"Cleveland," said Nolan Dalla to me as I walked into the media room.
Way before Nolan Dalla was involved with the WSOP, he was a sports handicapper and considered one of the best in all of Las Vegas. He knows guys that "know things" and when he gave me a tip on the WNBA a few weeks ago, I initially laughed, then ran over to the sports book to check the lines. I made a promise to myself that I would not bet sports until NFL season started and even though Nolan gave me a sure thing (on the most degenerate of sports betting... the WNBA that's even more sadistic than betting on baseball) I held my willpower and avoided laying any bets. Sure enough, his WNBA picks hit.
"Cleveland is good for a unit," said Nolan as I felt my right pocket. Based on the lump in there, I estimated that I had almost 2K maybe more. Within ten minutes I could scrape together four or five grand. I took a deep breath and decided that a promise to myself meant more than a sure thing. Cleveland was playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and it was supposed to be a blow out. Even at -160, there was plenty of value in that bet. I avoided the sports book, yet kept an eye on the game and wished that I lacked self-discipline and bet my poker bankroll on the game.
As I covered my event that day, I kept one eye on ESPN gamecast and the other on one of the many TV screens in the Amazon Ballroom. The game got interesting in the 7th inning. The Indians were ahead 3-0 but the Devil Rays rallied against Fausto Carmon. He walked a batter with the bases load as the Devil Rays trailed 3-2. R. Perez came in relief and saved the day. He struck out a pinch hitter. The next batter he made an amazing catch on a Baltimore chop and threw home to get the force out. He got the next player to ground out to end the inning.
Cleveland blew the game open scoring seven runs in the bottom of the 8th as they won 10-2. The game was a lock just as Nolan predicted. Of course, had I bet five dimes of the game, Cleveland would have lost and I'd be writing about that bad beat in this space.
Sometimes the best bets you make, or the ones you don't make. Just like in poker. Sometimes the best hands you play are the ones you don't play.
The Main Event is starting on Friday and Dan Michalski mentioned that one of his friends signed up and was 2,552. Harrah's canceled a day off (between Day 1 and Day 2) because they expect a big crowd at the Main Event. Did they know something or did they want to avoid seating players in the Rio's actual poker room and the Poker Sauna during the Main Event? There will be Day 1a, 1b, 1c, and now 1d. I doubt they will get close to last year's record. I have big bets out there that the numbers will go over 4,200; over 4,500; over 5,000; and over 5,500.
I still think that they will get at least 6,000 players this year. The main event of the WSOP is the premiere tournament in poker. Nothing else compares or comes closer. Every year, more people buy-in directly than the previous year. You cannot forget about those folks who are willing to chase down a dream.
As much as the WPT and EPT is insanely popular among their players, the winners of those season-ending championship events don't get the coverage and endorsement deals that the winner of the WSOP will secure.
One affiliate guy (name withheld by request) from an online poker site suggested that 20-25% of the players who win a seat online will actually buy-in to the main event. There are many reasons that 75-80% of them won't make it.
1. Wife says no... once the wife or girlfriend finds out that you have $10K in cash sitting in your account, they'll cock block your dreams of winning the big dance. It's one thing if you win a non-refundable seat and she has no choice but to let you go, but with cash in hand, it will be hard to convince her to blow it at the Rio and pad the prize pool.
2. Players donk it off... I hear this happen all the time. Player XYZ gets a nice score and blows it by playing more tourneys or jumping up in levels and getting creamed.
3. Playing a different event... instead of blowing their wad on the main event, some players made the decision to play a smaller buy-in event instead, while pocketing the rest to cover expenses.
4. Moment of clarity... a player who won a seat realizes that they are a super long shot to win it, so they pocket the money instead and use it to pay debts, a nice vacation for the family, or to buy something for themselves like a plasma TV or a new iPhone.
I'm sure there are hundreds of reasons why satellite winners will elect not to come to Vegas, but I still think that the allure of winning the big one will attract more players than estimated. Everyone who plays tournament poker wants to win the WSOP main event. Almost everyone I know desperately seeks fame and fortune if not both. Even if you don't win it and get close, you'll be immortalized on ESPN Classic if you get face time. For normal folks, that's their only shot at the big time. Some will be willing to take that shot because after all, the WSOP is the epitome of the American Dream. That's why it's called the Moneymaker Effect. It's not just for Americans anymore as poker has become an international phenomena. There will be Canadians, Scandinavians, Australians, and players represents dozens and dozens of nations competing for the most prestigious prize in poker.
Last year, I wrote some on PokerStars Blog called The Post-Modern American Dream: The WSOP. Here's a bit:
Several decades ago, author Hunter S. Thompson set out on a "A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream," which ended up being the tagline to his most famous body of work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. By the end of his psychedelic fueled journey, Thompson was crushed to learn that the dream is only a myth. After the rebellious waves of the 1960s crashed somewhere in the Nevada Desert, the bright and glitzy lights of Las Vegas represented the highwater mark as the revolutionary tide rolled back into the Pacific Ocean.In less than two weeks, that winner of the main event will become poker's next superstar. It could be a well-known pro, but chances are it will be someone who came out of nowhere. It could be the guy who plays in your cul-de-sac homegame, or the donkey who plays in the same underground club that you play, or some hotshot pro from Sweden as the prove what they've all been saying since day 1... that the Swedes are the best poker players in the world.
For the last few decades, the eternal flame of the American Dream dulled to a tiny flicker. For millions of lost souls, they found themselves sleepwalking through life, unexcited about the things, places, and people around them. That was until a mild-mannered accountant from Tennessee by the name of Chris Moneymaker became the focal point of the gambling world. By now you know the story. Moneymaker won a seat into the 2003 WSOP via a satellite on PokerStars and parlayed a $33 investment into $2.5 million.
Maybe it's the name "Moneymaker" or simply timing, but Chris Moneymaker is often listed as one of the primary causes of the recent poker boom. It's not so much a boom as a viral infection or an epidemic and if you've walked down the hallways of the Rio Casino here in Las Vegas, you'll see the Moneymaker Effect in full force. Thousands of poker players from the farthest corners of the world have flown into Las Vegas for their shot at fame and glory. Corporations are lining up as official sponsors. Television companies and channels are churning out poker-themed shows.... More
Once the champ, always the champ.
If you had one shot at immortality, wouldn't you take it? As Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, "Buy the ticket. Take the ride."
Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos and there's the Poker Prof's cool 2007 WSOP Info page.
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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