From Fri May 09 14:30:22 2003 Return-Path: Delivered-To: Received: (qmail 94193 invoked by uid 19068); 9 May 2003 14:30:17 -0000 Received: from unknown (HELO ([]) (envelope-sender ) by (qmail-ldap-1.03) with SMTP for ; 9 May 2003 14:30:17 -0000 Received: from [] by with ESMTP (SMTPD32-7.15) id A25A1180050; Fri, 09 May 2003 14:51:22 +0100 From: "Wednesday Nite Poker" To: Subject: WSOP 2003 News Bulletin 19 Date: 09 May 2003 16:01:24 +0200 Message-ID: <> MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="----=_NNvax3F3_2HVtf7ZI_MA" Precedence: bulk Sender: X-Spam-Status: No, hits=-4.3 required=4.0 tests=BAYES_00,HTML_20_30,HTML_WITH_BGCOLOR,SMTPD_IN_RCVD, UNSUB_PAGE version=2.53 X-Spam-Level: X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 2.53 ( Status: OR ------=_NNvax3F3_2HVtf7ZI_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 ------=_NNvax3F3_2HVtf7ZI_MA Content-Type: text/html Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
The $64,000 Question
By Andrew N.S. Glazer, "The Poker Pundit"

If my write-ups near 3,000 words, certain ISP’s won’t accept the large files, I’ve learned. I intend to stay near that number, but if you do miss a report because of your ISP, remember that you will always be able to find it in the archives (although it may be a day late).

Now, to business. Today eight great players (as well as two friends) competed at the final table of the 2003 World Series of Poker $2,000 S.H.O.E. event.

S.H.O.E. is an acronym for a rotation of Seven-Card Stud, Hold’em, Omaha eight-or-better, and Eight-or-Better Seven Card Stud.

WSOP final table rounds are 90 minutes long: in S.H.O.E., the stud games were played for 50 minutes each, and the flop games for 40 minutes each. By alternating stud-flop-flop-stud, officials were able to raise the limits each 90 minutes.

When play began, the seats and chip positions were:

Seat Player Chip Count
1 Artie Cobb $22,200
2 Diego Cordovez $46,700
3 Daniel Negreanu $39,000
4 Chris Johansson $46,700
5 Jim Pechak $46,700
6 Dr. Max Stern $5,100
7 Jon Brody $11,300
8 Dick Corpuz $52,800

The playing conditions were more difficult than a typical tournament. You needed to play four quite different games well, and also needed to continually shift gears from one game to another. That requires a special combination of skills and concentration that not many players can muster.

I’d encountered Maria Stern, wife of the good Dr. Max, in the elevator while en route to the final table, and wished her and her short-chipped husband good luck. “It’s very nerve-wracking,” she said. “If he can double up once he’ll be fine, but if not, there isn’t much time to find a hand.”


Maria proved prophetic. There were 12 minutes left in the Omaha/8 round when we began, using $1,000-2,000 blinds, playing $2,000-4,000, and with Corpuz holding the button, Pechak raised it to 4k. Stern, a Costa Rican, decided hand #1 was good enough to take his shot, and moved his entire $5,100 into the pot.

Everyone else cleared out, and Stern turned over A-3-4-4, to battle Pechak’s A-2-6-10. Things looked good for a double-up as the board started 9-9-7-J, but a ten hit the river, and Stern had lasted exactly one hand. It wasn’t like this exit denied him his one shot at WSOP glory: Stern owns three gold bracelets and has cashed 18 times.

We switched to Stud/8 after hand #9, with $300 antes, a $500 low card bring-in, the completion allowed to $2,000, playing $2,000-4,000.

On hand #11, Corpuz caught the 2d for a $500 bring-in, and Cobb, Cordovez, and Brody flat called. It got heads-up between Corpuz and Brody on 4th street, and eventually the rest of Brody’s short stack got all-in.

Corpuz made a full house on the river, and Brody sighed as he looked at his A-2-4-5-10-10 draw, which now was drawing for only half of the pot. He squeezed his river card briefly, and turned over a useless jack. Brody, who had been appearing at his third final table of this Series and making his fourth cash, was out seventh.


Corpuz, a former neighbor from my Palo Alto days, wasn’t only playing Terminator. He was winning other pots and extending his lead. Cobb, whose fame for wearing bizarre hats sometimes obscures a glorious WSOP history that includes 25 cashes and four bracelets, finally slowed Corpuz on a big pot on #14.

Each player had a draw, but Cobb also had two nines, and when they both whiffed on the river, Corpuz’s early reign of terror had ended.

Cordovez, another Palo Alto neighbor and one of the two friends I mentioned (Negreanu is the other) was experiencing a different kind of early terror. He kept picking up every high-low player’s nightmare: good starting cards that got hit with more bricks than Moe, Larry, and Curly did in their entire careers.

