. The new dealer makes herself comfortable as Epperson breathes a deep sigh and says: "Oh man", to no one. The two things happen at once: a server gives Matthew Chang a bottle of water and receives a $1 tip, while there's a big whoop from the nearby feature table, suggesting an outdraw. Barely anyone registers it.

Hand four: Button with Alexander Kostritsyn
Shawn Maillet opens the pot, making it 500. Duthie calls, Griffin called from the small blind, and they got to a flop of 5♣J♠5♠. After Griffin and Maillet both check, Duthie bets 2,100 and take it down.

Griffin turns his "page" and is onto "Chapter 23 - Friday July 1 - Saturday July 2".

Hand five: Button with Gavin Griffin
Shawn Maillet, Brian O'Sullivan and Gavin Griffin get 1,375 in each pre-flop (with Maillet the opening raiser) and they see K♦[10c]A♥ fall. Maillet bets 3,000 at that, O'Sullivan calls, encouraging Griffin along too.

The turn is the [10d] and after both Maillet and O'Sullivan check, Griffin bets 8,800. After pondering for a while, Maillet moves all in for about 25,000. O'Sullivan is going nowhere though and he then moves all in - a little less. Griffin sighs deeply and open folds J♥[10h].

Griffin is angered when he sees Maillet's A♦K♠ but he was behind O'Sullivan's J♣Q♣. When the 8♥ rivers, O'Sullivan doubles up and Maillet is left with only 800-odd.

Hand six: Button with Matthew Chang
Alex Kostritsyn opens from the hijack with a raise to 1,300. Griffin raises to 3,400 from the cut offand Maillet, in the big blind, under-calls all in. Kostritsyn also calls.

The flop comes [10c]4♦A♥, which the two active players check, and then the 5♥ turns. Kostritsyn fires 4,000 at it and Griffin folds, but they go to showdown to determine Maillet's tournament life.

Maillet: A♠9♥
Kostritsyn: A♦2♦

So it's looking good for a triple up for Maillet, until the 3♦ rivers and Kostritsyn's wheel condemns him to an early bath.

Hand seven: Button with Chad Lauderback
Alex Kostritsyn again gets things started, raising to 1,300 and Griffin, with position, calls again. John Duthie also calls from the big blind. The flop comes 2♥A♥5♥ and Duthie checks. Kostritsyn fires 2,500 and that's good to push the two Team Pros out of the pot.

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A John Duthie-eye view of Gavin Griffin

Hand eight: Dead button (in front of empty chair)
Gavin Griffin starts the hand by picking up his cellphone and looking at Twitter. Eric Assadourian opens the pot, raising to 1,250. Chad Lauderback calls, as does Paul Epperson in the big blind and they see a flop of [10d]4♠J♣. Epperson checks, Assadourian bets 2,650 and Lauderback folds. But when Epperson check-raises, Assadourian is persuaded out of it.

Hand nine: Button with John Duthie
It's folded all the way to John Duthie on the button, who raises and takes.

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John Duthie

And that's the end of that. On balance, not a thrilling "A Round With..." but not too turgid either. Griffin seemed to be getting a touch frustrated - it seemed as though he was missing every flop he saw, and was beaten when he actually made a hand.

Duthie spent most of the round enjoying his massage, while Kostritsyn and O'Sullivan made the most profit. Maillet bust.

No doubt this won't be the last "A Round With..." of this World Series. Be sure to check back for another thrilling installment.

*****

COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU CONTROVERSY OF THE HOUR

For much of the past hour, the conversation in the Pavilion Room has been about one hand. It's a hand and scene you will no doubt see play out on television time and again when the ESPN coverage begins.

Prahlad Friedman was in the tank, facing an all-in bet from Ted Bort, and being counted down by the floor man. As you're likely aware, once on the clock, a player has one minute to make his decision. For the last ten seconds, the floor man will count down from ten to one. If he reaches one, the hand is dead.

And so it came, "3...2...1," and somewhere in there, the word "Call." The floor, however, declared the hand dead. That's when thing got interesting.

"The rail erupted," said Mike Mustafa, another player on the table.

Players at the table insisted Friedman had said call. People on the rail insisted Friedman had said call. Friedman said, "I said 'call' right at the end."

It's a dead hand, the floor man insisted. When the players protested, supervisors were called in. The decision stood. Before it was over, the table was surrounded by ESPN, print media, online media, cameras, public relations representatives, and players from other tables.

"That's the worst decision ever," said Kenny Tran, who had come over to see what's happening.

World Series officials disagree. After discussing it in depth, they admit it's possible Friedman said "call," but there was not enough evidence to suggest he said call before the floor man reached the number one on the countdown (the time at which the hand is officially dead). The floorman said he did not hear Friedman speak. WSOP officials told us that security tapes could not be used to determine whether Friedman called in time. In the end, without anything more than the word of the players as evidence, the tournament officials stood by their decision.

It is one people will talk about for a while. Did Friedman say call in time? Did he say it on the word "one" when the hand is officially dead? The players and rail believe the former. The tournament staff believe the latter. And the players don't get to make the call.

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Mike Mustafa, an eye-witness to the Pavilion Room controversy

Said another player, a bit more understanding, "It's like when an umpire makes a bad call in baseball. There is nothing you can do."

All of that would make the hand interesting on its own, but that wasn't the best part. See, if Friedman's hand had not been declared dead, he would've lost, Bort would've won the hand, and Friedman would've been out of the tournament. This is the kind of thing that ends up on TV.

Friedman is no stranger to controversy. It's only been a few years ago that Friedman and Jeff Lisandro had a very public fight over whether Lisandro had posted his ante. It all played out on TV and wasn't pretty. Now, Friedman is back in the center of storm.

"Just when the ante scandal of '06 was fading away," Friedman said ruefully. "I'm going to have to live with this for the next ten years."

Meanwhile, Bort was taking a walk.

"I'm taking a break. I can't play for a while,"Bort said.

*****

THE LATEST ON ARNAUD MATTERN'S BROKEN FOOT OF THE HOUR

Now into a plastic boot cast rather than plaster of Paris. Mattern is using crutches to get around now having jettisoned the motor scooter when it became clear it didn't have the horse power to taking the incline in the corridor up to the Rio. Mattern made the decision when overtaken by an elderly gentleman walking with a cane.

*****

VIDEO OF THE HOUR

Here's a chat with Florian Langmann, of Team Pro Germany:

*****

OVERHEARD CONVERSATION OF THE HOUR

"There's a reptile on my floor."