Las Vegas, NV
The slaughterfest begins at noon. Prepare yourself.
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I arrived at the Rio about ninety minutes before the start of the 2008 WSOP Main Event Championship. The parking lot was still bare but dealers slowly trickled in. Several of them made the walk up the ramp into the back door. I joined them as we walked in silence. Some of them were already dressed in their sleek uniforms. Some of them were half-dressed while the others used their seat cushions to block out the blinding Nevada sun. 101 degrees was what the thermometer read on Change100's car. It was only going to get hotter outside, but it didn't matter. I'm fixin' to be indoors inside the Amazon Ballroom for the next 15-16 hours calling the action from the pressbox.
The walk down the back hallway was calm, quiet, and almost serene. As soon I walked into the Amazon Ballroom, I noticed that there were about six or seven cash game tables running. The blackjack tables from the night before were promptly removed and replaced with tournament tables.
Jeffrey Pollack wandered around in an impeccable suit. He's the best dressed executive in Las Vegas and was here early to keep an eye on last minute preparations for the main event.
In the back of the room, the tournament staff arranged racks and racks of tournament chips. Security guards patrolled the room and kicked out the occasional spectator. Random media people were setting up in the pressbox and in the media room, while members of the UNLV marching band were doing a dry run. They were here on Day 1 which I thought was a 100% cheesefest.
In the corridors, plenty of poker fans were milling about waiting for the festivities to begin. Several online poker sites made last minute touches to their hospitality suites. Only sites that do not accept US players are allowed to have a suit. No more Full Tilt suite... but Ladbrokes, Everest, and Party Poker can have ones. I stopped by the Party Poker suite and chatted with Simon and Angelica. I asked how many Party Poker online qualifers would be here. They said about 100.
PokerStars gave away 2,000 seats, but we shall see how many of those players actually show up since the individual players are responsible for buying themselves into the main event. The number of PokerStars qualifiers who show up will make or break the over/under bets that everyone has. If 1,500 show up, there will definitely be 7,000+ runner this year. If under 800 decide to play, then the overall numbers will dip below 7,000. We'll find out the exact numbers in a few days.
Jerry Yang's field last year was 6,358. I have bets on the UNDER at 7,000; 6,900; 6,500; 6,358; and one small bet under 6,000.
I heard a whispers that Harrah's is really sweating the 6,000 mark. They might not even reach that.
Here come the spammers! The tables have Everest Poker seat cushions and that second-rate energy drink company is spamming the tables with third-rate sugar water. Spam, spam, spam, and more spam.
Ohmygod! Wayne Newton will be here today to do, "Shuffle up and deal!"
They are playing nine-handed today.
Running late. Doors opened at 12:01pm and the players burst into the Amazon Room. Cards won't be in the air for several more minutes.
Why was Day 1A late? Because Everest Poker paid for seat cushions and they did not put them all out in time. They rushed to get them out on the floor which delayed the start and that's why the doors did not open 10-15 earlier.
The intro music were selections from "All In" the musical. I wanted to kill myself. The shark hath jumpeth the shark.
Flipchip picked Mike Matusow to win the Main Event this year.
Celebrities playing today on Day 1A include George Costanza, Mekhi Phifer, and Ray Romano.
Big named pros in today's field include Barry Greenstein, Joe Sebok, Gavin Smith, Josh Arieh, Durrrrr, Chau Giang, Scott Nguyen, Dan Harrington, Billy Baxter, Eli Elezra, Isabelle Mercier, Tuan Lam, Katja Thater, Allen Cunningham, Miami John, Jan Von Halle, The Eggman, Bobby Baldwin, David Benyamine, Ray Rahme, Chad Brown, Erica Schoenberg, The Unabomber, Bill Gazes, Freddy Deeb, Vanessa Selbst, Susie Isaacs, and Vanessa Rousso.
Thanks to the guys at NBC Sports for mentioning the Tao of Poker today.
"If you need help finding your seat, raise your hand!" shouted Jack Effel on the PA. He mentioned a bunch of tables that have moved. Very confusing for sure.
