Show Various People the Money!

by , Jul 17, 2007 | 7:17 pm

LAS VEGAS–“Have you seen a big black Navigator come back here?” asked Craig Abrahams, the official WSOP “new media” guru. My answer was no, with a joke about being a white navigator, which clearly didn’t amuse him. He was waiting for the money to arrive.

They’re down to six players in the 38th annual World Series of Poker. To follow along online live-blogging style, click here. Or for $20, you can watch the action on a one-minute delay — without hole cards — here.

Here’s how the final table started off:

Seat 1 – Raymond Rahme – 16.32 million
Seat 2 – Alex Kravchenko – 6.57 million
Seat 3 – Lee Childs – 13.24 million
Seat 4 – Jerry Yang – 8.45 million
Seat 5 – Lee Watkinson – 9.925 million
Seat 6 – Tuan Lam – 21.315 million
Seat 7 – Philip Hilm – 22.07 million
Seat 8 – Jon Kalmar – 20.32 million
Seat 9 – Hevad ‘Rain’ Khan – 9.205 million

And here’s where it all stands at 5 pm Vegas time, with five four players left, whereupon they have all crossed the millionaire’s line:

Jerry Yang – 69,790,000
Raymond Rahme – 29,890,000
Tuan Lam – 18,105,000
Alex Kravchenko – 9,700,000

FUNNY: Somewhere out there the ESPN live feed can be seen for free. Benjo informed us of this with his angry Frenchman’s smirk, and when ESPN’s Andrew Feldman, with great concern, asked for the link, Benjo responded [thick accent here], “I am note go-eeng to tell you!”

Anyhow, eventually Ty Stewart, the official WSOP marketing maestro, did drive up — in a white BMW SUV (not a black Navigator) and started unloading the metal money suitcases. (Properly branded with a Milwaukee’s Best Light logo.) He grabbed three of them out the back, at which point I joked vociferously, “That’s one million, two million, three million …” Not even a smile … but he did walk off into a tunnel while leaving the back of his SUV open, at which point I mustered up all the discipline possible not to grab a money suitcase to find out if they were fully loaded or not.

Inside it’s another story. All about the money — but not necessarily the $8.25 million at stake for first place …

Oliver Tse, who has been hustling as an independent agent throughout the WSOP, happens to represent three people at the final table, including Jerry Yang, the dominant chip leader — big score for the Tse-man — and Alex Kravchenko, the only Russian WSOP bracelet holder. He could be seen standing next to the main Full Tilt money master (Ray Bitar’s brother — I forget his name). Meanwhile, Poker Royalty — the biggest dogs in the poker agenting business — were milling around the stage with a certain relaxed franticness. One of their representatives has secured himself an orange media badge, allowing him questionably closer access to the players than the red VIP badges that the rest of Poker Royalty’s people are wearing.

(Oliver has done all his work without any badge.)

All the deals in place now, I am pretty sure, are short-term deals, so the battling for players will only intensify after all this comes to a close.

Full Tilt seems to be the most cutthroat when it comes to attaching their brand to a player. Philip Hilm — an early final table elim — was a PartyPoker player who defected to Full Tilt, going for short-term money and turning his back on long-term European opportunities. Might have been a smart decision had he made it to the final four or five, but now he’ll see if he shot himself in the foot, as 9th place finishers don’t get too many future tournament buy-ins thrown their way.

TOLD YOU SO: Pokerati has long claimed energy drinks might be the next poker. (And here.) We’ve seen a little proof of this at the 2007 WSOP, as Johnny Chan has been pushing “All In” — a new energy drink and not-so-new magazine. All In has pretty much gotten its ass kicked in the poker magazine biz, so they are clearly looking for new markets to tap into.

Anyhow, Johnny Chan — the face behind All In the energy drink — has latched on to Jerry Yang, and beyond rooting him on and coaching him, has managed to brand Yang with an All In patch.

So there you have it. Not on the table, but off. Click the links way at the top of this post to follow. Or for ESPN’s “live blogging” you can click here. We can’t bring you any play-by-play — PokerPages just got their media pool credentials yanked for violating some coverage guidelines. But that doesn’t really matter to us … because off the table, regardless of who is winning and/or wins, the action is plenty fierce.

2 Comments to “Show Various People the Money!”

  1. Scott Chaffin

    Any poker player who can make the final table of the WSOP yet is stupid enough to sign anything bigger than a breakfast tab with an agent deserves the screwing that they’ll get.

  2. DanM

    All the final table deals — or most, at least — are short-term deals … with the possibility for longer-term deals later. (the sponsors obviously will pay much more for a winner than they would a fifth-place finisher.)

    so while the size may be big, the duration is not.