Amir Vahedi Chews Up Field On Day One
By Max Shapiro and Andrew N.S. Glazer


Amir Vahedi raced to a big lead with $303,400 as Day Two of World Series of Poker 2003 came to a close. His closest competitor was Bryan Watkins, an Englishman, with $247,900, while Scotty Nguyen, one of four world champions still in the race, had $214,300. The other three championship bracelet holders still in the hunt are Phil Hellmuth with $139,100, Dan Harrington with $106,100 and Johnny Chan with $68,400.

Barry Greenstein, the chip leader with $94,775 at the end of Day One, had only increased his position slightly, to $106,600. Greenstein earlier this year won Larry Flynt's $1 million one-table seven-card stud event at the Hustler Casino.

Day One started with 839 players. Some 385 returned this afternoon, and when the last hand was dealt at midnight, the field had been cut down to 111. Action resumes tomorrow at noon and will continue until 45 players are left. However, the 111 are only 48 away from the money, since 63 spots will be paid to this record-breaking field.

Chip-leader Vahedi started with $24,325 today. At the dinner break he had about $250,000 and kept climbing from there, largely at the expense of Andy Glazer, whom he knocked out on a very bad beat, winning a $160,000 pot. (Andy's account of the hand, one of two updates he wrote, comes later in this report.)

Vahedi, who starts tomorrow with more than four times the current chip average of $75,585, is on a roll, having won the $2,000 no-limit hold'em championship at Hustler Casino and the $5,000 no-limit hold'em event here this year. Asked how he got all his chips, he said, "They just didn't believe I had anything when I bet. I lost a lot of hands on the flop, then got them back on the turn or the river."

LUCK NEVER HURTS

Vahedi, famed for his loose play and lucky catches, was catching cards like crazy. A player who was at Vahedi's table shook his head when discussing his play, pointing out that Vahedi had been repeatedly winning big pots with marginal--if not unplayable--hands. "He's been doubling up every break while I can't go from $20,000 to $30,000," the player complained.

Vahedi said he dipped down from about 270k to 200k after the dinner break when he tightened up, then zoomed up again when he beat Andy. But his most spectacular hand came on Day One when a player moved in with pocket kings and he called with pocket nines. Vahedi flopped a set, his opponent turned a set of kings, and Vahedi rivered a fourth nine! This overcame an earlier beat when Vahedi had pocket queens and lost to quad sixes.

ANDY'S FIRST UPDATE, AT DINNER BREAK

I'm still well in the hunt, with about 60k, which is still nicely above par but nothing special, and I now have more respect for people who survive the day after day pressure of the WSOP than ever before. I think my first day blunder (the one I got lucky on) has straightened me out and I have made two BIG laydowns and each turned out to be correct. Almost incredibly, after studying my opponent in each situation for about three minutes, I folded and then the opponent complied by showing me I was right. I can only hope I get either of these folks back; information like that is priceless.

What is making this savagely difficult for me is my back, which is worse than it has been than at any point in the tournament. Fate must be testing me. I was doing OK yesterday until someone made me dive sideways by rushing out of the gift shop, and after taking so many drugs last night I thought I might be a candidate for an overdose (not really) I was able to get to sleep, and I felt OK in the morning, for about two hours. Then some idiot who was RACING back to his seat to see one hand literally slammed into me and the pain went nuclear.

I have HAD to take some meds to stay in the chair, but I don't think there's much chance of them dulling my play, because the pain is like a constant sword. I cannot imagine ANY other task I would continue doing other than playing this tournament from this position, and had I felt this way when it was time to sign up, I would have passed. Nonetheless, nothing wonderful ever comes easily, and so I'm doing the best I can. It's going to have to be great against the players who remain.

The tables now, with about 170 players left, have lost almost all the dead money, and I see big stacks and talented players everywhere I look. Four more hours play today, and I don't know if I will send another update after that (unless I'm out, which I most definitely don't plan to be...if I go out, I will have the best hand going in). It will be last night all over again, a ton of drugs, a ton of feldenkrais exercises to try to straighten out what I now know must be a bulging disk. Who knows, maybe the pain is making me play better. One thing I do know. I refuse to let the pain give me an excuse to return to the sidelines. It's a LONG way to the finish line, but I will endure what I must endure to try to get there. 63 people will make the money, but I want more than that. Keep fingers crossed, and any connections you have with the Universe that you are willing to use wishing me both luck, strong play, and a healed back will be accepted most graciously.

Andy Glazer

ANDY ISN'T THE ONLY ONE HURTING

This has been a very grueling tournament, and with only two days gone, the players are showing the strain. An obviously weary Jim Meehan, who won the $2,000 no-limit hold'em event this year, was heard to mutter, "I may go home and let them blind me off. I can't take it any more." Just as well he didn't go home, because at the end of the day he had $148,700 (and felt better).

