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WSOP Day 3 notebook

13 Jul 2010

By Aaron Todd and Dan Igo
With the entire field finally playing at the same time on Day 3, a big question was who would be at the featured TV tables.

ESPN elected to put Scotty Nguyen's table on the main TV stage, and during the first level of the day he seemed to be loving every second of it. When Casino City walked onto the platform above the main TV table, Scotty had a huge grin on his face and was very animated while talking with the table.

The bleachers were packed with fans and the platform was two deep at spots with fans watching Scotty and David Sklansky play. The other TV table didn't garner much interest at all. The headliner for the secondary table was Jason Mercier, who had a decent-sized chip stack. Mercier, while well-known in the poker community, certainly isn't a household name like Scotty baby.

That secondary table did feature two of the biggest opening chip stacks with Jordan Cristos (255,900) and Bill Melvin (226,200). Scotty finished the day with about 100,000 in chips while Mercier finished with 218,500.


Table 46 in the Pavilion was right at the corner of two rails, and during the first hour of play it saw a lot of action, both on the felt and with spectators.

The two main draws at the table were 2002 Main Event champion Robert Varkonyi and recent NAPT Mohegan Sun champion Vanessa Selbst, who entered the day with 260,000 chips and was firmly in control of the table.

Selbst was very active in the first hour, playing a lot of pots and making a lot of raises with her enormous stack. She went heads-up with Varkonyi two hands in a row early on Monday.

On the first hand she re-raised Varkonyi when he made a bet on the river and on the turn.

"You yanking my crank?" Varkonyi asked twice.

Finally he folded. On the next hand he was able to steal a small pot off Selbst when her deuces couldn't crack his eights.

Despite losing that pot, Selbst looked to be in complete control. Even with ESPN's cameras filming her every move, and with about 20 people lined up on the rail to watch, she studied each hand carefully and wasn't afraid to throw her weight around.

She finished the day with 245,000 chips, while Varkonyi has 150,000.


Everyone's favorite super senior citizen was a no-show on Day 3. Jack Ury, 97, entered Day 3 with 8,200 in chips, which were quickly blinded off from his empty seat about an hour into play.


Look for Paul Magriel to wear a fourth watch Tuesday on Day 4. Our money is on it being set for Seattle time.

Look for Paul Magriel to wear a fourth watch Tuesday on Day 4. Our money is on it being set for Seattle time. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Paul "X-22" Magriel, who famously announces his bets in multiples of 22, or "quack-quack" (a pair of twos are known as "double ducks" in backgammon), got a taste of his own medicine early in Day 3. With blinds at 500/1,000, a player to Magriel's right raised to 2,200.

"I have to call," said Magriel. "It doesn't matter what the cards are." After the flop, the player made a 4,100 continuation bet, and Magriel responded by saying, "That's supposed to be 4,400, double quack-quack." He eventually folded.

Magriel wore three watches on Day 3, and said he plans to wear four watches on Day 4. The watches are rainbow colored, and Magriel said he set them for three "different" time zones: "One for Las Vegas, one for L.A. and one for San Diego."

He finished the day with 269,000 chips.


Daniel Negreanu got his money in with the best of it, but busted out when his opponent hit a gut-shot straight on the turn.

Daniel Negreanu got his money in with the best of it, but busted out when his opponent hit a gut-shot straight on the turn. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Daniel Negreanu started Day 3 short on chips, and early on he ended up in a sizable pot with Eric Carr, who looks like he should be in high school instead of at a poker table. With a board of ace-queen-jack-seven-four, Negreanu checked and Carr raised his hand off the table, then said, "Eleven" – betting 11,000 into a pot of roughly 15,000 as he lowered his hand back to the table.

"Be careful with that hand," said Negreanu. "That was almost a checking motion."

"I made a verbal bet," said Carr. "I didn't mean to make a checking motion."

"I know you didn't mean to, but you did."

"Sorry, I'm just used to playing online."

"I know, just be careful or you'll end up doing something you didn't mean to do. So, why did you bet so much?" Negreanu asked, changing the subject back to the action on the table. "Probably because you have a better hand than me. I think I'm going to have to fold … maybe you're bluffing … no, you're not bluffing; I fold."

Carr then turned over six-three of spades for complete air.

"Wow, you were bluffing!" said Negreanu. "Nice bet."

Negreanu is one of many pros who enjoys a massage while at the table. In fact, he was enjoying one for so long that the masseuse eventually had to excuse herself to go to the bathroom.

"Of course, you go do your thing," said Negreanu.

He nursed a short stack for most of Day 3, and the media was omnipresent at his table, watching his every move. After he opened with a raise from the button, ESPN's camera crews rushed over to get the hand on tape.

"The vultures are back," said Negreanu after the blinds had folded.

Negreanu seemed to know his day was over a few hours later after a king landed on the turn after a flop of ace-jack-eight. After one player bet the other out of a side pot, Negreanu asked, "Did you hit your straight?" The player flipped over queen-10 for a Broadway straight, and Negreanu showed jack-eight for two pair. The river was a blank, ending Negreanu's hopes for a bracelet in 2010.


