Retirement Ain’t Bad

Here we are, another year, another fifty or so days in the Amazon Room.  Thanks to Harrah’s for bringing me out of my self-imposed retirement, and asking me to jot down my thoughts from time to time.

It’s a really great feeling to walk into the WSOP for the first time, and see twenty-ish tables filled with poker’s elite.  In the past, it was at least week two, if not week four before we saw a field of this caliber.  The strong and mighty who made it out represent the cream of the poker crop, and it gives the WSOP a ‘bang bang’ kind of start that a $1,500 event – no matter how many players participate in it - simply cannot generate.  There’s an excitement around an event like this that can’t be duplicated, and it’s great to see it so early in the series.

As I write this, they’ve just done the ‘shuffle up and deal’ about thirty minutes ago.  Some thoughts as the opening gun sounds.

Best beard – also best impression of Joaquin Phoenix:  Andy Black.   

Best “makeover” - Michael DeMichele.  Since finishing second to Scotty Nguyen in last year’s $50k H.O.R.S.E. event, DeMichele has reinvented himself from c lean cut (if bookish) young man to a guy who could easily have been mistaken for a member of Duran Duran (or Bananarama for that matter).  I heard a rumor of fingerless gloves (yikes), but I did not witness them personally.

Best new idea – I think the bracelet ceremony stage is a good idea.  We really need to do more to acknowledge/promote the fact that bracelets are a big deal in this game, and the people that win them deserve to be recognized by more than the 42 people left in the crowd when the tournament ends at 2am.  We’ve yet to have our first ceremony, but I’m hoping for classy, quick, and non hokey.

On to the topic at hand – The $40,000 buy in tournament.  I really feel like the youngins’ are going to be the ones to watch in this event.  Usually, I would side with the ‘old’ guys, and have done so in the past.  Something about this event feels different, however.  I can’t really put my finger on it, but I just feel like the young internet bred guys are going to own this tournament.  Only time will tell.

Picks to click:

Issac Haxton: He’s been on a few ‘players to watch for’ lists this year, but I watched him make a call ten minutes into the tournament with pocket fours on a board reading  Queen-Jack-three-five with three hearts facing a big bet. Nice read, sir.  May you ‘click’.

Shannon Shorr – I love his Multi-Table Tournament game, and I’m waiting for him to put something big up on the board.

Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier – Momentum and confidence are a big factor in poker, and Elky has them both in spades.  He’s a popular pick at the moment, but there’s a reason for that.

Howard Lederer – There, I said it.  I just have a strange feeling about Lederer in this event – who knows, the strange feeling I’m having might just be gas.  He’s my one ‘old guy’ pick to click. 

Dark Horses

Terrence Chan:  If you took the word ‘no’ out of the ‘No Limit’ in this event, Terrence might be the favorite to win the whole thing.  Earlier this year, Terrence pulled off one of the all time great feats in poker history by winning the PokerStars Spring Championship Of Online Poker Limit Events in both the $500 and $5,000 buy-in tournaments – on the same day.  Terrence can play, and will pop up and make himself the second best known Chan in poker one of these days.

Kirill Gerasimov: Kirill would be one of the top names in tournament poker if he didn’t love his kids so much.  Only leaving his family home in Moscow these days for the occasional big tournament and his annual trek to the WSOP, Gerasimov is a player that will notch a big win.  It’s just a matter of time. While we’re on the topic of Russians, I also predict a big year for Russians at the WSOP.  I’m going to put the over/under at 3.5 for number of bracelets won at the WSOP by Russian born players.  Who wants action?

Where are they??

Most surprising no shows for the $40k No Limit Hold Em Event.

Allen Cunningham:  Wouldn’t you assume this is the kind of event that is right in Allen’s sweet spot?

Gus Hansen: The TV cameras are here, and Gus isn’t?  Better call him and make sure he’s ok.  Dr. Pauly tells me Gus is sweating some ridiculously high French Open bets, and will be in once the jury is in on his action.  Who bets big on tennis??