2007 World Series: Crime, Gambling, Healthcare in the $10,000 PLO Championship

July 02, 2007

I walked up on Greg Raymer’s table in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship and heard him say, “And then the adrenaline kicked in. I started chasing them. Then I thought, ‘what if they have a gun?'”

Ah, yes, the Bellagio story. I’ve heard Greg tell this story all over the world. He rarely if ever brings it up. However, it’s fairly common that people ask him about the night he got jacked at the Bellagio, and he always obliges them with the story.

In my previous life, I followed politicians along the campaign trail. I heard John Edwards give his “Two Americas” speech enough times that I could recite most of it word for word. The text rarely changed, but Edwards put his best into it in front of every new crowd. Greg, who coincidentally now hails from the same state as Edwards, does the same thing. Even though I first heard the story from Greg in January 2005, I still don’t get tired of hearing it.

Don’t think Greg is a man of foolish consistency, though. While I’ve watched him drink Diet Coke for years, in recent months, Greg has started pouring Green Tea mix into bottles of water and drinking that instead. When asked why, Greg explained he doesn’t like Diet Pepsi (all they serve here at the Rio) and he’s been trying to cut back on his caffeine intake. So, Greg won’t be getting a sponsorship from PepsiCo anytime soon, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He’s still running strong in the event today, despite having Ted Forrest on his right and David Chui on his left. Best I can tell, no one has yet tried to rob him.

“Where’s Phil Hellmuth?”

That was Barry Greenstein a while ago. He had a sly look in his eye.

“Right behind you,” I said and pointed to the Poker Brat.

Barry eyed Phil’s stack and then said something under his breath. Nearest I could tell, Barry was trying to get action from Doyle Brunson on a Greenstein vs. Hellmuth final table challenge in this event and the upcoming 2-7 event. My notes don’t reveal the exact details, but whatever Barry was trying to arrange made Doyle laugh. Barry sat back down saying, “Doyle, you won’t take 4-1?” That’s the relaxed Barry Greenstein I enjoy. While building a nice stack in the tournament, he’s running around trying to get in action.

Back in his seat, Barry had just checked in on Phil Ivey. He asked the table, “Has he played every hand?”

The table responded that Ivey had played all but one. “He was text messaging during one and they killed his hand.”

Barry told me there’s a lesson there. Ivey, he says, plays a lot of–if not all–hands in Omaha tournaments, where Barry plays a bit tighter. Barry said he once played an Omaha event online while teaching Mimi Tran to play. He kept both tables on his screen so she could watch the different styles. Ivey played nearly every hand while Barry played tight.

They had almost exactly the same amount of chips.


John Duthie is killing the Omaha event at this hour, although you wouldn’t know it by checking in on the table’s demeanor. Duthie has been getting a massage and the topic of discussion has nothing to do with poker.

Duthie, mid-massage

The line-up is insane. Duthie sits with Huck Seed, Dario Minieri, Mark Vos, Robert Mizrachi, Mickey Appleman, and Jeffrey Lisandro. With that kind of poker background, you might think they’d be discussing the less-than-subtle nuances of PLO. Instead, the non-Americans joined Mickey Appleman in railing against the American health care system and its handling of the non-insured.

Seed, perhaps hoping to defend his country, said “Mickey, once I was walking down the road with blood spurting out of my head. I jumped out of a cab doing 50 miles per hour down the freeway. They forced me to go to the hospital and fixed me up. I didn’t have insurance.”

I’m not sure if there is any corollary here, but Duthie nearly has the chip lead. Seed…does not.


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