DANCING WITH THE DEVIL IN THE PALE MOONLIGHT

In the 1989 movie Batman, Jack Nicholson, playing the dual role of Jack Napier and The Joker, always asks his prey, "Ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight?"

Michael Keaton, as Bruce Wayne/Batman, doesn't know quite what to make of this line, and tonight, with a three-quarter moon hovering outside Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker $2,000 entry Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship, Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott didn't quite know what to make of his dancing opponent, Burt Boutin, a hyperactive 33 year old stockbroker who spent almost as much time out of his seat as in it, and who, at one point in the heads-up duel, danced right over from the other side of the table and fired both arms out towards Devilfish as if he were John Travolta practicing a new pose for a remake of Saturday Night Fever.

You'll have to endure just one more movie reference before we get down to the poker, if you want to get a good mental picture of what Boutin looks like, because the handsome, slightly built, prematurely gray fellow was a dead ringer for Klaus Maria Brandauer as the supervillain Maximilian Largo in the 1983 James Bond flick Never Say Never Again, right down to the bone-colored sports coat worn over the bone khaki pants and shirt.

The Never Say Never script wasn't that great, but Brandauer played one of the less one-dimensional Bond foes, and he and Sean Connery hook up fairly early in the movie in a one-on-one 3-D video game for the championship of the entire world, which was worth (if memory serves) $367,000.

Facing down Devilfish Ulliott, a Brit who's certainly cool enough to play secret agent, I was getting that déjà vu all over again feeling, except that not only did Boutin/Brandauer win this duel, I seriously doubt that Boutin would (as Bond did in the movie) "settle for one dance with Domino" (Kim Basinger).

OK, enough Siskel and Ebert. Let's get to the poker, because there was a LOT of it.

270 players started this tournament, and when we started play at the final table, the seats and chip counts were:

Seat Player Chip Count
1 Mike Sexton $14,500
2 Roger Easterday $30,000
3 Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott $110,000
4 Freddie Deeb $42,500
5 Chris Tsiprailidis $48,500
6 Glenn Hughes $17,500
7 Cy Jassinowsky $16,000
8 Burt Boutin $50,500
9 Men "the Master" Nguyen $210,500

We started play with 60 minutes left at the $1,500-3,000 blind level, which mean a raiser could bring a pot in for as much as $10,500. Hands two and three of the tournament meant that Mike Sexton and Roger Easterday weren't going to be around to see any dancing.

On hand two, Sexton raised under the gun, and Men the Master, sitting in the big blind with the comfortable ease that owning nearly 40% of the chips will bring, raised Sexton back his last few chips before the flop. A-10 for Sexton, 9c-7c for Nguyen, and the 5-4-7-5-K board sent the Tournament of Champions co-founder out ninth.

YOU HAVE TO GIVE THE CARDS BACK, MEN

On hand three, the Master raised from the button, and Easterday re-raised almost all-in. Once again Nguyen forced his opponent to put his last few chips in before the flop, and once again Nguyen turned over 9c-7c. This time, his opponent had a little more ammo: A-A. The board came down Kc-8s-10d, giving Men a straight draw, but then running clubs on the turn and river gave him a flush instead, and Men's stack had swollen to more than a quarter million before anyone could settle into his seat (Boutin didn't bother settling into his seat for the entire six hour match).

"Hey, they don't call me 'the Master' for nothing," Nguyen said of his ability to outcatch his opponents.

Two hands later, Nguyen raised again, this time to $9,000, and Deeb called from the button. The flop came 4h-5s-5c, Men thought a long, long time, and decided to bet $19,000. Deeb thought only briefly before raising back his last $20,000. Men took his time again, and decided to fold.

TO HECK WITH THE UNDERDOG, GO DEVIL GO!

  "People on the rail often root for underdogs."
   

The very next hand, Ulliott brought a hand in for $8,000, and Hughes raised all-in for his last $19,000. Devilfish called. As-Qs for Hughes, 7-7 for Devilfish, but the board came A-3-5-A-K, doubling the short stacked Hughes through. People on the rail often root for underdogs and all-in players in this tournament, unless the hour is growing late, but as soon as the first ace hit the flop, a big segment of the very big crowd (having stars like Nguyen and Devilfish in the chip lead will do that) went "awwwww," as in "aw, nuts!" The Devilfish had quite a few fans here.

