There are some unsung heroes at poker tournaments. They require stamina, strength, patience, skill and have to be good listeners. I'm not talking about the reporters (!), but rather the massage girls and odd boy (not odd as in, er, odd, but odd as in occasional). These people provide a soothing service for poker players needing to relax or get some light ache relief from being hunched over the felt all day and night.
I'm sure the money is not great, although occasionally they work for a 'big tipper', but even so the effort these dedicated professionals put in is never in question. I know of one massage lady on the EPT circuit who has been reduced to tears because her hands hurt so much after hours of working constantly on knotted muscles. But no matter how long they've been rubbing pimply backs and shoulders, they always have a smile and never grumble. Hats off to them.
Most players never bother to pay for an at-seat massage; others seem to spend most of their days with their chair turned back-to-front and head buried in a cushion as they plot their way to world poker domination. Team PokerStars Pro John Duthie is one, and it was during a massage session earlier this year, at the PCA, that one of my favorite pics of him emerged ...
... and that was Duthie on a good hair day!
Another serial massage man is Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu. We've seen countless pictures of him so far this WSOP with a massage girl hard at work. Yesterday, during day two of the $2,500 No Limit Hold'em Six-Handed, he was at it again. The blonde massage girl was sitting cross-legged on the floor behind him, working relentlessly on his lower back. These people must have the best personal knowledge of male under garments in the world. They work within inches of exposed, and hopefully clean Calvin Klein. Other top underwear is also available.
Yesterday, the relaxing massage paid off substantially for the Canadian, although he will be a little peeved he did not make it to the real big money. After carving through most of the 1,245-strong field, he bust in 16th place, the last faller of the night, for $23,537 - his second cash of this year's Series. With first place dishing out a hefty $630,031, Negreanu will probably see his cash as money lost rather then gained.
This event was a decent one for Team PokerStars Pro. As well as Negreanu, there were cashes for Florian Langmann ($6,156), Maria Mayrinck ($5,669), Johannes Steindl ($5,211), and an impressive 23rd-place finish from Team PokerStars Online player Dustin Schmidt for $18,612. Steve Cowley leads the field heading in to day three of this one.
Moving around the Rio yesterday there were mixed fortunes for Team Pro. Holland's Marcel Luske, resplendent in his usual smart suit, was looking to push deep in day two of the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, but was unable to make the cash.
He had been struggling and was then crippled in a hand against Mark Janeczek:
Luske: 8♦7♠ X/8♣4♥J♣3♣
Luske called bets from Janeczek on sixth and seventh streets but was unable to beat Janeczek's two pair or his six low. The Dutchman was flying out of the door soon after.
The big starting tournament of the day was the $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship. 171 players dug deep to enter this one, including a large group of Team PokerStars Pros. Barry Greenstein, Lex Veldhuis, Noah Boeken, Anh Van Nguyen, Greg DeBora, Vanessa Rousso, Alex Kravchenko, Chad Brown, Jason Mercier, Andre Akkari, Pat Pezzin, Negreanu, Team PokerStars Online's George Lind and Friend of PokerStars Bill Chen. Breathe out.
Of that lot, a fair few made it to the overnight chips counts, topped by a certain Jeffrey Lisandro on 130,900. Canada's Van Nguyen has 82,500, DeBora (68,000), Akkari (49,300), Greenstein (40,900), Chen (36,600), Rousso (32,300), Pezzin (15,800), Brown 15,500) and Veldhuis (13,100).
Negreanu went out after not playing much - he was concentrating on the aforementioned $2,500 No Limit event. His stack was blinding off and he popped over to lose the last of it in a hand with Veldhuis.
"Take it, fish!" he joked as he shipped the chips over.
Event number 28, the $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha also began yesterday, with 596 walking through the door. Among them, a first sighting of the WSOP so far this year of former World Champion and Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem. He bagged up 23,700 and will be joined for day two today by fellow Team Pros ElkY (41,300), Thomas Bichon (40,000), Sandra Naujoks (17,200) and Humberto Brenes (13,700). Top of the pops is Loren Klein with 187,300.
Two new events kick off today: a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em, and $1,500 HORSE. Good luck to all our PokerStars players.
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Tweets of the Day
@FossilMan (Greg Raymer): Ate with Cheryl at Mint Indian per recommendation of Augie from 2+2.com. Mango chicken is good, but Kathmandu chili chicken is better. But both pale in comparison to my beautiful wife! I love you, honey!!!
@RealKidPoker (Daniel Negreanu): I just made. A. Flush. Yeeeeeeeesssss! (He'd been complaining all week that he never made a flush).
@MarcinHorecki: In Tallinn for PokerStars Baltic Festival. Plan to take it down and go to WSOP ;)
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Thought of the Day
Back rubs for the win
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Previous WSOP Diary entries
WSOP Diary: Maria Mayrinck, something in the water
WSOP Diary: Who needs a rest anyway?
WSOP Diary: An apology
WSOP Diary: George Danzer just misses first bracelet for PokerStars
WSOP Diary: Negreanu, Danzer eye $10K Lowball bracelet
WSOP Diary: Hold me, darling - this is going to be BIG
WSOP Diary: Why Peter Eastgate is missing from the World Series
WSOP Diary: Ville Wahlbeck joins Team PokerStars Pro
WSOP Diary: Durrr misses biggest-ever poker payday, pros overjoyed
WSOP Diary: Poker's clean-up operation begins again
WSOP Diary: Manchester United soccer star Darren Fletcher tackles World Series of Poker
WSOP Diary: $10,000 Stud Championsip draws big names
WSOP Diary: Nh, gg, wp Daniel Negreanu, k?
WSOP Diary: Grinding out $1.5million with perfect timing
WSOP Diary: Team Pro Maridu needs Baker, Baker needs dough
WSOP Diary: Viva la revolution in Las Vegas
WSOP Diary: Safari, so good for Noah Boeken
WSOP Diary: Barry Greenstein mixes it up in the $50K
WSOP Diary: Going supersize in Las Vegas