Phil Hellmuth might be aiming to collect a record-breaking 12th World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, as well as the $8,711,956 top prize, but you could be forgiven for thinking that the poker superstar had given up on his chase last night as he turned up nearly two hours late for Day 2A of the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship main event in Las Vegas.
Amazingly, the 46-year-old – who has recorded three runner-up spots at this summer’s WSOP – seemingly got his days mixed up, believing that he was down to play Day 2B of the main event.
When he did arrive at the Pavilion Room of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino – after security had broken into his room at the insistence of Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow – his starting stack had been blinded away by approximately 50% over the 100 minutes he had missed.
Despite now starting the day on 6,975 in chips, with the blinds at 250/500 and including a 50-chip ante, The Poker Brat did rebuild his stack to end the day on an impressive 64,900 to remain in the tournament.
Let’s clear this error up. Hellmuth took part in Day 1C, resulting in him joining the 2,030 other players from his opening day and Day 1A. Those two sets of first-day survivors were due back in the Rio on Monday, but Hellmuth somehow convinced himself that he was scheduled to start this evening’s Day 2B session.
But he has Matusow to thank for his tournament life as, although they sometimes appear to be enemies at the table, his good friend alerted security – as well as the world’s poker fans via Twitter – that Hellmuth was notable by his absence.
An incredulous Matusow took to the microblogging website to reveal that Hellmuth “is such a idiot hes getting blinded off has 5k left has his phoneoff and a do not disturb on his phone at hotel”. The three-time WSOP bracelet winner from Los Angeles even added: “How can one be this dumb.”
The 43-year-old obviously tried his hardest to get in touch with Hellmuth but believed his efforts had been in vain, stating on Twitter that he was “sorry” that Hellmuth’s WSOP was going to end “this way” – even though he had asked hotel staff to “ring inside your room with a do not disturb sign on it”.
However, Matusow’s determination to get Hellmuth out of bed must have worked as, not too long after, Hellmuth’s Twitter feed suddenly sprung into life, with the Wisconsin native writing that “security broke into my room” to rouse him from his slumbers.
Hellmuth added that he was surprised by the intrusion, adding that he asked: “What’s going on?!?”, before a security guard said: “You’re playing in the World Series of Poker today”.
Hellmuth added that he jumped “out of bed”, got dressed to “run down to my car. Didn’t know you could drive 75 on side roads!! Thought I played Day 2 Tuesday… How wrong he was!”
It will be interesting to see if Hellmuth hands Matusow a portion of his winnings, wherever he finishes among the 693 that are paid – if he makes it that far, of course!
Meanwhile, the real day’s action was running along nicely as 822 players made it through to Thursday’s Day 3, with Russian Aleksandr Mozhnyakov holding the biggest chip stack on 478,600.
Mozhnyakov is followed by New Jersey’s Tuan Vo on 434,500, while French duo Guillaume Darcourt (410,500) – a former World Poker Tour (WPT) winner – and Stephane Albertini (400,100), and Germany’s Wilfried Haerig (366,000) complete the top five.
Also making it through to Day 3 are Daniel Negreanu (114,100), former American footballer Eric Stocz and actor-comedians Brad Garrett (56,000) and Jason Alexander (167,000), as well as Christophe de Meulder, Shannon Shorr, Fatima Moreira De Melo, Adam Junglen, Day 1’s overall chip leader Fred Berger, Wesley Pantling, Max Weinberg, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Massimiliano Martinez and Mike Sowers.
But they aren’t the only big-name survivors as the likes of former champions Robert Varkonyi and Jamie Gold, Vitaly Lunkin, Mel Judah, Ville Wahlbeck, Tex Barch, JP Kelly, Shaun Deeb, Lee Childs, Ted Forrest, Mickey Appleman, Annette Obrestad, Dan Shak, Jason Mercier, Mike Caro, Minh Ly, Brad Garrett, Joshua Tieman, David Oppenheim, David Bach, Kristy Gazes, Matt Matros, Phil ‘The Unabomber’ Laak, Donny Mizrachi, Alexandre Gomes, Freddy Deeb and Doug Lee all fought on to make Day 3.
However, Boston Celtics basketball star Paul ‘The Truth’ Pierce was among those eliminated when his deuces ran into jacks while he was short-stacked. He was joined on the sidelines by the likes of Canadian Jonathan Duhamel – last year’s main event champ – Lex Veldhuis, Wendeen Eoils, Filippo Candio, Daniel Cates and Mark Vos, as well as former champions Johnny Chan, Dan Harrington and Scotty Nguyen.
Pierce, meanwhile, told the gathered crowds that he “had a great time – I’ll definitely be back next year”. The 33-year-old received a rather delightful standing ovation as he exited the tournament.
Also hitting the rail earlier than expected were Pat Pezzin, Dutch Boyd, Sammy Farha, Allen Kessler, Jimmy Fricke, Bill Chen, Bill Gazes, Phil Gordon, Soi Nguyen, Gavin Smith, Marco Traniello, Yevjeniy Timoshenko, Barry Shulman, Andy Bloch, Bernard Lee, Vicky Coren, Marcel Luske, Tom McCormick, Matt Hawrilenko, Foster Hays and Matt Glantz.
Today will see 2,490 players line up for Day 2B – the combined totals from Days 1B and 1D – to play five levels. Tomorrow is then a rest day before Thursday sees the combined fields meet up for the first time in the main event.
Top 10 chip leaders after Day 2A of the WSOP 2011 $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship:
1. Aleksandr Mozhnyakov (Russia) – 478,600
2. Tuan Vo (USA) – 434,500
3. Guillaume Darcourt (France) – 410,500
4. Stephane Albertini (France) – 400,100
5. Wilfried Haerig (Germany) – 366,000
6. Massimiliano (Italy) – 355,000
7. Mike Sowers (USA) – 347,700
8. Christopher Moore (USA) – 328,600
9. Brendan Taylor (USA) – 317,500
10. Joshua Gaytan (USA) – 313,700