From Sun May 04 18:55:46 2003 Return-Path: Delivered-To: Received: (qmail 85123 invoked by uid 19068); 4 May 2003 18:55:45 -0000 Received: from unknown (HELO ([]) (envelope-sender ) by (qmail-ldap-1.03) with SMTP for ; 4 May 2003 18:55:45 -0000 Received: from [] by with ESMTP (SMTPD32-7.15) id A60D9F0050; Sun, 04 May 2003 19:03:57 +0100 From: "Wednesday Nite Poker" To: Subject: WSOP 2003 News Bulletin 15 Date: 04 May 2003 20:13:55 +0200 Message-ID: <> MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="----=_qvAQEMtL_Ps2A80JJ_MA" Precedence: bulk Sender: X-Spam-Status: No, hits=-4.3 required=4.0 tests=BAYES_10,HTML_10_20,HTML_WITH_BGCOLOR,SMTPD_IN_RCVD, UNSUB_PAGE version=2.53 X-Spam-Level: X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 2.53 ( Status: OR ------=_qvAQEMtL_Ps2A80JJ_MA Content-Type: text/plain Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit If this newsletter does not read properly, your current e-mail program does not support HTML-based newsletters. Instead, you can access the complete newsletter through your web browser on this URL: Regards, Wednesday Nite Poker ------=_qvAQEMtL_Ps2A80JJ_MA Content-Type: text/html Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit

Mercifully, No Mercy

ByAndrew N.S. Glazer, "The Poker Pundit"

After three and a half days of forcing the heroic Max Shapiro to cover tournament after tournament for me, I decided to get "back" in there and cover a tournament that usually takes forever, the $2,500 Omaha Eight-or-Better event.

Why "forever?" Because tournament Omaha/8, unlike your garden variety six-players-see-each-flop game, frequently gets heads-up in a hurry, and heads-up pots tend to get split a lot, even when they look exciting with lots of betting and raising. That happens when one player has the one-way nuts and some kind of hand going the other way, and it usually happens a lot.

Nonetheless, even with a juicy pot-limit hold'em final lurking the next day, vertical finally drew even with horizontal in my race to enrich a fleet of Las Vegas chiropractors, and I told Max I would give it a go…but that I wanted him in reserve, just in case the new support belt with the 20 magnets didn't do the trick (halfway through the 2003 WSOP, I'm getting desperate).


I groaned a little when I saw that the 135 starters had reached a final table only at Level 10. There were still 37 minutes left with $1,000-1,500 blinds, playing $1,500-3,000, and with $337,500 chips in play, I started thinking I should just fake a relapse and let Max cover another one.

The few shreds of decency left in me, no doubt remaining because of the many very kind well-wishing emails I've received, made me determined to stick it out unless I faced another real emergency.

Little was I to know that we would be facing an emergency, but nothing of the sort that I had been ambivalent about.

When we started play, the seats and chip counts were:

Starting chip count

1 Billy McGowen $8,500
2 Layne Flack $66,500
3 Annie Duke $43,500
4 Men Nguyen $26,000
5 Toto Leonidas $12,000
6 Brent Carter $7,500
7 Scott Veitzer $13,500
8 George Marlowe $45,000
9 Denis Ethier $45,000
10 Michel Abecassis $69,500

I settled into my customary chair between seats one and two, and Layne "back to back" Flack (now there's a painful sounding nickname, but he got it winning consecutive no-limit hold'em tournaments at the 2002 WSOP) turned around and jokingly asked why I always sat behind him.


"I'm trying to learn how to catch cards as well as you do," I said. When you trade jibes with Layne Flack, you have to be quick and you have to be merciless, because otherwise you'll end up full of more holes than my Omaha game.

Little did I know that not only was this joke going to prove prophetic, it would get so eerie that I decided I was going to wear the belt with the magnets in it even after my back healed, just in case it had some impact on the early demolition I observed.

