Amir Tweets, Day 6

2013 WSOP Main Event, Day 6, Amir’s Tweets (@amirsf, btw)

3M on break, had huge spew to my right – unfortunately he got moved

3.1M on second break, peaked at 4 that level

Lost some pots than got almost a full double at 4M now

Ran good that level, about 6.7M on dinner break; would have felt like a mountain yesterday – just 67 bigs now

Around 7M at last break of the night

Looks like we are done for the night, bagged 7.3M

Day 6: X-MAN REVEALED, (Tran Deified, Alexander Reviled)

(When last we spoke, I mentioned that we’d be  jumping from the end of Day 3 all the way to Day 6 of Main Event 2013 because we’ve only got, well, now it’s just four! days! in real time! until the November 9!!!! So we’ll come back to the “Mom” and “everything” – the fans and hangers-on, the mayhem and hype, the triumph, and for one lucky (and skillful) soul, the triumph of 11/4-5/2013 at the Penn and Teller Theater in Rio. But first, we gotta get down to them nine Niners.)


WSOP, Main Event 2013, Day 6

68 players left

Still no sign of the man known as X.

Phil Mader is still alive, but fading.

So, amazingly, is 2012 November Niner (and Bluffy-McBlufferson-extraordinaire)  Steve Gee, and big-time tournament pro Yevgeniy Timoshenko, and Aussie Jackie Glazier, this year’s “last woman standing” (last year, two women stood all the way until 10th and 11th, incredibly impressive considering the tiny fraction of the field they make up) . The common belief is that a woman at the final table would be a big boon to poker, and that a woman (or a person of color) as champ would be huge.

Defending champ Merson (167th, for $43k, a great follow-up year) is gone, as is, well, just about everyone we saw earlier.

Someone named Sami Ruston is the chip leader, but he’ll be gone by the end of the day, so we’ll skip him. In second stands Canadian Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, a relative unknown to, sometimes called (by those intrepid journalists McEachern and Chad) a businessman, other times a tattoo artist, never called (nor does he call himself) a poker pro, but who’s made deep runs in ’09, ’11, and this year. Also with a big stack, in 4th, is “Canadian Lawyer” Jason Mann. I haven’t said much about Mann because, well, he’s kind of boring – heck, “Canadian lawyer” is just about all Lon and Norman have had to say about him for several episodes. Mann isn’t making any huge mistakes on camera, but is clearly out of his element, unsure of his decisions, yet here he is – with the help of luck, big hands holding up at the right times and okay play – still standing on Day 6. As I always like to say when someone grumbles when I suck out on him, “Luck counts.”

Chad tells us this is the 8th straight year the Big One has had 6k+ entrants, but for the past three years (since Black Friday) the numbers have decreased slightly – many were expecting a huge drop-off. A young bro/guy/duder (and Vegas nightclub VIP escort) named Jay Farber, with pumped up arms covered with tats, crushes pro Noah Schwartz’s dreams as Farber’s AA hold up over Schwartz’s KK, making Farber one of the big stacks. Luck counts, alright – six days grind, one hand played the way it pretty much had to be played, and . . . gone. Some – Schwartz himself among them – have suggested that Schwartz, still with a very solid stack, could have let the hand go, even four bets in; that Farber had to be huge at that point and Schwartz had to know it. And sure, I’ve seen some big laydowns in tough spots, but KK preflop, with millions already in the middle? Could YOU lay it down? Perhaps we’ll take a deeper look at that hand another time.  Well, Schwartz isn’t quite gone after the hand, and he quickly triples back up to 1.7 mil – not much, at this point, but he’s alive. Farber, despite my diss of him as a party-boy-Vegas-musclehead, is playing solid poker (another reason Schwartz, who I believe is friends with Farber off the felt), I believe, could’ve/should’ve folded). In fact, similar to how Annie describes even good players misreading/underestimating her because of her gender, Farber surely gets misjudged because of his looks, as he actually mentions in an ESPN interview. Well, until now, I’m guessing, as you’ll be seeing a whole lot of him on TV a lot next week and his cover will be blown big time.

Players busting are now taking home about $120k, a “sick” return on a week-long $10k investment, but no one seems too happy about heading the cage to cash out. The camera makes sloppy love to each mini-tragedy, one after the other. It’s pretty boring, but focus groups must say otherwise or ESPN wouldn’t  show them all night.

Jackie Glazier joins the TV table, with Timo and revitalized tourney superstar,  JC Tran. Tran has won millions, was a World Poker Tour Player of the year, and has cashed in the Main Event six times in the Boom era, but hasn’t had a big score in several years. The Cali pro (and wife and baby, with another on the way) is the clear ESPN darling.

