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Travels With the Camel

by Keith Hawkins |  Published: Oct 01, 2005


Bouquets and Brickbats from the Rio

Now that the 2005 World Series of Poker has finally been put to bed, I would like to compile my own personal, slightly irreverent highlights (and lowlights!) from the extravaganza in the form of "The Camel's WSOP Awards."

Funniest Line of the WSOP: My friend Garry Bush had the multimillionaire owner of the L.A. Lakers, Jerry Buss, at his table for the $1,000 rebuy event. His hopes that that would mean plenty of chips sloshing around the table were sadly dashed. "I thought this Jerry Buss guy was supposed to be loaded. He's playing like he's waiting for his giro to arrive!"

Worst Rule of the Tournament: Without a doubt, it was the "F-Bomb" rule, whereby anyone who used the "F" word got a 10-minute penalty away from table, regardless of the circumstances involved. If a player abuses a dealer, a member of the staff, or another competitor, he absolutely deserves a penalty. In some cases, 10 minutes away from the table is wholly inadequate. But, if someone swears to himself or uses a swear word in conversation, penalising him is ridiculous. We are adults playing in a casino. We are not playing in a kindergarten. Treat us with a bit of respect, please.

Best Rule of the Tournament: The decision to limit the amount of media involvement during the final stages of the main event was excellent. During day four, the tournament was beginning to resemble a farce, with media people everywhere. They were getting in the way of players and staff, and generally being a nuisance. Yes, people back home needed to have updates, but not at the expense of the smooth running of the tournament.

Most Popular Result of the WSOP: Lawrence Gosney was a hugely popular winner of a $2,000 no-limit hold'em event, not the least because, when fourhanded, one of his cocky fellow competitors was heard to say on the phone, "We are down to four, I'm the chip leader, and the other three players are donkeys. The bracelet is mine!" We didn't remind him of this conversation when Lord Lawrence knocked him out 15 minutes later! Lawrence is a top bloke and a much underestimated player. It was a great win.

Justice Done: A huge pot took place heads up for the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha title. All the chips were in the middle when Rafi Amit uttered an "F-Bomb." Rafi won the pot and led the two-way battle $1.4 million to $100,000. However, his opponent, Vinny Vinh, heard him say the dreaded "F" word and reported him to the floor. Amit received a 10-minute penalty and was blinded off at a rate of $16,000 per hand. In my opinion, Vinh acted like a classroom grass, reporting his opponent's misdemeanour and taking advantage of it by winning $200,000 of his chips while Amit was sitting out. Would Vinh have worn his bracelet with pride if he had won? We will never know, as, thankfully, justice was done, and when Amit returned, he won the event.

Praise Where it's Due:
The structures for each event at this World Series of Poker were exceptionally player-friendly. To prove this, just take a look at some of the winners: Doyle and Todd Brunson, Erik Seidel, Johnny Chan, Allen Cunningham, T.J. Cloutier, Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey, O'Neil Longson, and the living legend Willy Tann. Talk about the cream rising to the top. The fantastic structures gave the best players plenty of opportunity to prove why they are the elite, and, boy, did they take the opportunity with both hands!

Hope for the 2006 WSOP: It wasn't too long ago that the main event of the World Series of Poker was juice-free to the players. Some of the figures being bandied around about how much ESPN paid Harrah's for exclusive coverage of the event made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. When you add to that the rake from side action, payments for hotel rooms, and the amount the players lost in regular table games, it would be easy for the casino to justify giving a little bit back to the players (who provide the action, after all) by making the main event at least juice-free again. Pigs might fly.

Hero of the 2005 WSOP:
There is little doubt as to who wins this most prestigious award: Andy Black. In all of my time playing poker, I have never seen one player genuinely willed to success by virtually every other competitor after he or she was knocked out of the main event. I haven't heard one bad word about Black. His actions in defending a fellow player who misunderstood how long a break would last, and who therefore missed about 30 minutes of play at a crucial period, was the work of a true gentleman. He also stood up for players' rights in his post-game interviews. Plus, he played one hell of a tournament. If it wasn't for a terrible beat fivehanded, he might well have won. A tremendous player and a great bloke, my hat is tipped to Mr. Andy Black.

Keith "The Camel" Hawkins is a well-known presence on the European poker scene, as he travels to most of the major tournaments from his home in Darlington. Poker is his work, but Keith's passion is Queens Park Rangers. Keith's regular poker blog can be found at