Flack waited until hand #8 to scoop his first pot, but had collected enough small ones that I was already making margin notes about "The Terminator" (only to realize that the new X-Men movie had just debuted and I didn't really know enough about those super mutants to pick an appropriate sobriquet for Flack and his now 90k stack).

Curiously, Flack wasn't even involved on #11 when the short-stacked Brent Carter got involved in a five-way pot when he had only 2.5k left. Quintupling up sounds much better than doubling when you're that low, and Carter might have felt good when his 3-3-5-8 (I'm only going to call suits when relevant to the action) flopped a set. Annie Duke flopped a bigger set, jacks, and Carter, one of poker's most expert players when it comes to understanding the intricacies of rules and rulings, was gone.


Flack took out Scott Veitzer on hand #13, but an immoveable object (me) was blocked off by a resistible force (a photographer who decided to camp out in front of me), and I couldn't catch the action. I explained my dilemma to the photographer after the hand, and his own kindness, combined with the Cyclops-like hole my X-vision had burned in his back during the hand, eliminated any future problems.

(Hey, I said I didn't know "really enough" about the X-Men, not that I didn't know anything…besides, anyone who hangs out with Famke Janssen…hmm, better get back to the poker or this will be X-rated instead of X-men. My back hurts. My libido's just fine.)

One of the many superstars at this final table was Toto Leonidas, and after hand #19, it looked like he was getting ready to parlay his short starting stack into some real money. He moved to over 30k in a hand that started three-way but because heads up between Toto and Flack on the 3c-10s-2h flop, when Flack bet and Toto called.

The 8c hit the turn, Flack bet 3k, and Toto made it 6k, leaving only $2,000 in front of him. Flack called, but when the Ah hit the river, he checked, Toto bet his last 2k, and even with a 30k pot staring at him, Flack let it go.


Men "the Master" Nguyen was almost certainly the most accomplished Omaha player at this table. This was already his third final table of the 2003, all in Omaha events. On hand #21, though, he and Flack dueled a raise-reraise battle on both the flop and turn on the 10d-7d-8s-Qd board. When the Kd hit the river, Men led out again, and Flack just called. Men turned over the straight he'd started with, and Flack showed the 2d-4d for a tiny flush that left Men short-chipped.

It was break time, normally ten minutes, but this being the poker world, the participants at both this table and the nearby pot-limit hold'em Day One then stopped for a half hour break to watch the Kentucky Derby. It was understandable. I mean, this is Las Vegas, where else is a guy going to find any action?

When the Omaha/8 players returned, the cumbersome $500 chips had been removed from the table and replaced with the blue, white and red $1,000 chips, with the count now standing

McGowen, 5k
Flack, 105k
Duke, 46k
Nguyen, 34k
Leonidas, 24k
Marlowe, 34k
Ethier, 35k
Abecassis, 53k

With the blinds moving to $1,000-2,000, playing $2,000-4,000, it looked like it could be anyone's tournament. I guess the magnets in my back brace must have taken over, though, because after we lost the hopelessly short McGowen on #25, we were about to see a true Flack attack.


Let's pick a random example, like, let's say, the next hand, Abecassis held the button, and Nguyen brought it in for 2k. Leonidas made it 4k, and when Flack and Duke called from the blinds and Nguyen followed suit, we had a 16k pot brewing.

The flop came 3c-5d-Kc, everyone checked to Duke, who bet 2k, with only Flack calling. The 6d hit the turn, and Flack check-called. The Qh hit the river, and suddenly Flack led out. Duke called, and Flack turned over the 9-10 that had made a gutshot straight on the river.

Sometimes poker is just a lot of fun, depending on your perspective.

Flack's rampage became humorous on hand #29, when he raised from the button and Leonidas, sitting in the big blind, called the raise by tossing the two extra chips to Flack and saying "I surrender."

Before the flop could even hit the board, Flack had an answer. "Well played, Toto." The alcohol was flowing and so were the lines. Leonidas raised Flack's bet on the flop, led out again and called Flack's raise on the turn, and called on the river with the board showing J-K-2-9-9. Flack's pocket aces scooped the pot, probably counterfeiting two already made pair when the second nine hit the river.

