Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hand for Hand

This is one of my favorite moments that I wasn’t personally involved in from the final event. We’re starting the 3rd day. I think we have about 569 players left at this point. 560 players are being paid so the decision is made to start the day out going hand for hand. If you don’t know what going hand for hand means then go ahead and skip to the next photo. If you have played in tournaments though and have had to go hand for hand with one player before the money, everyone clinging desperately to their last chips, and maybe 3 tables left, you know that it can take some time. Now imagine that there are over 60 tables left and you have to wait for every one of those tables to play their hand out before you can deal the next hand at your table. In 2001, the first year I played the final event, there were a total of 613 players. Going hand for hand with 560 plus players would almost be like starting the first day of the 2001 final event and having to wait for every single table to finish every single hand before moving to the next. We knew it would take a while.

What they decided to do was to have every dealer in the room to stand up once they finished the hand they were dealing. Already exhausted from working double and triple shifts they now had to deal a hand sitting down and then stand up for minutes at a time as they waited for everyone else to finish. At first I really felt for the dealers who had put up with so much over the last 6 weeks. However, after looking over to the table next to mine I realized who the real victims of this hand for hand tedium were: the degenerate gamblers.

I looked behind me and my heart went out as I thought of poor Sammy Farha sitting there and not being in action for minutes at a time. I’ve had some brief experience with the man and, my lord, I don’t even want to know what that eternity between hands must have been like for him. As it turns out though my fears were somewhat unfounded as Farha is plenty resourceful.

After his table’s hand was over he told the dealer to spread the deck. He then randomly drew a card, the 4 of clubs. Sean Sheikhan, who was also at his table, drew a 10 of hearts. Sammy peeled $1,000 off his wad of hundreds and said "double or nothing." As we waited for the next hand to start $1,000 became $2,000 and then $2,000 became $4,000. Eventually the floor came over and was simply aghast at the idea of bets being made without the house getting some kind of cut. The floorman explained that if they make the dealer do this again he’ll lose his job. No problem. Sammy reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a quarter. Sheikhan calls tails and it comes up tails. This goes on for a little while. By the time the next hand is about to start though Sammy has finally had enough and he nonchalantly pulls one casino chip out of his front pocket and flips it over to the young man who had been taking his action.

Now the thing to remember is that we’re still on the bubble in the largest poker tournament in the history of the world. I’m sitting there in excruciating desperation clawing my hair out at the thought of making the mistake that will cost me the $12,500 bottom money.

Of course at the table behind me, after a few high cards and coin flips, the young man goofing around with Farha proudly displays the $25,000 Bellagio chip he just won; and then we all sit down to play our next hand.

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