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World Series of Poker: Day 1 (cont)

Posted: Friday July 8, 2005 4:18PM; Updated: Saturday July 9, 2005 1:49PM
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• It was the headline waiting to write itself, if only Elizabeth had been eliminated: "Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie." Instead Elizabeth, playing incredibly tight on Table 37, survives the first day. Barely. The starlet was down to fewer than $4,000 in chips when she went all in against the table's most aggressive player, John Gale. "I'm new, you're amazing," Elizabeth pleaded, begging Gale to fold. "Please!" Gale melted, and Elizabeth survived. You can't blame him. She does pretty up a table rather nicely.

• Another first-day babe of note was Clonie Gowen, who also represents Full Tilt (and is pictured on the poster). Gowen, a former Miss Teen Oklahoma (and that's a state where those titles matter), survived the first day. Fellow Full Tilter Eric Seidel, who has six WSOP bracelets, did not.


• A 14-hour poker session lends itself to many diversions. Sure, there's the usual eating and drinking and listening to your iPod that many players engage in. Some go for the $45 back massages. One player watched The Color of Money on his portable DVD player. Yet another wore a Tickle-Me-Elmo costume head along with a pair of boxers that read "Show Em Your Nuts."

• The moods at some tables can be downright chippy (and I don't mean the flat, round objects), but Table 37, Elizabeth's table, was exactly the opposite. During one hand Gale, the aggressive Brit, goes all in with $11,500 after the flop comes J-7-2. Another player at the table was also all in with a smaller chip amount. The bet comes to Travis Brennan, a 21-year-old amiable New Yorker. Brennan says, "I'm gonna fold," as he shows his cards: Ace-Jack. That is, Brennan folds while holding the nuts. The turn and river change nothing. Gale, holding an inferior hand (10-7), takes the pot. "You're a terrible player," Gale tells Brennan, matter-of-factly. "I'm a terrible player?" Brennan replies, but with a smile. "I thought you had pocket jacks. No use risking it. There's seven more days in this tourney." "What makes you think," asks Gale with a smile, "that YOU have seven days left in this tournament?"

CABBIE TALE DU JOUR: Peter McGarry is 2-0 against muggers in his own cab. The first one tried to choke him with his seatbelt but a well-placed elbow to the nose ended that assault. The second time, McGarry says, "This kid pulled a knife on me. A tiny, 2-inch blade. So I pointed at it and said, 'What do you think that's gonna do?' He looked down at his knife, and that's when I punched him in the face."

DIVE DINER WORTH HITTING: Mamacita's on Fremont down by the old Vegas strip. Killer Mexican meals for around six bucks while a Carlos Santana DVD plays on a big-screen TV in the background.

CADDYSHACK MOMENT: I'm taking a break from the 106-degree heat in the pool at the Golden Nugget yesterday afternoon when the lifeguard glances over at five kids in a corner. Suddenly she blows the whistle about five times. "Everybody outta the pool!" she commands and shortly thereafter announces the pool is shut down for the remainder of the day. "We gotta shock it." I inquired whether the offending substance was of the Golden variety or the Nugget variety. She stares at me for what seems like forever. I hold the stare. Finally, she says, "I could get in trouble." Fair enough.


• September, 2003: Sports Illustrated puts Mia Hamm on the cover. Within a week the WUSA folds and Team USA fails even to reach the final of the Women's World Cup.

July, 2005: SI puts Jennie Finch on the cover. That same day the International Olympic Committee announces that softball has been eliminated from the 2012 Summer Olympics.

I know what a lot of you are (wishfully) thinking, so let me end the speculation now: There are no imminent plans to put Sue Bird on the cover of SI.

• Tragedy struck for the second time in three years at Race Across America (RAAM). A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about RAAM, the 3,052-mile, non-stop cross-country bicycle race from San Diego to Atlantic City. Outside magazine once described it as "the world's toughest race".

On June 23, Dr. Robert Breedlove, 53, an orthopedic surgeon from Des Moines, Iowa, was struck and killed by an oncoming pickup truck about 18 miles east of Trinidad, Colo. Breedlove, one of 26 solo riders who began the trek on June 19 in San Diego, was weaving across the road and across the center lane before he was struck in broad daylight. It is unclear whether Breedlove had fallen asleep or simply fallen victim to exhaustion. The driver, who was only 15 years old (and thus driving illegally), attempted to avoid Breedlove.

Two years ago Brett Malin, 31, died after being hit by an 18-wheeler late at night on a remote stretch of two-lane highway in New Mexico. Malin, part of a four-person relay team, had finished his segment and made a U-turn back toward his support vehicle just below the crest of a hill. The semi truck had no chance to avoid him.

Part of the attraction of RAAM to Type-A athletes may also be its greatest danger. That is, its simplicity. There are no mandatory rest periods, no stages. A rider can sleep as much or, more likely, as little, as he or she wants. Most riders sleep less than three hours per each 24. Breedlove, a veteran of RAAM who finished second in 1994, and who held the RAAM record for the fastest finish for a cyclist 50 years of age or older, appears to have succumbed to some sort of exhaustion, which caused him to swerve into the oncoming vehicle.

Cyclist John Howard, who competed in three Olympics and won the 1981 Hawaii Ironman, rode in the inaugural RAAM in 1982. "That's all I wanted," Howard told the The San Diego Union-Tribune last week, explaining why he never entered again. Howard also admitted that he had fallen asleep while in the saddle during RAAM, and was only woken up when his support vehicle blared its horn at him.

Is RAAM too dangerous? "OK, maybe they should try putting ropes up on Mount Everest to try to keep people from falling off the mountain," said Mike Trevino, last year's second-place finisher, with more than a trace of sarcasm. "You go to Mount Everest, you know what you're dealing with."

Of the 26 solo riders who began in San Diego, 12 finished by the cut-off time of 11 days. Defending champion Jure Robic, 39, of Slovenia, won in nine days, 8 hours and 48 minutes. His average speed was 13.58 mph.

• If you think Admiral James Stockdale, who died earlier this week, is nothing more to history than a footnote to the 1992 presidential election, read John Hubbell's 1976 book, P.O.W., an unbelievably detailed account of American prisoners of war in Vietnam.