When I walked outside the Rio early on Monday, the sun slowly crept over the mountains as I completed the longest day of work so far at the series. It was a 15 hour day and it could have been longer. My assignment was to cover Day 2 of Event #3 $1,500 NL. 270 players started the day and I could not leave until 9 remained. I'm lucky that I got to leave the Rio shortly after 5am. The ESPN film crew and I set the over/under at 5:45am and we were all giddy when the last player busted out.
I arrived at the Rio around 2pm after a quick lunch at the cafe in the Palms casino with Change100. We sidestepped a slew of L.A. douchebgas and Paris Hilton clones in order to eat somewhere that was not the Rio. By the end of Day 3, I'd grown completely sick of the food in the poker kitchen. With 44 more days left, I expect my first major freak out will most likely be related to the chemical reaction to the kangaroo burgers that they pass off as "hamburgers."
Shannon Elizabeth thinks positive thoughts
Photo courtesy of Flipchip
We had four tournaments to cover for PokerNews.com and Jonno divided all of us up. BJ and Leanne took the final table for Event #1 $5K Mixed Hold'em. Mean Gene and Dixie covered Day 1 of Event #4 $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em. Change100 covered the Day 1 of $2,500 Mixed Stud and Omaha 8 by herself and I drew Day 2 of Event #3. At some point during the 15 hour day, I worked on all four events in various capacities. Without a doubt, Day 3 of the series was the toughest that I encountered with all the major fuck ups and it would test all of my patience and skills as a veteran tournament reporter.
I encountered a major problem with accessing information that Harrah's was supposed to provide to me and PokerNews. I took matters into my own hands and sought out the necessary info on bustouts instead of waiting around for a suit to hand it over to me. That meant I was backlogged with a lot of data entry which was a major waste of my resources as a reporter and writer. I eventually caught up on the bitch work and lost some of my dinner break (Per advice from Wil, I try not to work on my breaks, but I had no choice). I give a lot of credit to the new guys Matt, Steve, Rob, and Jim who helped me cover Event #3 which featured a bevy of unknown players. How we managed to figure out who's who is still a shocker.
There were a few technical issues with Event #3. Play was suspended at the end of Day 1 just as the money bubble burst. That meant at the start of Day 2, there would be dozens and dozens of eliminations to start the day. Small stacks push on the first hand after they make the money and a frenzied pace of eliminations start flowing. The staff was not prepared for that. After the first three or four hands, everyone was overwhelmed with eliminations. Play had to be stopped for forty-five minutes while they sorted out the confusion. My criticism was that they should have expected a mad rush of bustouts at the start of Day 2 and got enough staff in place to handle the influx of money winners.
There was also a problem with chip stacks. Several players complained that they did not have the same amount of chips that they signed off on. A color-up was made after they signed off on their chips and several players did not re-check before they zipped their chips in the bags at the end of Day 1. I never got a full confirmation on what the staff did to fix that problem. I heard rumors such as one player was shitfaced and wrote down the wrong amount. I also heard that players were told, tough shit since it is their responsibility to count the chips before they seal the bag. you never know who was trying to angleshoot.
Since there was over 9 million chips in play, the color-up process was a nightmare. There was a second break in the action that lasted another 45 minutes. Color-ups cannot be done by dealers and only by floor staff. They have to go to each table and take off the smaller chips. Play cannot resume until the entire staff has an accurate count before play resumes. Although this lengthens the color-up process it was implemented to ensure that there would be no missing chips like what went down at last year's main event. After the staff took out black $100 chips off the table, three were discovered hidden in dirty stacks. I assumed that they took them out of play.
That lull in the action would have been the perfect time for me to catch up with data entry and recording bustouts, however, I didn't get that info until a few minutes before the dinner break. Instead, I helped cover the other events. Change100 was short-handed with her junior staff and I had to walk the floor in her quadrant to jot down the noteworthy pros in the event. One of the things I learned to do on Wall Street was to multi-task in a hostile work environment with mass confusion and people screaming in your ear at every moment. Because of my high threshold for pressure, I often get extra tasks thrown my way. Plus I've accepted a role as middle management which is th eone part of the job that I'mnot a fan of. I love writing and seeking out the story. It's hard to do that when I'm chained to a laptop or troubleshooting. For the first twelve hours of Day 3, it seemed like I was behind the entire time. I didn't catch up until almost 2am. Yeah, it was a long fuckin' day.
The buzz around the Amazon ballroom was the announcement of the first bracelet winner Steve "MrSmokey1" Billirakis. He made history by becoming the youngest player ever to win a bracelet. I witnessed E-Fro achieve that task in 2005 as he broke Gavin Griffin's record. Last year, Jeff Madsen broke E-Fro's record and last night, MrSmokey1 shattered Madsen's record. The kid turned 21 less than two weeks ago. I was impressed with his victory because he had to endure a difficult final table and survive one of the toughest fields of pros that I had seen in a very long time.
2007 WSOP $5,000 Mixed Hold'em Champion: MrSmokey1
Photo courtesy of Flipchip
The second mixed event of the series, $2,500 Omaha/Stud, was a tournament that featured tons of pros. Most of them skipped the 2,998 person NL event in order to play the mixed event in a quest to win a bracelet. That tournament was going on right in front of the media desk. I sat twenty feet away from Mike Matusow as he ran his mouth the entire time. The Mouth is so loud that he outspeaks the staff using microphones. He talked about a multitude of topics such as his table being all donkeys and how great of a guy he is.