7-7 wasn't a good number for Devilfish in the early going. On hand 9, he and Nguyen called Jassinowsky's last $8,500 and checked the hand to the river, but neither of them could beat Jassinowsky's pocket sevens, and he tripled up.

If it sounds like Men "the Master" Nguyen was playing a lot of pots early, you're right. He limped in on a few others, and when he bet out, people kept playing back at him, and he had to lay the hands down. I was starting to think "Men the Faster" might be a better nickname, not because he wasn't masterful, just because he was playing very, very fast, and the other players spotted it and didn't let him get away with it.

"AMERICAN ONLY, PLEASE!"

  "Men scored quite a few points when he told Devilfish 'Speak English!'"
   

I love watching Men play, because he doesn't just play well, but he plays to the crowd well, too. He and Devilfish are a quite a pair when it comes to showmanship. I think I give the showman title to Devilfish this time, thanks mainly to his grabbing the microphone twice to sing to the crowd during the final table, once before we got started, and once in the middle of the tense duel at the finish, although Men scored quite a few points when he told Devilfish "Speak English!" one time when Dave said something that was a bit tough to understand through his British accent, a very comic and sweet revenge for all the times Men and his Vietnamese brethren have been told "English only" at the tables.

Despite the roaring, two-players-out-in-three-hands start, we finished the first hour with seven survivors, and after the break, we came back playing with $2,000-4,000 blinds, allowing a maximum bring-in of $14,000.

Because this table took 177 hands to complete, I'm skipping a great many of them (you're welcome), but throughout the early going, almost every time Boutin (pronounced boo-tan, a French origin) raised, he went through all sorts of histrionics with his chips and raising announcements. Usually his hands trembled on the raises, which is usually (but not always) a sign of a big hand. The other players, particularly Deeb and Ulliott, seemed to notice this, and caught them glancing at each other during these displays, as if saying silently "I guess we'll know when he has a big hand, won't we?"

BIG HAND, MEET BIGGER HAND

Deeb got to see on hand 31, when he opened the pot for $11,000, and Boutin called, with the usual histrionics, from the small blind. The flop came 7c-5d-As, Boutin checked, Deeb bet $10,000, Boutin announced, "I'm going to raise it," and they calculated he could raise a maximum of $44,000.

  "Presto, Boutin turned over 5-5, a set."
   

He put the 44k in, tremble and all, and Deeb immediately moved in, calling the $44,000 and raising his last $5,500 on top of it. Boutin called, and Deeb turned over Ah-7s, top two pair, but beware the tremble: Presto, Boutin turned over 5-5, a set. As Boutin leapt from his seat and started running in circles while yelling "no ace, no seven!" the board finished off 8s-9s, Boutin yelled "YES!" and Deeb was out seventh at 5:40, probably having figured Boutin for A-K.

Just three hands later, Nguyen lost his chip lead when he brought a hand in for $10,000, and Hughes called from the big blind. The flop came 3s-Jc-7h, Hughes checked, Nguyen bet $16,000, Hughes re-raised all-in for about $20,000 more, and Men called. 7-7 and a set for Hughes, K-J for Nguyen, who was still losing when he turned a king, and a seven on the river gave Hughes a mere four sevens and almost $100,000.

K-J NOT MEN'S HAND TODAY

If you think K-J was bad news for Nguyen this hand, tuck it away for future reference.

On hand 39, Nguyen brought it in for $10,000, and Jassinowsky, who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, called for his last $8,500 from the small blind. 6d-7d for Nguyen, Q-J for Jassinowsky, and the board came J-3-2-10-J, doubling him up.

  "Did you ever try to get rid of termites?"
   

Devilfish turned around and whispered to me, "They ought to call him 'the Termite' (practically every good poker player in England has a nickname, just ask Aces, Devilfish, Reindeer and the Lizard), the South African Termite," he said. "Cause you can't get rid of him, did you ever try to get rid of termites? He's had one stack the whole tournament."

We might have to hold off on that new nickname, or otherwise change Devilfish to The Exterminator, because just three hands later, Jassinowsky brought a hand in for $14,000, Devilfish raised the $13,000 necessary to put him all-in, and Jassinowsky called. A-10 for Jassinowsky, 9-9 for Devilfish, and as the board came down 4-3-4-4-6, Men was wandering behind Devilfish saying, "picture, picture," meaning he didn't want to see an ace or a ten and was rooting for Devilfish.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

The Master got his wish, in that Devilfish won the hand, but like they say, you have to be careful what you wish for. Jassinowsky was out sixth at 6:00.

