2010 WSOP Main Event Reflection Part 8 – The biggest mistake of the tournament
In what will likely go down as the most talked about hand of the early stages of the event, controversy surrounds it. It almost never fails that controversy surrounds the World Series of Poker in one way or another. The year that Jamie Gold won the event, there was the “how did he get more chips than he bagged” controversy, that really went without explanation. For those that remember it, $2.41 million chips mysteriously appeared prior to the final table. Erik Friberg and Richard Lee saw their stacks increase in size despite playing a hand at the table. It was one of those things that nobody every really chatted about or discussed very long, because everyone was focused on the bracelet, and the fact that Allen Cunningham had a shot at winning the event.
What I find really bizarre about this incident it that it got much less publicity than did “Ante-Gate” which involved 2003 Bracelet Winner, Prahlad Friedman. Prahlad had a reputation as a fantastic player, albeit a player who remained under the radar. His win in the 2003 $1,500 Pot Limit Hold Em’ event netted the “rapper-wanna-be” a cool $109k, and he’d had a number of other good scores to boot. But in the middle of play during the 2006 Main Event, Prahlad accused Jeff Lisandro of not posting a $5000 ante, which led to some fireworks by Lisandro. The entire incident was found by the ESPN camera’s and “ante-gate” was born.
Lisandro and Friedman argued back and forth throughout the hand, with Prahlad saying that Lisandro had just “robbed $5k off another man,” who’d posted the ante after the accusations. Friedman continued his protest that he never saw Lisandro post the ante, and the two fired shots at one another until the dealer finally said to both of them “just let it go.” Friedman couldn’t. He continued to pester Lisandro about it until it tilted Lisandro, who lost his cool and got in Friedman’s face about the matter and Lisandro said he was going to ”take your head off buddy.” Prahlad would later try to apologize to Lisandro, but Jeff didn’t even address him about the incident. He was just too angry. For the record, video evidence would support that Lisandro DID post the ante, which drew Friedman a great deal of criticism from the poker community.
Fast forward to day 2b of the 2010 Main Event of the World Series of Poker, and we see Prahlad Friedman entangled in the midst of another great controversy, again with the camera’s rolling. Ted Bort had shoved his entire stack into an 80k pot on the river, which sent Prahlad into the tank. Bort certainly didn’t make matters easy on his opponent, as he wouldn’t let Prahlad really think about the hand. He continued to yammer on throughout the duration of the hand, drawing the camera’s to the table.
If the name Ted Bort doesn’t ring any bells, it’s because it shouldn’t. Bort made a name for himself this World Series as “The barking guy.” In day’s 1 and 2, whenever he was tangled up in a big pot, he would bark like a dog, and a large loud dog at that. The sounds reverberated throughout the Pavillion room, and it made me wonder how an individual was possibly capable of making a noise that loud. The decibel level mirrored the “Dennis Phillips Truck Horn,” and made heads turn whenever he would do it. A few years back, the WSOP would implement an “Excessive Celebration” rule that would penalize players for the use of excessive celebration. It was dubbed the “Hevad Kahn” rule as Kahn used a series of dances and chants, mixed in with a number of screams of excitement, en route to a deep Main Event Final Table run. The “barking” by Bort was walking the fence on excessive celebration so much that on day 3 the tournament staff would inform him that there would be “no barking at the table allowed.” A, “No-Bark” rule seemed to be just what the doctor ordered, but that’s a story for Day 3.
The bet that Bort laid into the river in the hand in question was enough to cover Prahlad Friedman, and he was faced with a decision for his tournament life. Prahlad had about $75k behind, and took several minutes to make his decision before Ted Bort stood up and declared that he’d make it easy on Friedman, and called the clock. The tournament dealer called for a floorperson who came over and asked the dealer how long it had been, and they agreed to start a countdown. The tournament director began the clock with 1 minute, would count aloud the final 10 seconds, and if the time ran out, then Prahlad’s hand would be dead.
The tournament director began the count, and Bort, who loved the cameras, continued with his yapping. He was loud, obnoxious, and he was a coffee-houser like you’d never seen. I’m pretty certain that he was trying to talk Prahlad into making the call, because I think that Bort felt as though his hand was good. But the technique of chatting with Prahlad during the countdown was very unprofessional, and I’m surprised that the tournament director allowed it to persist until 15 seconds left on his countdown. At that moment, Prahlad began piecing the hand back together as the tournament director reached “Ten, Nine, Eight,” etc.
