Posted: Friday July 15, 2005 4:17PM; Updated: Saturday July 16, 2005 8:08PM
Poker: A contact sport
Prize Pool for final nine places
Total pool is $52.8 million for 560 places
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The coffee-housing nearly devolved into roughhousing in the first few hands of Thursday's action. Matusow was in Seat 1 of one of the three remaining tables and Shawn Sheikhan, like Mouth, a Las Vegas-based high-stakes player, was in Seat 3. Matusow began the day as the chip leader while Sheikhan, who is just a little -- Did I say a little? I meant a lot -- confrontational was in next-to-last place, with about 1/16th the chips Matusow had.
On the first hand Matusow, in late position, raised. Sheikhan, the small blind who'd been hoping to steal the blinds and antes, folded. "Nice raise, Mike," the Sheik said sardonically.
"You wanna go broke now or you wanna go broke later?" replied Matusow. "I mean, you're gonna go broke. We all know that."
Two hands later Sheikhan folded pre-flop, then slapped his hand down on the table when he saw the flop (A-8-9). He clapped his hands together in disgust and began grousing about his missed opportunity.
Matusow, who was still playing the hand, said, "I'm in the middle of a hand, why don't you shut the f--- up?"
"You're an idiot," replied Sheikhan, who then narced on Matusow to WSOP official Jack Effel. Showing Solomon-like wisdom, Effel gave both players 10-minute penalties.
Even after they returned, the Mouth and the Sheik kept badgering one another. "I tell you," said Matusow's older brother, Scott, "even I want to beat [Mike] up half the time, but he's my brother. I love him."
Finally, after yet another testy exchange, Scotty Lazar, who was seated at another table, turned around and said, "That entire table needs to be put on decaf."
Big guns go down
Final table favorites Phil Ivey, Tim Phan and Greg Raymer all began the day at the featured table and all were knocked out before dinner. Raymer, who began the day in fifth place with $3.84 million in chips, went all in with an A-9 versus Alsancak's 5s. The flop came k-K-7, the turn a K and the river a 2. Alsancak won with a full house, and Raymer finished 25th.
Phan got knocked out a few minutes later after going all in with a pair of 10s to Black's A-Q. Things looked bright for Phan when the flop came A-10-9, but then Black caught runner-runner queens to hit the aces full of queens full house to Phan's 10s full of queens. Phan finished 24th.
Ivey got KO'd just before the dinner break. He went all in for $2 million with J-J against Kanter's K-K. Kanter landed the wise men (three kings) on the flop and ended Ivey's run.
WSOP rookie Mike Kessler, who finished 17th: "Finally, I got to the point in my life where I could afford it, so I bought my way in. It's like being a movie buff and being invited to participate in the Oscars."
I don't know if anyone who reads this column is a Texas Hold 'Em novice (I only know that everyone who writes this column is), but last night one hand offered a perfect illustration of why the game can be both fascinating and confounding.
Johnny Howard goes all in with Siegfried and Roy (a pair of queens) and Kanter, holding an A-10, calls. So at this moment the best thing that can happen for Howard, you would think, is a third queen.
The flop comes K-J-7.
Now suddenly Kanter is drawing to a gut shot straight and the worst thing that can happen to Howard is for a queen to come out.
The turn is a 10.
The river is a queen. Howard has a set, but Kanter eliminates him with a straight. The card Howard most wanted to see pre-flop was the last card he wanted to see on the river. That's poker.
Two late additions to yesterday's iPod mix: Paul McCartney & Wings: With a Little Luck; Corey Hart: Sunglasses at Night.