My rough estimate of the chips at this point was

Hughes, $135,000
Boutin, $130,000
Devilfish, $90,000
Nguyen, $120,000
Tsiprailidis, $65,000

That last name, or "Syracuse Chris," as most people call the heavyset mustachioed Greek wearing the traditional Syracuse University orange, hasn't been missing because I've been hesitant to type "Tsiprailidis" (I can paste it in with a my word processor). Tsiprailidis, usually an aggressive player, had been playing it rather close to the vest, compared to his action comrades.

Perhaps he felt, and I would find it hard to disagree, that as fast as they were playing, he could afford to sit back and let them bring the action to him. Perhaps he also never caught any cards, because I never saw him turn over much in the way of a hand.

We lost Tsiprailidis a dozen hands later, when, down to his last $30,000, he and Nguyen got it all in before the flop. Kd-10h for Chris, Kc-Qs for Nguyen, leaving Chris in serious trouble. The flop didn't help: A-K-5, but the turn did, a ten, giving Chris two pair. An ace hit the river, though, counterfeiting Chris' two pair by giving Nguyen aces and kings with a queen vs. Chris' aces and kings with a ten. Tsiprailidis exited fifth.

HEY, WE ALL SUCK

One of the other players needled the Master for his escape on the end, and Men said, "Hey, everybody sucked, he sucked on turn, I sucked on river." In case you're not familiar with the terminology, Men was not criticizing their play. "Sucking out" is poker shorthand for "catching up when you're trailing badly."

The round ended on hand 73 with the Master not sucking out, but winning a hand he'd been leading all along, and Devilfish catching a final card just good enough to cost him $20,000. Nguyen opened the hand for $11,000, and Devilfish called from the big blind. The flop came 7d-8s-Qd, and both checked. The 9d hit the turn, Devilfish checked, and Nguyen thought a long time before he also checked. A fourth diamond, the 2d, hit the river, Devilfish checked again, Men bet $20,000, and Dave called pretty quickly. Ad-Jc, the nut flush, for the Master, and Kh-Jd for the Devilfish.

HEY, HOW ABOUT ONE FOR ME?

I would really like to get me one of these "the" nicknames like "The Master" or "The Devilfish," but I'm afraid of what some of my opponents would come up with. Oh, wait, I already have "The Poker Pundit," that's better than what my opponents would come up with ("The Guy We Love To Have In The Game?"), but I don't think it will strike fear into anyone's heart.

The costly fourth diamond left the chip positions as follows when the players went on break:

The Devilfish, $41,000
The Calm Glenn Hughes, $126,000
The Jumping Boutin, $163,500
The Master, $208,500

Hughes gets "the Calm" because looked like someone reading a book on an airplane most of the game, even when he was raising. If you averaged him and Boutin out, you'd get a typical poker player.

When we returned, the blinds went to $3,000-6,000, allowing an initial raise to $21,000. A couple of hands into the new round, Men raised from the small blind, and Devilfish re-raised all-in from the big blind, with Men calling. A-6 offsuit for Devilfish, Q-10 offsuit for the Master, and when the board came 2-4-8-3-K, Dave had doubled to $82,000.

TAKE IT OUTSIDE, BOYS… OH, NEVER MIND

Devilfish took a few chips more from Nguyen coming over the top, and around hand 85, the four players started chatting. Devilfish and Hughes each had around $100,000 (perhaps $110,000 for Dave), and Boutin and Nguyen each had around $160,000. Tournament Director Bob Thompson asked them to take their chat outside, but they just kept chatting merrily away at the table, and eventually agreed to take $80,000 each, leaving $54,000 and the bracelet for the winner. Devilfish, although getting the better of the deal as one of the shorter stacks, had been the least eager to deal.

"I just took the pressure off these guys," Ulliott said.

"Hey, I have a job," said Boutin, "you didn't take any pressure off me."

Pressure off or not, we were actually not even halfway through this tournament, hand-wise, but (you're welcome) I won't be detailing as many of the hands from here on.

