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World Series of Poker, Day 3

Adam Friedman got quite an education Tuesday

Posted: Tuesday July 12, 2005 4:57PM; Updated: Tuesday July 12, 2005 5:15PM
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Sam Farha
Adam Friedman's whirlwind Tuesday was highlighted by meeting Sam Farha (above).

LAS VEGAS -- On Tuesday, 23-year-old Adam Friedman of Gahanna, Ohio, had a day he'll never forget at the World Series of Poker. Right now he'd like to forget it. But some day he'll look back on it -- if not fondly, then at least with appreciation -- for all he experienced and learned.

Friedman, a recent graduate of Indiana University's business school, began Day 3 on Table 124, tucked away in the far corner of the Brasilia Room.

Red-headed, bespectacled and wearing a yellow "Gahanna Tennis" T-shirt, Friedman's bearing and behavior screamed "College Boy." Something about him announced he was a good player, but that he lacked a certain amount of maturity, even humility, in the presence of the older, more hardened players. Friedman, whether this be a fair assessment or not, looked like the type of kid whom life had never really spanked before.

That would change.

Day 3 of the main event began with 568 players, with eight yet to be eliminated before all remaining players finished in the money. Remember Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451, so named because that is the temperature at which paper burns? Well, you could have called the first 100 minutes of yesterday's action Fahrenheit 561, because that is the number of players at the WSOP above which your $10,000 buy in burns. That is, the 561st player to be eliminated gets nothing. The 560th player knocked out earns the minimum cash prize of $12,500.

Because no one wants to advance that far in the tourney and leave empty-handed, there is the temptation for players at a table to use delay tactics. Let some other sucker at another table finish out of the money. To prevent such action, the WSOP (as do other poker tourneys) employs hand-to-hand play. That is, when defending champion Greg Raymer started today's action at 12:39 p.m. by announcing over the mic, "Shuffle up and deal", all of the tables played one hand. Whenever one table was done, its dealer stood up. Not until all 64 or so tables finished that hand (and all 64 dealers stood) would the next hand commence.

Think of it this way. You're playing musical chairs.There's only one seat left and two people. Of course the temptation is to walk more slowly when you're on the side that the chair faces. With hand-to-hand play does is dictate that you walk at the same pace no matter what side of the chair you are on. (and no, ESPN will not be buying the rights to the World Series of Musical Chairs next year after unlikely winner Chris Hineyplanter incites a musical chairs boom).

Anyway, hand-to-hand combat is a fair way to settle things, but the process is arduously slow. Grueling. From 12:39 p.m. until 2:19 p.m., only 13 hands were played at all of the tables. It took that long to knock out eight players.

Back on Table 124, Friedman found himself in impressive company. Clonie Gowen, the pulchritudinous pro who is featured on Full Tilt Poker's Web site, was at Seat 6. Tim Phan, who entered Day 3 with the third-largest chip stack ($445,000), was seated at 8. Friedman was at 3. Just a few feet away at the rail sat his parents.

The prudent move during hand-to-hand play, especially if you are anywhere near the bottom third of the field in chips, is to muck pre-flop. Let the Phans bully the table into folding; you just want to survive into the money.

But Friedman is a self-assured young man. On the eighth hand, he bet $6,100 pre-flop. The player at Seat 6 went with him. Phan, who'd bullied the table into folding the entire first hour, had already folded, perhaps giving Friedman the confidence to know he wouldn't be raised to the point of going all in.