Surrendering, it turned out, would have been the more fortunate play.

Ethier had seemed in the game at the break, but kept losing a few chips here and there, and finally busted out seventh in a big pot when Duke made the nut low and Flack made eights full of nines on the 9-2-8-7-8 board.


Annie Duke, one of the world's best players regardless of gender, had listed "housewife" on her player information sheet. When I'd spotted this and asked her about it with brow furrowed, she laughed and said she always wrote that. Most housewives don't regularly play high stakes Las Vegas side games and cash regularly at the World Series, but after Flack crushed her again in a big confrontation on #40, tucking the kids into bed must have started feeling like a more worthwhile endeavor.

Come to think of it, it probably IS a more worthwhile endeavor, but when she gets out to play, Duke is usually the one playing the role Flack was playing this afternoon.

Two more hands passed before Flack scooped another pot, and someone said he needed a nickname, like "Night Train Layne." I pointed out that a former Detroit Lions football player owned that one and that maybe "Nightmare Layne" might be closer to today's truth.

We passed from the sublime to the ridiculous two hands later on a pot that got three way action pre-flop, action from Flack and Nguyen on both the flop and turn with the board showing 9-2-3-2, and when both checked when a third deuce hit the river, Flack scooped with A-J for high.

Let's try to keep this short. Flack made the nut flush the next hand, took the hand after that off so that Nguyen could finish off the desperately short-chipped Duke, and by the time we'd reached hand #50, the new chip count was

Flack, 200k
Nguyen, 12k
Leonidas, 50k
Marlow, 28k
Abecassis, 50k

Let's see. #52, Layne scoops with a straight. #53, he gets called until the river, when Marlowe finally gave up, a good thing when Flack showed another pair of pocket aces. #54, action all the way to the river against Leonidas, and Flack's Q-9-3-4 scoops it when the board comes Q-2-8-6-Q.

If you think it's getting old here, you should have been one of his opponents.

Marlowe, gutted by the aces hand, fell two hands later when Abecassis spiked an ace of his own on the turn card.


Nguyen finally thought he'd found the hand to fight back with on #68. All four remaining players looked at a flop for 4k each, and checked it when it came 6h-Jd-7c. Everyone checked to Nguyen when the 8s hit the turn, and Nguyen bet 4k, with Leonidas raising to 8k and Nguyen popping it back to 12k, putting Leonidas all-in.

They turned the hands over. Leonidas showed A-2-6-9, and Nguyen A-4-7-8. "Five or ten I scoop!" Leonidas cried out, with the board showing 6-J-7-8,

The five of spades it was, putting Leonidas into the game, and Flack said "I'd call for more cards if I were you!"

Leonidas' newly found strength lasted one hand, when Flack scooped a pot with a cautiously played straight. The board showed 9-Kd-5d-8d-5c, and while Flack did bet the turn, with both diamonds and a pair on the board, he checked behind Leonidas on the river. His 7-6 took the money.


It wasn't so long ago, at the World Poker Tour's "Celebrity Invitational" event, when I'd found myself being one of the "Laynettes" at a six-player final table where Flack owned three-quarters of the chips, so I felt some compassion when tournament Co-Director Matt Savage, who (along with cohort Jim Miller) has since one early hiccup run this tournament magnificently, called out a new tally:

Flack, 258k
Nguyen, 40k
Leonidas, 12k
Abecassis, 28k

When Nguyen heard this, he smiled and said "I have $40,000, I'm second in chips? That's no so bad!" Truly it wasn't, especially since The Master had been as low as 12k at various points.

Flack is almost always one of the loosest and comic characters at any final table; his drinking probably doesn't hurt that, and apparently it doesn't hurt his poker either, but here the oft-wisecracking Flack finally hit a short run of normal cards, and the aggression that had accumulated chips so rapidly let some get away. Eight hands later, each of his opponents' stacks had grown, and when a friend on the rail asked what had happened, he just smiled and said, "Oh, I just doubled everyone up once or twice."