Hughes ran into trouble on hand 94, when Devilfish limped in from the button and Hughes limped in from the small blind, with Boutin checking to let us see a 3-way flop of 4c-5c-10h. Hughes checked, Boutin bet $18,000, Devilfish folded, and Hughes, after a considered pause, called. The 9h hit the turn, Hughes checked again, and Boutin bet $30,000. Hughes again took a long pause, and again flat-called. At this point I'd have bet a million dollars that he either had a set of tens or a big drawing hand, with most of my equity on the big drawing hand.

A DRAW PROVES COSTLY, AS USUAL

The 6h hit the river, both players checked, Boutin turned over a black J-10, and when Hughes hesitated, Boutin started making a waving motion with his right hand, as if saying, "Gimme the pot, gimme the pot, he was on a draw." Hughes mucked, and then said, quite credibly, that he'd held the 6c-7c, an open-ended straight flush draw, but a very costly draw indeed, as drawing hands often are shorthanded and in pot-limit.

Although Hughes recovered some chips with a nice raise just three hands later, he gave them back on hand 106 when Men raised to $18,000 under the gun, and Hughes called from the small blind. Hughes fired out $20,000 at the 7h-9s-5c flop, but Men moved over the top of him, and after considering for a few moments, decided to save his last $45,000.

It went in on hand 110, when Hughes raised to $12,000 from the small blind, and Boutin called from the big blind. The flop came Qd-3s-7c, Hughes checked, Boutin bet $10,000, Hughes moved all-in, and Boutin called instantly. K-10 for Hughes, a pure attempt to buy the pot, and Q-9 for Boutin. A nine hit the turn, changing Hughes' out card from a king to a jack for a gutshot straight, but a harmless ten hit the river, and Hughes was out fourth at 8:05.

"Let's have a hand for Glenn Hughes," said Bob Thompson on the microphone, "thirty one thousand dollars, no, wait, they made a deal, eighty thousand dollars for Glenn Hughes, let's have a big hand for Glenn."

HEY, IT'S THEIR MONEY

I'm getting more confused each day whether deals are supposed to be out in the hall or made at the table. We started with deals at the table, then they were supposed to go out in the hall, and now they're being announced on the PA. Deals will have to stop if and when corporate sponsorship comes in, but as long as the players are playing on their own money, I guess they have a right to do what they want with it.

Six hands later, just after I did a chip estimate of

Devilfish, $135,000
Nguyen, $150,000
Boutin, $255,000

Devilfish opened for $18,000, and Nguyen raised $39,000 more. Devilfish moved right back at him, shoving his whole stack in, and Nguyen pushed his all forward right away too; neither player seemed concerned with the niceties of who was making the last raise and who was making the call, the money was just going in.

Devilfish showed Ad-10h, and Nguyen showed Ks-Js, making Dave a modest favorite, but that changed on the 7h-8s-10s flop. Even though Devilfish had made a pair, the Master could now win with any nine, king, jack, or spade. Three kings, three jacks, three nines (don't double count the 9s) and nine spades: 18 outs twice, minus a little for Dave's wins on certain aces or tens. The Master was now the favorite, the but the turn and river produced the 8d-3c, and the Master had $16,500 left.

WHEN THE MASTER MEETS THE DEVIL

  "Maybe I was wrong about the pressure coming off."
   

"He's been bullying me around," Devilfish said, as the clock went off to end the round. "I have to make a stand against all those raises he's been making. I don't know, maybe I was wrong about the pressure coming off; maybe he doesn't shove it all in there with king-jack. I tell you, though, when The Master meets The Devil, The Master's met his Master."

I wasn't sure if I was going to report that last line or not, but Devilfish said it again for the crowd a few minutes later, so I figured it was fair game.

The crushing blow for Nguyen left the chips at

Devilfish, $269,000
Nguyen, $16,500
Boutin, $254,500

The blinds moved to $5,000-10,000, and on the first hand after the break, Men pushed his final $16,500 in from the small blind. When Devilfish called from the big blind, Men proudly displayed his hand for everyone in the crowd behind him (but not Devilfish) to see: As-Qh. Devilfish could tell Men was proud of the hand and not to be outdone "proudly" displayed his Jd-7d to those behind him. The board came 4-5-9-K-K, and Men had doubled to $33,000.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On the very next hand, Men raised all-in for his 33k, and Devilfish called. Once again, the Master proudly displayed his hand to those behind him: Ac-Jd. Devilfish left the showmanship to the Master for the moment, when the flop came 9-4-7, but when a five hit the turn, Dave picked up his pocket fives and started running around with them like someone from Manchester United who'd scored a goal. He skipped the skidding to the knees part, though, and much to the disappointment of the women in the stands, he didn't take his shirt off and throw it into the crowd.

