Thursday, March 10, 2005

Odds and Ends--UPDATED

I've added a mini-photo gallery at the end of this post

  • We're still dealing with frustrating Blogger software issues. There's nothing I can do about that. Hopefully the issues will be resolved quickly. If the updates seem infrequent, that's why.

  • Tournament Director Thomas Kremser just announced the payouts for the E-WSOP. Out of 297 players, 27 will walk away with cash in their pockets. The final eight who make the TV table will be fighting for these prizes (in Euros):

    1) 184,500
    2) 101,400
    3) 51,800
    4) 40,500
    5) 34,500
    6) 28,800
    7) 23,000
    8) 17,300

  • If you're the forgetful type and have had a hard time remembering this address, aforementioned Madame Kaput has come up with a fix. You can now reach this site through the address Madame Kaput, it's much appreciated.

  • How are your favorite players doing? Since I don't know who your favorites are, I'll just mention some better-known names and people I've already mentioned today. Quickly, here are the ins and outs.

    Ram Vaswani
    Mark Ristine
    Henry Terranova
    Isabelle Mercier
    Marcel Luske

    Justin Bonomo (sitting on an above-average stack)
    Tony "Tikay" Kendall form BlondePoker
    Noah Boeken (Winner of Scandinavian Open)
    Kevin Fangerow
    John Gale
    Eirik Kolaas (Final table Scandinavian Open)
    Morton Stenheim (The King of Bad Beats)
    Sami Torbey
    Joe Beevers
    Eric Vanderberg
    Willie Tann
    BadGirl Pham
    (and about 165 other very good players...and a few bad ones)

    More updates as the software allows.

    Mini Insta-Photo Gallery

    Play continues with 165 people left

    ATTENTION OAKLEY SUNGLASSES: John Wells of Corpus Christi Texas needs a sponsor. This guy wears just about every kind of Oakleys you can fathom (some so odd, they have frightened some ladies). Get him while you can. He's one of the chip leaders right now

    Requisite picture of French Open fourth place finisher Justin Bonomo

    Willie Tann makes friends with the dealers

    Above and below are the two members of DUM (that's Duke University Mafia). They are much more intelligent and better players than my hastily-conceived acronym might suggest. The youngsters are both still in the compeition.

  • E-WSOP Dinner Break Musings

    PokerStars shine on the EPT

    I like the dinner break. I mean, sure, it's free food (usually quite good), but it's more than that. It's "I got beat set-over-set" stories. It's "I beat somebody set-over-set" stories. Oh, and it's a chance to find my next Cinderella story.

    That's Kevin Fangerow from Chicago, Illinois, USA (aka fangs22). His dad and co-workers don't really believe he's here. They think if he IS here, he might be losing internal organs to wild bandits in European back alleys. Oh, and if the fates of Cinderella are conscious, they'll make this man the next poker hero.

    See, Kevin, just 23 years old, is living an odd story. He's played a bit with his friends and he's played a bit online (by his own admission, losing a little much in the $5/$10 NL game on Stars). In fact, it was in the middle of an online tilt-session that he thought he'd see what those Frequent Player Point qualifiers were all about.

    So, he bought into one with his FPP points and won an entry into an FPP super satellite. The top two placers got trips to this fine city for this fine tournament. The winners notification said he needed to log on at a desginated time for his chance to win.

    So, he logged on at the designated time and found...well, he found that his Central-Timed brain hadn't considered the tournament times were, well, Eastern Standard Time. He'd been blinded off for a full hour.

    But, not one to give up, Kevin played on. And, lo and behold, he made the final table...just in time for his internet service to crash.

    In a frantic frenzy of phonecalls to his ISP, he discovered there was no hope. The entire ISP server had crashed. So, Kevin turned off his computer.

    Yes, the man who wouldn't give up turned off his computer and drove like he was on some Chicago Autobahn and screamed into his friend's house.

    "Log off your computer," he said.

    "But I'm playing a $50 tournament," his friend protested.

    "Log. Off. Your. Computer."

    I'd go on, but you see where this is going.

    Kevin is sitting about ten feet from me right now, chatting up his table, and protecting his chip stack (he's been up and down all day and sits right now at around 11,000 in chips).

    Yes, folks, this is how it goes. We're on Level 5 now. Twenty-two tables remain in what is sure to be one very long night.

    We'll be back from the Concord Card Casino in a while.

    Technical difficulties

    If you're looking for updates, I'm tryng to get them to you. Unfortunately, we're having some issues with the Blogger system. As soon as they are resovled, I'll be back.

    First break Insta-Photo Gallery

    Players from around the globe hang out their flag for the E-WSOP

    So, let's be honest about the first two levels of a poker tournament. For some players it's a practice in controlling their nerves and adrenaline. They have to make a concerted effort to hold their chips without shaking and resolve the illusion that they must, MUST, double up immediately.

    For other players, the first two levels are a time when they roll over their competition, amassing a chip stack at the expense of the players who are too afraid to call big raises.

    And then there are those players who sat up all night drinking and playing cards, who are now hiding behind sunglasses and hoping no one recognizes their bloodshot eyes.

    Indeed, it's quite a show for the perceptive.

    We're entering the first break as I type. Twenty-seven of the original 31 tables remain. I suspect we'll wind our way down to 140-150 players before night's end.

    No one has lept forward as a massive chip leader at this point, so I thought a few pictures would help pass the time.