Down to 60. Still no X.

Halfway through the episode, stoic, yet somehow baby-faced Timoshenko is the new chip leader with 9.5 mil.

And 6,352 are down to 52.

Noah Schwartz finally gives up the ghost, 52nd, $151k

The blinds, by the way, are now at a staggering 30k and 60k, with a 10k ante, for a total of 170k in the pot to start each hand.

Carlos Mortensen (click for some great vintage video), perhaps the most famous pro left and only Main Event winner (2001) wins a big hand, flush over two pair, over Tran, for 1.8 mil. Tran is down to around 3 mil, Carlos up to 3 mil.

Soon, Carlos is shown with KK, as obnoxious Texas bar owner and ESPN poster d-bag of the last few epi James Alexander sits down at the feature table. Sometimes it seems like every other player is a bar or club owner or employee, or the nebulous “businessman,” but we’ll get back to that kind of stuff on the weekend.

On the turn, Mortensen’s opponent (Walthus) hits a set of 7s. Carlos checks the river there’s two mil in the middle – and Walthus bets almost a mil. Mortensen counts out calling chips, and sits and waits, and waits and waits. On TV, of course, they edit it down radically, as players will sometimes think for a, a minute, two, five. Timo is notorious for tanking on just about every decision. The best are subtly, stealthily looking for any hints, tells from their opponents as to whether they make the big call.  Alexander mentions that it’s been twelve minutes (the ESPN emcees point out that it hasn’t been twelve minutes at all). Soon Alexander calls time on Mortensen – an official comes over and starts a clock. Mortensen has 70 seconds to decide. He makes the good fold as time expires. Patience patience patience patience AGRESSSION patience.

Next hand, JC Tran with 88 gets into a hand with Walthus, AA. Tran hits the 8 on the flop. Walthus bets 655, Tran raises to 1.5, Walthaus raises, Tran shoves, Walthaus calls and we’ve got an 8 mil pot, and this, friends, is how you get to the final table of the Main Event. Skill, and a lot of luck, and a the right moments. Sick. Mortensen showed the discipline of an old pro, Walthus the impatience of so many young ones.

Phil Mader busts with A-Q to A-K, 43rd, $185k. And ESPN’s Cinderella 2013 is gone. Jay Farber did the deed, and now sits with a very comfy stack.

And Somar Al-Darwich, a seemingly nice enough rook who rose to first when Mark Kroon lost his mind what now seems like weeks ago, is gone.  He tells the interviewer it was his first time in Vegas!

Someone named Josh Prager sum ups busting deep in the Big One up after his KK loses to AA. “Win this much money, how can I complain?  I made 18x my money and yet I’ll never be here again, so I complain.”

Jackie Glazier busts 31st, for $230k, and somehow, somehow, with four tables left, STILL no Player X. I’m beginning to wonder whether he’s still in it after all.

But finally, FINALLY, at the very end of episode 16, with 27 left, they show the entire leaderboard. German Anton Morgenstern sits on top with nearly 22mil, followed by Loosli (France), thanks to the huge suck-out, with 14mil (quite a jump from 1st to second), with Tran in 4th with nearly 12mil, and Carlos Mortensen in 6th with nearly 11. Timo is hanging in at 18th with 5 mil.  Steve Gee is still grindin’, but with just 3mil. David Benefield (former online super-high stakes pro who went back to college, of all things) sits in last with 1.8, but, wait! Back up a sec! Holding down the 11 spot,  ladies and germ, I give you Player X, Amir Lehavot, with 7 million beautiful chips. We haven’t seen the man, but we’ve seen his name, and his stack.

(next: Meet Amir Lehavot, aka Player X)

The Tweets of Player X, Days 4 and 5

oct 29 2013 X 001So, while X hasn’t appeared on the TV yet, he did make it safely through Days 4 and 5. Coming up in just a couple hours, DAY 6! Here’s what X had to tweet:


1.3M on last break, made I’m pretty sure in hindsight is a terrible river call for 125k oh well

Good last level, bagged 1.78M



Been 45 minutes my table has played 10 hands

2.4M on first break TT>AQ vs 300k stack

2.6M on break

Just shy of 3M on dinner break, awful table but it’s next to break

Oh sucked out that level My A4 vs AK all in pre BvB vs 600k stack, got a chop

2.7M on last break

Ended the day with 2.65M

OT: R.I.P. Lou Reed

This is one of those posts where the “…and everything” at the end of the blog’s name comes to bear. Just wanted to raise a glass. Maybe more comments later.