I felt badly about this, in part because Diego is my friend, but also because I’d told him that he’d drawn a good seat: the last two players who sat in front of me and my magnetic back brace had attracted enough cards to win the tournaments, and Diego had drawn that spot.


Today, the magnets were proving as ineffective as all other silly superstitious charms, and Cordovez’s starting stack had been halved in 15 hands. Four hands later, though, he crushed Corpuz in a heavily bet pot when he made a wheel in his first five cards, and two hands later he and Corpuz went at it again.

Corpuz looked high with a Kh-9s-8s-7h board, and Cordovez looked low with the 8c-2c-3h-9c. He bet every street including the river, with Corpuz calling the whole way, and then announced he’d started (3-3) 8 and had made a full house on the river.

“A full house?” asked a surprised and deflated Corpuz. When Cordovez proved his claim, Corpuz mucked, and the former chip leader now had just a little over 20k left, while Cordovez had gotten healthy at 55k.

“I guess the magnets weren’t switched on at the start,” Cordovez said with a smile.


“Maybe the polarity was reversed,” I speculated.

If the polarity had been off, it must have been aimed at Negreanu, who had been winning practically every pot that Corpuz or Cordovez hadn’t. He showed rolled up eights on hand #28, and a full house on #31, when he ignored Corpuz’s check-raise on fifth street to bet right into Corpuz on sixth street showing 7-7-J-J, while Corpuz showed A-10-6-A.

Corpuz called that bet all-in, and showed aces and queens, but Cordovez showed the seven he’d started with, and when Corpuz couldn’t fill up himself on the end, his high-flying start had ended abruptly in sixth place.

Negreanu was now the clear chip leader, a status he pushed further when his wheel whacked Sweden’s Johansson on #35, and moved over 100k (at a table containing only 270k) on the next hand.

We hit the break after hand #43 with the chips now at

Cobb, 33k
Cordovez, 58k
Negreanu, 105k
Johansson, 27.5k
Pechak, 46.5k

The game changed to seven-card stud high only, with $500 antes, a $1,000 low card, completion to $3,000, playing $3,000-6,000.

Negreanu crushed Cordovez on the first two post-break hands, giving Negreanu now about half the chips on the table, while Cordovez was back down to 32k.


Just as it looked like Negreanu was about to start treating the table like Godzilla usually treated Japan, Pechak beat him by starting with rolled up deuces. Although this was only Pechak’s second WSOP cash, it wasn’t a surprise that he could shine in a rotation event. He just barely missed making the final table at the 2000 Tournament of Champions. The TOC was also a rotation event.

Pechak decided to start a little better on the next hand: (A-A) A. Johansson had a shot at him with a flush draw, but didn’t get there, and he was out fifth.

Pechak, a huge man who hails from Phoenix, AZ, had shown improvement from hand #48 to #49, and he stepped it up further on #50, where he took his queens and tens to the river against Cordovez, who’d paired his doorcard on fifth street to make trip fours.

When you’re hot, you’re hot. Pechak filled up, and his three hand spurt of trip twos, trip aces, and a full house had propelled him into a threatening position with 78k. Cordovez, one of the world’s top limit hold’em players, was in danger of not surviving until the hold’em round could start, but his early bricks and later collisions with big hands left him with 22k and an aversion to magnetism.

By hand #64 the field had separated into two segments, with the chip count at:

Cobb, 32k
Cordovez, 14k
Negreanu, 127k
Pechak, 97k

The clock was ticking down towards Cordovez’s best game, but his stack had grown so short that he couldn’t make the normally almost compulsory “steal but maybe stealing with the best hand” raises against a forced bring-in with everyone out and clear lead on the doorcard.


Pechak finally finished Cordovez off just as the clock dinged to indicate we were switching to hold’em. Pechak caught the forced bring-in with the 4d, and Cordovez completed it to 3k with the 9h. Pechak had a hand and played along. When he caught the Qs and Cordovez the 7s, he bet out and Cordovez called.

Pechak paired his doorcard on fifth street and bet out again, and Cordovez looked down at the $4,000 left in front of him. Letting go now would have left him in a hopeless position. He sighed and tossed the last 4k in. When we saw Pechak’s third four, Cordovez was drawing dead going to the river.

Going to the limit hold’em round, the chip count was

Cobb, 21k
Negreanu, 150k
Pechak, 99k

The blinds were $1,500-3,000, playing $3,000-6,000. Negreanu continued to catch what he needed and to force the action, while Cobb kept staving off all-in after all-in. “Hold’em don’t want to break me,” he said with a laugh after he doubled a meager stack for third time in the round.


