WSOP Main Event on ESPN: Episodes 1 and 2

Written By admin on October 3, 2014
Recap from the much anticipated return of the WSOP Main Event

And… we’re back! After about a seven-week break following the completion of the Big One for One Drop and Daniel Coleman’s skillful win (and subsequent poor treatment by the press), the World Series of Poker is again airing on ESPN.

Nearly 6,700 people showed up at the Rio in Las Vegas this July to participate in the WSOP Main Event. About 700 of those we’re still around for Day 4, the subject of tonight’s episodes (which are largely about Ronnie Bardah and Phil Ivey.) Let’s see it break down.

Episode 1: Day 4- “1 chip, all in first hand!”

After a little intro talking about the meaning of the Main Event and a quick glimpse of the Humphries, ESPN takes the time to give a little attention to Charles Freeman. Freeman is the shortest stack this morning, with only a single 5,000 chip. Blinds at this point are 2,000/4,000, meaning Freeman has no choice but to go all-in and hope for the best. It was an impossible situation and luck was not with him, but the man walked out with dignity.

The Ivey love

Phil Ivey estimates his odds of making the final table as 16 to one. I’d be more optimistic, except I’m in the future and I know what happens.

Lon and Norman tell us that main thing that’s different this year: the $10,000,000 prize. What’s not new? Norman’s serious deep-seated man love for Ivey.

That man-love appears justified as Ivey eliminates Robert Gaudio who goes all-in rather quickly with a suited A-Q against Ivey’s pair of tens, leaving the popular player with 676,500.

Spreading the attention

Dan Smith, however is up to almost a million chips. The current average is about 270k right now.

We get some attention for the newcomers, including a racehorse breeder named Richard Rigney, who has never played poker before and made it all the way to Day 4 before having the bad luck to be seated with Jack Schanbacher.

Somehow both wound up all-in, and Rigney’s suited A-Q became a flush when three diamonds flopped. The room seems stunned Schanbacher’s 6-6 becomes four-of-a-kind on the river.


Now we get to our real focus of the night: Robbie Bardah. He’s never made it past 24th place in the Main Event, but he has cashed for the last four years in a row. If he gets this fifth consecutive year it will be a Main Event record.

Bardah goes all in against Canadian hockey player Eric Cloutier, A-8 against a pair of fives, Bardah catches his Ace on the river, narrowly staying alive to shoot for that record.

Ivey now has the biggest stack at the featured table, even after he wisely backs away from a losing hand against Marty Verdegaal.

Ivey then immediately winds up with K-K against Kyle Keranen’s K-Q. The river produces a fourth king, 7J3TK. Keranen is smart enough not to bet too high, so Ivey doesn’t make much but both players show a cool, calm intelligence.

In the money

At the halfway mark we look around the room. Dan Smith is chip leader with 1.65 million. In a single round:

  • John Dwyer gets a full house on the turn, the same turn that gives Mark Newhouse four-of-a-kind. Newhouse is able to press Dwyer into going all-in.
  • Zhen Cai goes all-in with Q-Q and loses to Darren Keys with A-A;
  • Corey Hunter is eliminated despite pocket Aces when Harry Kaczka’s 9-8 becomes two pair on the river.

That’s players out in one round, but they’ll split 693rd place. They, and everyone else left, are now in the money. Ronnie Bardah has his record.

Kara Scott interviews Bardah, he’s mostly speechless with accomplishment but manages to say that loves his dad. We’re then treated to him forcing Cloutier to go all in, 2-2 against 6-6

324AA, Bardah beating Cloutier’s two pair with a full house. Bardah still only has 140,500, though, well below the average stack.

Ivey expressionlessly eats an apple while watching Kyle Keranen uses 3-3 to eliminate James Duncan.

Keranen is playing quite well. Well enough that a short time later Ivey knows better than to try to bluff him and loses 18% of his stack to Keranen’s three-of-a-kind. declares Bardah “King of the Night” but he’s still in bad position. Dan Smith is up to 1.855 million. 575 players are left for the second episode.

Episode 2: The Fall of Bardah and Ivey

Mark Newhouse currently has a stack of 383K. Norman promises he will dive into the LA river naked if Newhouse makes the final table. Being in the future makes that a weird thing for me to hear.

Bruno Politano from Brazil has 9-9, which he raises against Ivey’s A-K. Ivey raises further, so the Brazilian goes all in with 169K.

Q3Q flops. 5. Politano begins to repeatedly snap to defuse the tension. Another 5, Ivey fails to catch a pair and loses 29% of his stack, now only 425K. Politano’s grows to 356K.

One downfall

Bardah’s goes all-in with a K-K against Argentinean Cristian Rotondo’s A-K.

562JA Bad river for Bardah. He is not happy but Rotondo stays classy.

Perhaps next year Ronnie Bardah can make his record six in a row, for now he leaves in 475th place, with $25,756.

Then the other

Ivey’s stack badly needs to recover from the Politano thing. After losing another hand to Stephensen Ivey will be leaving the featured table.

Maria Ho steps into his seat with a 556K stack, she is the first female player to get any ESPN attention tonight. And after one hand in which Joe Degeorge fails to catch a straight, she’ll add another hundred thousand to her stack.

Ivey has gotten down to 278K, so he decides to goes all in with an A-K against Brit Kabbaj’s J-J pair. 99225, two more pairs appear with nothing for Ivey, so it’s over for him. 430th place, He’ll be leaving with $25,756

Norman has no idea what to do. He cries bitter tears, yearning for a kinder day to come next year when Phil Ivey succeeds, instead of this crushing pain that is too much for Norman to bear. He angrily shouts that Ivey is dead to him.

Shameless filler time

Now I’m really not sure what ESPN plans to do, they have thirty minutes to go (and many more episodes to follow) and up til now this has been all about Bardah and Ivey. They clearly expected at least one of them to last longer because we kill some time with shameless filler, watching card shuffleboard in the “Side-Action Championship”.

We take a look at Robert Mapp, a first time competitor from the south who has wound up at the featured table. He manages to eliminate Bruno Lopes with a spade flush and then take a pot from Haugen, followed by knocking out Thomas with a Q-Q. This amateur is having a great day, now has a 1,167M stack.

Haugen and Margolin both have large stacks of over 2M when big raises start coming. Haugen, K-K, goes all-in with 2,046,000, forcing Margolin, 8-3 suited (?), to fold making Haugen the chip leader with 2,822M (Dan Smith is unseated).

When we next see Robert Mapp he has lost half his stack, and isn’t able to stop calling against Margolin’s three tens, losing another 35% and bringing him down to 343K.

Final hand of the day

Margolin has A-T and raises to 22K. Vladimir Bozinovic has pocket Aces. Mapp with 143K takes his chance going all-in with pocket Kings. Margolin raises to 227K. Bozinivic is very happy, re-raises 415K forcing Margolin to slink away. The flop is 872, giving Mapp just a 8% chance to stay in this… until a 5 of spades on the turn meaning Mapp is officially done. The first-timer had a very fast up and down at the featured table, but he leaves in 292nd place (taking $33,734 home for his grandkids.)

There are 33 tables left. Bozinovic now has a stack of 2.055 million. Haugen is still the chip leader with 2.808M and is second “King of the Night”. Politano and Kerangen are both in the top ten (as well, obviously, as Dan Smith.) And Norman is still very upset about Ivey.

Day four is over, bring on Day 5 next week.

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