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Best of Dan Podheiser

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ESPN WSOP Main Event Recap: Episodes XIII, XIV

26 October 2015

We're onto Day 7.

After nine days of grueling action (there were three different Day 1s and two Day 2s), the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event enters the stretch run as the final 27 players vie for their spots in the November Nine.

ESPN's weekly taped coverage leading up to the final table has built up storylines for the players we know will be playing in November, as well as the other notable stars and amateurs who made deep runs.

Episode 14 ends with 15 players remaining, and next week's coverage will take the original starting field of 6,420 players down to the final nine.

SETTING THE SCENE: Episode 13 begins with 27 players remaining, but the buzz in the Amazon Room and the bulk of the TV coverage revolves around Daniel Negreanu. "Kid Poker" begins Day 7 in ninth place and in hot pursuit of his first Main Event final table.

Meanwhile, Sunday night's coverage begins by highlighting the "first timers," a segment ESPN has showcased every week so far. And it's no coincidence that several of the first-time Main Event players they highlighted from the beginning are still alive, including Josh Beckley, Fedor Holz and Federico Butteroni

NOTABLE BUSTOUTS: Chad Power, the Maryland cash game pro and "house of cards" landlord, is the first notable player to bust when he goes out in 26th place. Ironically, Power's roommate, Chris Brand, gets knocked out shortly afterwards in 24th. Between the two Maryland pros comes the knockout of the 21-year-old Holz, who might have been the best and most feared player remaining in the tournament.

Day 7 also sees the end of Anton Morgenstern in 22nd place, the second time the German pro has busted in the hours leading up to the November Nine (he finished 20th in 2013). And the final player to bust before the coverage concludes is Connecticut pro Dave Stefanski in 16th place.

CANNULI SHOWS HIS MOXIE:

At 23 years old, Thomas Cannuli might just be the best player at this year's Main Event final table. The South Jersey pro is a grinder both online in New Jersey and at his home turf, the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. In Episode 13, he puts his skills and his fearlessness on display against none other than Negreanu himself.

With the blinds at 75,000-150,000, Negreanu opens to 350,000 from early position with pocket queens, before Cannuli three-bets to 950,000 from the cutoff with ace-king offsuit. Negreanu calls, and the flop comes 5-K-4. After Negreanu checks, Cannuli makes a standard continuation bet of 675,000 chips, and Negreanu quickly calls. The turn brings the ten of clubs, and both players check.

The river is the jack of clubs, a scary card for both players. After Negreanu checks again, Cannuli makes a value bet for 1.2 million chips. Negreanu immediately says, "That's a filthy runout," then begins listing all of the hands Cannuli can't have, including ace-king. After tanking for a few minutes, Negreanu finally makes the call, and Cannuli proudly announces his hand and wins the pot.

NORMAN CHAD LINE OF THE NIGHT:

We've seen glimpses of Main Event chip leader Joe McKeehen over the past few weeks, but Sunday night was the first time ESPN put several of his hands in its coverage. That means we're finally introduced to the Joe McKeehen staredown.

McKeehen's cold stare at his opponents takes your breath away with how awkward and uncomfortable it makes you, as a viewer, feel. Imagine how his opponents must feel at the table!

Norman Chad sums it up perfectly: "What is with Joe McKeehen's stare? What does staring accomplish? Other sports ban substances; we need to ban staring!"

BLUMENFIELD'S BANK OF HINDS:

Neil Blumenfield, who we profiled last month, is among the shorter stacks in the room early on Day 7, but then he picks up two gold-mine hands against North Carolina pro John Hinds. First, Blumenfield shoves his remaining 2.7 million chips in with pocket kings and holds against Hinds' ace-king. On the very next hand, Hinds raises from under the gun with pocket tens, Blumenfield three-bets from the cutoff again with pocket aces, and Hinds shoves all-in. Blumenfield, of course, calls and wins a 12.3 million-chip pot, putting him back in business.

NEUVILLE MIGHT BE INSANE:

At 72 years old, Neuville is the oldest player at this year's Main Event final table. But he didn't get there by playing in the typical style of an old man. Au contraire.

Midway through Day 7, the action folds to Neuville in the small blind, who makes a raise to 475,000. In the big blind, David Sequeira three-bets to 1.2 million with pocket queens, before Neuville shocks everyone by four-betting to 2.675 million. Sequeira calls, and the flop comes king-10-7. Neuville bets 2.95 million on the flop, Sequeira inexplicably goes all-in, and then Neuville, for some reason, tanks for a few minutes before calling. Neuville holds on for the win and immediately pumps his first and starts directly into Sequeira's face, like a boss.

Then, late in episode 14, Neuville limps in with ace-9 offsuit, a pretty terrible hand, and decides to call Cannuli's 4 million-chip shove. Cannuli, who has ace-king suited, receives a much-needed double-up at the hands of the 72-year-old, who could have easily avoided the situation entirely.

MOST ENTERTAINING HAND OF THE NIGHT:

If you think those hands are wacky, they're nothing compared to the epic bluff that Justin "stealthmunk" Schwartz pulls off against Butteroni.

To put the hand in context, Schwartz is chastised by his fellow players at the beginning of Day 7 for making inappropriate comments during a hand between Butteroni and Negreanu that were specifically about the hand in progress. Schwartz apparently had had enough of Butteroni's deliberate playing style and was trying to induce him to fold to get the hand over with (Butteroni eventually did fold, making the correct play).

Onto the hand. With the blinds at 100,000-200,000, Butteroni opens from early position with pocket jacks, David Peters calls from the button with 8-7 of spades and Schwartz three-bet bluffs to 1.55 million from the big blind with 9-2 offsuit. Butteroni calls and Peters gets out of the way.

With 3.8 million chips in the pot, Schwartz continues his story by betting 1.2 million on the 10-2-10 flop. Butteroni thinks briefly before sliding in the call. The two players both check the 7 on the turn, but when an ace comes on the river, Schwartz bets a whopping 2.8 million chips into the 6.2 million-chip pot.

After thinking for just a couple minutes, Schwartz calls the clock on Butteroni, leading several players at the table to question if Butteroni had enough time to think about the hand before Schwartz imposed the time limit. Butteroni eventually folds as the clock winds down, leading Schwartz to show his bluff and go on a tirade of profanity and verbal spew.

EPISODES 13 AND 14 MVP: I have to go with Cannuli for the MVP here because of the way he plays that hand against Negreanu. Many players in his spot in that hand would have checked behind to get a free showdown against one of the best players of all time. But Cannuli correctly reads the situation, knows where he is in the hand and confidently makes a value bet that gets paid off. Props to the young kid for not getting lost in the moment. He should be a force come November. (Read our November Nine profile on Cannuli here.)
ESPN WSOP Main Event Recap: Episodes XIII, XIV is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
Dan Podheiser

Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

Since graduating from Emerson College with a degree in journalism in 2010, Dan has worked as the sports editor for a chain of newspapers in Northwest Connecticut and served a year as an Americorps*VISTA, writing and researching grant proposals for a Boston-based charity.

Originally from South Jersey, where he still visits occasionally to see his family (and play on the state's regulated online poker sites), Dan lives in Brighton, Mass. with his wife and dog.
Dan Podheiser
Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

Since graduating from Emerson College with a degree in journalism in 2010, Dan has worked as the sports editor for a chain of newspapers in Northwest Connecticut and served a year as an Americorps*VISTA, writing and researching grant proposals for a Boston-based charity.

Originally from South Jersey, where he still visits occasionally to see his family (and play on the state's regulated online poker sites), Dan lives in Brighton, Mass. with his wife and dog.