A Hero Departs

So, we’re about a week away from the November Nine!!!  Starting tomorrow, we’ll jump way ahead to Days Six and then – as they get down to the magic number – Day Seven of the Main Event – we’ll catch up on some great Days Four and Five hands later. Tomorrow I’ll also introduce you to the extremely camera-elusive Player 1 and, I’ll give this much away, his roller-coaster ride while attempting to make the final table is really something to follow. Sadly (for us, and happily for X, who likes being out of the spotlight), web updates are what we have to follow it with, as ESPN blew coverage of nearly all of his fantastic, improbable run.

648 will cash – for their $10,000 investment, the first 75 or so will walk away with $19,106. Payouts increase gradually, then steeply, then very, very steeply, from there. It’s the end of Day Three and we’re under 900 runners left of the 6,000+ who started.

Ivey 2nd at his table behind Steinberg (400k to Steinberg’s 500k, both very healthy stacks, with around 1,000 left and no one yet at a million chips), with James Hudson – who we watched hit quads earlier – with 360, The blinds are at something like 2000 & 4000. Ivey is under the gun (first to act, the worst position to be in at a poker table)  with 3-3. for many pros and amateurs alike, a foldable hand from his position with his chip stack – but we’re not Phil Ivey, who opens for 7,500. Facebook engineer Ola Okelola calls with AQ-off. In lat position, Steinberg “wakes up” with 10-10 and just calls (this too is somewhat unorthodox, as many would raise and try to win the pot right there), and a fourth player, recent Bracelet winner Tony Gregg, calls. Going to the flop, the pot is 36k.

ivey steinberg

Ivey and Steinberg, thinking it over.

The flop comes 3-10-A, with two spades giving Steinberg top set and Ivey bottom set. Fireworks must ensue, and it looks bad for Ivey, though few would have predicted just how bad. Ivey, first to act, bets 16k. Ola, with his aces, raises to 41k. Gregg, with no part of the flop, folds. Steinberg slow plays his three tens, just calling the 41k, and, back on Ivey to call or raise, Ivey ponders what to do for a while. There’s now 134k in the pot. Ivey thinks for a while, then, first muffled, then repeated, makes a huge overbet, all in! Ola quickly folds and Steinberg just as quickly, calls (or at least, that’s how they show it on TV), and two quick cards later, just like that, the great champion, stunned, unclips his mike and wanders out through the cheesy arbor of the ESPN feature-table set. Here it is:

Just like that. There’s been a lot of discussion online of this hand and Ivey’s play. Some say that’s what happens when you play 33 under the gun, but that’s very tight thinking. Many suggest taking more care than Ivey did in the situation. He had a big stack, and his shove, of around a hundred big blinds into, sure, what had become, a very big pot (134k at that point), some would argue is a good play, scaring off any flush draw. Others, though, claim it was reckless, too much to risk, and that Ivey failed to consider how strong the trappy Steinberg must have been when he made that post-flop reraise.

Would Ivey have ended up losing it all on the turn or the river? Perhaps. But still, great players make great folds, and Ivey is known as a man who doesn’t get in (or if he does, is nearly psychic about getting out of) these situations, about whom I once heard Mike Matusow (a talented but volatile pro) say, “How can the best player in the world also be the luckiest player in the world? It’s just not right.” But on this Day Three, from what we saw on TV anyway, Ivey was just not quite right.

Beyond Ivey either just being out of sorts or not fully in the game, or, perhaps even worse, tilted by the solid play of a farmer named Mader, (which he had, and strangely so, seemed earlier) his demise illustrates one of the main goals of poker, and one of the reasons I wish I never started playing.

You’re sitting at a table, with nine strangers, usually none of whom you know more about than you can surmise in the hours you sit together. Some of them you like and some of them you don’t (I usually don’t like writing or reading second-person narrative, but in this case I really do want YOU to put YOURself there, gentle reader.). And it really shouldn’t matter if you like the people at your table or not. If you’re playing right, you don’t look to beat the jerk who talks shit about his girlfriend at the table, throws cards at the dealer, and just bluffed you out of a hand like he does every goddamn hand. Not if you’re playing right.

If you’re playing right, you look to beat the guy who’s weakest, whether he’s (and, again, it’s nearly always a “guy,” a “he”) just a bad player or tilted from a bad beat or desperate because he doesn’t have the mortgage payment this month and really needs to cash in this tourney. You’re looking to take actual money away from that guy, from the weakest player you can find at your table. On Day Three of the 2013 WSOP Main Event, Phil Ivey, of all the unlikely people, was, at least arguably, that guy. Taking money from that guy at the table is, at times, is problematic for me. It would have been more than problematic for Sheila Berger.

