When I wandered down the long corridor, I noticed the absence of the Cold War type bread lines that cluttered the convention area the day before. I could move with relative ease until I got close to the Amazon ballroom. That's where the madness had been contained. The entire area in front of the media room was packed with alternates in Event #3 $1500 NL. It took several minutes just to navigate the crowd of gamblers who had been standing there for some time awaiting their number to be called so they could play in the largest event ever at the WSOP that was not the main event.
Devilfish with the Beast Girls
Photo courtesy of Flipchip
It took several hours, but eventually 2,998 players were seated in the event which had so many people that the Poker Tent or The Poker Sauna (that I'm going to refer to it over the remainder of the series) was packed with players. Harrah's did not have enough tables so both Day 2s of the Employees Event and Event #1 were delayed several hours. Originally scheduled for 2pm, Event #1 was pushed back to 4:30pm while the Employees got stiffed once again and were pushed back to 5:30pm. Even Event #3 started an hour late in order to accommodate the crush of dead money.
The hallways outside the Amazon ballroom was swarmed with spectators and family members of players in Event #3. Security guards were not letting anyone inside the tournament area and depending on the rent-a-cop, they weren't even letting media inside. I got stiff armed at one door and didn't argue. I did take down the guy's name and added him to my Shit List of Assholes and Inbred Dipshits that I will totally flame in my Las Vegas book. I know he has a job to do, but so do I.
I found a different way inside. Harrah's gave one dealer the shittiest job that I had ever seen at the series. One dealer had to stand by a door and act as security guard. What did that guy do to deserve that? Of course, he was the weak link in the security system and I breezed right by him.
As soon as I walked into the room, one of our staff members ran over and said, "Shannon Elizabeth is out on the first hand."
Poor Nadia. I guess the Secret Law of Attraction didn't work that time.
Harrah's took over our work station on the floor and used the table to handle the alternate issues. That meant our team was spread out to different spots. My heart went out to Change100. Her assignment was the Poker Sauna and I went over to check it out since I had never been inside. The room supposedly had A/C pumping through but with the doors constantly opening and closing, the room had a tough time keeping all the cool air flowing.
"Close the door!" bitched one iPod kid with wrap around sunglasses.
"Can we please do something about the door?" another player bitched.
I felt bad for them in one respect since they drew the table closest to the door. But then again, I didn't give one rat's ass about their situation. At this point, you have to expect that you're going to deal with some sort of bullshit at a WSOP event. In 2005 it was the bathrooms, thick clouds of smoke in the hallways, and shitty food. Last year it was the dealer mutiny, used cards, and not enough non-NL events. This year it's the Poker Sauna and cards.
Fuck ups are the norm. It's like living in LA and complaining about the traffic or living in Seattle and bitching about the rain. These are things that are "just are."
Here's my suggestion of the day: the poker kitchen should have been left outside since when they cook burgers in the adjacent ballroom, the fire alarms go off. Isn't that a fire hazard? They should use the ballroom (where the poker kitchen is located) to put spillover tournament tables and use it as a satellite or cash game area instead of clogging the Amazon ballroom.
Change100 had a tough time with internet access in the Poker Sauna and I helped out a few junior reporters with identifying players. I want to use the term "intern" because it sounds cooler and is easier to type than junior reporter. However, they are not technically interns. Anyway, I realized that the new kids had a tough time finding named pros because only a handful were playing in the massive $1500 field.
A lot of pros told me that they are skipping the $1500 NL events in favor of smaller events where they have a better chance to win a bracelet. The $1500 NL ones are a crapshoot and you have to outlast like 2500 or more players just to make the money. Since Harrah's added less NL events and more mixed events, they wanted to focus on those. In addition, Event #1 had 97 players left and many of them were top pros. That's where they were.
Since I was scheduled to work the Day 2 of Event #1, I didn't have anything to do for my first three hours. I stepped in and helped cover Event #3. I walked the floor troubleshooting. Most of the questions I got from our floor kids involved verification of second-tiered pros. I did what I could and also pointed out any Europeans or Aussie/Kiwi players that I happened to know.
I spent some time in the media room since I barely hung out in there during the first day. A few veteran reporters had switched jobs or were working for different outlets. I caught up with some other people I had not seen yet and we bullshitted about the recent buzz involving the cards or the differences in this year's series.
Alternates were sprawled out on the floor. Some were napping while others were eagerly waiting to play. Even though the hallways were clear, the area by the media room was a bottleneck. I quickly bolted and went back inside.