With the entire field playing together for the first time, there were some interesting table matchups. One included 2003 Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker and actor/poker commentator Gabe Kaplan. After losing half his chips early in play, Kaplan called all in after Moneymaker re-raised an early-position player from middle position. The other players folded, and Moneymaker eliminated Kaplan with pocket nines vs. ace-jack.


Moneymaker, who started the day with just over 100,000 chips, looked to be below that mark after raking in the pot.

"That's all you need, is to win one race," another player told the Team PokerStars player.

"Yep, I'm happy now," said Moneymaker. "That makes me real happy."

He wasn't happy for long, however. Moneymaker was one of more than 1,300 Day 3 casualties.


Sammy Farha has plenty of chips heading into Day 4.

Sammy Farha has plenty of chips heading into Day 4. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Even without watching Table #306, it was apparent that Sammy Farha was having a good day. With the blinds at 600/1,200 with a 200 ante, Farha had two giant stacks of $100 black and blue chips in front of him, along with plenty of yellow ($1,000) and orange ($5,000) chips. With so many $100 chips, which were primarily being used for antes, Farha had clearly been on a roll.

That momentum continued when he flat called an opponent three times before showing queen-jack for a pair of jacks, while the aggressor folded a weaker jack.

"I thought you had two pair," said Farha, all smiles as he stacked up more $100, $1,000 and $5,000 chips. Farha will enter Day 4 with about 190,000 chips.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Allen Cunningham, who started the day with about 150,000 chips. He didn't hold a single $100 chip and had to make change for his antes. He did pick up some loose change, however, when he re-raised an opponent pre-flop.

"I was 40 percent of the way to a royal flush," his opponent said, as Cunningham smiled and stacked his chips. Cunningham also survived the day and has about 92,000 chips.


A player at Gavin Smith's table was visibly happy when a new dealer tapped out an older gentleman who had been dealing early on in Day 3. Apparently the silver-haired gentleman hadn't been dealing quickly enough for the player's tastes.

"He was here an hour and a half and he didn't make one mistake," said Smith. "I'd rather get a few less hands and have no mistakes."

Things didn't get much better for the player with the new dealer. On the first hand, he bet on every street, including a 12,000 bet on the river. Smith, who only had about 30,000 left, thought for a long time before calling with ace-queen for a pair of aces. The other player showed king-queen for king high. Smith survived the day and has 67,000 chips entering Day 4.


Praz Bansi, who won $515,501 in the first $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event at this year's WSOP, may have the most intimidating stare in poker. After betting 10,000 into a pot of about 15,000, Bansi glowered at his opponent for several minutes while he pondered a call. When he finally folded, Bansi seemed to break out of his trance to stack his chips. Bansi finished the day with 280,000.


Tables were consolidating from high to low as players were eliminated, and the table-breaking procedure was a sore subject for one player, who was moved from Yellow #133 to Yellow #131, only to have his table break again a few minutes later as the eliminations were coming fast and furious.
Sitting in the big blind and facing a raise, the player seemed to be delaying his decision until he knew that table #131 was going to break. One of the other players called a clock on the player, saying he was intentionally stalling to avoid the small blind the next hand.

"Unbelievable," the player said. "You break me two tables ago and put me here. Unbelievable."
He eventually folded and was moved to a new table which wouldn't break for several hours.

The dealer, talking to the floor manager after the players had cleared, said, "You couldn't give 126 to that guy?"

Just before the dinner break, a similar situation resulted in a very different reaction. With just over a minute left before the break, Selbst and Varkonyi were playing at the next table to break. The player in first position hadn't decided whether to call, raise or fold, and Selbst asked the dealer if he knew the action was to him.

"I do," he said. "I'm thinking."

"Ah, you're stalling" said Selbst, getting the player to crack a small smile. "Don't worry, there's not going to be another hand," she said, implying that he wouldn't have to pay the big blind, assuming the table would break immediately upon returning from dinner. The player folded about 30 seconds later, and there was not another hand.

Playing for two and a half days before busting out of the biggest poker tournament of the year can't be easy. At least one player left the men's room with a tissue in hand to wipe away his tears.


JJ Liu got flowers at the table and survived Day 3.

JJ Liu got flowers at the table and survived Day 3. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

JJ Liu was the center of attention in the afternoon when a huge vase of flowers was delivered to her at the table.

"Is it your birthday or your anniversary?" asked WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla.

"No, just something to make me happy," said the 45-year-old mother of three, who was dressed in a black jacket and black hat and wore a necklace with a large Gaelic cross.

"Are you pregnant again?" asked a player at her table, giving everyone at the table – including Liu – a good laugh. Liu will return for Day 4 with about 39,000 chips.


David "Devilfish" Ulliott was full of wisdom on Day 3.

A player with a big stack was raking in chips after winning a pot, but said that he hadn't looked down and seen aces all day.

"When you've got that many chips, you don't want aces," said Ulliott, explaining that big stacks tend to get it all in with aces and lose.

Two minutes later, a masseuse walked by offering her services: "Massage? Massage anyone?"

"I wish I could (give you one) baby, but I'm a little busy here," said the Englishman.

Ulliott was eliminated by a bad beat before the dinner break, when his ace-queen was cracked by queen-six when the player paired his six on the river.
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