The chips might have encouraged his opponents, but Flack's tone hadn't changed one iota from his long rush. Normally when you hit a guy a few times, his smile fades a bit, but to look at and listen to Flack, you'd have thought his rush had continued.

If poker is about putting fear into the other guy, Nguyen, Leonidas and Abecassis weren't getting anywhere, and the time to strike had arrived, because the round ended and the blinds moved to $2,000-3,000, playing $3,000-6,000.


Nguyen continued his momentum as the new round began, and actually moved over the 100k mark. Given that Flack's best games are pot-limit and no-limit hold'em, and that Nguyen is one of the three best Omaha/8 players in the world (Scotty Nguyen and "Miami" John Cernuto are the other two; a couple of years ago I'd have put Steve Badger in the same company but he hasn't been playing as much lately), I could almost hear one of Apollo Creed's handlers saying of Rocky Balboa, "He don't know it's a damn show. He thinks it's a damn fight."

Flack won a couple of small pots, and then on hand #89 Flack came up with a couple of those lefts that gave Creed so much trouble. Abecassis, a French journalist and bridge pro, opened it for 6k, and got a call from Flack. The flop came 10d-9s-3s, and the Frenchman bet and got called. The 6c hit the turn, Abecassis led out again, but this time Flack raised and Abecassis's call put him all-in.

Flack turned over 10-10-4-9, a set of tens. Abecassis turned over A-A-3-9, the superior starting hand but crushed on the flop, and when no ace saved him, we were three-handed, with a chip count of

Flack, 230k
Nguyen, 100k
Leonidas, 8k

Leonidas pulled more magic than Siegfried and Roy as he dodged various all-ins, but finally $2,000 of his final $3,000 went in as the small blind, and Flack's two pair made it a heads-up match after exactly 100 hands.

Heads-up, the small blind goes on the button (SBB) and acts first before the flop and second after the flop.


Men Nguyen had $77,000. Layne Flack had $261,000. They split the first two pots, the first to Flack, the second to Nguyen, and then on #103, or #3, as you prefer, Flack struck yet another crushing blow. He made it 6k from the SBB and got a call. He got another call when the flop came 4-2-2, and when the 7d hit the turn, Nguyen check-raised Flack to 12k. Flack called.

A trey hit the river, and it looked like the kind of card that would give someone a wheel or maybe some kind of split pot. Each player tabled his hand and tried to figure out what he had.

The best Nguyen could find was a K-3. Flack found an A-3, a better high hand and the nut low. He'd scooped, and if Nguyen hadn't been in trouble before, he really was now.

Men is a master not just in poker but also in poker talk. "How many bracelets you got?" he asked…knowing, I suspect, the answer.

"Three" Flack replied (two in no-limit hold'em and one in pot-limit hold'em).

"If you win today, you tie me," said Nguyen, reminding Flack and the SRO crowd that he was the owner of four bracelets, looking for five.

Flack wasn't about to be out-talked by anyone. The next hand, when Nguyen bet the turn, Flack threw his hand away, and brought new meaning to an old saying when he remarked "When in doubt, whip it out."

Flack "whipped it out" in a very different way when he made trip fours on hand #9 and then used something more akin to a cat o' nine tails on probably the key hand of the match, #11.


Flack brought that one in for 6k from the SBB, with Nguyen calling. The flop came 8s-3d-Ad, Nguyen checked, Flack bet 3k, Nguyen made it 6k, and Flack called. The 10s hit the turn, and Flack check-called Nguyen's 6k bet.

The 2d hit the river, Nguyen bet 6k, Flack raised it to 12k, and Nguyen probably did better than most would have just to call, because he turned over A-2-4-6: aces up, and second nut low with A-2-3-4-6.

Flack turned over 4-5-6-7, and his wheel might as well have been attached to a monster truck, giving him a 10-1 chip edge at 303k to 35k.

