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Every World Series of Poker brings its own stories3 July 2007
Every World Series of Poker brings its own stories, adding to the lore that began when Johnny Moss won the first event in 1970, by vote of his fellow players.
No chip count, no last man standing. The eight players who gathered at Binion's Horseshoe on Las Vegas' Fremont Street voted on who had played best. Legend has it that on the first ballot each player voted for himself, and that another ballot was taken in which everyone was asked to vote for the second-best player. Moss won.
This year's WSOP, now operated by Harrah's Entertainment and held at the Rio, west of the Las Vegas Strip on Flamingo Road, runs through July 17. With 55 events concluding with the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold'em championship, it's a festival of poker that already has added a few pages in tournament history.
In the first event, a Chicago man, Steve Billirakis, became the youngest player ever to win a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Born May 23, 1986, Billirakis was 21 years and 11 days old when he won the $5,000 buy-in Hold'em mixed limit/no-limit event. That broke the record of 21 years, 1 month and 9 days, the age of Jeff Madsen when he won his first of two events last year.
It was Billirakis first live tournament, and he plunked down $5,000 in cash to enter. The investment was well worth it. In addition to his bracelet, he walked away with $536,287.
Moving from rookies to veterans, Phil Hellmuth won the $1,500 no-limit Hold'em event for his 11th bracelet, a WSOP record, along with $637,254. He entered the event tied with 10 championships with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Hellmuth said afterward, "All I've ever really wanted to be known as is the greatest poker player of all time." His leadership is no closed case, of course, with Chan and Brunson still having time before the end of the Series to try to climb back into the tie.
In the Ladies event, former opera singer Sally Boyer parlayed a year of poker play and an intensive pre-tournament seminar into a bracelet and $262,077. Boyer, who now runs a real estate business in Midway, Utah, paid $1,699 to attend a seminar given by poker pros Annie Duke and Alex Outhred and former FBI agent Joe Navarro. Navarro's role? Teaching players how to pick up non-verbal cues from opponents. That's "reading tells" to those who play.
One of the oddest stories to come out of this year's WSOP is that of Richard Brodie, the original author of Microsoft Word. In addition to poker, Brodie plays video poker, and he can well afford to play at a different level than you or I.
Brodie was playing a three-coin $100 full-pay Deuces Wild machine at Caesars Palace. That's right. He was wagering $300 a hand on video poker. He drew a royal flush, worth $240,000, and twice in the same session, drew four deuces for $60,000 on each of those hands. The next day, he returned to the machine and was DEALT another royal. His first five cards were Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 of diamonds, with no draw needed. Another $240,000.
Caesars took the game out of service briefly, and when it came back, the game had changed. No more full-pay Deuces, paying 100.76 percent expert play. In its place was a 98-percenter.
That in itself wouldn't be shocking. Casinos change games all the time, and full-pay Deuces is so good for the player that it's rarely offered at denominations of more than 25 cents. When dollar games are offered, the pros flock to them, the casinos lose money and quickly change games. That a $100 full-pay Deuces game was ever offered is incredible in itself.
But what came next is where we intersect with the World Series of Poker. Brodie was among a handful of players who were sent certified letters from Harrah's Entertainment, owner of Caesars, that they were no longer welcome in Harrah's properties in Nevada, California and Arizona. That includes the Rio, and Brodie was planning to play in the World Series of Poker.
That opened up a brouhaha on poker sites throughout cyberspace, with poker players incredulous that one of their own could be banned for a good run at video poker. Harrah's reviewed the case and lifted the ban, and Brodie is playing in the World Series of Poker. His first event was the $5,000 limit Hold'em championship, where he made it to day two, but did not cash.
VIDEO POKER TALK: Linda Boyd, author of The Video Poker Edge, is carrying on a running dialogue with players on the Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine Web site. Go to www.midwestgamingandtravel.com, and click on the icon for "Boyd's Eye View." There you'll find a message board where you can post questions or comments on video poker, and Boyd and other players will chime in. It's a fun forum, one I like to drop in on from time to time.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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