The much-hyped hand between Prahlad Friedman and Allied Network Solutions CEO Ted Bort during Day 2B of the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event took center stage on this week’s installment of the ESPN poker news series “Inside Deal.” Friedman joined the show via phone to come clean.
Day 3 of the Main Event aired on Tuesday night on ESPN at 9:00pm ET. ESPN “Inside Deal” co-host Bernard Lee, who made a deep run in the tournament, gave his take on the third day of play: “Day 3 is really when experience comes through. I think that the experienced players realize there’s a lot of time… I really like picking on other players that are nervous. One-third of the field is left and Day 4 is when the money comes, so I’m going to pick on players who are thinking about that a lot and try to gather a lot of chips.”
The hand between Friedman and Bort was replayed, once again clearly showing that Friedman called at the one-second mark after the clock was summoned. Despite the dealer saying Friedman had called, floor officials declared his hand dead. Bort tabled J-9 for top two pair, while Friedman told “Inside Deal” viewers that he held 9-5 for a weaker two pair.
Friedman explained why he took until the very last second to call: “It was very hard to lay down two pair to a guy like this because he could be really excited about a hand that’s a really good one pair. I believed him, but I didn’t know what he thought was a big hand. I was basically stumped on what to do, which is why I called at the last second.” Bort had been barking loudly in the moments leading up to the clock being called.
On what he’d do if Bort had turned over a hand like A-J for one pair, Friedman admitted, “My reaction would be that I called before zero. I always thought that the ruling was until you go to zero. What the floor ruled was that when they say ‘one,’ your hand is dead. That’s a new ruling I’m unfamiliar with.” After seeing Bort flip up J-9, Friedman quickly mucked.
The reaction at the table was anything but calm. Mike Mustafa began yelling furiously at WSOP floor staff that Friedman should be eliminated from the tournament after his failed all-in. Friedman remarked, “Everyone argued that I should have been out of the tournament, but I don’t know that it affected play from there on out. Everyone just went back to normal. In my mind, it felt like I was freerolling because the ruling could have gone both ways.”
Four years ago, Friedman was involved in “Ante-gate” with Jeffrey Lisandro in a hand featured prominently on ESPN. Four years later, he once again finds himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons: “In general, the random fan likes me. Anyone knowledgeable about poker and poker rules can understand where I’m coming from, especially in this situation. I said ‘call’ at the very last second because I honestly didn’t know what to do, not because I was pulling any kind of angle or anything like that.”
Was the reaction by the poker community blown out of proportion? Was it really just a case of official error like you’d find in other sports? Friedman weighed in: “It’s an interesting ruling and one that a lot of people are going to argue about because it should make sense for the future that the rules be consistent. Is it zero or is it one? Which is the right ruling?”
ESPN.com Poker Editor and “Inside Deal” co-host Andrew Feldman then said what many of us who were watching the event unfold on television were thinking: “The biggest flaw here was made by the tournament staff. The dealer said he called. How do you not listen to the closest floor staff involved in that situation?”
Last week, the Poker Hall of Fame nominees for the Class of 2010 were revealed. The group of ten includes younger pros like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, who are both in their 30s. The youngest member of the Poker Hall of Fame is the late Chip Reese, who was 40 when he was inducted. This has led many members of the voting panel, which includes this author, to debate what constitutes “standing the test of time,” one criteria required for entry.
Feldman, who is also a member of the voting panel, opined, “We need to basically say that after you play your first Main Event, give us a time frame. Ivey and Negreanu are great players. They will get in. I don’t know if it’ll be this year and if there were a little more enhanced criteria, we could make that assessment easier.”
Catch new episodes of “Inside Deal” every Tuesday at ESPN.com.