WSOP 2011: The ballad of the black hoodie
Phillip Gruissem's hair is closely cropped and fades into a tight peak at the top of his head. His black Espirit fleece jacket hugs his neck underneath a clenched jaw. He's grinding his molars back and forth, but it's doing no good. He can't hold his tongue.
"You're wasting our time," he says.
Samuel Holden, a mop-topped, fresh-faced, hoodie-wearing, hippie-kid, has pissed off Gruissem.
"I spend a lot of time in live poker," Gruissem says. "You can just say you have roughly two million."
At issue is Holden's silence when another player asks him how much he has in his stack. Holden says he is afraid of giving off a tell if he answers.
"Then you shouldn't bother playing," Gruissem says.
Holden looks uncomfortable. He's bothered by Gruissem's haranguing. Gruissem isn't speaking loudly or even harshly, but his German accent makes everything seem a little sharper.
If Gruissem wore a cowboy hat, it would be black.
Meanwhile, Tony Hachem is miserable.
"I'm under the weather," he says during a break. "And I'm card dead. It's been this way for three days."
But at the table, he's all smiles. He sees Nolan Dalla on the edge of the light and asks how long they've known each other. It's been six or seven years.
"Everybody, this is Nolan Dalla," Hachem tells his tablemates. "He's the best person in poker. I mean that."
And he does. Hachem is 100% genuine, despite feeling like he could bust out or die of pneumonia before the dinner break. No matter how bad he feels, he's as friendly as he could be.
If Hachem wore a cowboy hat, it would be white.
In fact, Hachem wears a ball cap, and Gruissem wears no hat at all. In fact, he's mildly miffed at everyone who does. In further fact, he's a little peeved at everybody at his table. Gruissem is the only person at his table who isn't wearing some sort of sunglasses, ball cap, or hoodie.
"If we're going to all wear hoodies and sunglasses," Gruissem says, and mimics a turtle crawling back into its shell, "we might as well play online."
He's indicted everybody at his table. There isn't a soul there who hasn't covered up in some way.
"Same for TV," Gruissem continues. "If people see nine players all wearing hoodies and sunglasses, they aren't going to come back and watch."
A young reporter on the rail is getting a kick out of Gruissem's soliloquy. "I think he's trying to tilt (Holden)."
It's working. Holden looks like he's sitting on a pile of rocks. Worse? He's removed his hood, as if Gruissem's opinions on poker had grown hands and snatched the headdress off in frustration.
Gruissem is not a bad guy any more than Hachem is always the nicest guy in the world, but for this moment at the WSOP, through the eyes of at least poor Samuel Holden, through a lens of black and white, they are pure good and pure evil.
As if to punctuate the old cliché, Hachem's short stack goes in with 7♦8♦ and runs into A♠J♥. Maybe nice guys really do finish last, or in this case, 37th for $196,174.
Meanwhile, Gruissem is neither a white-hatted cowboy or a hoodie-cloaked ninja. He's just a PokerStars Main Event Passport winner with an average stack heading into the dinner break on Day 7 of the 2011 WSOP Main Event.
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RELEVANT FACT OF THE HOUR
Number of tables remaining in play: 4
IRRELEVANT FACT OF THE HOUR
Number of people wearing red buckets on their heads and supporting Bryan Devonshire: 6
PINK HAIR RINSED OUT OF THE HOUR
Guillaume Darcourt, who has sported shocking pink hair since Day 1, is out.
SECURITY STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
There are currently 16 walkie-talkies recharging behind the security desk in the Amazon, no doubt ahead of happy hour at the bar.
STARBUCKS NEWS OF THE HOUR
After 12 days working at the Rio it turns out media are entitled to 25 per cent discount. That could have saved us about $250.
THE JP KELLY FACT OF THE HOUR
The $242,636 that JP Kelly is now guaranteed will be the Englishman's highest ever live tournament cash.