As loyal PokerListings.com readers, you're already aware that Phil Hellmuth won his record 11th WSOP bracelet last night, hidden behind a shroud of black felt that enraged Mike Matusow and delighted the always-publicity-conscious Poker Brat. You're also aware that Allen Cunningham took home his fifth WSOP bracelet the day before, and that British Columbians and Canadians in general have been destroying the competition at every other WSOP final table of note. But after 12 days of poker in the palace of degeneracy, plenty of salacious side stories have emerged that maybe you're not aware of…yet.
Okay, obvious moonlanding. But this is the biggest non-Hellmuth/non-Harrah's-is-incompetent story of the WSOP so far. The scoop: Vinny Vinh, a high-stakes tournament regular with more than $2.3 million in tournament cashes so far, looked primed for another big score as chip-leader at the end of Day 1 of the $1,000 NLHE w/Rebuys event.
Fine, except Vinh, who reportedly looked exhausted and/or strung out and/or maniacal during Day 1, forgot to show up for Day 2 of the event. As friends and supporters (including Men "The Master" Nguyen) tried frantically to raise the absentee pro and the forums picked up on the story, Vinh's stack was blinded off and eventually the Houston native was disqualified, though not before outlasting 60 players and recording a 20th place finish.
Speculation raged as to whether Vinh was dead, in hiding due to degeneracy involving drugs or money, or simply too cracked out to come to work, with alliterative pros like Shane "Shaniac" Schleger and Shannon Shorr weighing in to lend credence to the worst-case scenarios.
Eventually, Shaniac announced that Vinh was alive and uninjured, at least according to his backer, and that this sort of disappearance is not unusual for the WPT Season 2 LAPC runner-up. Speculation has thus shifted to debate over Vinh's substance of choice and the extent of his addiction, but the exact circumstances regarding his disappearance and possible breakdown will likely remain a mystery.
One breakdown that will not remain a mystery is that of Paul "Eskimo" Clark, who collapsed during yesterday's $2,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo tournament and was removed from the scene by EMS personnel. Clark, who had been playing in the tent outside the Rio at the time, reportedly blanked out in the middle of making a call and was soon on the ground of the barn awaiting medical attention. According to the WSOP's Nolan Dalla, Clark was awake and responsive when he was removed from the tournament area, which is always a good sign. The cause of Clark's collapse has not been released.
A few interesting side notes: the tournament was halted and the tent cleared of players while Clark was being attended to, although Ted Lawson reportedly used the break to grab a cheeseburger and fries and proceeded to re-enter the tent to consume his meal one table away from where Eskimo lay stricken. Lawson was quickly escorted out and play was allowed to resume without a substantial delay, with Clark's original $4,000 in chips being taken off the table, his money refunded, and the remainder of his stack blinded off as play continued.
On a lighter note, what would a gossip rag be without mention of Brandi Hawbaker? The former protege of Captain Tom Franklin and Mark Newhouse, Ms. Hawbaker re-entered the public eye at Mandalay Bay just before the WSOP and since then has done nothing but blow up forums and reputable media outlets alike.
ThePokerBiz that Brandi might have found a backer in everyone's favorite Main Event winner, Jamie Gold, while other reports have seen the toast-fanatic learning under famed Theorist David Sklansky, whose hands-on tutelage raised the ire of Clonie Gowen during the $2,000 NLHE event. Gowen called the floor to protest Sklansky's involvement in Hawbaker's game, although in a strange twist the FullTiltPoker pro repeatedly denied that Hawbaker's coach in question was in fact David Sklansky.
Instead of Gold and/or Sklansky, PokerListings.com prefers to speculate that Hawbaker's phantom backer is the random European-looking man with a penchant for sweat-suits, a man who we believe bought her into the $2,500 HORSE event and who no doubt loves her better than Steve Zolotow ever could (although, given the Cathouse stories, who knows).
In another strange example of Harrah's twisted logic, pro Richard "The Quiet Lion" Brodie was banned from all of the company's properties after hitting two Royal Flushes in a matter of days while playing video poker at Caesars for $480,000. According to Brodie, Harrah's 86'd him and a few other similarly high-rolling gamblers because they couldn't see a way to make a profit off the old boy. This of course meant Brodie was banned from playing in the World Series.
Thankfully, WSOP commissioner and rumored blogger Jeffrey Pollack stepped in and convinced his employers to allow Brodie to play. Thus the Quiet Lion took part in the $5,000 World Championship Limit Hold'em Event and the entirety of the poker world (less Joe Hachem and, um, Jean Gluck) was represented again.
All the Trash That's Fit To Print...
If you believe everything you read, everyone from David Benyamine to Daniel Negreanu to Bryan Micon is bankrupt. Also, Jennifer "Jennicide" Leigh and Dustin "Neverwin" Woolf are an item, as are Chantel McNulty and Zach Hyman. Oh, and Erica Schoenberg might have had a bit of an extracurricular film career before the whole poker thing really took off. But if you haven't heard about thatone, well, you've got a bit of homework to do.