You may not be aware of this, but there is a betting sub-culture at the World Series of Poker that often eclipses even the higher tournament payouts most players achieve. So-called prop bets are big business, and when the wealthy pro players get involved, we're talking about mega money. Rumors began circulating a few days ago of huge side action on online phenom Tom 'durrrr' Dwan, with most betting against him winning a bracelet this series.
A lot of people got sweaty palms on Saturday night when Dwan made the final table of the $1,500 No Limit event - and that turned into fully-blown, near-panic yesterday when the final played out and Dwan made it to heads-up play.
Word on the street was that the $614,248 Dwan might get for first place was pocket money compared to millions, some say upwards of $9 million, he would make from the prop bets for bagging a bracelet. The Rio was jumping as Dwan homed in on what could be the biggest-ever poker payday; some pro players allegedly had millions of dollars on the line.
In a quirk of fate, many of those pro players were involved in the first day of the $10,000 7-Card Stud High-Low Split 8 or Better World Championship (which must get its own record for having the longest-ever tournament name), being played out right next to Dwan's final table. While trying to concentrate on their own event, the buzz was all about Dwan and whether he could bank a fortune, possibly breaking some folks along the way. The stands were packed, and many of the pros couldn't resist leaving their table to check on Dwan's progress. Barry Greenstein even had to sit on the floor to catch the action.
In the end, their money was safe. Dwan lost heads-up to Simon Watt, who must now be the most popular player in the world. Mike Matusow summed it up, shouting across the tournament room: "Thank you for saving us all millions of dollars! How does it feel to be every high-stakes gambler's hero? They're gonna, like, put you on the wall in Bobby's Room."
Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu was clearly one of those who would have been in a hole had Dwan won. First, when Dwan was three-handed, Negreanu said: "The atmosphere in the room is electric. So many of us have bets against Durrrr winning. Three left and we are sweating hard!"
Then the Canadian added later: "Congrats to Tom Dwan! We were all rooting for you... to come second! Wow, I escaped. What a sweat that was."
No-one will ever know just how much was on the line in the final stages of that $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event. What is clear is that Dwan, already a wealthy 23-year-old, came close to becoming a high-bracket millionaire. What is not so certain is which pros would have been explaining something rather painful to the bank manager this morning.
With all of that going on it was tricky to keep up with the real events at the Rio yesterday - the tournaments. Great news for us is that Team PokerStars Pro has its first player at a final table. Congratulations to Alex Kravchenko from Russia, who is fifth out of seven going in to today's final of the $1,500 2-7 Draw Lowball No Limit event.
While fellow Team Pros Chad Brown and Dario Minieri busted early in the day, Kravchenko chipped up consistently to ensure his final table place. That was helped with one big tasty pot against Todd Bui. Kravchenko open-raised to 9,000 and Bui re-raised to 33,000. Call. Kravchenko drew one, while Bui stood pat. Check from Kravchenko, Bui bet 17,000 and the Team Pro called. "Ten," said Bui, who then mucked when Kravchenko showed 9-8-7-4-3 for the winner.
We'll report tomorrow on Kravchenko's progress - hopefully with news of Team PokerStars' first 2010 bracelet. There's also the matter of $92,817 waiting for the winner.
In other news, PokerStars player Terrence 'Unassigned' Chan came third in the $1,500 Limit Hold'em event, cashing for $83,185. First was Matt Matros for $189,870. The day 1B of the $1,000 No Limit Event - read our description of the start of that one yesterday - saw a decent list of Team Pro entries, but none of Joe Cada, ElkY, Jason Mercier (now back in Vegas after a family wedding) or Team PokerStars SportStar Boris Becker made progress.
Back to the $10,000 Stud event itself (and not the players' fixation with Dwan's progress). There were 170 entries in this one, and 112 got through at the end of the night. Many Team PokerStars Pro among them. Chip leader is Mario Johnson on 121,500, but behind him are the likes of Barry Greenstein (88,700), George Lind (76,700), Dario Minieri (53,000), Daniel Negreanu (37,700), Jason Mercier (24,900), and Bill Chen (17,300).
Day two of that one is today, along with Kravchenko's 2-7 Draw Lowball final, day 2 of the $1,000 No Limit, as well as the start of the first six-handed event of the WSOP, the $1,500 No Limit Hold;em.
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Tweets of the Day
@RealKidPoker: Just finished chatting with Durrrr. That kid is amazing. Rather than jump off a bridge he is smiling and gearing up for the next one. Cool cat
@NHGG (Gavin Griffin): I sweated Terrence Chan today longer than I've been in any individual tournament this WSOP
@aakkari: Veeeeegggaasssss Babeeeee!!!!
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Thought of the Day
Bet they're relieved
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Previous WSOP Diary entries
WSOP Diary: Poker's clean-up operation begins again
WSOP Diary: Manchester United soccer star Darren Fletcher tackles World Series of Poker
WSOP Diary: $10,000 Stud Championsip draws big names
WSOP Diary: Nh, gg, wp Daniel Negreanu, k?
WSOP Diary: Grinding out $1.5million with perfect timing
WSOP Diary: Team Pro Maridu needs Baker, Baker needs dough
WSOP Diary: Viva la revolution in Las Vegas
WSOP Diary: Safari, so good for Noah Boeken
WSOP Diary: Barry Greenstein mixes it up in the $50K
WSOP Diary: Going supersize in Las Vegas