This was when Devilfish repeated his "When the Master meets the Devil" line, but the friendly rivals shook hands as Men departed.

It was 8:30 p.m., and the heads-up battle for the world between James Bond and Maximilian Largo was on at hand 119, and if you figure in the value of the bracelet for endorsements, $367,000 might be roughly the right number, too.

Heads-up, the small blind goes on the button, which I abbreviate as SBB; that player acts first before the flop but second after the flop. With $5,000 on the button and $10,000 in the big blind, any pot had the potential to get big in a hurry.

WEREN'T WE JUST HERE A FEW DAYS AGO?

The Devilfish had the experience, a slight chip lead, and had already finished second in the Pot-Limit Omaha event here at this WSOP. Few onlookers expected Largo, I mean Boutin, to be able to hold his own heads-up, especially with Devilfish relaxed enough to take the microphone and start singing while tournament officials were taking the $1,000 chips off the table and replacing them with $5,000 chips.

  "Boutin did his John Travolta imitation."
   

I started getting my first clue that Boutin might be up to this task on hand 132, when Devilfish made it $25,000 to go from the SBB, Boutin called, we saw a flop of 8c-3c-Qs, Boutin bet $35,000, Devilfish raised $60,000 more, and Boutin moved in. Devilfish mucked, and this was when Boutin did his John Travolta imitation, running over towards Devilfish and poking both arms out at him, yelling, "Yeah, play back at you, man!"

If he didn't hyperventilate, Burt Boutin was going to have a chance to win this match, because he clearly had the heart for it.

Boutin stayed aggressive, and his chip lead slowly grew. He knew Devilfish would prefer to chop him down rather than play one big hand, and Devilfish wasn't getting any big hands. Boutin kept jumping up from his seat, pumping himself up, clenching his fists, looking for a kill. He took a 3-1 chip lead, then 4-1, then 5-1, and Devilfish asked for a quick break.

NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL A LUCKY CHARM

He came back carrying a tiny bag, and when Boutin asked him, "What's in that, your hairbrush?" Devilish told him, "This is Chris Ferguson's lucky bracelet, you better be careful."

Devilfish didn't show the bag's contents, but when I ran into Ferguson after the match and asked him about it, he produced both the bag and the bracelet. Devilfish hadn't been kidding. He'd gone and borrowed some Chris "Jesus" Ferguson mojo.

It took a little while to work, as Dave folded the next six hands, as his stack dropped to $55,000. Finally, on hand 145, Dave raised to $20,000 in the dark from the SBB, Boutin looked at his own hand and called, and they both checked the Ad-Qc-4c-9d-Kd hand down the whole way. Devilfish turned over 10-5 offsuit. Boutin couldn't beat it.

Devilfish immediately ran around and pumped his arms, the way Boutin had been doing, to mock Boutin's gestures, but Boutin took it the right way, and they both smiled and shook hands.

The game was afoot.

FROM THE "UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR" DEP'T

Devilfish won two more small hands, then asked Boutin, "What was that dance, anyway? You're a very good dancer." Boutin said, "I'm sorry, man, I just got excited."

He wasn't so excited on the next hand, when Devilfish raised it to $20,000 from the SBB, and Boutin called. They both checked the 2h-10c-Js flop, but when the Kc hit the turn, Boutin bet $30,000, Devilfish raised all-in for $25,000 more, and Boutin called. Q-J for Devilfish, and a drawing practically dead Q-6 for Boutin. Devilfish had $150,000, then $170,000, then $175,000, and then…

Devilfish flat called from the SBB, and we looked at a flop. Kh-4h-10d. Boutin checked, Devilfish bet $15,000, Boutin raised $40,000 more, and Devilfish shoved the rest of his stack in, with Boutin calling. K-5 for Devilfish, 10-7 for Boutin, no accidents, and suddenly Devilfish, who'd been flopping around on the beach gasping for air just a few hands before, had a chip lead of about $360,000-180,000.