The best story of the day surrounded the prop bet issued by Ted Forrest. He wagered Matusow $100,000 that he could not lose 54 pounds in one year.
"I have to get from 235 to 181," Matusow told everyone within earshot.
"Chop off your leg," suggested Perry Friedman.
"Chop off your head," shouted an unknown pro.
Unfortunately, Matusow cannot get surgery (either liposuction or stomach stapling) and he cannot amputate any limbs. He's got to lose weight the old fashioned way. I wonder if he could pull it off?
Eventually in the wee hours of the night when most of you were still sleeping, Event #3 dwindled down to a final table that featured Alex Jacob with a tremendous chiplead. He'll have to hold off Bart Hanson from Live at the Bike and Andreas Krause, whom Katja Thater said was one of the top 3 German players in the world.
Event #3 $1,500 NL Final Table Chip Counts:Mike (the reader who was at Jim Meehan's table on Day 1) told me that Paul Evens was at his starting table and went from 250 to 1.69M in chips. Talk about a massive run to go from nearly busto to second in chips at the final table.
1. Alex Jacob - 3,100,000
2. Paul Evans - 1,690,000
3. Jeff Yoak - 965,000
4. Matt Vengrin - 930,000
5. Ciaran O'Leary - 610,000
6. Thad Smith - 555,000
7. Craig Crivello - 495,000
8. Andreas Krause - 490,000
9. Bart Hanson - 210,000
On Monday, I get to cover the $5K PLO with Rebuys event starting at 5pm. That should be fun. Stop by PokerNews.com to read the live updates.
2007 Main Event Winner's Bracelet
Photo courtesy of Flipchip
Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 3
Our multimedia guru Justin Shronk lost his voice due to a bizarre incident where he was singing too loudly in his car on the way to the Rio. What was he singing? The original cast album of Rent. That puts Shronk on my "suspect list" along with Michalski's pink polos.
Daniel Negreanu was hitting on a railbird the other day and he was overheard saying, "I got a house in Vegas and I got a hotel room in Reno."
When I got a cab in the wee hours of the morning, it was obvious that the woman in front of me had been doing the walk of shame. She had that all too common look that I see in Las Vegas... half-hung over, dehydrated, exhasuted and wrought with guilt. I hope she got cab fare out of the deal. One of the best walk of shame stories that I ever heard involved a friend of mine that came to Vegas for a convention. He got shitfaced at Light with a female co-worker. They had sex twice before he puked on her tits and then he told her and said, "Now get the fuck out." Poor girl was spotted sneaking away from his room with a severe limp and reeking of vomit.
There's one dealer who looks like Fat Elvis. He has those hairy sideburns and I assume he's an Elvis impersonator as well as WSOP dealer.
Mean Gene did not have any desk space and had to stack chairs to use a work station. The guy was a trooper as I sat next to him for most of the day. Here's a pic:
Photo courtesy of Mean Gene
Phil Hellmuth was listening to Dr. Dre on his iPod. Seriously. When someone asked what song, he responded, "I'd tell you the name but then I'd get an F-bomb penalty."
Around 2:10am, I bumped into a reader named named Andrew Webking. He cashed in the PL Hold'em event and advanced to Day 2. We shot the shit for a few minutes before I had to get back to work. Let's hope he can make a final table.
Melissa Hayden has been seen hobbling around with a cast on her left foot. She thwarted a car jacking attempt but got shot in the foot by a tweaker as she fought him off with just a card capper. OK, that didn't really happened but she asked me to come up with a great story so she could tell people. How about... "a bizarre gardening accident."
SinCityCarmen secured a media badge and is now working for the Poker Works along with CC and Michalski.
Katja Thater walked around barefoot while she left her PL Hold'em table to check on the progress of her fellow German Andreas Krause.
Max Pescatori sported a pair of cool plaid shorts that I'd love to own but Change100 would never let me buy them.
I had a nightmare last night. I was working a PLO event and then I woke up. It sucks when you spend your moments in deep slumber dreaming about work.
I saw Jesus take six photo requests and give no less than three autographs on Sunday. I give Jesus a ton of credit since he's very friendly and accommodating to the fans unlike a ton of other pros I've encountered.
After the Mixed Omaha/Stud event ended, Greg Raymer walked over to check out the final two tables of Event #3 that I was covering. When he asked me if I had to stay until the final nine and I said yes, Fossilman gave me shit and said, "Sucks to be you."
It was a Sunday which meant that there were not too many hookers working the area since most of them were in either church or bible study.
I confirmed a Dan Michalski sighting in the media room. This is the third WSOP that we've worked together. I'm still waiting for Otis to arrive.
Stella Watch... Total Pints of Stella I've Drank at the Tilted Kilt: 5
I went to the Tilted Kilt during my dinner break which was shortened from ninety minutes to sixty due to the delays early in the day. I watched the highlights of the Yankees-Red Sox game and cheered when I saw A-Rod's ninth inning home run to break a tie. I downed two pints and headed back to work.
Last 5 Pros I've Pissed Next To:
2. Max Pescatori
3. Ghau Giang
4. Pete Giordano
5. Mike Gracz
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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