Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Monday WSOP Update

Warning: this post contains spoilers

Day 5 saw some big names come and go. Annie Duke busted out in 88th place. She lost a huge hand with pocket kings and that crippled her. She managed to stick around another couple hours after that, but couldn’t catch a hand. Jeffrey Lisandro is still in the top 10 with over 3 million in chips. Prahlad Friedman is right in the middle of the pack with about 1.6 million. Allen Cunningham is hanging in there at 1.3 million. And Humberto Brenes is squeaking along with 600K. All the rest are either online qualifiers or European players. The chip leader, Jamie Gold, is a TV producer who used to be James Gandolfini’s agent.

The event is almost two full days ahead of schedule, yet they’re still making everyone play 13 hour days. It makes no sense at all. Tomorrow should be a shorter day, however, as they’ll only play from 45 players down to 27. Why is it so far ahead of schedule? According to several people at the scene, it’s because of the lousy play. With two hour levels and around $10 million in chips on every table, this is the perfect time to play tight aggressive poker and accumulate chips with timely moves and solid play, but most of the players are throwing chips around like they’ve got a garden full of them. That basically turns the tournament into a big lottery again. You might as well flip the cards face up and have a showdown for all the money.

The last woman in the field, Sabyl Cohen, busted out in 56th place, so Amarillo Slim’s famous bet is safe for now (he once declared that if a woman ever won the World Series of Poker, he would cut his own throat). The average chip stack is nearing 2 million, and blinds are at 15K and 30K, with an ante of 5000. All the 1000 dollar chips were raced off the table. There are two players with over 5 million in chips, one has over 7 million. Among the funnier names left are Rhett Butler (but who gives a damn) and Leif Force. And you know a guy named Robert Betts was born to play this game.


  1. #1 John Lynch
    August 7, 2006

    > if a woman ever won the World Series of Poker, he would cut his own throat

    Which leads to the question that my wife and I were discussing the other night … how come women don’t do better? Any thoughts Ed?

  2. #2 Charles Hargrove
    August 7, 2006

    I have heard that Amarillo Slim story about cutting his throat, but I don’t think that it is quite what it seems:

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    August 7, 2006


    I think it’s a sheer numbers game for women. There just aren’t that many women playing poker (though their numbers are going up), which means the chances of a woman winning a huge event like this are slim. I don’t think it has anything at all to do with gender or ability (interest, perhaps). Anyone who doubts that women can play poker as well as men should go jump into the big game at the Bellagio and try betting $8000 a card against Jennifer Harman, who has been a fixture in that game for years and won millions doing it.

    In fact, I would argue that in your average poker game at a casino, or a home game, a female player has an advantage over similarly skilled male players. One of two things often happens when men play against women, especially against an attractive woman – they either try to run them over thinking that they’re weak, or they go easy on them. Either way, they’re making suboptimal decisions based upon irrelevant factors. I’ve seen this happen many, many times at a poker table. A female player who is intuitive enough to read personalities quickly figures out what is going on and adjusts their game accordingly, playing back hard against the aggressive players trying to prove their manhood and playing more marginal hands and draws against the “take it easy on the little lady” players because their lack of aggression reduces the risk of that kind of play.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    August 7, 2006


    While it’s true that his original statement was about a particular woman, ol’ Slim prefers the distorted version and has repeated it himself many times. A few years ago, he had his picture taken standing over a female player at the WSOP with a big knife at his own throat. It’s all meant more in jest than anything. The only thing Amarillo Slim likes more than a good story is a TV camera to tell it in front of.

  5. #5 John Lynch
    August 7, 2006


    And strangely enough, that’s more or less what I said the other night!

  6. #6 Charles Hargrove
    August 8, 2006

    Ah, well, that just confirms my impression from reading a bit of Slim’s book that despite being a colorful character and a great poker player, he can be a bit of an asshole.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    August 8, 2006

    Amarillo Slim has more serious problems than being an asshole. He pled guilty to lewd conduct with a minor a couple years – his own 14 year old granddaughter.

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