Four hands later, Boutin got even by raising to $20,000 from the SBB, and then calling Devilfish's $20,000 bet on the 10h-9s-5s flop. The 6d hit the turn, Devilfish checked, Boutin bet $20,000, Devilfish shoved a big stack in, and Boutin moved in after him, saying, "I have to call you," and showed Q-Q prematurely, not realizing that he had raised the Devil, and that the Devil had not yet called the raise. Devilfish mucked the hand, but Boutin was upset only momentarily. Dave said he had a K-7 and wasn't calling any re-raise whether he saw Boutin's hand or not.

A VIEW TO A KILL

Hand 176 set us up for a view to a kill. Boutin made it $25,000 from the SBB, and Devilfish called. The flop came 9d-2s-6d, Devilfish bet $45,000 and Boutin flat called. Gulp. The 10h hit the turn, Devilfish checked, Boutin bet $50,000, and Devilfish flat called. Double gulp. The Kd hit the river, Devilfish checked, Boutin moved in, Devilfish showed A-9, and folded.

Boutin showed one card, a nine, and laughed a low, fiendish, perfect Bond villain ha-ha-ha, leaving the Devil in the dark as to whether his kicker made two pair, or whether Devilfish had thrown away the better hand.

Unlike Bond villains who, like all supervillains, make the classic supervillain blunder of leaving Bond to die by some unnecessarily complex and unsupervised method, Boutin stayed around for the finish on the next hand.

  "No ace, no ace!"
   

Devilfish raised from the SBB, and from there it was a blur: raise, raise, raise. It was hard to tell which bet was a raise and which was a call: the money just all went in in a hurry. Ah-10c for Devilfish, Jd-Jc for Boutin, who started screaming "No ace, no ace!" as the board came down Ks-10h-8s-Qs-9h. Boutin had made an unnecessary straight, and leapt up onto the chairs by the rail, practically body surfing into a crowd of friends as he high-fived them.

HI DAD, GUESS WHAT?

One of the friends handed him a cell phone. "Who is it?" he asked. "Hello? Dad? Dad, I won, I'm the world champion!"

He was indeed, and for the second time in a week, Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott had to settle for second place in a World Series pot-limit event. "The A-9 hand was the tough one," Devilfish said. "If any card but a king hits on the river, I'm probably playing, but that's the one I thought he might have for two pair."

Burt Boutin resides in Henderson, Nevada, and originally hails from New Jersey, so we can stop the comparisons with the Austrian Klaus Maria Brandauer there. "I just got excited, I didn't mean to do all that stuff," he said afterwards. "I'm usually a bit high energy at the table anyway, and a World Series final table just got me more pumped than usual.

He used to play a great deal of pot-limit, but hadn't played a lot until last December, when he and a poker-hating girlfriend broke up. "She thought playing poker meant I had a gambling problem," said Boutin, and instantly I found myself relating to Burt a lot better.

He might have pulled one other pretty good bluff at the table, too. When I asked him about the "I have a job, there's no money pressure" line, he said that yes, he does fine at his job, but make no mistake, the money from a win like this "Helps a lot."

I guess I should have figured out the result the moment I told Lee Munzer, with six players left, that I had a movie theme in mind in case it came down to the Brit against the Brandauer look-alike. The Cincinnati Kid won his rematch a couple days ago. I guess Max Largo is entitled to do the same. Make no mistake about all these Bond supervillain jokes, though. The resemblance is purely physical (with a couple of points for the fiendish laugh near the end, when they were both playing mind games with each other). It was a pleasure to watch someone with Burt Boutin's enthusiasm play this game.

I'd guess it was even more of a pleasure watching it from his end of the table, except he didn't stay there enough to know.

Final Official Results, $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em:

270 entrants, total prize pool $523,800

1. Burt Boutin $193,800 (and endorsement contract from either Valium or No-Doze, Iím not sure which)
2. Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott $99,515
3. Men "the Master" Nguyen $49,755
4. Glenn Hughes $31,425
5. Chris Tsiprailidis $23,425
6. Cy Jassinowsky $18,335
7. Freddie Deeb $13,095
8. Roger Easterday $10,475
9. Mike Sexton $8,380

10th-12th, $6,285 each: Toru Otaki, Tom Jacobs, Mihn Ly.

