"Am I the chipleader?" Todd Phillips asked Change100.
"I think so," she said as she counted his stack.
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)
Phillips was well past 300K. The director from Hollyweird was leading the pack on the second day of the most prestigious tournament in all of poker. Not a savvy veteran. Not a former champion. Not a Scandi wearing capri pants, but Todd Phillips. He likes to gamble. Just take a peek at his resume. He dropped out of NYU film school to finish a project called Hated. He started out directing documentary films including Bittersweet Motel, which was an amazing glimpse into the world if one of my favorite bands, Phish. He soon switched genres and received notoriety after his comedy Road Trip hit theaters. Soon after that, the epic flick Old School was released starring Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, and Luke Wilson. There are several lines from his hilarious movie that I regularly quote.
Phillips first go street cred in the poker community after his final table appearance at the WPT Legends of Poker. Out of all of the celebrities who played, he made the biggest impact on Day 2. At one point he was the chipleader after busting a few players.
I tried to come up with a big story but I didn't get much. Day 2a finished shorter than scheduled. Only 1,034 players began the day and the bustouts started as soon as the cards were in the air. We had a tough time keeping up. Every few minutes a deal would shout, "All in and a call!" Tables were broken down at such a rapid pace that an entire section of the Amazon Ballroom was bare by mid-afternoon. I guess the big story was how fast players were being eliminated. Their dreams crushed. Their souls spit on. Their fifteen minutes of fame was over.
One by one, the pros and celebrity players started hitting the rail. TD Jack Effel made a decision to only play five levels (instead of six) or until there were 350 players left. With the top 621 players getting paid prize money and almost 1,300 players still to play on Day 2b, he had to set 350 as the cutoff number.
As soon as he announced the change in scheduling, we set lines and started betting on the finishing time. I figured anything before Midnight would be gold. Schecky set the line at 11:25pm. Then we got word that Effel might stop play at the end of Level 4. With ten minutes to go in that level, 399 players remained. By the time level ended, there were 385 players. He decided to keep playing down to 350. Play eventuallys topped after Midnight.
At the 2006 WSOP, the action during the main event unfolded at a brisk pace, however, there was a circus-like atmosphere surrounding the event. Everything was a spectacle from the vendors, to the strippers dancing in the hallways, to all the spectators clogging up every possible open space, to a crush of international media that which the WSOP had never seen before. The 2007 WSOP seemed to unravel at a much lackadaisical pace with a lot less of the insanity. Harrah's was better prepared this year. The strippers were gone. The vendors were not longer hawking their poker shit in the hallways. The online hospitality suites are a distant memory. The fans got wind that it was useless to try to get in since the lines were too long.
Sure, it's the biggest tournament in the world and it's still a spectacle, but everything seems to be much more toned down at the start of Day 2a.
"It's serious poker," said Michalski. "But boring."
The attitude in the room was different for sure. The "aw shucks" crowd is gone. Those satellite qualifiers or those guys who know they are dead money who forking over 10K on the dreams were long gone. They either busted out on the first day or accumulated enough chips that they actually have a shot at going deep. Their "I'm happy to be here attitude" has changed to "let's fuckin' do this thing." The smiles disappear. They're ready to defend their chips to the death.
Otis had a theory on the bizarre mood in the Amazon Room. After a brief chat near the dealers smoking area, we simplified out discussion into this... less hipsters and assholes and more real players. The majority of people who won seats online last year were those raised by televised poker. They entered the poker world during the boom. The pros went about their business seriously, but they represented a small subsection of the internet qualifiers. The remainder of the satellite winners knew that they were longshots to win. So, they took their appearance in the WSOP with a little less seriousness than say someone who spent their own $10,000 or someone who lists "professional poker player" on their tax returns.
I wish I could write more about but I really can't bullshit anymore than I just did. Day 2s are the dead zones. The real stories develop on Day 3 and 4.
ESPN has already started airing episodes of the WSOP. You might have caught Event #1 and Event #3 final tables. Here's the rest of the schedule (not including the main event):
ESPN 2007 WSOP Broadcast Schedule:
Tuesday, July 17 at 8 p.m. -- $1,500 pot-limit hold 'em (Event 4)
Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. -- $1,000 no-limit hold 'em with rebuys (Event 8)
Tuesday, July 31 at 8 and 9 p.m. -- $5,000 pot-limit Omaha with rebuys (Event 7)
Tuesday, August 7 at 8 and 9 p.m. -- $3,000 no-limit hold 'em (Event 28)
Tuesday, August 14th at 8 p.m. -- $5,000 World Championship pot-limit hold 'em (Event 13)
Tuesday, August 14th at 9 p.m. -- $5,000 World Championship heads-up and $2,000 seven card stud (Event 31 and 32)
Tuesdays, August 21 until October 9 at 8 and 9 p.m. -- $10,000 main event no-limit hold 'em (Event 55)
Tuesdays, October 16 until October 30 at 8 and 9 p.m. -- $50,000 HORSE (Event 39)
Bouncin Round the Room on Day 2a...
Otis and I came up with a prop bet involving limes. We have been drinking Coronas by the bar in front of the poker kitchen. We were hanging outside on the dealer's smoking ledge. Down a stairwell was a garbage can/ashtry. We bet each other various amounts if we could do one of three things...
$20 to hit the garbage can with the lime
$100 to have it land on the ashtray
$250 to actually go inside the small opening
We missed out on attempts during two rounds of beers. I came close once, but couldn't pick up any easy money off of Otis.
How about Liz Lieu Tuesdays?
Change100 and I covered a section that included the feature table and plenty of celebrities. Spiderman was moved right next to Mandy Baker. Todd Phillips was not far away. That Deanna Dozier chick got plenty of camera time. Everyone was bummed when she eventually busted.
Steve Rosenbloom is a funny guy. He told Otis that he was worried about us. "You guys are working under crazy conditions. I'm worried that you'll snap and become serial killers. When I heard about the New York, New York shootings, I simply assumed it was one of you too." He walked over to me at some point and said it looked like I was on ludes. I fuckin' wish.
I walked past the dealer room around 4:20pm and the entire room was packed. Dealers were scheduled to work, but since too many players busted early, they had no one to deal to.
I spotted two Scandis trying to pick up the Milwaukee's Beast girls. One was writing her phone number down on a piece of paper. The other was clocking her cleavage.
I checked the numbers on PokerStars qualifiers. Out of 1500+ players who won satellites, only 600 showed up at the Rio to play. Stars represents about 10% of the entire field. In previous years, they accounted for 17 to 19% of all players.
One wife of a Las Vegas poker pro was spotted with her children lurking in front of the media room. She was hoping someone would write a story about how her husband is a deadbeat and has not given her money for July's rent.
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Robert Varknoyi
2. Donkey Bomber
3. Joe Beevers
4. Jeff Madsen
5. Dan Harrington
Bonus Code: Pauly
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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