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Barny Boatman
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Ram does us proud

World Series of Poker, Las Vegas
$3,000 Pot Limit Hold'em
Report by Barny on Sunday, 16 May 2004 at 6:19 pm

Two days ago we sat down to play the $3,000 pot limit hold-em. This was an event I was particularly looking forward to; The field of around 350 was relatively small(!), and having made tenth in a much bigger field PLH event a couple of weeks ago, I knew what a good shot this was. Normally here, you look around your starting table and there’s more bracelets than a day trip from an open prison, but for once I hardly knew anyone, which suited me fine.

Everything was going perfectly and by the time we got to the last hundred players I was joint chip leader with Dave Colclough. In fact every table seemed to have a British player going well. Keith Hawkins was in great shape, Peter Costa had a nice stack, Ross and Ram were still there, Mark Banin and Gary Bush both had chips…I kept expecting to hear Geoff Leigh from the Vic cracking a bad joke over the mike.

Things started to go wrong for me as we got closer to the money and when Scotty Ngyuen knocked me out in fourty-something place I was as gutted. I’ve had several closer calls and better shots this month, but for some reason this one hurt. Ram was still there but I didn’t have the heart to stay and watch, I just got into my car and started driving around with the radio on full blast, drowning out my thoughts.

This game can take it out of you and you’ve got to be able to handle the mood swings. When I finally got home there was some fantastic news awaiting me. While I had been singing along to the eighties station Ram had been going about the business of getting to the final. With fourteen left he was second in chips and this was the best chance yet for that elusive Mob bracelet. The house was buzzing and no-one wanted to go to bed. We all knew he could do it. I love this game.

Before the final kicked off there was bad news. Harrahs had decided to ban the wearing of gaming related logos in the remaining WSOP finals. This is a short-sighted stupid and selfish move. ESPN- who have paid Harrahs a king’s ransom for the rights - have no problem with logos, but Harrahs, who seem determined to squeeze the event for every penny - charging the players exorbitant juice instead of giving back a little of those TV millions – are denying the players the right to earn something themselves. It’s a disgrace, and something has to change.

Sitting down to watch the final I realised how many of the Brits have arrived as one complete stand was packed with Poker’s own Barmy Army. Ram and Bushy were both at the table along with Phil Helmuth, the highly rated Gabriel Thaler and the young unknown Gavin Griffin from Illinois who was chip leader.

One of the beauties of TV coverage is that Phil Helmuth no longer has to fill his columns with bad beat stories as the whole world can now see for themselves how unlucky he is. In his previous final he had Kings cracked by Queens and this time his Queens were beaten by A4. His early departure left the field wide open with Gabe Thaler looking like Ram’s biggest danger. Ram stamped his authority on the game with a brilliantly played bluff against Gabe which brought him the chip lead.

Watching Ram and Bushy was an object lesson in two diametrically opposed final table styles. Gary hardly played a hand and was keeping a close eye on the prize structure. He made some disciplined passes rather than gamble for chips, even when he suspected he was in front. Ram played with great composure and deliberation but he was clearly going for gold. With the short-stacked player out in sixth and Gary low, well behind the remaining players, it looked like he was forced to make a move when he stuck in over half his stack first in line. Ram had obviously found a big hand at the right time and came over the top. Bushy had to call whatever he had and when Ram turned over Kings it looked bad for Gary.. But he had found Aces! With this double up he could afford to continue with his waiting game. The next turning point came when Gabe went all in with threes against Aces and hit a three. Now everyone had chips and Ram knew he had to play strong.

Griffin raised Ram’s big blind and Ram came over the top with J,10 suited. The young chip leader didn’t know where he was in the pot but could afford to call with AQ and when no help came Ram went out in fifth. I felt very proud of the way he played and the way he handled defeat. He gave himself every chance to win but in the end things just didn’t go his way.

We didn’t stay for the rest of the final but Bushy clearly proved that his style works as well, finishing a very impressive second. The bracelet went to the twenty-two year old Griffin, the youngest WSOP winner of all time.

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