I arrived at the Rio early after grabbing a Texas Toaster sandwich at Sonic. I wandered down the hallway for my first official day of coverage of the WSOP. Just a few hours earlier, Mike Sexton won the Tournament of Champions around 7am after he beat Daniel Negreanu in a grueling hads-up match. On the final hand, Negreanu had Q-Js, which is a monster in heads-up play. Unfortunately, he ran into Sexton's pocket aces. After flopping a gutshot, Negreanu moved all and Sexton quickly called. He ended up with a boat which sealed the victory. The WPT announcer won bragging rights and $1 million in cash.
"You know, Mike Sexton really needs that money too," Chris Fargis joked with me when I told him who won.
Congrats to Mike Sexton and to Daniel Negreanu who won $325K for second place.
The first thing I noticed as I walked into the Rio were the huge Milwaukee's Beast cans lining the corridors. There were more random booths this year too as online sites and poker merchandising companies pimped their goods. The media room is all the way in the back and I slowly made my way down there past the hordes of railbirds, fans, and players in today's $1,500 NL event.
The first person I bumped into was Jay "Big Shot" Greenspan. He's working for Full Tilt again this year.
"When am I getting a copy of your book?" I asked.
"In a few weeks," he said with an excited look in his eyes.
Jay's a real writer and his book is going to be some of the best poker literature to come out this year. I'm going to get him to autograph a few copies and then sell them on ebay.
I stumbled upon the PokerStars booth and found Otis. He looked like he hadn't slept in days. Immediately I was worried. Otis had the twenty-yard stare in his eyes that most of us WSOP reporters got last year after a few weeks in the trenches. It's only day two and we're losing Otis. We made plans to hit up the Hooker Bar later in the night.
I got in line and waited for my badge. In front of me were two Craigs. Michael Craig, author of The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King and Craig Cunningham (CC) were securing their media credentials as I patiently waited. I also ran into Johnny Walker from Card Player in the media room. He was busy and I promised to tell him stories about the Widespread Panic shows at Red Rocks.
CC snapped a photo of me and we hung out in the hallway for an hour or so. He's covering the WSOP for Poker Works. The official media room would not be set up for several hours. There was a conference of roofers going on next door. Michael Craig showed me some of his notes about the roofers. Last year we had those pre-teen dance/gymnasts roaming around the Rio. With all those degenerate gamblers, it was an Amber Alert waiting to happen. Today, we had to deal with a roofers convention. As soon as they clear out, the room will be ours and I won't have to sit on the floor in the hallway.
I found John Caldwell from Poker News. He invited me to a viewing party to watch Jen Leo's appearance on Mansion's Poker new show Speed Poker at the Poker Dome. I also have a seat in the audience and will be cheering her on Sunday July 9th. Congrats to Jenny from the Block!
I found Mrs. Flipchip who was there to cheer on Flipchip from the rail. He won a seat into Event #2 and was fighting a nasty cold hoping to advance to Day 2. Nearby were Celine Dion's husband Renee and Gavin Smith. Minh Ly stopped me to say hello and John Phan rushed passed the silky Carmel Petresco and her boyfriend Daniel Alaei aka "the luckiest guy in poker."
In the hallway, Amir Vahedi was posing for a photograph as I could hear the raspy, cigarette-stained voice of Minneapolis Jim Meehan.
"This place is a fuckin' zoo," he barked at me.
Ted Forrest was on his cell phone as he navigated the crowded hallway like a skier doing the Giant Slalom.
"It's a madhouse," I overheard him shouting into his cellphone as a family of five snapped photos with Jesus.
As I stood in the hallway, I took a few photos and said hello to Vanessa Rousso. The Miami law student recently signed a deal with PokerStars as a sponsor. I bumped into Chris "Triple Draw" Fargis who was on the "alternate list" for today. He said he was staying at the Rio for the duration of the WSOP and that he enjoyed my Bonnaroo recaps. We both commented on the quality of female talent that has been flocking to the rails. A few poker sites hired models again to wear tight clothes and wander around the Rio.
Today felt like the first day back at school when you see everyone for the first time since the summer started. I didn't realize how many random people I knew like dealers, suits at Harrah's and floor people from last year. I also forgot how many pros I knew. Jean "the Prince" Gaspard walked in about forty minutes late to event #2. He knew it was going to be a clusterfuck and came late to avoid the rush.
Here's a few pics from today:
Amir and a fan
Flipchip playing in today's event
By the way, Full Tilt has a 50% reload bonus up to $300 through midnight at June 29th. Take advantage of it.
Before I go back to wandering the floor, I want to introduce and thank my new sponsor Paradise Poker. They were kind enough to buy the "leaderboard" ad space which covered my expenses and then some. Thanks to Jason at Paradise Poker for having faith in the Tao of Poker.
That's it for now.
You should be reading... Iggy's Guinness and Poker and Chris Fargis' blog Twenty-One Outs Twice.