13th-15th, $5,240 each: Gary Hutteball, Ken "Skyhawk" Flaton, Ron Stanley.

16th-18th, $4,190 each: Danny Qutami, Bill Gazes, Robert Alan Lewis

19th-27th, $3,145 each: Ed Hill, David Pham, Mike Carson, Wayne Chang, An Tran, Berry Johnston, Bruce Corman, Derei Asher, David Alimi.

SOME NOTES FOR BEGINNERS

I've been getting some emails from beginners with questions like "what is a 3-bet" "what do 'the blinds' mean" and other reasonably simple (to advanced players: we all had to start somewhere!) questions. Were I writing for a general audience, I would avoid poker shorthand and write articles the way I do in my Detroit Free Press general gambling column, assuming little or no knowledge on the part of the reader.

With WSOP reports, I am making the assumption that most readers are moderately experienced players, and so while I explain certain concepts at which the truly advanced players role their eyebrows, I am skipping over the more basic ones.

If you find you are having difficulty following the action, I suggest you visit the main page at http://poker.casino.com, and take a look at the articles in the "Learn Poker" section. These will probably help you a great deal. If you are still confused, by all means send an email and ask for an explanation. A 3-bet, by the way, is just another way of referring to a re-raise. Player A bets, Player B raises, and Player C 3-bets (or re-raises). Note that were the hand heads up, Player A could 3-bet Player B.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE FOR BEGINNERS

When I was chatting with Max Shapiro the other day and relayed the story of why I quit the practice of law (short version: I scored a stunning victory defending a totally guilty coke dealer and decided that wasn't how I wanted to make my living), Max asked a question: "That fits with everything I know about you, Andy, but if you're as principled as that, don't you think you're doing the public a disservice by making the World Series of Poker as exciting as you do? Won't that draw people into poker who will lose a lot of money?"

Good question, Max.

I have a BIG problem drawing people into gambling. The number of people who lose too much money gambling is way too high. That's actually why and how I first decided to get into the gambling writing business. My original vision was a newspaper column, a book, and general gaming seminars designed to teach people that while one can have fun with gambling, recreationally, they don't build those billion dollar casinos because the general public actually has a chance.

As a result, I wrote a book, Casino Gambling the Smart Way, which is in some of the bigger bookstores (but which you can get more cheaply, and autographed, through my own website, www.casinoselfdefense.com), and the "this book will help you lose more slowly, but you're still going to lose" approach I took is why the Detroit Free Press approached me, rather than vice-versa, to write a gambling column.

I dumped the seminar concept a while back when I figured out that the people who needed my general gambling seminars the most are the people least likely to attend them. The people who came loved them but I could never get enough bodies into the room to make it a feasible business venture.

I think it is important for beginners to realize that while poker is indeed an exception to the "you can't win in the casino" rule, because in poker, you are playing against other players, not the house, the reality is that the vast majority of poker players are losers. It's an inescapable mathematical necessity, unless we lived in a world where a very small number of players lost an incredible fortune on a regular basis.

Why? Two reasons. First and foremost, the "house rake" ensures that you're not playing a zero sum game. The house makes its money in poker by renting you your chair. Sometimes they do it by taking a percentage of the pot, sometimes they do it by charging you a fee every time the button comes around, and sometimes they do it by charging you a fee every half hour, but one way or another, you're paying the casino to put the game on for you.

Given the house rake, you have to be a much better than average poker player just to break even. When you add in the reality that the top 2-3% of poker players take a LOT of money out of these games, you can see that there isn't much left over for the average players.

The World Series of Poker is indeed an exciting place to be, but for all intents and purposes, I am reporting on the equivalent of the Major Leagues in baseball. Figure out how many people play little league, softball, or even high school baseball, and how few of them go on to enjoy success playing for the New York Yankees, and you'll start to get the idea how difficult (and unlikely) it is to become one of the happy bracelet winners I'm interviewing.

If you read the general articles I write a http://poker.casino.com, you've probably already figured this out, but thanks for the reminder, Max.

Andrew N.S. Glazer, Editor
Wednesday Nite Poker

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This is a special issue of WNP. Andrew N.S. Glazer reports live from the WSOP - World Series of Poker Apr. 21 to Maj. 18. You will receive exclusive daily reports from the latest and greatest event in the world of poker.


 

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