From a Distance

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008, 12:07 am

Like many of you I’m watching the final table of the Main Event and I’ll keep a running post of my thoughts and, yes, feelings. I think it’s important to talk about our feelings. My feelings, anyway.

I didn’t see the final table preview show until tonight, and it was very well done. Don’t think they needed to show the stuff about past champions, but the show was very good.

Watching the opening credits, the fans milling outside the Starbucks before walking into the Penn&Teller theater…man, I wish I’d been there. Just desn’t feel right that I wasn’t there at the end. Even if I really didn’t have anything to do. Looks like it was a hell of a scene and not being there hurts more than I thought it would.

Of course I know who won and what happened along the way, but still interesting to watch the hands play out. The hand Dennis Phillips lost to Ivan Demidov, that was a body shot. Phillips’ eyes actually looked glassy, as if he didn’t know where he was or what he was doing. If it’d been a boxing match the ref would’ve called for a standing eight-count.

This show should provide considerable evidence that watching poker on TV doesn’t quite tell the full story of a tournament. Kelly Kim didn’t double up until most of his stack was gone, and ESPN didn’t comment on the fact that he turtled until his stack had nearly evaporated.

Man, when Dennis Phillips pushed his chips in with Queens, he had to be feeling sick. It’s a strong hand, but it’s also one of the hands that most often gets players sent to the rail. When I was trying to listen to Bluff’s streaming (but stuttering) audio coverage it sounded like they said Chino Rheem flopped a Jack and Phillips was in trouble. That wasn’t the case, and when I read that Phillips had indeed doubled up I was surprised. And then we see how the crowd went wild when Phillips won the hand and, wow, that was somethin’.

What a fold by Ylon Schwartz. Don’t know if it was an act of genius or if he just couldn’t bear to call that much without the nuts, but laying down a King-high flush to an Ace-high flush is remarkable. I guess Schwartz figured there was no way Demidov would raise him with just the Queen of hearts (or worse).

Scott Montgomery, 4% to win after the flop, 9% after the turn…and he knocks out Craig Marquis with the king on the river. That’s brutal. That’s savage. And the way Marquis (and Montgomery, and the other players) handled it did credit to them all. I would’ve puked. I almost did just watching it.

When they show the wide crowd scenes there’s this bizarre bluing that comes over the screen and makes everyone’s faces look like something out of a nightmare. So at least I know what tonight’s nightmare will feature.

Odd that no one mentioned that in all the times Phil Hellmuth called Cristian Dragomir a “Northern European idiot” no one said that Romania, where Dragomir hails from, it not in “northern” Europe. Indeed Wikipedia describes it as “South-East” Europe. Knowing your geography is SO important.

I was trying to think of an appropriate question to ask Chino Rheem after his knockout, one that would elicit a more engaging (and less profane) answer than the one Rheem apparently gave when he was asked that old chestnut, “How do you feel?” There are ways to spin your question so that someone who’s utterly devastated can salvage some pride, but asking “How do you feel” ain’t it.

Why bring the money in with six players left? Why not wait till heads-up, or just have it there from the start. And why have the Hall of Fame speeches and the Player of the Year ceremony during the course of play? None of that makes any sense whatsoever.

I don’t know how Dennis Phillips played before the final table, or if he was just zigging when he should’ve been zagging, but he put a lot of chips in the middle after missing the flop. And laying down those hands to reraises gotta make you sick to your stomach.

As does shipping in 25.5 million chips with A-9 and getting called. As Scott Montgomery did. Oof.

Norman Chad just made a Red Dawn joke. Gotta put that in my Netflix queue, see how well it’s aged over the years. Guessing, not well.

Scary how the players keep accurately predicting the future. As Scott Montomgery did when he learned that Dennis Phillips folded a six and he said, “That’s just gonna make it worse when the six comes on the river”. That was filthy, that…that makes you doubt the existence of a just and loving God. One-outered on the river with six to go in the Main Event.

The “Ooba Ooba Ooba” song the Danes were singing was fun. The first time. The second time, not so much. By the third time I would’ve been spraying gunfire into the crowd.

Ylon Schwartz’s bluff on the river probably works if Eastgate doesn’t river a full house. Dennis Phillips all-in shove probably works if Eastgate doesn’t flop a set. Sometimes poker is easier when you make a hand or two.

And here comes the final hand, it’s too bad they didn’t show more of the heads-up battle, especially as it went on for…was it eighty hands? I’m trying to think who Eastgate looks like, can’t quite place it.

An Otis sighting during the closing montage. I dunno, after twenty hours of coverage of the Main Event and a four-month delay before crowning a champion, they seemed to be in a rush to get out of there once the bracelet was awarded. No interview, just Jeffrey Pollack putting the bracelet on Eastgate’s wrist and cue the credits. Still, an exciting show…though not as exciting as the Penguins remarkable 7-6 come-from-behind OT payback win against the Red Wings. Which I missed while watching the Final Table. Sigh.

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One Response to “From a Distance”

  1. set_no_good Says:

    I put myself on blackout from all the sites I usually read to get poker updates the past couple days, including you I might add, so I could watch the conclusion of the main event this evening. All was going according to plan until I received a text from my buddy giving me all the details of the final hand (I was stuck at work and planned on watching the 2nd broadcast on espn2). Still I must add it was exciting to not know much of the final table and what happened within it. Think all in all it was a good idea for the delay and I hope espn and wsop learn from it and give us a more entertaining expirence next year. Keep up the excellent work Gene. You are by far my favorite poker blogger.

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