I found Jason Strasser milling around the area where he thought Event #1 would start. The staff told him to come back later around 4pm when more tables broke from the NL event.
"How many entrants today?" he said. "I have a $1,500 bet with John Juanda over the exact number. He said that they would get less players than last year. I said more."
When I told him that there were at least five or six hundred alternates, Strasser made a beeline to Juanda's table.
"Pay up!" he demanded.
"Can I pay you online?" asked Juanda.
Strasser shook his head and Juanda pulled out a wad of Benjamins. He peeled off 15 and Strasser slid them into his pocket with a shit eating grin on his face. The exact number of players was 2,998.
I wandered the floor and came across a table with Minneapolis Jim Meehan. He's one of the biggest and most hilarious characters that I've come across in poker. He's always wearing a cowboy hat and often has an unlit cigarette dangling from his lip. After decades of chain smoking, his raspy voice is both loud and distinctive.
When I walked past his table, he was in a hand. On a flop of 10h-9c-4c one player moved all in for 2.7K. Players started with 3K in chips and it was still in the first level of play. Meehan took almost five minutes to make a decision. He stood up several times and examined the flop. He took off his hat and put it back on. He muttered to himself and spouted out percentages.
"I think I'm a 4 to 1 dog. Or maybe I'm an 8% favorite," he said as a small crowd of media gathered at his table.
"That's two clubs and one heart, right?" he asked the dealer. "I want to make sure. I'm surrounded by 3,000 monkeys."
"Are you calling us monkeys?" snapped his opponent who looked super pissed at Meehan.
"No. Not you guys. You're all world champions. I'm talking about the rest of the idiots!" he replied as he waved his hand gesticulating to the rest of the tables in the Amazon ballroom.
He apologized for the delay to the rest of his table as the guy in Seat 3 stood up and walked over to me.
"Are you Pauly?" he asked.
I nodded and he said his name was Mike and a reader of my blogs.
"Meehan has been putting on a good show for the last hour," Mike whispered to me before going back to his seat.
"I'm lost in this hand," Meehan said. "I just keeping thinking the 9c is the 6c."
Event #3 used the shitty decks with the funny looking numbers. The shipment of new cards had not arrived and Meehan was making sure the cards were right before he made a decision.
His opponent called a clock on him and Meehan eventually called. Meehan flipped over Kc-2c while his opponent showed Jc-8c. The board was 10h-9c-4c and Meehan was ahead with King high and a flush draw while his opponent's hand was not as big since Meehan had a bigger flush draw. The turn was the Qs and his opponent took over the lead with a straight. Meehan still had outs for a flush but missed when the 4d fell on the river.
Meehan mumbled an F-bomb while he headed to the rail and said, "See all you fucking guys at the Resurrection."
When Meehan walked past me, he pulled his unlit cigarette out of his mouth long enough to say, "I'm surrounded by fuckin' geniuses."
Flipchip had been playing in Event #3 along with Snake and Chops from Wicked Chops Poker. Flipchip busted early when he outflopped A-A with Pocket Jacks. Flipchip flopped a set and got all his money in the pot. Unfortunately, the turn was an Ace and he busted out.
BJ and I covered Day 2 of Event #1 $5K Mixed Hold'em which meant we followed the action from the remaining 97 players until the final 9. The starting field was 451 player and we were about to make the money in the first event of 2007.
When Isabelle smiles, I melt.
Photo courtesy of Flipchip
We were excited because there were a lot of pros we knew still in the mix along with a slew of online players such as Pearljammer, Strassa2, Hazards21, MrSmokey1, twin-caracas, and Martine23. Of course the lovely Liz Lieu and Isabelle Mercier both advanced to Day 2. Sadly, they both busted out before the money.
The big story was about Johnny Chan. He was among the chipleaders for most of the day. he was seeking his 11th bracelet and whenever Chan, Brunson, or Hellmuth go deep into events this year, that becomes the immediate focus. Chan went out in 31st place. Other noteworthy players cashing included: Kenny Tran, Paul Snead, Joe Tehan, Jimmy Tran, Jorge Arias, Tony Ma, Jason Strasser, David Grey, Ali Eslami, Aaron Kanter, Hung La, Andreas Wahnum, Todd Brunson, Mark Gregorich, and Cyndy Violette.