When the tournament director reached and said the number “one” out loud, Prahlad sheepishly said “I call.” Bort heard the “I call” and immediately tabled his hand, which was top two-pairs. At the same moment that transpired, the tournament director said “Zero, the hand is dead.” Neither the tournament director, nor the dealer had heard the call by Friedman, and was ruling that his hand was dead.
Upon seeing the top two-pairs from Bort, Prahlad tossed his hand into the muck. The dealer began scooping the pot over to Bort, just as the table erupted with screams of “wait a minute, he said CALL.” While the table continued to protest, Prahlad remained very quiet. The camera’s were fixed on the guy in seat 4, who grew increasingly enraged as Friedman should have been eliminated from the tournament. The tournament director insisted that Prahlad had “not called in time, and his hand was dead.”
This created a circus around the table as people screamed (both on the table and on the rail) “PRAHLAD SAID CALL WITH 1 SECOND LEFT!!!” The tournament director insisted he didn’t, and continued to rule the hand dead. The table then requested the ruling of another tournament director. Moments later, another tournament director appeared and listened to the story that was told by the dealer and everyone at the table. Again, the camera’s were fixed dead on him. In the end, he ruled that “if the tournament director ruled the hand dead, then the hand is dead.” The table became enraged, especially the guy in seat 4 who continued with his fury saying “this guy should be out of the tournament.” Everyone implored the tournament staff to take a look at the video and the audio. With the ESPN equipment there, it would be easy to review.
The two tournament directors instructed the dealer to deal the next hand and then they left to huddle around together. About 5 tournament directors joined in on the huddle and when they returned, they continued to rule the hand dead. Prahlad Friedman saved himself in the main event with a bad decision by the tournament staff by simply remaining quiet, and held onto a very healthy $75k stack.
After the hand was over, the camera’s dispersed and I ran into Nolan Dalla. I re-told the entire story to him, and he likened it to the NFL referee that blew an “inadvertant whistle” during the San Diego Chargers game last season, which cost the Chargers a win. I’d also heard it likened to the Major League Baseball umpire who ruled a player safe at first base, when in fact he was out, subsequently denying a pitcher a perfect game on the 27th out of the game. The reality was, it was a human error compounded by sheer stubbornness. The first tournament director should have listened to the table, but he didn’t. I believe that he did not hear Prahlad say call. I believe that the dealer didn’t either. But I guarantee that when the hand air’s on TV, that every viewer will see what everyone else on the table and the rail saw. Prahlad Friedman should have been eliminated on day 2b, and instead got a $75k gift given to him by a stubborn tournament official.
It was a human error. It was an honest mistake. But it was ultimately compounded by the inability to listen to those that were well informed about the situation, and the reluctance to consult the technology that was there to fix the problem. Did it change the landscape of the tournament? Probably not all that much. But there is a lot of “what could have been’s” that get thrown into the mix considering the swing in chips that would have been given to Bort, and the number of hands that Prahlad Friedman would go on to play.
David Singer was also at the table, and I caught up with him after the fact about the craziness. He’d said that he’d never seen anything like that, and that absolutely the Tournament Director made the wrong decision. Singer said that Prahlad told the table that the world was just “starting to forget about that whole Ante-gate thing, and now this.”
This is going to be the big controversy surrounding the 2010 WSOP. More than the decision to play Event #3 (the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event) a full 10 levels on days 1a AND 1b, which almost resulted in players in the money after day 1. It did not, so the $1k event isn’t even on the same playing field. So this will loom as a dark cloud over this year’s event.
I can’t really find much fault with the tournament staff aside from this decision. One can question the decision to play 4 1/2 levels of play on Day 1, and a further 4 levels on the remaining days…which resulted on breaks being taken at the halfway mark of every level. But really, that was arbitrary. This is the one thing that you can point to, and clearly say “that was wrong.” But it was a fortunate thing for the WSOP that this decision took place with two players that would not become factors in the late stages of the tournament.