Battle Of The Blinds

Tue, 17/07/2007 - 10:46pm

Well, here we are, final time, and what an accomplishment for Jon Kalmar. There isn’t too much more I can say that hasn’t been recycled over and over on the various forums. He’s done marvellous, and it’s great to hear of a real rags to riches story, Skalie confessing that he couldn’t even afford to fly his Mrs. over until the latter stages when he was guaranteed a lucrative payday.

At the moment, I’m in the pressroom at the Rio awaiting a press conference, which, I think, will interrupt my penning of this blog entry. I’m not really working today as we brought live updates to a halt due to lack of access, but I’m simply bored and have several hours to kill before my flight departs tomorrow, so thought I’d pop in and offer my support.

Actually, I haven’t slept yet. It's true what they say, there really is no day or night in Vegas, and that has become crystal clear with my sleeping and eating habits. My appetite has completely vanished after living off a Subway per day and I'm finding myself forcing food down my mouth to keep myself going. Also, I went to bed at 5pm yesterday afternoon and woke up at 1am this morning, so every thing's a bit topsy turvy and my head is really starting to spin.

Looking back over the last week, it’s been an interesting Main Event and I was genuinely chagrined to see Scotty Nguyen miss out. Doyle Brunson said recently that no former Champion would ever repeat the feat, but I happen to think that’s poppycock. Scotty, Carlos Mortensen, Berry Johnston and Huck Seed all went deep from a 6,000 plus field this year, and considering their skill and experience, they could easily have gone all the way if the cards had fell for them. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen in the next few years, but sooner or later, unless numbers reach ridiculous proportions, a former winner is surely going to take it down again.

I mentioned Tobey Maguire in an earlier blog entry, when I was discussing the 5k I believe. Well, he did pretty well here too and may even have cashed. Imagine how crazy the TV execs would have gone if Spiderman had made the final, they would have wet their pants in excitement. To be honest, though, I would have loved to have seen him go deeper, it makes for great entertainment.

Not sure what he would have done about the photographers and TV crew though. Whenever people try and take photos of him, or even hover the camera in his general vicinity, he waves his arms across his face like a maniac to prevent himself from being photographed. I find it quite annoying to be honest, as if he’s too important to be photographed playing poker with common folk.

From what I understand, the players sign a waiver pre-comp regarding their image rights, so I don’t think he can complain, but it’s still a pain in the arse when you need a piccy of him. I’m not sure what his problem is, we’re not Hello magazine or anything. I guess he’s really conscious about the way he looks when he’s not on the red carpet and doesn’t want to be seen without his makeup on.

Barry (named because he has a Barry White-esque vocal chord) from Poker Listings told me that Vince Vaughn was the same once, so he asked him afterwards why he wouldn’t let him take his photograph. Vince just looked at him, turned around and walked away. How wude, as Ja Ja Binks would say. Barry also observed that Phil Ivey sometimes snarls at the cameras and does his best to shy away, which is slightly hypocritical perhaps considering he gets paid so much money from Full Tilt to be one of their many faces.

One guy who won’t be waving his hands in front of his face is Hal Lubarski, and if he does, it’ll be his mate’s hands rather than his. Hal’s the blind dude that everyone’s been banging on about recently, and although the media said he wasn’t going to be registered in the Main Event, surprise, surprise, he turned up and was allowed to play. I’m pretty sure that was the plan all along, it’s all about the publicity.

How it works, is that he has an accomplice (although I think friend may be a more appropriate word) seated beside him throughout the tournament, and when Hal is dealt his cards, Helpeyboy (as I shall now refer to him as) whispers into his ear what he has. Actually, Hal had been there all day on Day 2B, but I only caught sight of him (no pun intended) when I overheard Helpeyboy shouting out the board. I raced over to see what the hell was going on and, after a quick glance down at Hal, it clicked that he was the chap that I'd read about in the news.

But blind or not, Hal was all-in with Pocket Kings versus Ace King. As the board came out, Helpey boy shouted out the raggy flop, which, to the delight of the crowd, meant that the man of the day had won the hand, thus giving him 136k in chips. What is weird, and you'll see this from the photo, is the way that Helpeyboy was perched over his shoulder (double stacked, incidentally) - it's almost as if they were a ventriloquist act.

However, although I think it's great that he lived his dream, I can't deny that I held the odd reservation. Firstly, is it fair for one guy to be whispering in his ear? I mean, this isn't a team game, and what's to stop him from providing alternative information beyond what he actually has in his hand? Can I have Phil Ivey on my shoulder letting me know when he thinks someone bluffing? In that sense, there's a big sense of trust that Helpeyboy is an honourable genetleman.

Also, is it distracting for the other players to have to listen to him whispering the cards each time, potentially slowing the game down, and hearing every board that he's involved in read out loud? Not a major problem with me personally, but I'd be interested to know if it does cause frustration. Hmm, so many questions, I think I’ve turned into a scrooge in my old age. I'd be too tempted to shout out the wrong cards for a laugh if I was Helpeyboy, is that old age too?

taken from