The final nine is set and Kirk Morrison is my pick to win his second bracelet. He'll have to come from behind to beat Greg Mueller and Steve Paul-Ambrose who are among the chipleaders.
Event #1 $5K Mixed Hold'em Final Table:Stop by PokerNews.com to check out our live coverage of the final table along with coverage of two other events.
Seat 1 - John Younger - 94,000
Seat 2 - Jon "Pearljammer" Turner - 88,000
Seat 3 - Fred Berger - 942,000
Seat 4 - Roger McDow - 320,000
Seat 5 - Greg 'FBT' Mueller - 683,000
Seat 6 - Kirk Morrison - 512,000
Seat 7 - Steve Billirakis - 562,000
Seat 8 - Steve Paul-Ambrose - 771,000
Seat 9 - Tony George - 546,000
I almost hit Kathy Liebert as I pulled into the parking lot. She dashed out from a row of cars and I slammed on the breaks. Daddy would have been pissed if I ran over his favorite poker player. Kathy sported a purple velour jumpsuit which sent Change100 on uber-tilt as soon as she spotted Kathy's outfit.
Last year, I posted a pic of a cute dealer and Mean Gene pointed out to me that she was dealing right in front of his media table. He noticed the same glasses that she wore from last year.
Phil Hellmuth and Doyle Brunson were in the VIP lounge during one of the breaks. They made a prop bet to see if Hellmuth could sink three putts in a row on their faux putting green. Hellmuth nailed all three and Brunson forked over $18,000.
Erick Lindgren must have had a horse in Event #1 because he kept asking me about Josh Arieh's progress. Arieh busted out after taking two sick beats in consecutive hands. "He didn't shoot himself afterwards?" wondered Lindgren.
Liz playing in Day 2 of Event #1
Photo courtesy of Flipchip
I hung out with Liz Lieu who was in the media room since she was killing time while waiting for Event #1 to start. She told me that she thinks I have matured over the last two years. "You used to be all feisty," she said. "Now you are more calm and relaxed when I see you." I told her that I'm much better at saving my energy and was most likely stoned or jacked up on painkillers when she saw me. "I don't think so," she said. "I know why. It's because you have a girlfriend now. Am I right?" I asked her if she was jealous and she said, "Maybe."
There was a Dan Michalski sighting in the Rio. I have not confirmed if that is true or just a ghost of Michalski past. The figure had a similar bald spot but he was not wearing a pink polo. I don't think it was him. We have a theory among the veteran media that Michalski will be outsourcing the WSOP content on Pokerati by using illegal immigrant day workers to write his blogs. I can totally picture Michalski pulling up to the parking lot at Home Depot and asking, "Puede usted contar virutas? Usted desea trabajar en la serie de mundo de poker?"
Thanks to The Fat Guy for the shout out and calling me HST Jr.
Gavin Smith was using an airport bottle of Canadian whiskey as a card capper.
My dinner break was much later than most of the staff and the players in Event #1. I went at 9pm instead of 7:30pm. I missed the mad rush at the Tilted Kilt according to Kari and the other kilts. I drank a couple of pints of Stella and ate chicken fingers with spicy ranch dipping sauce. I had been craving that for months. Kari told me about the one new girl they hired. The guys in the kitchen think she's a man. The waitress wanted to prove them wrong and asked Kari to take a picture of her vagina to prove the guys wrong. Where was Flipchip when you needed him? I offered up my services. Alas, I did not get to snap any pictures of Tilted Kilt waitresses' cookies. If I was able to pull that feat off, that would have put Otis on mega tilt for the rest of the decade.
We told Filipe (our photographer from Portugal) that he should say, "No habla anglais." when people from other rival outlets asked him questions. I started saying that when tourists were asking me questions like "Where's Bill Ivey?"
It was Saturday night at the Rio which meant that the hookers were out in full force. One short old guy had a buxom fake-blonde on one arm and a slim black girl on the other arm. He strolled through the Amazon room showing off. Too bad everyone breathing knew that they were pros. Instead of hanging out at the Hooker bar, a few ladies of the night were proactive and trickled down into the convention center. Hey, the poker pros flock to Vegas during the WSOP because of all the dead money flying onto town. Same goes for the working girls. They know that everyday more marks are flying into town and showing up at the Rio. Who can they fleece or roll today?
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Johnny Chan
2. CK Hua
3. Minh Ly
4. Tony Ma
5. Todd Brunson
Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos. And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.
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