WSOP 2012: Still crazy after all this year...
Faced with a crowd of several hundred poker players, the view in the Amazon Room can begin to look samey. But in the field, between the magazine cover pros and the guy playing his first live event, are two players you may not have heard of before but who have the potential to draw a crowd, for a variety of reasons.
Take Artem Litvinov for example.
The Russian is an EPT regular whose celebrations throughout the season have been notable for being accidentally entertaining. While some players cannot contain themselves, letting out primal screams in victory, Litvinov prefers to do his celebration in private, away from the table, like it's some dirty secret he's ashamed of.
In Deauville, Litvinov, who always looks under intense pressure, finished 16th in the main event. His journey there was both flamboyant and exhausting.
After one particular hand that went his way, Litvinov walked calmly away from his table, fifty feet or so, before exploding into a flailing ball of arms and legs; silent but berserk, like a man trying to punch his way out of a balloon. He seemed sure that no one had seen him, and those that had turned their heads away from him, pretending to be occupied by something else.
Feeling better, Litvinov would calmly return to his table and play with the tennis ball he carries around with him like comforter, a reminder perhaps not to lose the plot. Other exploits include stepping away from the table to do the splits. If Litvinov were to go deep on American TV the next generation of school children might grow up speaking Russian.
Ilan Boujenah has none of the idiosyncrasies of Litvinov, but matches him for passion.
Born in France but now living in Israel, Boujenah broke through on the European Poker Tour last season, with four cashes and a final table in Madrid. Throughout, Boujenah proved hard to miss, showing flashes of daring skill as well as arrogance that bordered on petulance. But the towns of "Arrogance" and "Petulance" also border "Unquenchable desire to win". In fact it has a high speed rail link to it, and Boujenah is the new mayor.
When faced with injustice, perceived or otherwise, Boujenah erupts into a fight for what's right. Then, when nobody pays attention, he starts to shout more and talk faster. Then, usually when the problem is resolved, he calms down, becomes impeccably polite and, grinning, apologizes to everyone, including the guy at whom he'd just been yelling.
For Boujenah, poker is a game to be played properly, both in terms of skill and etiquette. If either protocol is breached he demands justice, sometimes nobly, other times quixotically, but never without just cause. Boujenah was born too late to storm the Bastille and now needs something else to charge at. A poker field some 1,000 players strong might be just the thing.
Both Litvinov and Boujenah play today.
WSOP STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
Number of Day 1A entrants: 1,066.
That number is up 19% from 897 in 2011. Bear in mind, there were four Day 1 flights last year. There will only be three this year.
TEAM PRO UPDATE OF THE HOUR
With 19 players remaining in the WSOP National Championship, Eugene Katchalov remains in the top ten. Meanwhile, George Danzer is in the final six of the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 event.
SOON TO BE UPDATED LEADERBOARD OF THE HOUR
After tonight, and Katchalov and Danzer's finish, this will look a bit different. It's just a matter of how different.
TEAM PRO 2012 WSOP MONEY LEADERS
1. Vanessa Selbst: $446,605
2. Joe Cada: $415,344
3. Jason Mercier: $146,642
4. George Danzer: $140,825
5. Barry Greenstein: $131,004
TWEET OF THE HOUR
"How do i still cry through Rocky movies even though I already know what happens? I get emotionally attached to each one ever since I was 6" Daniel @RealKidPoker Negreanu
QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"Easy! Easy, Big Pants! Mr. Seven-Four offsuit, stand down. You've proven you don't need cards to win." -- Actor Kevin Pollak to a WSOP opponent