Friday, December 12, 2014

WSOP 14 Final Table - Back in the Day

I got a Stephenson t-shirt from the WSOP Main Event, would have had him sign it if he won. Skipped the Nordic antler hat. It was very interesting covering the World Series of Poker main event. I was able to observe a lot.. it felt like the read deal. The competitors were top class and they gave it their all. I remembered meeting Martin Jacobson back in the day and that is why I favored him in my 2014 November Nine preview.

The evening before the ME there was the HOF induction of Jack McClelland (a legendary tournament director) and "Kid Poker" himself Daniel Negreanu.

Entering the HOF room, a formidable pair. Stu Unger and Doyle Brunson. Recycled of course from use in the Rio's Amazon room in May and June.  I chatted with an older gent who used to play gin and poker with Stuey in Brooklyn.

Ships in the night. Politano passes Negreanu after a staged meeting of the presumed poker minds.

Jack McLelland gave a heartfelt speech about the poker life. Brunson (apparently doing well post-surgery) was there to cheer on his friend. Did not get out of his seat, however.

Negreanu gives Lederer the bird during his induction speech and then spins a Spidey web. Good thespian.

Hellmuth and his "wannabe me" Politano. Smile for the cameras. Hello again Las Vegas, my old friend!  I'm here to play #myBESTpoker

This is the requested close-up of alligator, snake, and frogs legs. No Phil bomb in sight. Not sure what Mr. Vegan DNegs thought of the entrees. Alligator, sittin' in the noonday sun...

The HOF event was held at Binion's Horseshoe Casino in honor of inductee Jack McClelland and featured this food, indicative of '70s high rollers who came largely from Texas and Cajun Country. Think American Hustle meets California Split; poker and backgammon. Big belts and cowboy hats. Oakland Raiders. Dallas Cowboys (cheerleaders).  Know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em. This was back before Cirque, when  Evel Knieval was the acrobatic fallboy.

This is a photo I took that summed up Newhouse's emotions after busting 9th, two years in a row. "I'm an idiot." The knowledgable Kara Scott consoles.

I think the decider in Tonking's call was that aces or kings was not likely, given Newhouse's turn bet. Overpairs would check down the river presumably, once the board double paired. And Newhouse would not have raised the turn with A-J and a single jack on the board (which would also be a pretty thin call preflop). With the Jack pairing, pocket fours was no longer possible. I guess the odds were pretty high that Newhouse was bluffing on a 2-4-J-4-J board.

Plus, Tonking had a really good read.

This was Scooby, who we last saw marking his spot in front of a uniformed K-9. Dejected that his boy Politano lost. 

This is Politano, no false tears or pretense. He is actually very happy he laddered up. He has a Big Heart. You can follow him on Facebook. 

This is my man Pappas, he is looking for a place to rent in some New England town I've never heard of.  Foosball master! And oh yeah, this is Stephenson slinking past him, knowing that he is almost certain to get to day two. Visions of three-way chops dancing in his head. 

This the look of a serious grinder, getting what he earned. Martin Jacobson triumphant. I posted a funny Jacobson story from a 2014 WSOP Side Event here

This is the all-time favorite poker action shot I have taken. From a distance, with a $150 camera. But what a $150 well spent. This is the exact moment Jacobson begins to celebrate with friends, in an avalanche of joy. 

This was the one pic I thought captured Stephenson's true emotion, through his sunglasses, as he came to terms with his "near glory" accomplishment––second place. I have Swedish and Norwegian ancestors, I know how deep the rivalry is. 

Jacobson unabashedly proud. 2013 winner Ryan "Beast" Reiss looks on (he has a vintage Topps card that looks better than his 2014 WSOP results.) 


Stephensen and an Old World supporter, coming to terms defeat. "A hundred Swedes ran through the weeds, pursued by one Norwegian." Not to be.

After his banal interview with the "Politano fanboy" press, I asked Negreanu what his favorite flavor of ice-cream was. Mr. Vegan gave me the inside tip that he doesn't eat ice-cream. Favorite Tofutti? No comment. 

Thanks for taking the time and don't forget to check my latest joint, AVDG. Peace.

Poker enthusiast Damon Shulenberger covered the WSOP series in 2014. He has recently secured an agent for the mystery-thriller Arisugawa Park and plans to release “A Very Dark Game - Inside Poker’s Million Dollar Tournament” in December. The latter book provides a ringside look at the 2014 One Drop tournament and includes stories on participants such as Dan Colman, Guy Laliberte, Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Ivey, Dan “Jungleman” Cates, and the Macau Boys. 

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