World Series of Poker Players Prep for Long Haul

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LAS VEGAS - (Associated Press) - When Adam Murphy first played in the World Series of Poker main event two years ago, he got in at the last minute after a strong run playing cash tables in Las Vegas and competing in other tournaments.

But the 38-year-old software company owner from Franklin, Wis., says he and his wife, Tanya, planned this year's trip around the no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament, and are far better prepared to deal with the marathon and complexity of the large event.

"We knew that's what we were going to play and planned it out," Murphy said.

A group of 2,734 players returned to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on Saturday for their second session of play, each with different ideas about how to run deep in the tournament and become one of 747 players to win at least $19,000.

The champion gets $8.94 million.

Saturday began with one of poker's biggest names - Phil Ivey - busting out after losing most of his chips gambling with two queens against two kings. Ivey hit a queen on the turn, but his opponent hit a king on the river to double his chip stack and leave the eight-time gold bracelet winner who placed seventh at last year's main event with nearly nothing.

Only half the players who played their second session on Friday made it to the end of the day. A final table won't be determined for another week, and minimum bets were still low enough that players had room to make moves.

The Murphys' preparations for the main event included relaxing, working out, and a pedicure for Tanya. They also paid for an intensive session at the World Series of Poker Academy, a Texas Hold 'em college of sorts with big-name poker professionals teaching specifically how to play in poker's richest tournament.

"I've never played in a tournament that's like scheduled to last for two weeks," said Tanya Murphy, who parlayed $26 into a $10,000 entry to her first main event through two satellites.

"Finding out how to manage that, different stages of the tournament, stack size strategy, all that stuff is really important," she said.

At the tables, each had a spreadsheet on their phone helping them determine how powerful their chip stacks were relative to minimum bets.

Tanya Murphy was still in the tournament after about 2 1/2 hours of play on Saturday. Her husband was bounced in the first hour of Saturday's second session.

Before Daniel Negreanu's second session, the four-time bracelet winner said he looked up his opponents on poker databases to see if they had played major tournaments before.

"It's like prep work, like any other sporting event," said Negreanu, who has won $3.44 million at the series. "Maybe intimidation a little bit and telling them that I'm really prepared."

Negreanu and some other high-profile players have trailers in the casino parking lot, outfitted with generators, cable television and beds. He said relaxing there as well as eating right and working out have helped him play better.

"I've been on the most uber-disciplined world series of my life," he said. "I think it's made a significant difference in my ability to stay fresh."

"I'm just mentally stronger," Negreanu said.

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