Mad Harper and Joe Sebok sighting in media row. I'm actually siting in between Andrew Feldman from ESPN and Vin from Casino City Times. Vin is good buddies with Grubby. Small world. The French and German press are in front of us along with Otis and his PokerStars bloggers from the UK, Brazil, and Sweden.
"This is the greatest poker tournament on the planet," said Jack Effel.
Jack introduced Jeffrey Pollack who introduced Wayne Newton. He said a few words before he introduced the UNLV marching band who played "Viva Las Vegas." The room was lathered in so much cheese, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
Cards went in the air. In case you were wondering, they are playing five levels today. Two hour levels. Dinner break is 90 minutes.
Dimitri Nobles sighting. Otis saw him playing 1/3 NL in the poker room last night.
Jack Effel mentioned that the first player to get a royal flush will get a $100 gift certificate from the massage people. No word if it's good for a run and tug. Harrah's should give the first player to bust out a coupon that is good for one romantic interlude with a working girl at the Hooker Bar.
The max number of entrants for today will be 1600. The Brasilia Room is not being used. Poker Shrink said that Jack Effel told him there were 1400 playing today. I expect that to increase a bit.
Bouncin Round the Room: I wandered through the Amazon Room and in between the tables for the first time. Here's I saw...
Guys Wearing PokerStars Straw Hats: 3There are hundreds of new media reps here that I had never seen before. Several outlets I never knew existed. A huge wave of European press are here. I overheard two guys talking Sputnik in the orange section. I tried to figure out who they were sweating.
Guys Wearing Cowboy Hats: 3
Guys Wearing Black Fedoras: 2
There's a guy at Table 46 playing with his sneakers off.
Swedish hottie Michaele Johansson is playing at Red #8. I popped a half-chub when I wandered by her table.
Mark Vos looks hungover... per usual.
Michael Craig drew Devilfish's and Maureen Feduniak's table. Devilfish is still desperately trying to dress like a 20 year old Scandi poker player.
Gobboboy is playing and is already getting a massage.
Dale Pinchot, a regular at the Borgata, is up to 31K after he cracked Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr's Aces.
Also in today's event are PearlJammer, VietHottie, YellowSub, Gigabet, and OMGClayAiken.
The dealers have hand fans that have 'All In' on it. Whenever a player is all in, they scream out "All in on table (insert number)!" They do it so the media and ESPN camera know that a player is on the verge of a bustout. It's also a shameless way to shill All In energy drink.
By the way, if you want Red Bull you have to buy it in the poker kitchen for $8.
One hour into the 2008 WSOP Main Event, two random players already stopped to ask me where they can "score any weed."
Big Stacks: Sweet Svetlana, George Costanza, and The Eggman
"All in and a call!" one dealer shouted. A minute later you heard, "Seat open."
The Milwaukee Beast skanks made a pass through the room as the rail filled up with spectators. Random flashes went off every few minutes as they snapped pics of slightly overweight people sitting in chairs. They squinted to find any named pros. Most of the tables are filled with unknowns. Maybe you see a named pro at every other table. Maybe you don't.
One guy in a PokerStars hat must have taken a wicked bad beat. He stormed out of the tournament room and he nearly kicked open the back door leading outside to the smoking area and poker kitchen.
George Costanza doubled up in early action. According to Change100, George flopped a set of nines and cracked pocket tens. She titled her post, "No Soup for You." When Coastanza get short stacked, I hope she uses... "Shrinkage."
I saw Gentleman John Gale's bust out hand. His table was right next to the press box and I had a bird eye's view. His A-Q ran into a set of deuces. Gale showed up to the WSOP last week in a wheelchair after back surgery. He's now able to function without wheels, but seriously jacked up on pain meds. You can see the anguish in his face. The dejected Brit hobbled out of the Amazon Room after his elimination. I'm guessing he's headed for the high stakes video poker slots. Gale is not the only one who is playing hurt. Several other players are battling physical injuries and other mental health issues because they don't want to pass up the chance to play in the WSOP. Yes, they are brave and courageous players, but completely stupid. It's one thing if you are ill and won a satellite where you have to play. However, you are not at the top of your game, there is no way you should be playing in the Main Event. Save your money and play at a time when you are in a better head space. Some junkies can't stay away. They fatten the prize pool.
