Las Vegas was hotter than hell with tempatures soaring up to 119 degrees. There's the Chinese acrobat scandal where over twenty people were beung enslaved in a house here in Las Vegas. And don't forget about the trigger happy gunman who lit up the New York, New Yrok casino around 1am after he opened fire on people in the casino. The federalies say that he was a local. That doesn't surprise me. Aside from the human slaves, gun-toting locals, and the sizzling weather, there's the World Series of Poker going on down at the Rio.
I ignored the side circus of Day 35. I did not spend one minute at the Rio. It was the last place I wanted to be. The only thing that I wish I got to see was not Matt Damon, or strippers at Sapphire, but to witness Erik Seidel win bracelet #8. He's a true professional poker player and young players should replicate how they approach the game more like Erik Seidel. You won't see him throwing chairs or berating opponents after he takes a bad beat. He's not going to be donking off his winning in the pits and is considered one of the best examples of bankroll management in poker. Most TV execs don't like him because he's quiet and non-confrontational. That's bad for TV so he doesn't get too much face time on programs, which is sad because he deserves it.
Erik Seidel wins #8
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)
You can make a solid argument that Erik Seidel is one of the greatest tournament players of all time. Only Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Johnny Moss have won more bracelets than Eirk Seidel. He's been able to hold his own against the old guard of Las Vegas sharks and the most recent breed of internet-whiz kids. Everyone (including me) talks about how Phil Ivey or Allen Cunningham would surpass Doyle ad Chan and Hellmuth one day. But no one ever mentions Erik Seidel. After his 8th bracelet (and second in three years), maybe we should start mentioning his name more often?
Seidel took down Event #54 $5,000 NL 2-7 Lowball with Rebuys. Among professionals, it's considered the most prestigious event outside of HORSE and the Main Event. For some secondary pros or wealthy gamblers with deep pockets, it's an opportunity to buy a bracelet. For the top tiered pros, it's an opportunity to beat the biggest sharks in Las Vegas in a game that will feature very few sheep, fish, and donkeys.
Seidel also won his 8th bracelet on the eve of the Main Event. That day before the Main Event is usually a welcomed day off among media reps and players. They finally get some free time during the day, play in the media tournament, then get shitfaced at the multiple parties at night.
This is my third WSOP and by now, I know what to expect on the day before the madness begins. The media room swells up with hundreds of unknown faces from organizations you never knew existed before. The small group of 30 or so media who have been here since Day 1 are all of a sudden outnumbered by fresh faces and people with an abundance of energy and wearing brand new shiny media badges. The rest of media who have been camped out int he media room since Day 1 have a few battle scars and sunken zombie like circles under their eyes from covering way too many multiple events over the last five weeks. I always hated the day before the media event because of the influx of national press most of whom have no idea about poker. What was congested become even more crowded and annoying.
The Hall of Fame ceremony is a farce and should not be done to a handful of national media during the WSOP press conference and should be done at Noon on Day 1 of the WSOP or given it's own night at a major televised dinner like the Oscars with all the big wigs in poker in the audience. I'm not a fan of Babs Enright after she bad beated me and talked shit during a media tournament at Commerce 1.5 years ago, but she deserved the nod. And Phil Hellmuth was inducted but we already know Phil Hellmuth is the greatest poker player in the entire universe. He's told us many times before.
I also wanted to skip out on the Jeffrey Pollack wank fest of a press conference. I had to sit through that atrocity last year and all I wanted to do as puke after hearing all the Harrah's PR bullshit. No one addressed the robberies in the parking lot or the dealer's mutiny. And I expected this year's press conference would be more of the same corporate shilling. According to Lance at The Poker Biz Pollack announced that, "Poker is alive and well and the 2007 World Series of Poker has been a tremendous success."
Tremendous? Meaning how much in juice and shilling fees did you guys collect? He failed to mention that but harped that the WSOP was still a "work in progress."