We’re down to under 800.

Guest Post from Tommy “Two Flops” Anderson

Tommy Two Flops, dear friend, founding member of Montague Mob*, and guy who talked me into starting this thing once we saw how deep X went this year, will be chipping in from time to time. Here’s his debut!

In response to “Phil Mader, Poker Player and Erstwhile Farmer”

The key to the move Mader made here (on the video) is his bet sizing.  He was basically min-raising (raising the same amount as the previous raise. X bets 4, Y raises to 8, X reraises to 12) That is how limit poker works but in no-limit you can raise up to your whole stack (going ALL IN!).

When I learned about no-limit it was common to bet between three and four times the previous bet as that was thought to put more pressure on by increasing the amount of money your opponent then had to put in to stay in the hand. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, in the last five years, that has changed greatly.  The poker players usually min bet or slighty more than min bet. This increases their range of options and I think provides some game and math theory advantages. Raisng three or more times the minimum bet exposes you as an amateur. One of the first things I remember Player X telling Jamie was that when the two of them played in tournaments together (on Poker Stars) X saw that Jamie put three times the bet into the pot preflop, which it made it more likely X would play the hand against Jaime because there was more money in a pot that X felt confident he could win by outplaying an amateur.

In the biggest tournament I’ve ever played, I was doing great until I ran into a player who exploited me in this exact way.  It took me three confrontations to realize what was happening, and by then I had lost half my stack.



In response to “Schadenfreude”

There wasn’t enough time for me to develop any negative feelings about the guy – to me, Carter Gill just looked liked a million other really smart poker players trying to keep up a confident facade. I was impressed with his lucky read of his opponent (David Paredes, who’s a very well respected player, btw). Judging by Gill’s devastated reaction I’m gonna guess he is in massive debt and had dreams of clearing his ledger with a deep run in the Main Event.


*Montague Mob is fashioned after the Hendon Mob, except that we haven’t won anything and

haven’t made an awesome poker database or anything like that at all.


Schadenfreude, like its bizarro-world cousin hubris, is something we’re taught to resist – I think it might have something to do with this other concept, karma – but DAMN can it be fun!

Watching people you dislike lose and be sad is especially easy to do in poker, where even the best lose so much of the time, and no matter how many times they bust out of a tourney, it still stings, visibly, every time. Of course, the opposite is also true: looking for justice on the tournament felt is utter folly, as bad play (and bad people) wins, and wins a lot.

One of the most frustrating things for Hellmuth haters is (in recent years ) how gracious he has become after busting out of tourneys – the 2013 Main Event was no exception, and I’ll try to find video of Hellmuth’s post-bust interview. ESPN hasn’t put it up on Youtube, because it’s just not very good Hellmuth TV. But I digress.

What disturbs me is just how quickly I can decide I hate a poker player on TV. Okay, it doesn’t disturb me all that much, but let’s just say it’s not my favorite quality in myself. ESPN (who must’ve been insanely happy they caught this on tape) switched from the feature table to the hand below – it’s the first and last time we meet college drop-out and poker pro Carter Gill. I mention the drop-out part because one of the best arguments against poker is how many kids drop out of college thinking they’re going to live the poker dream they saw on TV, but more about that another time.

Let’s just say it took about fifteen seconds before I was rooting hard against the guy. Let’s just watch before I spoil the ending:

Luckily, at about the same point I decided that Carter was an arrogant little prick, it became clear that ESPN was showing us this one to satisfy exactly the vicious urge that lurks within.

Readers, do you feel the same way about young Carter, here? Why? (or Why not?)

Phil Mader, poker player and erstwhile farmer (WSOP Day 3, part 3 of 3)

Down near 1,000 left, around 160k average stack.

Player X has yet to appear, but then again, none of the eventual final nine has appeared on camera either.

As coverage continues, controversial poker icon and loose-aggressvive, intimidating motherfucker, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, takes his seat at the table with Ivey, Mader, and Co. Also at the table now is Max Steinberg, a moppety goofball, but a rising star over the past couple of years. They all have 300k-plus stacks. So does James Hudson, who hit those quads.

Speaking of which, here’s what it’s like, soon after hitting quads while sitting at the TV table in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, to play a hand wedged between Phil Ivey . . .

photo (33)

photo (30)

. . .  and Michael Mizrachi.

It’s also an example of how you can envy someone and not envy him at the same time.