Hold’em didn’t want to break Artie Cobb, but Negreanu did, and on hand #109, he and Cobb each limped in from the blinds. Staring at a 9-3-10 flop, Cobb checked, Negreanu bet, Cobb raised, and Negreanu re-raised. Cobb’s call put him all-in, and he turned over 9-7, middle pair. Negreanu showed 10-7, top pair, and the 5-3 finish left us heads-up, with Negreanu holding precisely a 2-1 lead at 180k-90k.

The margin was the same six hands later when the break arrived and the game changed to Omaha/8, with $2,000-4,000 blinds, playing $4,000-8,000.

Pechak was feeling playful. He asked Negreanu whether or not he wanted to take a dinner break (it’s optional if all players agree to skip it), and Negreanu, who I would guess quite literally weighs about one quarter of what Pechak does, indicated he would just as soon skip the meal.

“Oh, we’re having dinner, then,” Pechak laughed. As Captain Kirk asked the Klingon Captain Kruge to explain his reasons for not agreeing to beam the unconscious Spock up to his ship (in ST III, The Search for Spock, Kruge said simply “Because you wish it!”


There are of course humane exceptions (I’m usually willing to grant an opponent a quick bathroom break), but generally if you’re ambivalent about something and your opponent desires it, why grant it? You’re either in this to cut your opponent’s heart out with a spoon, or you’re probably not a winner.

Pechak was just kidding here though, because they never did take a dinner break, and while it had taken 109 hands to eliminate the first six players, it was going to take more than 200 more to eliminate the last one.


Pechak drew even by #123, and the ground war had begun. I have pages and pages of notes. Pechak draws ahead, Negreanu regains the lead, Pechak, Negreanu, a right, a left…it was hypnotic, but really more in the sleepy way than the exciting way. The players looked tired too; like I said, there’s something about rotation tournaments that seems to drain the players more than single-discipline tournaments, where one can find a rhythm.

The chips ebbed back and forth as surely as waves crashing up against a beach recede. At one point when the two were tied for the fourth time, Pechak tossed in a change-up by asking Negreanu, “You never do any dealing, do you?”

“No,” Negreanu replied. It’s not a bad policy if you’re an experienced shorthanded player, and Negreanu is, thanks to his high-stakes money play. Many tournament specialists, Negreanu thinks, don’t get enough shorthanded practice, because the situation only comes up when you’re in position to win, or if you play a lot of one table satellites.


That’s a good reason to play one table satellites, although if you do, you’ll probably find most of your opponents practically begging to make a deal once you get down to two or three players, and that’s precisely the time when playing one-table satellites pays off in shorthanded practice.

If your opponent desperately wants to deal (I’m talking generalities here: Pechak never mentioned it again), you should probably remember Captain Kruge’s advice. If your opponent desperately wants to deal, you probably should give strong consideration to not complying.

They shifted to stud/8 after hand #163, with Negreanu leading 154k to 116k. The antes were $500, $1,000 for the low card, completing to $4,000, playing $4,000-8,000. The game switch didn’t change the pace. The lead kept shifting back and forth, with most of the hands decided quickly and for inconsequential amounts.

The pace got so dull, I eventually stopped recording the little ones and stopped numbering the hands, just keeping a rough estimate of where we were.


Finally, Negreanu lost a big pot when he started (A-2) A and could never improve his high or make a low, and then Pechak made a wheel that reversed the earlier positions. Now it was Pechak who held the 2-1 lead, and both players seemed to tense up, curiously winding up in the same place for exactly opposite reasons.

Negreanu had led or trailed by only a small amount throughout the match, and suddenly it started dawning on him that he could lose. Pechak seemed to tighten up because he hadn’t been expected to win and when you added in the chip deficit, he felt no burden of expectation. Now he had a big enough lead so that if he lost, he would feel like he’d let a big opportunity slip away.

The mood didn’t lighten as they switched to stud high playing higher: $1,000 antes, $2,000 for the low card, complete to $6,000, playing $6,000-12,000. The limits were now big enough where one big hand played aggressively to the river could seriously damage either player.


Negreanu fell to about $64,000, and I decided that while I would report as objectively as possible, I wanted to root for my friend quietly (no cheering), so I turned my cap around backwards into a rally cap. I knew I was treading a line, but as long as I didn’t display my hopes outwardly, it felt OK. The rally cap wasn’t inside out, just backwards, like a lot of players wear them.

I did this not so very long after a number of other Negreanu friends arrived – Jennifer Harman Traniello, her husband, and many others. Pechak had some fans in the crowd too, but probably 80% wanted to see Danny Boy win his first bracelet in five years.

