2009 WSOP Main Event Write-Up
There is no question that the best poker tournament in the world in terms of value is the WSOP Main Event. Completely ignoring the millions spread around to players every year through endorsements for appearing on a televised table, the tournament itself is an absolute gold mine. This year, 6,494 players came together for the $10,000 buy-in World Championship.
The number of entrants would have been quite a bit higher if it weren't for an unfortunate situation in which Harrah's, owners and operators of the WSOP, were forced to turn away in excess of 500 players on the final starting day due to seating limitations. This caused quite a bit of controversy and had the Rio buzzing for several days. WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack offered players a profuse apology regarding the situation, but this debacle was really no fault of Harrah's. Players have been able to register for this tournament since March. Anyone absent-minded enough to show up the morning of the final starting day should know they were taking a big risk.
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I drew a starting table full of unknowns, which is a good thing in terms of expectation. However, with so many marque names in this tournament field, you always sort of hope to be seated with one of them to make things a little more interesting.
This year, players were given 30,000 starting chips, up from last year's number of 20,000. These extra chips made the structure in this year's tournament better than it has ever been. Players did not even reach the money until the early evening of day four!
For me, day one was fairly uneventful. The largest pot I won all day occurred just fifteen minutes after "shuffle up and deal" was announced. My stack never dipped below the 30,000 starting stack, but it also never eclipsed 50,000. Late on day one, I was moved to Jennifer Harman's immediate right. She is probably the best female player in the world. We chatted some about a shared passion, dogs, and mostly stayed out of each others way.
Day two did not go as well for me. I was at, bar none, one of the fishiest tables you could imagine, but still could never seem to win a big pot. I lost a fairly sizable pot that was pretty frustrating. I raised with King-Queen and a lady in the big blind called. The flop was King-Queen-Four, all hearts. She made an uncharacteristic play and led out for nearly the size of the pot. I decided to just call. The turn was a black Five. Harmless card. She led out again for the size of the pot. This gave me considerable pause. What on earth does she have in this spot? I decided that I could beat anything she has but a flush and that a flush is the only hand she'll bet on the river. I called planning to fold if she bet the river. The river was a total brick and she checked. Sweet, I should be good here, right? I flipped over my hand. She stared at it for ten seconds trying to make sense of what she was looking at. After that delay, she turned over pocket Fives. Ouch.
As a result of that hand and an absence of any good fortune thereafter, I bagged up just 18,000 chips at the end of day two.
Despite being short stacked, I still showed up to day three feeling optimistic. The blinds were only 600/1,200. I knew that if I could double up in the early going, I'd have enough chips to try to maneuver my way into a "real" stack. I got a chance to do just that on the third hand of the day. Action folded to the small blind, Justin Henry, an actor who is one of the youngest people to have been nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Kramer vs. Kramer, who raised my big blind to 4,000. I looked down at pocket Sixes and turbo power-charge snap-shoved hoping to look really strong so that perhaps he might fold some of the worst of his range. He wasted little time calling with King-Queen. A Queen came on the flop and it was enough to end my tournament.
Walking out of the Rio after being knocked out of the Main Event is definitely an unsavory experience. You have no choice but to face the reality that all your dreams of being this year's World Champion aren't going to come true. But as they say, there's always next year!
As I write this, the Main Event is shaping up to be very interesting for fans of poker. There are tons of marque names remaining in the tournament, many of them with a lot of chips. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier is the chipleader with nearly twice as many chips as anyone else. He is a phenomenal player whose results in the past two years might be unparalleled. Although there are still several hundred players remaining, you have to think ElkY has a decent shot of reaching the final table. Other big names still in contention include Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, and defending champion Peter Eastgate.