Friday, July 04, 2008

2008 WSOP Day 35: Main Event Day 1A - Cokeheads, Crybabies, and the Green Box Conspiracy

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I had two interesting situations that involved bathrooms. One incident happened in the men's room across from the Brasilia Room which I mentioned in the live blog. I overheard one guy sitting in one of the stalls and making odd sounds. I assumed that he was taking a rough dump because I thought I heard squealing in agony. Actually, he was sobbing and telling a loved one his bad beat story of how he busted out of the WSOP. Wow, that blew me away. A grown man brought to tears over one little poker tournament.

There's no crying in poker! Alas, he was yet another helpless soul violently crushed in the existentialist meat grinder of the WSOP. If you want a happy hobby, try a ceramics class. If you want to have your balls shaved by a cheese grater every couple of hours, then poker is for you.

The other bathroom incident involved a highly publicized douchebag snorting cocaine. Here's what happened. I went bathroom at the same time as said douchebag. We used the extra bathrooms across from the poker kitchen. I walked in first and headed to the urinal. He went into a stall and closed the door. Now, it was over 110 degrees in the afternoon. If you need to take a dump, those sweat boxes are the last places you want to drop the kids off at the pool. Trust me on that one. The only reason he went into the stall was to rip a few lines. He never sat down, he stood up, and he was in and out of the stall rather quickly.

When I returned to the pressbox, I mentioned something to Michalski about my encounter with the kid and told him to watch his table and observe his behavior. The cokehead sat down and immediately started yapping incoherently. Not even thirty seconds went by before Michalski said he had come to a conclusion.

"Yep, he's coked up."

Of course the kid wasn't the only one snorting Charlie. I'm sure a dozen others in the Amazon Room were jacked up on nose candy. Hey, whatever you need to do to get by at the WSOP is your own business. If it's weed, booze, Adderall, Red Bull, Focusum, prayer, yoga, or cigarettes... so be it. However, he busted out shortly after his last run to the bathrooms. Perhaps it affected his play? I have no idea.

"Today is a day of hilarious mistakes," said Ian.

"I guess the big mistake for some people is buying into the main event," I suggested.

The reason the prize pools in the Main Event are monstrous is due to the heaps and heaps of dead money who are way over their heads. Most of these guys shouldn't even be playing in a $2,000 NL event let alone the world championship event. But that's what is so magical about the WSOP... is that any poker of any skill level can take a shot at the big time... as long as they pay the price of admission. $10,000. That's a lot of money these days in this fledgling economy with rising gas and food prices, yet guys and gals willingly piss it all away.

Without the fifteen minutes of fame seeking donkeys, the WSOP would not be where it is today. Without the dream chasers from fly over states, poker pros wouldn't pad to their bankrolls and be able to drive fancy cars and live in palatial estates. Without the influx of the lowest lifeforms on the food chain, everyone in the poker ecosystem would starve and eventually the sharks start eating each other. All of a sudden, pros become endangered species. And it's not every day where a new Russian oil tycoon decides to donk off several million to Tony G in a PLO cash game in Moscow, or guys like Andy Beal want to risk millions and millions against the best in Las Vegas. The big whales are few and far between these days so the pros have to seek out alternative feeding pools to get any financial nourishment.

The WSOP is Disney World for degenerate gamblers. Instead of Goofy and Mickey and Donald Duck running around, there's Jesus and Fossilman and Phil Ivey roaming the hallways. The WSOP is the place where dreams get fulfilled... or mortally crushed. For a select few they achieve dream fulfillment by simply setting foot in the room. For some folks the outcome is not as important as the fact they are playing in the biggest live poker tournament in the world.

Since this is my fourth year at the WSOP, I take it for granted how epic that initial moment is for a player who have never played in a WSOP event before, let alone been to Las Vegas. For them the feeling is electric and life altering. Pure adrenaline. It's the stuff what dreams are made of... for the guy who dominates his homegame and wins a satellite to the big dance and gets his shot at fame, glory, and the most coveted bracelet in all of poker. Or how about the guy who beat cancer and said fuck it and decided that life is too short and bought in directly? Or all those middle-aged guys have a mid-life crisis? Instead of a sports car, they went for the gusto in WSOP.

It's been five years since Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP main event. The Moneymaker effect has rippled through the poker cosmos and in some way or another influenced the viral phenomenon of poker all over the world to Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. Moneymaker was even at the Rio on Day 1A signing autogrpahs and posing for pics with random fans who wanted to pay their respects to their hero.

Since Moneymaker's epic victory over Sam Farha, 23,326 bought into the main event in the four subsequent years. This year, that number may or may not reach last year's tally of 6,358. Let's round up and say that inside of five years, 30,000 tickets were purchased to the largest poker lottery in the world.

$300,000,000 up for grabs in the last five years.

