You wouldn't know it for looking at the official World Series homepage, though. Due to an agreement that sees a rival website being tapped as the source for "official" WSOP news and updates, and to that rival website's refusal to cover these tournaments, Events 40-45 get no mention whatsoever on the official WSOP homepage. In fact, if you want to know who won Event 41 tonight, you literally have one place to turn - right here.
It's kind of a sad situation when tournament organizers introduce a series of events and then more or less turn their backs on them. Tonight in the Amazon Room, long after the Main Event had suspended play for the day, Event 41 played down to a bracelet winner on an ordinary table among tables with little fanfare. Organizers didn't even bother to put an official countdown on one of the myriad of plasma TVs that lines the walls of the poker room.
Move the tournament to the unused feature table? No thanks. Hire some off-duty ESPN cameramen to record the event for posterity? Forget it. And the World Series Web site? You would have better luck buying an official WSOP License Plate ("Whether it's on your vehicle or on your wall, this license plate lets people know that you are a serious poker player") than finding any information at all about who was in the hunt for a bracelet. I mean, Phil Hellmuth was in this tournament for heaven's sake.
Anyway, it's really a shame that nobody from the WSOP cared enough to publicize these events. It's great that PokerListings.com has a veritable monopoly on the coverage, but everyone else who slept on this event missed an incredibly entertaining final table and a hilarious bracelet winner who redefines the term "unique."
Paul Kobel won the tournament tonight, beating Tyler Andrews in heads-up play to take the title. "Tashi" was the most entertaining character we've seen at a poker table in quite some time, and we've seen our share. Dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and sporting a massive beard and long, brown hair, Kobel spent most of the final table chattering to his opponents - always classy, and always a good sport. He made sure to wish Andrews good luck before heads-up play began, telling him "either way, we know we're both winners now," and when a cocktail waitress brought him the beer he'd ordered, he made sure to "Cheers" his opponent before taking a drink. At the other end of the table, Andrews clearly didn't know what to think, or whether to take this bearded hippie (Kobel, a Californian, lists his occupation as a "Holistic Practitioner") seriously. He seemed a half-second away from breaking into laughter every time Kobel opened his mouth.
Things seemed to take a turn for the surreal after "Tashi" lectured Harrah's officials about his predilection for medicinal cannabis, but as the gallery shared chuckles and knowing glances, the unthinkable happened - Tashi won.
He took the bracelet after cracking Andrews' pocket sixes, and then the fun began. Half-weeping, half-laughing deliriously with joy, Kobel thanked God, thanked Andrews, thanked Ja and Rastafari. He thanked the dealer, while enveloping her in a huge bear hug. He took pictures of his winning hand, then took pictures of the entire gallery (all thirty or so of us), because "no one will believe I was here," and then, turning his attention to the bracelet, he asked politely, like a precocious child, if he could "please put it on?"
The man was keyed up. The man was overwhelmed. It was awesome. We watched him try to come to terms with his win for a good half-hour before he could stop asking "is this real?" Far from a professional - he'd never read a book on poker in his life - he was just another person playing poker for the fun of the game. And as he walked alone into the night with his backpack and his money ($316,144) and his bracelet, he drew admiring glances from those of us who had seen his victory and had known his joy, and blank stares from those, including our rivals, who had not even bothered to note his success.
So until next time, tune into PokerListings.com for your coverage of Events 40-45 on the WSOP roster - because you're sure not going to get coverage anywhere else.