Vanessa Selbst Keeps Up The Aggression On World Series of Poker Main Event Day 3
Shaun Deeb, Antonio Esfandiari Also To Wield Big Stacks on Day 4
The third official day of play of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event has rearranged all the survivors gunning for the $8.5 million top prize into just a single room in the sprawling Convention Center at the Rio Hotel and Casino.
About ten hours of play on Thursday left 720 standing out of the 6,598-player starting field. The money bubble will burst at 666, leaving some empty handed on Friday the 13th. Leading the way is former online pro Dave D’Alesandro, who with 1.1. million has about four times chip average.
Sitting with 814,000 going into day 4 on Friday is two-time bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst. The aggressive 28-year-old pro lived up to her reputation on Thursday.
On a flop of K Q 4, a player led out for 9,000 into a pot of about 30,000. Selbst called. The next player to act made it 25,000. Two players folded, and the original bettor called. Selbst called as well. With about 100,000 in the middle, the turn brought the 9. The small blind and Selbst checked, before facing a 50,000-chip bet. It was folded to Selbst, and she shoved for about 170,000 more. Her opponent snap-called with a set of fours. Selbst tabled 10 8.
“I shoved trying to represent J-10,” Selbst said. “I actually thought I’d get him to fold [a set of fours].” Selbst read her opponent for top two pair or bottom set.
Her bluff was a misfire, but she was rescued by a river 7.
Selsbt explained that her play made sense in the WSOP Main Event because some opponents “value their tournament life a lot more.”
“Of course I have an aggressive image, but I’m not bluffing that many times in that spot,” Selbst said during a break. “I just happened to have one of the very few hands I could turn into a bluff. I know I get called lighter than most, but I adjust my play accordingly. The bluffs I’m making are smart bluffs most of the time, and usually if I’m bluffing I’m putting a lot pressure on my opponents. They might look at me and say, ‘Oh, she’s Vanessa Selbst.’ But, at the end of the day, they have to call off their whole tournament. It’s a high-pressure spot for them.”
Despite the prestige of the Main Event, Selbst said that it’s “just another tournament” for her. This mindset gives her the comfort to go with her instincts and run big-time fibs. “I always either have a big stack or no stack,” Selbst said of the later stages of tournaments. “I like it that way.”
Also in contention for day 4 is Shaun Deeb, who disagrees with the notion of the Main Event being a “minefield” — one of the classic descriptions of the tournament.
“The structure is amazing,” said Deeb, who has 598,000. “You don’t have to win many all-ins. You can chip up a ton without showdown. A lot of people carry 100-200 big blinds the whole tournament. Everyone has enough chips and can be conservative enough to avoid these preflop confrontations until much later.”
According to Deeb, the aggression has been toned down this year — especially versus him. Deeb was the victim of a shocking play last year that had a massive amount of chips go in preflop with Deeb holding pocket aces and his opponent having A-6. Trip sixes on the river crippled Deeb, ending his hopes of capturing his first bracelet.
While the hand was brutal at the time, it has actually helped him in 2012.
“People don’t want to be that guy to suck out on me this year,” Deeb said. “So, it’s kind of funny. I can tell that people look at me when I three-bet and they’re like, ‘Man, I could four-bet light, but I don’t want to be that guy.’ Everyone brings that hand up, and the cameras are floating around, so no one wants to look like that spewy fish.”
Fresh off a record $18.3 million score in the $1 million buy-in tournament, Antonio Esfandiari has managed to accumulate a solid stack for Friday’s action. According to Esfandiari, his historic win last week has intimidated his opponents in the $10,000 buy-in.
“People want to get involved a little less [with me], which is good,” said Esfandiari, who ended day 3 with 485,000. “I got away with a lot today.”
Brent Hanks, winner of the first event of the 2012 World Series, is also alive and well trying to win the last event of the summer. “My mother reminded me that I could hit both ends if I really went after it,” said Hanks, who ended day 3 with 227,000. “I got the first one, and then this one is available. But this is quite a journey. I’ll just try and make day 5 next.”
While some of the pros thrived on Thursday, so did numerous amateur players. A.J. Jejelowo, a researcher in the bioengineering department at Rice University, spent most of the night with a stack hovering around 1 million.
“I just got hit with the deck really hard,” he admitted.
However, even before becoming one of the chip leaders, he had been letting his mind drift. “I don’t have to have a lot of chips to dream about making the final table,” Jejelowo said. “I could just be sitting at home on the toilet and think about it. This is the Main Event.”
Dan Harrington, who won the event in 1995, was one of the players grinding along late in the evening, but who didn’t make it to bagging the chips.
The 66-year-old said he still enjoys coming to the WSOP Main Event, but that it’s not as “cozy” as it once was. “It has become very commercialized,” he said. “Obviously it has become a bigger thing, and it’s nice to have all the attention, but when you get older you yearn for the old days.”
While Harrington busted, former champs Johnny Chan (374,500) and Huck Seed (137,500) have their hopes still intact.
Other notables near the top of the chip counts include Leo Wolpert (1,003,500), Paul Volpe (820,000), Sorel Mizzi (738,000), Vivek Rajkumar (678,000), John Phan (655,000) and Jason Sommerville (637,000).
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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