Hudson had flopped top pair top kicker on a reasonable board, but got the hell out of the way when Ivey bet the flop, and Mizrachi was waiting to act after him. Turns out Hudson was right, he was way behind Ivey’s set of tens, but it was an awfully tight fold. Sometimes the intimidation factor can work against an Ivey – facing less formidables opponents, Hudson could very reasonably have likely stuck around and paid the set off.

Soon after that, Mader takes down a nice 180k pot and earns tons more respect with an extremely gutsy four-bet into Grinder on the flop when his A-8  hits the 10-10-8 flop, while Grinder’s K-J, off, missed. Several noteworthy bits here:

First, Phil Mader is starting to seem like a poker pro whose bankroll happens to come from farming.

Second, I’m a long, long way from ever being able to make that play into Grinder, no matter what my read. Dang.

Third, Mader showed one of the few advantages that unknowns can have over famous pros: Mader clearly knew who he was up against and what Grinder was capapble of (in terms of three-betting with air), while Mizrachi clearly didn’t.

One other element to note on the video below is when Steinberg walks over to his friends on the rail during the hand, he is openly dismissive of Mizrachi, although I’m guessing he didn’t realize he was that well mic-ed – I mean, it’s gonna be on TV later, there’s no point in making enemies with someone you see several times a year all over the world.

Young players have such little respect for Mizrachi and Hellmuth that it’s led me to almost root for these two guys I really don’t like at all. Mizrachi is 8th on the all-time cash list for tournament poker – 8th out of, like, zillions. Among his wins is last year’s WSOP $50k “Players Championship,” considered the pro’s pros’ tourney. Hellmuth is the all-time WSOP Bracelet winner and WSOP-cashes leader. Like ’em or not, these titans have thrived before, during, and after the boom. And yet, while young players respect Ivey, Doyle, even the detestable Daniel Negreanu for their skills, these two get nothing but grief – one, ostensibly for being too tight, the other for being too loose.

But enough yappin’, let’s watch the hand.

This is a stupid game

A few months ago, at a a tournament at Foxwoods, I was seated next to a guy who was maybe seventy-five. He was a bit round and a bit gruff and a bit grim. His clothes were the clothes men who spent a lot of time sitting around a table playing cards all the time used to wear. That is, clothes you wear if you don’t give a shit what clothes you wear. He looked like a gambler before gambling was fabulous. He wore a nice old, gold Rolex with a gold strap, though, and had a matching wedding ring long-wedged onto his stubby finger. He had maybe a hint of a foreign accent, one I couldn’t quite place from many years steeped with New York, or possibly Providence. He played solid poker and had very little to say.


Dan Harrington

It was about 8pm. We had succeeded in making it past the dinner break of an 11am tournament. Sadly, in most one-day, or even some two day tournaments, making it past the dinner break is nothing but a point of pride; the cash doesn’t come for another few hours (if, say 160 start the event, maybe 18 cash, which might happen at 11pm or so).  We were at one of those points Dan Harrington, author of perhaps the greatest poker books ever, and a legendary player, calls inflection points (want to see some SERIOUS poker-math geekiness? Click that there link). In these tourneys, when blinds rise faster than most stacks can grow, these points are when a huge number players bust. In essence, they’re points in tourneys when shit hits fans, when rubber needs to meet road, when . . . (you get the idea, it’s chaos).

As the blinds (the forced bets two people put in each hand) have risen all day, most stacks have grown just a little, stayed the same size or dwindled, and people are having to go all in right off the bat, sometimes with much less than good hands. That is, for the majority of players, even big stacks who’ve played well and/or gotten lucky, for about nine hours, a day’s grind suddenly becomes a crap shoot. Right about then is when you start to see players with big stacks lose huge pots with hands like A-Q to hands like A-6 when the 6 or the straight hits. It’s when you see how hugely luck trumps skill. It’s when shit gets stupid.

It was around this point that my neighbor started shaking his head after one bust-out after another and resignedly murmuring, “This is a stupid game.” It became almost his chant, his mantra. We watched as a player at the other end of the table who’d played good, tight aggressive poker and worked up to a big stack, saw himself get in ahead and then lose half of it in just two hands against two much shorter stacks. The former huge stack had became an average stack, and soon it was his turn, got it in good with AK, only to lose to a loose call from a bigger stack with 78-suited, who caught a 7 on the turn.

In a few minutes, it was my turn to stand up and walk away. My neighbor remained, his stack still solid. As I left, I wished him luck. He gave me a gruff, “Take care,” shook his head, and said, “Stupid game.”