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World Series of Poker, Day 1C

There were 200 tables of 10 players each when the third and final preliminary stage (Day 1C) of the 36th annual World Series of Poker's main event began Saturday. However, you needn't have roamed all over the Brasilia room at the Rio in Las Vegas to be entertained. You just needed to stay within earshot (the simplest of missions to accomplish) of "Shoes" and "The Mouth", who were seated just a table away from each other. "Shoes" is Michael Gambony, a 53 year-old former professional pool player who has turned to another type of green-felted table to earn his living. By the 15th hour of play Saturday (they began at 11 a.m. and ended shortly after 2:30 a.m.) the Scottsdale, Ariz., based rounder has what looks to be the largest chip stack of the remaining 700 or so players. "Shoes" somewhat resembles Al Pacino and, as the evening wears on, his speech and gestures beckon the memory of Pacino's Big Boy Caprice character in the film Dick Tracy. "I got three ex-wives," Gambony, seated at Table 137, tells his fellow players. He gesticulates wildly, fidgets constantly in his chair, absent-mindedly knocks over a chip stack so tall that it could be a replica of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. "And I got kids with each one. Hell, if I win this tournament I'll grab the $7 million and let them fight it out." "The Mouth" is Mike Matusow, a former WSOP bracelet winner (1999 No-Limit Hold 'Em event) in his mid-thirties. The Mouth, sporting a black Full-Tilt basketball jersey and shorts, is seated at Table 127, directly kitty-corner to "Shoes". Matusow only demands as much attention as Dennis Rodman once did. Matusow is to coffee housing what Frasier Crane is to coffee houses, and he loves to punctuate a hand with a couplet for the table's benefit: "Poker, poker, it's all skill. If you don't believe me, just ask ... me ..." Within the first two hours of play, "The Mouth" got more attention than even he wanted. He went head to head with George Kubal, a 75 year-old retired Air Force colonel and WSOP rookie. "The Mouth" had pocket kings; the colonel, pocket 8's. The flop came 7-9-10, giving Kubal eight outs for the open-ended straight. He hit it on the turn, which came a 6. "The Mouth" chucked in his cards, which is when the controversy arose.


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