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Tall-talking players try to walk the walk during Day 2A at the WSOP

9 July 2008

LAS VEGAS -- In golf, they call it moving day. In poker, they call it Day 2.



It's the day players either put themselves in position to cash (or win) in the World Series of Poker Main Event, or see their hopes eliminated or reduced to a few chips and a prayer. And as 1,251 players played on
Day 2A Wednesday (Day 2B will be played Thursday), two distinctly
different types of poker faces were on display. Some players were
loose and talkative even as the stakes rose, while others adopted the
intense and serious look.




maurice_hawkins

This morning's yellow outfit didn't bring much luck to the affable Maurice Hawkins. (photo by Vin Narayanan/Casino City)





Fort Lauderdale's Maurice Hawkins falls into the loose, talkative and
hilarious category. Hawkins, who started playing poker for a living
about four years ago, keeps up a stream of nonstop dialog that keeps
his table lively.



"Oh no you didn't," said Hawkins, when a Germany's Felix Osterland
brought some Chicken McNuggets to the table. "You broke out the
McNuggets, with barbecue sauce. Now I'm going to have to raise you on
every one of your blinds."



Later in the night, Osterland snapped his fingers before going all in.



"You just snack-crackled-popped all-in," Hawkins said.



The table, including Osterland, burst out in laughter. And the two
pounded fists in friendship.



Hawkins also does his fair share of trash talking at the table as
well. "You're going to bluff your stack off to me," he told one
opponent who had just won a sizable pot from him. "You watch. You'll
go in with Ace high and I'll beat you."



After winning a couple of consecutive pots, Hawkins saw the table fold
around to him on the next hand. "I get two hands and now I'm the bad
ass?" he questioned after getting no action.



Hawkins traveled an interesting road to the Main Event. He plays
primarily at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. And even though
he's been playing professionally, he freely admits that he "didn't get
good until last month."



"A complete stranger bought me into the Main Event," Hawkins said. "He
saw me playing at the Bellagio and liked the fact that I really love
poker."



Hawkins loves poker -- and he loves to talk. But sometimes his talking
can get him into trouble. "The supervisor told I can't talk while
heads-up," Hawkins told Casino City when we approached his table.




maurice_hawkins2

A new outfit and a talking to from "his girl" got the ball rolling after dinner for Maurice Hawkins. (photo by Vin Narayanan/Casino City)




It turns out that players, especially heads up, are not allowed to ask
a fellow player what they have, or needle a call or fold out of a
player.



"That brings up possible collusion problems," a WSOP floor supervisor
told Casino City. "Players can think through a hand out loud, but they
can't entice an action."



Hawkins began the day with 78,000 chips, but saw his stack dwindle
progressively throughout the day. And his stack grew lower and lower,
the more he rubbed his head and eyes in frustration.



"I just need one set," Hawkins told Casino City in between hands. "One
set and I can double up against these guys. I've played 30-40 hands
and haven't hit a flop."



Then Hawkins returned to the table and asked the dealer to give him a
set of deuces.



"This is painful," Hawkins announced. "But if you just make it through
tough part, then things will get easy. And that's when you start
flopping sets and flushes."



Things didn't get easy for Hawkins prior to the dinner break. He
continued to miss flops and lose chips. And entering the dinner break,
it looked like his night was due to end soon.



Hawkins emerged from the dinner break with a new outfit and a new
attitude. He changed from an orange shirt into red Hard Rock Hotel
shirt and a St. Louis Cardinals baseball hat.



"I got a talking to from my girl," Hawkins said. "She said put it all in,
or don't put it in at all."



The advice -- and new clothes -- worked for a few hours. He quickly acquired a new stack of chips. But an hour before Day 2A ended, Hawkins was eliminated. And as he made the lonely walk out of the Amazon Room, the ESPN cameras that had been filming his unique table presence made no move to cover his exit.




While Hawkins was talking his way through the Day 2A, Sweden's Stefan
Mattsson approached his play with a quiet efficiency.



Listening to a red iPod with large silver headphones, Mattsson was
engaged in every hand. He studied each and every player as they bet or
folded. He tracked every flop, turn and river. And he played with
controlled aggression.




maurice_hawkins2

Steely-eyed Swede Stefan Mattsson was a tough customer once again on Tuesday. (photo by Vin Narayanan/Casino City)




Early in the day, a player at Mattson's first table raised a Mattsson
bet. Mattsson stared him down for a few minutes, and then re-raised.
His opponent folded and Mattsson responded with a "nice try."



Mattsson's aggressive play continued when he switched tables and sat
next to a short-stacked Barry Greenstein, who href="http://garytrask.casinocitytimes.com/article/surging-swede-mattsson-looking-to-gain-more-recognition-at-wsop-42537">didn't
want a piece of Mattsson on Day 1A.



Greenstein went all in an effort to double up. Everyone folded and
Greenstein picked up a few chips. The next hand, Mattsson and
Greenstein folded. Then Mattsson looked over and asked Greenstein how
many chips he had left.



"You're not even in the hand you're trying to figure out my chip
count," Greenstein gently protested before giving him a chip count.

Mattsson and Greenstein rarely tangled the rest of the day (Greenstein
was eventually eliminated by Donald Norton.)



But Mattsson's aggressive play continued. While rolling chips from one
hand to the next, Mattsson continued to see flops. His missed more
flops than he hit today. But one of the ones Mattsson hit was a
doozy. With six people calling 3,500 pre-flop bet, Mattsson hit his
straight and won 90,200. The pot gave Mattsson about 210,000 chips
prior to the last break of the evening.




Notable eliminations: John Hennigan, Dario Alioto, Ray Romano, Hal Lubarsky, Nick Schulman, Billy Baxter, Barry Greenstein, Kathy Liebert, Erick Lindgren, Blair Hinkle, Alex Bolotin, Robert Varkonyi, Paul Wasicka, Svetlana Gromenkova, Bill Edler and Anna Wroblewski.


Tall-talking players try to walk the walk during Day 2A at the WSOP is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.