Housing a kitchen inside a ballroom and having players play the biggest tournament in the history of poker inside a tent is not a tremendous success. It's a shame and an embarrassment that Harrah's would rather sell a ballroom for a wedding reception than eat the cost and have players more comfortable. They fucked the monkey on that one. Sure, Pollack is beloved among the suits at Harrah's because he helped generate over 100 million in endorsement revenue. But has any of that been given back to the players? All you get is a $10 food comp and a crappy cheeseburger wrapped in tin foil.
With the Ante Up for Africa charity tournament, there were more paparazzi stalking out the Amazon Ballroom than usual. Our favorite Hollyweird blonde Change100 suggested that would be the one thing to skip the most on Day 35. I'm not awestruck by famous people and after working almost a decade in the entertainment industry and growing up in Hollyweird, neither is Change100. We made the conscious decision to avoid the carnival-like atmosphere of the charity tournament. Railbirds were packed in which would have been a nightmare to navigate. Enough mainstream press would be there that the event will get picked up and noticed. But I didn't want to have to elbow forty other press people that I have never seen before just to get a chip count on Matt Damon or figure out how George Clooney donked off his chips.
I applaud Annie Duke and Don Cheadle for trying to raise more awareness for the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. But I also think that the absurdity of the WSOP and its freak-fest of degenerates detracted from the entire mission. Michele Lewis at Pokerati summed it up best...
"The amount of people visiting the Amazon room and the 2007 WSOP Gaming Expo (which is Girls, Gaming and Gear...gee thanks) is causing a traffic jam and an epidemic of claustrophobia. While there is a "dunk the stripper" water tank with a wet girl in a bikini, Ben Affleck seems to be attracting a larger field, which is blocking my view of Matt Damon.Lewis pointed out about the WSOP Gaming Expo which visitors are being forced to walk through on the way to the Amazon Ballroom. Thank God that I know about the secret entrances, but I'm still forced to walk through there on the way to the Tilted Kilt which adds several minutes to my already sparse drinking at dinner time.
Not only do Annie and Don hope to make a large contribution after today's event (even after Hellmuth asked "do you really expect to win?") they are very excited to increase awareness in the United States.
Yes, you read correctly. In one room there are half naked girls strutting around in very little fabric while in the room down the hall there is a charity event taking place to help people that have been driven from their homes and have lost 200,000 neighbors to war." ... more here
The madness returns to the WSOP and I didn't want to have to spend an extra day dealing with the side drama and bullshit. I also skipped the media event. I don't think I was officially invited. PokerNews.com only got four invites and we couldn't figure out who would go. I final tabled the event in 2005 and raised money for Charlie Tuttle's charity but as you can tell, there's no real money involved. I skipped the event and was happy to hear that Spaceman and Otis went deep. Otis has made two final tables in the last two years.
We had a much cooler idea over at PokerNews.com. Tony G decided to hand out bonuses to all of the reporters in the form of a free roll at Hooters Casino. There were $500 bounties on himself, Caldwell, and Jonno. The final table paid out prize money and first place took home $2,500. That was a nice year-end bonus and all you had to do was beat out 41 other players to get it.
Alas, I busted out early. Ironically, I still won a last longer with Flipchip who busted out a couple of hands before me. Tony G sent two kids to the rail on the first hand of the tournament. The G flopped a full house with J-J on a board of K-K-J and fireworks ensued.
Change100 had her Aces brutally cracked by one of the PokerNews Dutch reporters and I ran my 10s into Amy Calistri's Aces. Since we busted out early and had no desire to head to the Rio we opted for a quiet afternoon and went to see the latest Die Hard flick.
I've had my brother, mother, and other family members in town and have been spending some time with them. Although I skipped going to the Rio on Day 35, my mother checked it out. Her initial impressions was, "It's not a dump like I thought."
She expected the Amazon Ballroom to be covered in stale urine and cigarette butts. "It used to be," I told her. "When it was at the Horseshoe."
I skipped the madness and opted for a few hours of non-poker stuff as I prepared for the 2007 WSOP Main Event. I do not expect to sleep for the next twelve days and will be doing what I can to paint the world picture for everyone who is not here in Las Vegas to witness the spectacle. This is what everyone has been waiting for.
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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