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Language issues lead to bizarre play at WSOP Main Event

10 July 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The World Series of Poker Main Event is attracting more and more players from outside the United States. And that influx is leading to more and more opportunities for bizarre hands because of language barriers.

One such hand occurred in the Pavilion during the first level of Day 1C. Garrett Jones, who entered the tourney late and had seen only three hands, raised in middle position and was called by a European player. The flop was 10-9-9. The European checked and Jones bet 2,100. The Euro pondered the move and then called.
Houston native Garrett Jones was involved in a bizarre hand early in Day 1C.

Houston native Garrett Jones was involved in a bizarre hand early in Day 1C. (photo by Dan Igo)

The turn came and it was another nine. Jones bet over 5,000 and the guy called again. The river was a blank and Jones moved all-in with a major bluff.

This is when it started getting weird. The European player, whose English skills were rather limited, flipped over his cards and said, “No.” One of those cards was a 10, which gave him a full house. The only way he would be beat was if Jones had a 9.

“I didn't even say a word because believe me I was just going to throw them to the dealer,” Jones told Casino City during the day’s first break. “The dealer said I wouldn't have let you do that and I said, 'No, no you would not have seen them. I was right next to you. I was going to put them in the deal and walk out, because I could not win the hand.'”

The European didn’t say “fold” or anything besides “no,” so another player called the floor over to sort out what happened. A tournament official came over and asked the European if he was folding and the player gestured in a folding manner. The tournament official eventually ruled the player had folded.

“I thought [the European] was just waiting for the TV cameras," Jones said. “Like he wanted to show that he was laying down this hand because he thought he was getting beat by quads or something.”

The European left the table for 10 minutes before returning.

Proving that he doesn’t limit his tardy appearances to only his Main Event entrance, Phil Hellmuth returned to his table following the dinner break more than 20 minutes after play resumed.

Hellmuth missed eight hands and one dealer change while he was MIA. His seat remained empty save for his patented “Poker Brat” jersey, which was draped over the back.

When Hellmuth finally made his way back to the Amazon Room, he brought over a second seat to use as a mock table for his dinner. TV cameras, of course, captured every moment.


Day 1C saw more than 2,000 players hit the felt in search of the greatest prize in poker. And a field that was bigger than the previous two days combined also brought a much larger contingent of fans.
Scotty Nguyen is always a fan favorite, baby.

Scotty Nguyen is always a fan favorite, baby. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

In the Pavilion, being used for the first time in this year's Main Event, the rail was deep for Dan Harrington, Dennis Phillips and Daniel Negreanu. “KidPoker” was seated near a corner in the Pavilion, which gave spectators plenty of room to snap pictures and watch the Team PokerStars Pro up close and personal.

Scotty Nguyen was seated near the rail in the Amazon Room and also had plenty of fans watching him in action. One of his fans had a large photo of Nguyen and asked him to sign it.

“That’s nice, baby,” the 1998 Main Event champion said as he happily obliged the fan’s request.


Another competitor who drew a healthy rail was Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce. The former NBA Finals MVP was seated in the Pavilion and helped himself to a massage midway through the second level.

If Pierce was hoping to look inconspicuous, he certainly didn’t dress the part. He wore a black hat with the word “Inglewood” (his birthplace) and a shamrock stitched on the front. The side of his hat had a picture of former Celtics head coach Red Auerbach smoking a cigar. The back of his hat had his number, “34.” He wore green Nike shoes and green socks.

And he also sported the massive championship ring he earned as a member of the 2008 NBA championship team. Casino City saw him scoop a nice-sized pot while getting a massage right before the second break against a player wearing an Oklahoma City Thunder hat.
Brad Garrett survived Day1C.

Brad Garrett survived Day1C. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Pierce helped himself to a second massage after the dinner break as well. The Celtics captain also made it a point to sometimes show his hole cards in pots he won before the flop, a tactic some professionals might not be on board with.

Not too many players could handle the Truth in Day 1C, as he finished with 63,750 chips.


If you were looking for a spot to watch two poker Hall of Famers ply their craft, the place to be on Day 1C was the Pavilion. Dan Harrington and Erik Seidel, who were both inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2010, were seated less than 15 feet from each other at two different tables.

Seidel occupied seat 5 on table 65, while Harrington also occupied a seat 5 at table 70. Both started off the Main Event well, with Seidel grabbing 70,000 chips after three levels. Harrington had 48,000 after three levels.

Harrington also gave some friendly advice to some of the younger players at the table, a few of whom were wearing headphones.

“If you’re playing your music loud enough so other people can hear it, you’re going to end up with hearing like mine,” the 65-year-old said.


Former Everybody Loves Raymond co-stars Ray Romano and Brad Garrett competed on Saturday and the two actors helped Annie Duke in the pregame ceremonies.

Despite Romano being considered the lead on the Emmy Award-winning TV show, it’s Garrett who has the bigger stage presence when it comes to poker. Romano stayed mostly quiet at his table and wore a Men of a Certain Age baseball cap.
Paul Pierce sported some serious bling on Saturday.

Paul Pierce sported some serious bling on Saturday. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Garrett, on the other hand, was much more likely to talk it up. It didn’t happen all the time, but if you were in his area and heard a booming voice, you knew it was coming from the 6’8” Garrett.

Midway through the day he was discussing a hand and whether he should have called or raised. When he couldn’t get an answer, he decided to ask an expert.

“Where’s Annie Duke?” he bellowed.

Unfortunately for Garrett, Duke was nowhere to be found.


The number of iPads being used by players has skyrocketed since last year and it’s incredible to see the different ways they can be used at the table. So far, Casino City has spotted players using their iPads to: surf the Internet, play NBA Jam, play Words with Friends, play backgammon, play Chinese poker, follow a baseball game using’s Gameday feature, listen to music and watch the TV show Breaking Bad.

But Casino City’s favorite use of the iPad was one that would make a lot of American online poker players yearn for the good old days. One player, presumably a European, was able to multi-table at an online poker room while playing in the Main Event.


Eric “basebaldy” Baldwin won a Division III National Championship at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. And while Baldwin has proved that turning to poker has been the correct career choice, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still talk about the national pastime.

Baldwin sported his trademark Arizona Diamondbacks hat for Day 1C. He discussed baseball with his tablemates early in level 1 and was told by one Canadian player that he was a Blue Jays fan.

“Well if you’re from anywhere in Canada I suppose you have to be a Blue Jays fan,” Baldwin said. “Although I guess you could make a case for the Nationals.”
Phil Gordon proudly wearing his favorite patch.

Phil Gordon proudly wearing his favorite patch. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

The Nationals, in case you were unaware, used to be known as the Montreal Expos before they moved to Washington in 2004.


One of the major charitable causes here at the Main Event is the “Bad Beat on Cancer.” The cause was launched by Phil Gordon and Rafe Furst in 2003 and players who participate agree to donate 1% of their tournament winnings to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

Those players often wear a “1% Bad Beat on Cancer” patch to show they are taking part in the charity. So it was pretty cool to see five players on Gordon’s table wearing the green patches during Day 1C.


The line of the day came from 91-year-old Ellen Deeb, the oldest participant in the Main Event so far this year. She was bought into the tournament by her grandson Shaun Deeb, a professional poker player.

When asked if she had anything to say to the tournament field after she was introduced by WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel, she quipped, “You're all playing for second.”

Grandma Deeb was eliminated later in the day.
Language issues lead to bizarre play at WSOP Main Event is republished from