Dispatches from the Creation Wars

WSOP Update

Warning: This post contains spoilers. Do not click on it if that will bother you.

Well, the main event is down to the final 135 players, predictably containing few big names. Daniel Negreanu managed to finish in the top 300 or so after some wild swings. On day 3, he was one of the early chip leaders. Yesterday, he was down to 20K in chips twice and battled back both times. At one point he was all in twice in a row and chopped both pots, which tells you he was really playing on the edge to survivie as long as he did. And defending champion Joseph Hachem outlasted over 97% of the field and finished around 235th or so, an amazing two-year accomplishment against the two largest fields in poker history.

Here are some of the notable names left. Prahlad Friedman, a legendary internet player (“Spirit Rock” on Ultimate Bet originally, though not anymore) is in 6th place with just over 1.5 million in chips. Jeffrey LIsandro is in 15th with 1.2 million. Eric Lynch, another internet legend (“Rizen”) has just under 1.1 million. Annie Duke is still in it with just over 900K, as is Cuong Do. Humberto Brenes has a little over 800K. Allen Cunningham, a former main event champion, has around 500K. And Casey Kastle is holding on for dear life with 117K. Those counts come from CardPlayer, so they may be wildly inaccurate.

At this point, ESPN is probably sacrificing chickens to the poker gods and praying that Annie Duke makes the final table. That would be good TV. She’s the highest finishing woman in the history of the main event, finishing 9th one year while 8 1/2 months pregnant. They would love to have that story to build their broadcasts around. Failing that, Humberto Brenes would be a good choice as well. The gregarious, serenading pro from Costa Rica is charismatic and fun to watch play. Allen Cunningham is a big name, but he has all the charisma of a slab of meat.

When play resumes today, the blinds will be at 6000 and 12000, with an ante of 2000, so there will be at least 36K in the pot before the flop. That means opening raises will generally be over 100K, so playing a pot at this point could put a big hurt in your chips, or jump you way up the leaderboard. They’ve scheduled 5 full levels for today (10 hours of play) and should play down to below 50 players. Oh, one more notable thing: Busting out in 142nd place was someone named Whitney Brayton. I’m dying to know who that is, since we are related to every Brayton in the country, all descended from the same couple.

Update: One more amusing note. One of the bizarre entries into the tournament was Rick Solomon, ex-husband of Shannen Doherty and also the guy having sex with Paris Hilton in that video that leaked out. He was among the chip leaders for a while yesterday, then went on a bad run and was finally knocked out by an opponent holding pocket queens – ironically, the hand that many players now refer to as the Hilton Sisters.


  1. #1 FishyFred
    August 6, 2006

    I know he’s not mentioned in this post because he was knocked out on Day 1, but… well, is it just me or has Phil Hellmuth not been backing up his reputation lately? What was the last bracelet he won? Heck, what was his most recent final table?

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    August 6, 2006

    Actually, Hellmuth won his 10th bracelet this year and made at least one other final table, and I think two. He is currently #2 in the race for WSOP overall player of the year (behind Jeff Madsen, a 21 year old kid who has been on a ridiculous run, winning two bracelets and making another final table). For all of Hellmuth’s faults, he really is a very good tournament no limit hold em player (though he made one final table in Omaha as well).

  3. #3 John Lynch
    August 6, 2006

    Yeah, I can’t imagine ESPN are too happy. It seems like the field has gotten too big for them to be able to count on big names appearing at the final table. Leads, of course, to the question whether the WSOP has just gotten too big for its own good.

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