Big stacks: Mekhi Phifer and Sweet Svetlana
Recent bustouts: Devilfish, Degenymine, John Gale and Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Yeah, the Devilfish is nevermore. He can go back to trolling MySpace for chicks.
How many players on Day 1A? I asked Jack Effel three times in the last hour and each time he told me, "I don't know." Garry Gates at PokerNews.com reported that the unofficial number was 1,310 via Jimmy Sommerfeld.
At the first break, I went outside for a quick smoke. David "The Dragon" Pham smoked cigarettes on the back porch with two unknown SoCal Vietnamese players. The Dragon doesn't use a lighter... his ciggies light up automatically.
One guy sat in the secluded service hallway and told a bad beat story to his wife. I refused to walk outside in the convention hallways because of the congestion of spectators and loved one. I also did not want to be bombarded by the background chatter of triumphant plays and bad beats.
Dan Harrington walked past me on the way back to his table. I had not seen him at the 2008 WSOP.
Someone finally got a royal flush at Red #4. "He had 50 left and doubled up," said Jimmy Sommerfeld as everyone in the room chuckled.
Lucko sighting in the poker kitchen. He said he's playing on Saturday.
So what do I see from the press box? Aussie pro Emad Tahtouh is sporting dark shades. Shaniac's nemesis, that Molina kid who acted like a douchebag, is sitting at one of the tables in front of me. David Benyamine stopped by Erica Schoenberg's table. She was listening to her iPod but perked up to received a kiss on the cheek. Very French. He also just busted out. There's a guy wearing a white PokerStars hat, a blue PokerStars shirt, and a Black PokerStars sweat jacket. My favorite guy is the dude wearing the PokerStars shirt and the Full Tilt hat. Norman Chad wandered through the area yapping it up while ESPN's cameras roamed the area shooting b-roll of Miami John's table. One old guy stood up and pulled a wedgie out of his ass. A guy in a yellow hat picked his nose. Another guy shoved a Pizza Hut slice into his mouth. Another guy searched for a new song to listen to on his iPod.
Big stacks: Maya Antonius, Tuan Lam, and Jeremiah Smith
Recent bustouts: The Dragon, Freddy Deeb, mig.com
Benyamine busted out last level. Benjo joked that he's already up $1 million playing PLO cash games on Full Tilt. I heard that he ad a big golf match set up this afternoon. He probably had more money riding on that than what he could win grinding it out in the Main Event.
I wandered over to the Poker Expo. Stuart from the Poker Academy was giving a tutorial. I stopped by the Aussie Millions booth and caught up with my good friend Jonno. He flew in from Melbourne to work the booth with some fine hot Aussie lasses. In fact the entire room is crawling with air-brained model-types with lots of legs, big boobs, and skimpy outfits. Flipchip will be posting photos shortly.
One woman walked by that I'm sure was a hooker. If she dresses like a hooker, smells like a hooker, and does the hooker walk... you do the math.
Out in the hallway Andy Black posed for photos with a fan. He didn't have his own booth like Chris Moneymaker which was set up in the Rotunda outside the expo area. A huge sign read, "Meet Chris Moneymaker." In front of that, the 2003 WSOP champion posed for photos with fans who patiently waited in line for several minutes to meet and greet the great Moneymaker. The Moneymaker affect has rippled through the cosmos. He's the reason why I have a job. That's why I also spill a bit of my beer on the ground before I drink it... in homage to Moneymaker.
I walked past Gobboboy's table. Gobbomom was on the rail. Gobboboy wasn't doing so hot until his mom stopped by to sweat him. She brought him good luck so he asked her to stay.
In the bathroom, I overheard one guy sitting in one of the stalls. At first I thought he was taking a rough dump because I thought I heard crying. Actually, he was sobbing and telling a loved one his bad beat story of how he busted out of the WSOP. There's no crying in poker! Another helpless soul violently crushed in the WSOP meat grinder. 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.
