Toughest table in history

Updated: June 28, 2005, 11:39 AM ET
By Jay Lovinger | ESPN Poker Club

Previous WSOP Moment

Sometimes you know it's just not going to be your day, even before anything goes wrong.

Along with a sizable number of railbirds, I was watching the endgame of the $5,000 buy-in Omaha pot limit tournament (with rebuys) yesterday. With just three tables left, a tournament director moved one unfortunate player from a table with nine players to the table I was watching, which was down to just seven players.

The new arrival, a skittish-looking young man from India, carried his modest stack to Seat One, and when he looked up at his opponents, he visibly blanched. Who could blame him?

Seated to his immediate left, in Seat Two, was Doyle Brunson, a nine-time bracelet winner (including back-to-back main event titles) who is generally considered the greatest poker player . . . ever.

To Doyle's immediate left, in Seat Three, sat the stone-faced Phil Ivey, one of a handful of players whose name comes up whenever the discussion turns to the best player in the world . . . right now.

Two seats over from the Tiger Woods of poker, in Seat Five, someone even more stone-faced than Ivey stared implacably from behind a huge pile of chips - Ram Vaswami, a member of England's Hendon Mob and possibly the most dangerous player from Europe.

And right next to Vaswami was Alan Cunningham, who had already won the first major event of this year's WSOP (along with $750,000 or so) - the $1,500 buy-in NLHE event - and had made the final table in another event.

As someone watching remarked, "This might be the toughest table in history."

Needless to say, there was a certain inevitability to the outcome. About three hands after the newcomer sat down, Ivey casually performed the mercy killing. Very slowly, his poor victim got up, stared at the pile of chips Ivey was adding to his impressive stack, and backed away, much poorer for the experience but with a good story to tell his friends back home.

Jay Lovinger

Founding editor, Page 2
Jay Lovinger is a former managing editor of Life and a founding editor of Page 2. "Jackpot Jay" spent a year as a poker pro and participated in the World Series of Poker. He will be writing a book on his poker adventures for HarperCollins.

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