The first day chip leader, with $94,775, was Barry Greenstein, winner of the one-table, million-dollar stud event held earlier this year at Larry Flynt's Hustler Casino. Behind him that first day were Rob Hollink with $71,900; Tomer Benvenitsi with $70,650; Phil Ivey with $66,00; Kassam "Freddy" Deeb with $63,575; Scotty Nguyen with $60,050; and Erlend Jensen with an even 60k.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Gone on the first day were world champions Doyle Brunson, Berry Johnston, John Juanda, Carlos Mortensen and Robert Varkonyi. Hitting the exit on the second day were
Amarillo Slim Preston, Tom McEvoy, Berry Johnston, Jim Bechtel, Huck Seed and Chris Ferguson. Other top players knocked out on the first day included such names as John Bonetti, Erik Seidel, Chip Reese, Dewey Tomko and Brent Carter. Those falling victim on Day Two included T.J. Cloutier, Kenny Flaton and Tony Ma.

ANDY'S SECOND (AND FINAL) UPDATE

With about 45 minutes remaining in the second day of the 2003 WSOP, a tournament offering a life-changing $2,500,000 to the winner, Jim Meehan opened for his standard raise of $2,800 (the blinds were $600-1,200). I found two kings and made it $9,000.

It came back around to Jim, and he moved all-in, his $110,000 just covering my $95,000 or so. For the first time in my life, and we'll never know if it was the right thing to do, I thought for about four minutes, and laid down two kings before the flop. There are a million ways to think this hand through. Jim had aces and was trying the overbet to suck me in. Jim had the same hand I did and didn't want to risk looking at a flop if I had A-K. Jim had nothing special and figured I wouldn't call with anything but aces.

One of the tough parts of poker is that even though Jim is a friend, I can't ever believe what he later tells me. It's just a part of the game, and I'm stuck not knowing. I now believe we had the same hand--I think with aces he would have raised me back $30,000, and then I'd have moved him in, and we'd have found out, but now we'll never know.

(Note: Vahedi later said to me that Meehan told him he had pocket kings, same as Andy. When I see Minneapolis Jim tomorrow I'll beat an honest answer out of him. -Max Shapiro)

With about 15 minutes left before the midnight bell that would end Day Two, I picked up two aces in early position, and raised to $3,500. Amir Vahedi, who had about $220,000, called. The flop came 8d-8c-3c, Amir checked, I bet $15,000, and Amir made it $35,000. I figured he had me on tilt from the big laydown earlier (I'd hardly stopped talking about it), and moved my last chips (a raise of about another $25,000) in. Amir called immediately, and I asked the question I didn't need to ask: "Do you have an eight?"

Amir said yes, and turned over 7-8 offsuit. I was dead to two outs and unlike day one when I hit my two outer, there was no reprieve. In a 30 minute stretch, I took $90,000, caught aces and kings, and was out of the tournament. Did I make the right play on the end? Was I just doomed by that board? Am I supposed to make another laydown right after talking about (but not showing) another?

I'm really too stunned to know right now. I'll ask other pros later. I got lucky on day one, and maybe what goes around comes around. Two days of playing through the pain (almost unbelievably, yet another person slammed into me as I was sitting down--this time my friend Phil Hellmuth, who was racing to the bathroom--my spine must look like origami by now) end in an emptiness and entirely different kind of pain. If the board had been something like K-Q-9, I probably could have gotten away from the hand on the raise. If I try a crazy play like just moving all-in from the start, I probably just win a small pot, but could get called by someone other than Amir, and I double up.

I'm trying to figure out how all this can make me a better person or player. So far the only thing I can up with is not to whine about it, since my mistake with two tens on Day One could have ended things then and there. I guess I also know a little more about disconsolate other players are when they bust out with a chance, but I had always figured I was kind of high on the empathy quotient anyway.

Right now I just want oblivion, for my back to stop hurting, and eventually to figure out if I played the hands against Meehan and Vahedi correctly. Oblivion shouldn't be too hard. I'm still numb as it is.

If my back is OK and I can recover emotionally (I suspect the answer will hinge more on point #1 rather than #2), I will be reporting about Day Three and thereafter. If not, Max will take you through Wednesday, and hopefully I'll be back in action on Thursday.

All I really know for sure is that I have to find a way to make this awful, empty, simultaneously numbing and painful experience into a positive. I can keep it in perspective, I suppose...there are many more things more important in life than a poker tournament, even one that offers so much money and other possibilities. Who knows, maybe I would have made a horrible blunder tomorrow and forever felt like a class A moron. Right now, though, I feel like a boxer who has taken one too many blows, and who just needs to fall to the canvas, so fall I will. That being said...

I'll be back.

