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As I See It

20 May 2002

Binion's World Series of Poker $10,000 buy in hold-em tournament gets underway Monday, May 20. It's the final event of the affair which started around three weeks ago.

I believe it all started in 1970 when Benny Binion came up with the idea after watching his two friends, Johnny Moss and Nick "The Greek", go head to head in a marathon match. I believe that is the spark that Benny used to get this thing going.

When I first came to town, I used to go down and watch, and occasionally played in a few side games. I didn't have much success but always told myself I would like to play in the final tournament.

By 1982, I had enough cash to enter and did so for three straight years. The furthest I ever advanced was the second day late afternoon after getting my chip count up to around $37,000.

To me, the competition was like batting against Sandy Koufax or catching a down and out from Johnny U. It was something you fantasized about doing, but knew from Jump Street you were outclassed.

The time I had the highest chip count in my three years of competing, I went out on just about back to back hands. The first was a three way pot, where I threw away the best hand during a check and raise sequence; the second was another three way pot where I made an all-in bet when I was holding the third best hand. It was like I was laying seven on a game and everyone else was taking +3.

The years I played in the WSofP, there were about 90 to 120 people in the final event. Now, I read where the number could go as high as 700 entrants. Poker in Vegas has seen its popularity just go through the roof.

My take on playing in such a large field would be quite different now than just a few short years ago. Today, the definitive move would be "patience".

Back when legendary Stu Ungar was prominent, he was the most aggressive tournament player ever to buy in, by all accounts. But don't tell that to Johnny Chan. With such a large field, it seems everyone stays in first gear a little longer.

This play I will bet on. I will take Huck Seed against the field in a 3-point shooting contest. I played enough b-ball with Huck to know I might not win but I would not be taking the worst of it.

Well, we are down to the NBA's version of the Final Four and it should be competitive for at least this round. I played the Lakers to take the best of seven series and have not done anything yet with the other series.

The Kings are better man for man with their first eight, but the Lakers have the best two - Shaq played well and only exerted vs. the Spurs when it was needed, which should help to cure some ailments with the extra rest.

As good as the Kings are, if Chris Weber starts sulking there will be billboards around Sacramento asking him to leave. This is one of those defining moments in a pro's career that he had better deal with on a positive note to give his team a chance. Meanwhile, how good does the Kings' trade, Bibby for Williams, look now?

Jason Kidd is the fastest person I have ever seen in advancing the ball. With that style he never lets the opposing team set up and is really neat to watch. Kenyon Martin now has his head out of his butt, and Keith Van Horn is becoming a decent pro.

Paul Pierce is as good as it gets and will cause headaches for either Van Horn or Martin. Kenny Anderson is playing under control and is very effective. The price is right where it should be … and also, would lean towards both unders in the opening games.

Stay smart and keep in touch as it is nice to know I have such an intelligent audience. Will give an update on contest ideas next week.

Jimmy V.

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