    Inside the Concord Card Casino

    Willie Tann, money-finisher at the EPT French Open in Deauville. Willie has the stamina of a man half his age. Check that. He has the stamina of a man 1/4 his age. When I left the casino at 3:00am, he was playing pot-limit Omaha. He was here when I arrived today. I'm not sure he left.

    Mark Ristine, USA, 3rd place finisher at the French Open

    Isabelle Mercier and John Gale share a smile before the start of play. I challenge you to find two nicer people in this city this week

    Noah Boeken, Scandinavian Open champion sits next to Oslo, Norway's Morten Stenheim, a man I once dubbed King of the Bad Beats (scroll down to the middle of this post to see why). When he realized I was the one who gave him the name, he didn't kill me. So, I've got that going for me.

    Eirik Kolaas, final table finisher at the Scandinavian Open

    Henry (top) and Jamie Terranova of Long Island, NY. I'd been wanting to meet this father and son team for some time. Last night, it looked like they might not make it here. Weather and flight delays meant they didn't get here until 10:30 this morning. They are currently playing on no sleep and a mainline feed of adrenaline.

    Morten Sembach

    Devilfish, again looking fishy. A few moments ago, with the blinds at 50/100, the Fish sat in the big blind. The button raised to 300, the small blind called, and Devilfish re-raised to 1300. After some thought, both the button and small blind folded. With a shrug, Devilfish turned over QJ offsuit. Fishy, I say.

    Italian Luca Pagano, final table finisher at the French Open

    This Frenchman who now lives in Korea has a real name (Bertrand, if you care), but everyone knows him as Elky. This guy makes a living playing video games. A good living. Now he's doing pretty well on the poker circuit. Talk about a nice life.

    I've written about Isabeller Mercier's half-smile before. It's a look that says, "If you call me, you're going to wish you'd gone outside and stepped in front of a train. So, be a sweetie and lay down your garbage."

    PokerStars Caribbean Adevnture winner John Gale. I spent a lot of time with John last night talking about his future in poker. The management consultant will play here and Monte Carlo before heading to Vegas in April for the WPT Championship. It's looking like management consulting may go the way of the dodo soon.

    Before I go back out on the floor, allow me to send out my condolences to the player (maybe players plural) who got caught up in bad weather and an air controller strike. I've heard from the States that one poor guy is stuck at Logan in Boston with no way to come and sit down in his seat. If they'd let me, bud, I'd play it for you and give you the winnings.

    I'll be back in a while with more.

    The EPT Vienna E-WSOP -- Pregame

    I'll admit from the outset, when offered the glass of wine, I took it. Normally, I don't drink on planes. That is, I try not to drink anything, alcohol or otherwise. Climbing over other passengers to go to the bathroom is tough enough without adding the stumbling possibilities of wine.

    But on this particular Lufthansa flight, I said "Yes," because the steward's eyes told me to answer in the affirmative. I'd seen the look only once before in my life. I was in a Davenport, Iowa diner where the waitresses looked normal but were certainly from another planet. I'd seen in those servers eyes a gaze that I was nowing seeing from Helmut the Steward's retinas. It's a look that bores into your spleen. It's a look that says I would rather eat your face than talk to you. And it's a look that's often delivered with a smile.

    I only bring it up, because it was around this time I started laying odds against my luggage arriving in Vienna. Something about Helmut's wine offer made me believe Lufthanasa was trying to liquor me up in advance of losing my bags. I put the odds at 3-1 against and found myself almost pleased when the baggage carousel stopped and my bags weren't on it.

    Inside the "Lost and Found" office, I told the nice German lady that my bags were missing.

    "Your baggage claim tickets, please." Funny. She had that same look.

    "Funny thing, ma'am," I said. "I threw them away in Frankfurt." I had, indeed, tossed the claim tickets in the trash about and hour and half earlier in what I thought was a great exercise in backpack cleaning.

    "That's a good job," she said, although it sound like "Dats a goot jop."

    Note: Sarcasm sounds the same with a German accent.

    I almost went into a long speech about how I considered getting "Stupid American" tattooed on my behind but decided against it after considering the concept of self-fulfilling prophesies and such. Instead, I let the nice lady fix my problem, left the Vienna airport and loaded myself into one of many taxi cabs I would see in the coming days.

    It was snowing.

    There's something quite liberating about riding 80mph hour in a driving snow. It's something akin to ice-skating on frozen meat. Maybe a porterhouse.


    By late afternoon, the snow had tapered off and I set myself into the hustle and bustle that was the city center of Vienna. It was one of those cold European days where people don't stop to smell the roses, because the only thing in bloom are the roadside icemounds.

    Still, there is beauty in the winter. It comes in the form of a quickly-passing train, deadly in its size, but graceful on its rails. There are the buildings, aging artforms that make even drab colors seem stark.

    It was almost shame it had to get dark. Of course, with darkness comes poker. And that's what I'm here for, after all.

    At the urging of a friend, heretofore known as Madame Kaput, I sat down at a low-limit hold'em game last night and played much too late. This cardroom, unlike others on the EPT, stays open 24 hours a day. I saw too many of those hours, but walked out a winner.

    Note: European money feels heavier in your pocket than American dollars.

    Now, we enter Day One of the European Poker Tour's E-WSOP Tournament. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 players are just sitting down for three days of action. Where this is a smoking room, the tournament director just announced this would be a non-smoking tournament, which means we should be able to see the tables well enough to take some good pictures throughout the day.

    The good stories are already starting to flow toward my little impromptu work station. Looks like we have some good stuff ahead of us in the coming days.

    Saddle up, folks. It's once again time to ride.