Andy Glazer

DAY 2 CHIP POSITION

VAHEDI, AMIR $303,400
WATKINS, BRYAN G. $247,900
NGUYEN, SCOTTY $214,300
LEDERER, HOWARD H. $204,800
DEEB, KASSAM "FREDDIE" $194,900
IVEY, PHILLIP $163,500
LUSKE, MARCEL $156,800
BRENES, HUMBERTO $152,200
MEEHAN, JAMES M. $148,700
BOYD, DUTCH $144,700
HOANG, CHUC $143,700
HELLMUTH, PHIL $139,100
JOHNSON, TIMOTHY D. $130,800
GRIGORIAN, CHRIS $121,900
VINAS, TOMMY $119,800
KAPLAN, JONATHAN $119,100
WATERMAN, DENNIS $117,800
ROSENKRANTZ, ABRAHAM $115,800
ALLEN, MATTHEW W. $110,200
PAK, YONG $109,200
MILLER, JIM M. $106,700
GREENSTEIN, BARRY $106,600
HARRINGTON, DAN $106,100
SHULMAN, JEFF $104,400
STRZEMP, JOHN $103,400
MONEYMAKER, CHRISTOPHER B. $100,900
BENVENITSI, TOMER $94,800
LESTER, JASON $93,800
ZEIDMAN, CORY $92,600
INASHIMA, JOHN $91,300
LIFFEY, RORY F. $91,300
BILL JONES $90,800
FREDJ, SAMUEL M. $90,600
MAY, MIKE $90,300
KASTLE, CASEY $90,000
FITOUSSI, BRUNO $89,000
HARDIE, GEORGE $88,900
JENSON, OOD ERLEND $88,000
REICHERT, TOD L. $86,600
HAUGAN, PETER $85,900
COMEE, WILLIAM D. $82,800
PLASTIK, DAVID $81,600
JETT, CHIP $79,400
GARDNER, JULIAN $78,800
SONG, KEVIN K. $78,200
PIPE, RICHARD S. $77,000
DUKE, ANNIE $76,800
BARCH, JOHN D. $75,200
THOMAS, HARRY $71,500
HALLAN, PRIYANAND $71,000
VANHORN, BRUCE M. $71,000
KLINGER, PEPE $69,800
ATKINSON, BRUCE $69,100
CHAN, JOHNNY $68,400
GREY, DAVID $62,700
QUINTERO, REFUGIO V. $62,600
LOTT, STEVE $62,000
DELAMOS, PETER $61,000
THORSON, OLOF I. $61,000
GEERS, ROBERT $60,600
LUMLEY, DAVID L. $60,300
ROSE, MARK $60,100
FARHA, SAM $58,000
JAMES, KENNA S. $57,100
NGUYEN, MEN $56,900
CHIU, DAVID $55,400
BENICHOU, PAUL S. $54,700
ANASTASYADIS, KOSTANTIN $53,200
PERRY, RALPH $52,800
ANDREW, HOWARD "TAHOE" $51,700
CANTOR, CLIFFORD M. $51,100
BROWN, CHAD $49,400
LENNAARD, KEN R. $49,100
MUCKLEROY, MIKE K. $48,800
WHEELER, STUART $48,000
SIMMONS, REGINALD B. $46,300
LAZZARO, KEVIN K. $45,500
HAVESON, BRIAN D. $44,100
RAMDIN, ANNJANO M. $42,900
SINGER, DAVID E. $42,900
BUI, JULES $42,600
EPSTEIN, MICHAEL $41,800
NADELL, BRIAN $39,700
DUONG, TAM (TONY D) $38,700
BUONOCORE, BRYAN C. $38,200
DUMONT, DANIEL R. $37,600
ALIMI, DAVID $37,400
APPLEMAN, MICKEY $36,200
DARDEN JR., PAUL L. $36,100
JACOBS, KEN $35,800
MCCLAIN, MICHAEL $35,500
MAHMOOD, AYAZ $35,400
DOUMITT, CHARLES S. $34,600
GREGORICH, MARK $34,400
BERMAN, LYLE A. $33,600
FAN, FRANCIS $31,600
NGUYEN, MINH $31,100
MAYFIELD, SCOTT D. $30,900
CHA, JIMMY $30,200
SARCONE, JAMES D. $27,600
RECHNITZER, GEORGE $27,400
STUDLEY, JULIEN J. $26,800
HALE, JOHNNY $26,400
THUNG, ROY $19,300
SHOTEN, CHARLES $18,700
KALLAKIS, ACHILLEAS $17,300
DYKES, CALVIN R DDS $14,000
HENEGHAN, PAT $13,500
FRITZ, ANDREAS $10,000
BEHL, RICHARD L. $4,000
HOLLEIN, JON $2,600

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