Unreal. Fossilman, Joe Hachem, Jamie Gold, and Jerry Yang got the bulk of the booty while tens of thousands of players went home empty handed. Zero. Zip. nadda. Dreams crushed. Hopes obliterated. Fairy tale over. Time to smash that fuckin' pumpkin, sweep Humpty Dumpty's broken eggshell under the rug, and get back to the harsh reality.

And the truly unlucky ones left Sin City without a STD that they contracted from one of the working girls at the Hooker Bar. Talk about a double bad beat... find yourself eliminated from the Main Event by some shipitdouchebag and then get the clap from a chick with tramp stamps that can deep throat a piano leg.

By dinner break of Day 1a, I started to feel anxious about finding the big story. I had to remind myself that day ones and especially Day 1A's are among the most boring to cover in any poker tournament whether it's the Aussie Millions or EPT Grand Finale. I have learned the hard way not to force stories and to let them flow my way and pluck them out of the air as they present themselves.

So the big story on Day 1a had to be the number of entrants. 1,297. That was 10 more runners than last year's Day 1a, but Harrahs is super spooked about the total number of entrants... so much so that they covered up the total number of entrants which I mentioned in my Green Box Conspiracy Theory. Harrahs did not want non-poker media to make a mistake and report that the number is down because some of those mainstream outlets don't understand the concept of multiple flights for Day 1. Harrah's is trying to prevent any negative publicity and inaccurate and incomplete information from spilling out.

I honestly don't know what the big deal is. The numbers this year will probably fall short of last year's mark, and there's nothing wrong about that. Instead of hiding that fact, Harrahs should acknowledge it and try to find an appropriate solution to get the numbers back on track. The best solution is to allow online sites to buy in players directly like they used to be able to do prior to last year when the rules changed.

Since online sites can no longer buy in their players directly, that process affects the number of entrants. The online sites add $10,000 to satellite winners' accounts and the players are responsible for getting to Vegas and buying in to the main event. The majority of satellite winners take the money and run and don't go through the hassle of flying out to Vegas and wiring money to the cage. Perhaps they are simply too lazy or in poor financial shape and need the money to pay bills. Or maybe they can't get the time off for work or their nagging wives won't let them go for whatever emasculating reasons happen to arise.

Or how about this... most poker players are degenerate gamblers with poor money management skills. I betcha that a high percentage of the folks who won satellites did not show up because they donked it all off at the tables.

I also heard a rumor... that if the Main Event numbers fall below 6,000, then the buy in to the 2009 WSOP main event will be raised. To what? $15,000? $20,000? $25,000?

If that is the case, the higher buy-in favors more established pros. Again, that was just an unconfirmed rumor. You hear so many of those wild rumors these days, you never know who to trust. I don't have Amy Calistri here to debunk or confirm rumors, so I have to go with my gut.

Something is fishy about the number of entrants this year and it may or may not affect the future of the WSOP. There, I said it.

Aside from that story, Day 1a was sort of blah according to several poker writers and reporters that I respect and admire. The Amazon Ballroom lacked the buzz that it had in the past. Day 1's are historically boring days.

Here's what I wrote last year, that seems appropriate for this year...
During the last two years, Day 1a was a madhouse. This year was hectic at times, yet it seemed more subdued than in previous years. I expected Day 1 to be a raging inferno filled with frenetic energy, but the mood resembled more like any event that ran two weeks ago than the biggest and most prestigious tournament in the world. It was the Main Event on Valium, whored out to the highest bidder...
Then again it's hard to keep outdoing the previous year. Harrahs tried something different and got the legendary Wayne Newton to announce the "Shuffle up and deal!" They also went for a rerun of the UNLV marching band that played Viva Las Vegas, which originally appeared on Day 1 back on May 30th (which seemed like last year).

And I also heard that Phil Hellmuth will be making another grand entrance. How can he outdo his previous PR stunts? At the WSOP-Europe Hellmuth showed up in a double decker bus with 11 models representing each of his bracelets. At the 2007 main event, he showed up with 11 hotties after crashing his race car the night before in the Rio parking lot.

This year? Hellmuth will be arriving in a tank.

No shit. I wish I was making that up. The Poker Brat will be making his grand entrance to the 2008 WSOP in military hardware. How about next year? Helicopter? Hot air balloon? Elephant?

How about Hellmuth riding into the Rio on a donkey? Talk about a priceless moment. He can ride the donkey all the way down the hallway as his minions sprinkle flower petals along the path to celebrate Hellmuth's stately arrival. The spectators will gasp and gawk and take pictures with flash and fight over who gets to keep the donkey shit that peppered the hallway leading up to the Amazon Room. Hellmuth would tie the donkey to a post near the rail and take his seat. He can be decked out in a poncho like Juan Valdez with UB logos and patches all over him. And when he busts out, ESPN cameras can follow him riding the donkey off into the sunset.

I can imagine the snarky headlines written by Snoopy... "Ass Rides Ass to WSOP."

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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