Today's smoke break is sponsored by PokerStars!
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Big stacks: Yan Chen, Jeremiah Smith (Tao of Poker reader!)
Recent bustouts: Shirley Rosario, Maureen Feduniak, Luis Velador, Vanessa Selbst, Allan Jaffry Shulman
I got a number. 4649. That's how many entrants signed up so far in teh Main Event. I dunno how many runners began Day 1a, but at end of level 2, I got word that 1161 are left in today's field.
On the last hand before the second break, Shirley Rosario busted out. Poker Babe got it all in with Aces in a three-way pot against Kings and pocket sevens. You know how the bad beat story goes. The clown with sevens won the pot. Shirley is out. Booooooooooo.
George Costanza is wearing PokerStars gear. Over at Green #1, there's some Scandi kid with perfectly messy hair wearing Izods and eating fruit. He made the final table of WSOP-Europe in London last September. Sitting at the table next to him was former WSOP champion Berry Johnston. I always see Berry playing online. I've also seen him play 2/5 at Red Rock.
I checked out the featured TV table. Scotty Nguyen was up there. The crowd was half full. Or half empty. Several seats int he front rows were filled by models. Every year a random online poker site or a magazine or some other poker related company goes the tits and ass route. Sex sells. They hire hot ass models to sit in the front row of the audience and wear their gear and try to get face time on TV since camermen always like focusing in on smoking hot chicks. One guy in a cowboy hat and Hawaiian shirt snapped a photo of the models. The flash on his disposable camera went off and he was afraid he was going to get kicked out.
The Planters lady spammed the press box with peanuts. These peanuts are making me thirsty. This is a ploy from Harrahs to make you by the $2.50 bottles of water in the Milwaukee's Beast Lounge.
I dunno, but today is sort of blah. Doesn't have the excitement of previous Day 1A's.
And now, it is tin foil hat time! Welcome to... The Green Box Conspiracy.
Harrahs doesn't want you to see what is beneath the little green box at the bottom of the screen. Why?
In the lower left hand corner is where the "number of players" info is located. Harrah's does not want you to see the number yet. That's why that green box is strategically placed over that area. Registration is still open, the number is not impressive (I saw it twice already) and they want to hold off on acknowledging the impending reality... that they will get less entrants this year than last year.
Big stacks: Jonah Rogers, Yan Chen, Blair Hinkle
Recent bustouts: Dan Harrington, E-Fro, Allin420, Roy Winston, George Costanza, Katja Thater, Taylor 'Green Plastic' Caby, Lyle Berman, Raymond Rahme, Jan Von Halle
You know those heartfelt romantic stories about those couples who have been together for decades. Then one of them dies and then the other passes away soon after because they no longer have the will to live? Perhaps that what happened to the German pro couple of Katja Thater and Jan von Halle. Jan busted out first and Katja joined him on the rail soon after.
George Costanza = busto when his aces were snapped off. Tropical Steve was sitting right in front of his table and caught the action. Georgie couldn't lay down aces on straight board.
Hearing the dealers cry out...
"Seat open on table 26!"
"All in on table 28!"
Every time a dealer screams another soul is crushed. Dreams smashed. Hopes destroyed. Reason to live? Dwindling. Bad beats. Misplays. Poor timing. Crappy karma. Anyway you slice it, every few minutes another one busts.
"All in call on 37!" screamed one female dealer.
"Seat open on 36!" barked a guy in a funny accent.
Iggy and GMoney sighting in the pressbox.
Big stacks: Christopher Kero, Patrick Fortin, David Rheem, Max Greenwood, and Sweet Svetlana
Recent bustouts: Gavin Smith, Shawn Rice, Jimmy Tran, OMGClayAiken, Chad Brown, Ralph Perry, Tony Ma, Bob Feduniak, Davidson Matthew, and Abe Mosseri
Taking Mean Gene's advice, I wandered up to the Milwaukee's Beast lounge to survey the action on that side of the room. Scotty Nguyen was holding court on the featured TV table. Arnold Spee was in the crowd mugging for face time along with the Milwaukee's beast girls who strategically sat behind Scotty instead of the other hot models who sat in the front row behind a bunch of no names.
