Monday, July 18, 2011

The Main Event: Sam Barnhart, Claudia Crawford, My Poker-Crush Slaughters Frenchie AND Brazil.

I was asked repeatedly to make predictions regarding the 2011 Main Event.  I declined, because really.. who can do anything other than guess with a field of almost 7,000?

To my credit though, in Horseshoe Poker room back at the end of April.. I told WSOP Circuit Champion Kyle Cartwright that Sam Barnhart was the one to watch this year.  To which he replied.. "$20/$40 Player? Nah.." I'm glad a couple of dealers and a friend or two heard me.  Otherwise I'd have no one to vouch for my sentiment.  I'm sure Kyle won't echo it these days. My last two columns have featured Barnhart as the regional "hot ticket".  Boy, has he ever lived up to every journalistic dream I've pinned on him and then some.

What I couldn't predict, was just exactly how fantastic Sam would do. Back in Feb. when Al Theriac and I sweated him at the Delta Gold (A measly $10K win compared to the haul he's bringing in these days), I stopped thinking of Sam as "$20/$40 Player Sam" and started thinking of him as a potential tournament phenom. I put him as a wild card pick to win the $1,000,000 National Championship, and he smoked it. I expected a deep run for the ME, but I don't think any of us expected what he's managed to do so far.

I'll admit, he's played some hands that have made me incredibly nervous.  His bluff/shove with the flush draw (K4d when he was dominated by AK or QK).. had me scratching my head. But he obviously knew what he was doing.  It worked out for him.

I've kept in touch with Sam throughout this event and he's remained positive the entire time.  Just an hour ago, when I asked him if he thought he might actually be able to win this thing he responded "Absolutely!",  Days ago, when this was still a long road to go.. his confidence was just as strong.

Literally, the nicest guy in poker. Clearly, they don't always finish last!

The coolest thing about Sam making the top 30 (so far) in the ME is the tremendous amount of camaraderie it has created here in Tunica. I don't think there is one of us who isn't glued to the updates.  My own mother, who has been learning about poker this year, has become a die hard fan, texting me updates while I'm at work and multi-screening chip counts/pokernews/live streams.

My Mom, analyzing hand replays and calculating percentages. This makes me proud. :)

Mom and I have spent more time together this week than we have in the six months prior, total, just watching and railing Sam (And Claudia as well, but I'll get to her next). It's been fun to share the excitement of the series with her and listen to her speculate "Well, he could have a flush here.. but the other guy is definitely drawing to a one or two outter..".  Not a conversation I'd ever have expected to have with my Mom.

Claudia Crawford is another one we were really rooting for.  Not only for the whole "It'd be awesome to have a chick final table this sucker" factor, but because she's best friends with many of my good friends.  I had dinner with Claudia back in January at the Beau Rivage (Along with Monkey, Chad Brown, Kai Landry, the insufferable Tony Dick, Scott Williams and a few others).. and she is such an animated, beautiful gal. The kind you want to hate, but can't because you instantly like her.  When she was eliminated (Hey, a top 100 finish is still amazing!), it was crushing. The other two chicks? I didn't care if they made it or not to be honest.

Here is a cute interview Claudia did, obviously prior to her elimination.

Today while watching, I noticed how good lookin' the Darcourt, the Frenchie with the pink hair, is. He had a healthy chip stack with him solidly in the top 10. I made a post commenting on him and the 6th place player from Brazil (The very cute Hilton Laborda with the flag wrapped around him for the duration of the tournament.. ). Within minutes of my post going up, not one.. but both of them suffered ridiculous coolers that ultimately lead to both being eliminated.  My love is a curse! I will now be offering my services to those of you who need somewhat attractive men eliminated from your table.  I'll proclaim my adoration and you can relish in their swift demise. I get 20% of your profits. Win-Win.

Upon request, Sam texted me a picture of his stack from a first hand perspective, and it just happens to have an excellent shot of Guillaume Darcourt's KK vs AA (And his very stern "I'm about to hit the rail" look).

I love this pic. Especially as it follows my post about Darcourt.. just before hit he the rail. A++ Sam!
Here is your required reading, while I go back to watching the live stream of the WSOP.  Monkey has a hysterical summation of his nightmare summer HERE.  The pictures of Kai snuggling his tomato are so priceless, I think I'll print 'em off and make 8' by 10' posters out of them. The video of Kai panhandling in Vegas, post Main Event Bust-Out is pretty tremendous as well. Perhaps one of the best parts though, is Monkey making short work of the lucky 'mater.

Speaking of Kai, his summation of his own Main Event Saga is poignantly spelled out in THIS post. You don't want to miss it. Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words.

I have a million other things I could write about. My trip to Heber Springs, the upcoming WPO, getting a new-used car, etc..etc. None of this is nearly as relevant as the Main Event right now, which is down to 30.  They're going to 27 tonight and I'm 100% certain Sam will be among them.  It's going to be a challenge to make it to the top 9, but I have faith in him. He's free rollin' anyway..this seat came from him winning the National Championship.. the Championship Seat came from winning the Tunica Main Event. So any cash is a victory, but I'd like to see him bring home Two Bracelets.  I'm off to the rail. I'll see you all at the World Poker Open starting this week!

Just a pretty summer sunset.
Appreciate the BIG things.
AND the little things.

No comments:

Post a Comment