Moments later, Negreanu made a straight to jump back up to 125k. The limits were BIG. Just betting and calling to the river could change everything, and when Negreanu made a full house, he had, almost in the blink of an eye, leapt back to a 200k-70k lead.

It was now time to play hold’em, with $3,000-6,000 blinds, playing $6,000-12,000. It was time to start number hands again. We’d played about 300, so I started over at one. Almost every hand – at least those when Negreanu held the button – was opened for a raise and called, leaving $24,000 in each pot before we even saw a flop. $24,000 represented almost 10% of the total chips in play. That didn’t leave a margin for error.


Pechak was at 46k after #6, but zip, there he was even again after #17. Negreanu got more aggressive, and #19 gave him a lead. Pechak opened for 12k from the SBB, and Negreanu called. Negreanu check-called the 3-9-4 flop and check-called again when a 10 hit the turn.

An eight hit the river, leaving the board 3-9-4-10-8, and Negreanu now led out for 12k. Pechak called and looked sick when Negreanu turned over 6-7 for a straight: the ten on the turn had given Daniel a double belly buster, and the eight had delivered. 42k moved from Pechak’s stack to Negreanu’s with no raises after the pre-flop opener.

Twenty four more. Twelve more. Twelve more. Uncontested bets on the flop were costing Pechak too many chips. Too many hands got raised before the flop and taken from Pechak on the flop. The duel that had been dead even on #17 had turned into a 257k-13k rout after hand #27, and the belly buster straight had been the only big hand. Six thousand dollar bets took twenty four thousand dollar pots too often.

Hold’em hand #28 ended it. Pechak had only 13k left, and three of those thousand sat on top of the button. He raised, and Negreanu raised back the last $1,000 to put Pechak all-in.


Negreanu turned over 7-7, and Pechak J-7. The board came 5-8-2-K-3, and in one explosion, a dozen hands had finished what 25 times that number hadn’t.

I wanted to ask Pechak about whether the crowd favoritism had bothered him, wanted to ask him a number of things, but he disappeared almost instantly, proving to be a man of as few words in person as he had been on his bio sheet, where he’d ignored all the requests for information other than name, seat, chip count, and a mention that this was his second WSOP cash.

That left me with Negreanu, the featherweight Canadian who now lives in Las Vegas. He indicated that he probably liked this tournament more than any of the others, just because it played to his strengths: as a high action side game player, you’re virtually forced to learn how to play rotation games, because the great broad spectrum players don’t want to give a single game expert an edge.

Matt Savage had needled Daniel a bit when he mentioned, with the match still in progress, that Daniel hadn’t won a bracelet in five years. I wanted to know if Daniel had any theories about why he’d experienced that drought, especially since “focus” had been coming up a lot recently.


“I do think there’s a reason,” Negreanu said. “People think about a ‘home court’ advantage, but actually, when I’m here in Vegas, there are a lot of distractions. When I got to LA for a tournament, I’m in a hotel, and it’s easier to focus.”

Had he been scared that this one was going to get away back when he had dropped down to that $64,000 figure? “I was worried when I got short, yes, but I’d played so many hours with Jim the last couple of days, I felt I had a pretty good read on him, so I could pursue my strategy, which was to be as aggressive as possible. Actually, he played very well and very aggressively himself in all the games except hold’em, where he was a little more passive, and that left me an opening.”

The “read” comment was believable, because long before he’d uttered it, I’d made a similar comment to Harman-Traniello when she asked me how the match had been going.

“Daniel’s trailing, as you can see,” I started, “but it could have been a lot worse. He slipped the noose a lot of times when Jim had big hands, and we know it because Jim showed a lot of those hands.” I didn’t mention it to Jennifer, but I remembered one hand when Negreanu folded quickly to a raise and Pechak slapped the table in frustration; he’d accidentally exposed his hand while doing this and shown he’d started with two kings.

We’ve been hearing this refrain so often lately, I think it might be time for an acronym to help players remember it. Focus. Aggression. Reads. If you want to go F.A.R., whether you’re playing S.H.O.E. or any other game, remember those three words. You might be surprised how far they carry you.

Final Official Results, $2,000 Buy-In S.H.O.E
Total Entrants: 135. Total Prize Pool: $251,100

1. Daniel Negreanu, $100,440
2. Jim Pechak, $50,220
3. Artie Cobb, $25,180
4. Diego Cordovez, $15,060
5. Chris Johansson, $12,560
6. Dick Corpuz, $10,040
7. Jon Brody, $7,540
8. Dr. Max Stern, $5,020

9th-12th, $3,760 each: Huck Seed, Nikolaus Franges, Mihn Nguyen, Dan Mowczan.
13th-16th, $2,500 each: Tom McCormick, Brian Nadell, Cy Jassinowsky, Chad Brown.

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