W-Day Plus 14: Damn You, Martin Harris!


No waiting at registration at 2am.

I had another title and theme picked out for this post the other day, but it’s completely escaped me.

If this trip has done anything, it has given me even more respect for the abilities and stamina of Martin @hardboiledpoker Harris, and the work he’s done on his “Hard-Boiled Poker” blog. I also might hate him a little bit now, for making live reporting look like a task a mere mortal might be able to take on and still have a life.

I’ve been reading Martin’s work for several years, including his accounts of live reporting from stops in the US, Europe, and Latin America, as well as essays on politics and poker, plus articles on PokerNews. When I first considered branching out from this blog, Martin—by then an editor at PN—was the person I reached out to, and he’s been my editor there ever since. Oh, and he also teaches a course on poker and popular culture and has a farm with horses. After I’d applied for this job, and while I was waiting to hear back about whether I’d be hired, I read through Martin’s daily accounts of covering the 2008 WSOP, back when he was new to the game.

Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that people like Martin are either just much better at this than I am, or that they have some sort of fucking time machine they’re not telling me about.

After the first HORSE tournament (and no, I don’t think changing the rotation order to HEROES is going to make it any easier for inattentive players to know which game they’re on, just look at the placards), I resolved to make sure I got a post in, no matter what the turnarounds were.

The first day of the $3K HORSE wasn’t anywhere near the car crash of the $1.5K. I was on with a different partner this time, another newbie to live reporting, but one who had some experience as a dealer at the WSOP, and we both had a couple of events under our belts, so we had a better feel for things.

The $3K was a smaller field, as well, though that meant even more concentration of big names to cover, and one issue we found ourselves with was a too-expansive list of stacks to track. Chino Rheem, Jason Somerville, Justin Bonomo (runner up in the $1.5K HORSE), Hellmuth, Ho, David Chiu, Robert Mizrachi just off his Stud bracelet, etc. No dinner break on Day 1 and we wrapped up around 2:30am. Monday. There was a lot of non-poker emotion around, as it was Sunday afternoon that Ryan Laplante talked about the Orlando shooting—which had happened early Sunday morning—at his bracelet ceremony.

I got to the house, finally got to sleep as light was starting to seep from behind the blackout curtains on my window, then woke up at 9:30am. Wrote up the report for the start of Day 2 and posted it, tried to catch up a little on the world outside and what was going on in the rest of the WSOP, but before I knew it, it was time to head back to the Rio for the 2pm start of HORSE.

The Millionaire Maker had been running over the weekend, and there were a number of Portland poker faces I ran across in the halls. Wayne Keller rolled up to me to say hi, and later on I ran across Darin Stout and Jim Rostel  (among others), who were there to rail Danny Elmore, who came in 18th out of nearly 7,200 entries. Elmore busted late on Day 3, but by now everyone knows that another Portland-are player, Lisa Meredith, went on to Day 4 to win half a million dollars after mostly playing $20 tournaments at Claudia’s, a mile from my house. Day 2 of the HORSE tournament wrapped up about 2am again, with two tables of eight players each coming back for Day 3.

Back up at 9:30 or so. Write the Day 3 intro (our guidelines say they’re supposed to be written the night before, but so far that hasn’t happened for me), then into the fray. We had two tables in an otherwise empty quarter of the Amazon Room to start with. The reporting desk was on the far side of the section, a “problem” Martin would sneer at. Then two minutes before the tournament was to start, the floorperson told players to put their chips back in their bags and ran them all the way across the room. My fellow reporter and I had to grab our computers and hurry to catch up, because we were fairly certain one of the players was going to bust on one of the first hands, since he came back for the day with just a single big bet.

Little did we know that there would be such a flurry of action as we had, with seven players busting in the course of ninety minutes, which meant a move to a secondary feature table, which was next to the “Thunderdome” where the final table of the Millionaire Maker was taking place. Fortunately, the placement of the media table was a little more protected than on the other secondary table (tertiary table?), which had been an issue on the $1.5K HORSE.

The chip leader through most of late Day 2 and up until almost dinner break on Day 3 was Jared Talarico, who I described in my Day 3 intro as having put on a “master class in relaxed aggression” (which was edited out) due to his being continually massaged for most of three days, blew up just before dinner break on the final table, losing a huge pot to Marco Johnson. In a series of about three hands, Talarico went from having more than half of the 6M chips in play to less than a 1M. There was no masseuse after the dinner break.

Johnson won the bracelet about midnight. I got home, watched the latest Game of Thrones, and slept until 10:30 (it was Wednesday, by now). I had planned to play the 11am 6-Max tournament at Planet Hollywood, but I was going to be late. Played it anyway and busted in Level 6, when I played 6x6x and the board ran out QxJx5xQx6x, natch, my caller had the QxJx and the better full house before I even made mine. Thought about playing the afternoon Big O game, but went back to the house, helped chop stuff up for tostadas, ate too much, had a couple of drinks, and went to bed earlier than I normally do even when I’m not reporting late into the night.

Damn you, Martin Harris!