"Only card can beat me deuce!" Men shouted repeatedly. Maybe it's the back pain, but it was hard not to feel empathetic. You're sitting there short stacked, you finally pick up a monster and get lots of action with it, and instead of new life you suddenly find yourself in a nearly hopeless position.

Men's spirit was crushed, so much so that two hands later he said "You give me $5,000, I give up" (First place was $119,260, second was $59,660). Although Nguyen probably wouldn't have tried to go through with it - it was more an expression of frustration than anything else, and tournament officials wouldn't have allowed it anyway - he sounded sincere.


"Really?" Flack asked. "I don't think I can, I'd feel like I'd be winning an unfair bracelet."

"OK, $10,000," Nguyen said, bringing some humor back into it.

Seven hands later, an A-3-5-6 walloped Nguyen further, with the board bet all the way as it came 8-2-7-Q-4 (nut low, nut straight). He had 14k left.

Nguyen had 6k left after hand #123, and he shoved it all in from the SBB on #124, with Flack calling. 10c-8d-7h-2h for Nguyen, Qc-5h-4c-2d for Flack.

The board came Qs-Ac-Jd-10s. Each had a pair, but Flack was leading. If Nguyen could hit a ten, eight, or seven, he would live on, but on a day when Layne Flack caught cards like Joe DiMaggio caught fly balls, it wasn't to be. The three of diamonds made Flack the champion.

Flack is 33, and will turn 34 May 18, the day before the Big One. As Nolan Dalla and I tried to cut through all the post-win wisecracking, in generally failing miserably, Nolan asked Flack if he had goals like winning the Big One.

"No, I don't have high end goals like that," Flack said, "or I wouldn't be able to have as much fun as I do playing."

My turn. "Layne, you're very successful, but you break what is usually considered to be basic poker advice, which is not to drink when you're playing. Do you think drinking helps you, hurts you, or doesn't have any effect?"


"It varies," he said with the irrepressible smile. "If I'm running bad, I can start drinking. If I'm running good, I can stop - I got more options than most people." He stopped to give me one of his patented "good luck getting a serious answer out of me, Andy" looks, so I did.

I did want to know about the talking, though. Flack is unquestionably one of poker's best talkers, and I asked if that was part of his arsenal.

"Sure, most of them (his opponents) are scared to give me shit," he said. "You gotta have a fast tongue to keep up."

I've got a fast keyboard, but I'm smart enough not to play the other guy's game. The best break I caught today was a 124-hand final table, the shortest of this year's WSOP. Whether I could have finished a 400-hander I don't know, and I suspect Max will be back with you tomorrow.

I'd like to be able to talk about brilliant stratagems, crafty plays that extracted extra bets, and probably they were all there, but in the final analysis, I don't think a team of Scotty Nguyen, Miami John Cernuto and Steve Badger would have had a chance against Flack today. He played well, to be sure, but he caught more than just that deuce that broke Men Nguyen's spirit. If you want a game without luck, go play chess. Someday, you might be the one catching cards like that. Indeed, the dream of days like that is probably what keeps most of us playing.

After all, one of the reasons I'm not going to push it too hard tomorrow is that (aside from my questions about my writing ability while medicated) I want a few days catching cards like that myself, starting right after Layne Flack turns 34. Wouldn't you?

Final Official Results
$2,500 Buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo Split
135 Entrants
$313,875 Prize Pool

1. Layne Flack $119,260
2. Men "The Master" Nguyen $59,660
3. Toto Leonidas $29,500
4. Michel "Mik22" Abecassis $18,860
5. George Marlowe $12,560
6. Annie Duke $10,960
7. Denis Ethier $9,400
8. Billy McGowen $7,860
9. Scott Veitzer $6,275
10.Brent Carter $5,000

11th and 12th, $5,000 each: Howard Lederer, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson.
13th-5th, $4,420 each: Joseph Brodsky, Emmanuel Sebag, Eddie Fishman
16th-18th, $3,760 each: Greg Mascio, Phil Goatz, Mark Gregorich

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