The lounge was semi-crowded. I asked the bartender what was up. They know everything because they're overlooked and are sort of invisible. He told me that the scene was mellow considering how many people were hanging out. "Not the drinking crowd," he said.
Most of the crowd in the lounge were curious fans or bored relatives sweating their family members who were looking for something else to do. That will chance tomorrow when all the drunks come out for the July 4th holiday.
I peered over the other side into the green section. Noah Boeken and Davidson Mathew were seated next to each other. A crazy Dutch and a crazy Cannuck. Talk about a tough table draw before Matthew busted out. The table behind them featured Italian PokerStars pro Luca Pagano. At his table was Shawn Rice who didn't last very long either. Five seconds after I arrived, Rice was all in and busted out. Inside of four minutes, I heard four dealers shout out, "Seat open!" Four more causalities from the Green section.
Earlier in the day, Rice posed with the models from a poker magazine. Then he busted out. Gavin Smith also posed with the same models and he busted out. They are coolers and should be avoided at all costs. Talk about some bad publicity in a room filled with superstitious poker players. They can find themselves strangled by a thug for hire and their mangled bodies found in a dumpster behind the Jack in the Box on Tropicana.
On the other side of the lounge you could look out over the secondary final table. ESPN blocked that off for their crew. The only player I noticed at that table was Bill Gazes. From that spot I could peer out into the cash game section. All but five tables had broken and the majority were quickly converted into cash games. They started up two new tables 20/40 Omaha 8 and 10/25 NL.
Lacey Jones stopped by the pressbox to say hello.
"You had a totally hot stripper with you last night!" she reminded me about the hijinks at Sapphire.
Players remaining: 904
Big stacks: David Rheem, Patrick Fortin, Christopher Kero, Max Greenwood, Nate Eaton
Recent bustouts: Tuan Lam, Young Phan
According to Homer, the main event numbers increased to 4,798.
Players recently returned from a ninety minute dinner break. I escaped the Rio and went off campus for a quick bite. Trying to find grub during a Day 1 of the Main Event is often a nightmare.
Within minutes of players returning, the dealers screamed out all ins and empty seats. The time right after dinner break is when it gets ugly. The slaughter intensifies as more dead money gets gobbled up. Big stacks start to pull away while small stacks get desperate and forget that they have so much time left to play.
Official Numbers: 1,297 runners on Day 1a.
Players Remaining: 855
Big stacks: Mark Garner, Patrick Fortin, Jeremiah Smith, Christopher Kero, and Kido Pham
Shorties: Erica Schoenberg, YellowSub, BelowAbove, Aussie strip club owner Jamie Pickering
Recent bustouts: Joe Sebok, Juha Helppi, Roland de Wolfe, and Mike Sowers
A couple of Europeans headed to the rail including UK's Roland de Wolfe and Finland's Juha Helppi.
A camera crew followed Isabelle Mercier and Joe Hacem as they waltzed through the orange section. They stopped by Noah Boeken's table to wish him well.
I wandered around over to the featured table. Laurie was dealing. Scotty Nguyen is still there putting on a show for the cameras. That must be exhausting to have to be the monkey on the grinder for five full levels. Scotty wore a Full Tilt patch during the final table of 50K HORSE. This time? He's wearing PokerStars.
I hung out in the lounge for a bit. It had more people than the last time I was there and the late night crowd was drinking a bit more. A couple of rowdy guys hung out in the corner. One of the ESPN girls was bored and looking up NYC apartments on Craigslist.
Dimitri Nobles was in the hallway playing the heads up Texas hold'em game.
Players Remaining: 766
Big stacks: Patrick Fortin, Stefan Mattsson, Mark garner, Brandon Adams, and Kido Pham
Shorties: Susie Issacs and Erica Schoenberg
Recent bustouts: Josh Arieh, BelowAbove, YellowSub, Miami John Cernuto, JJ Liu, Jamie Pickering
4907 and counting for the Main Event.
Tropical Steve reported an interesting spat in between Linda Lee and Erica Schoenberg that spilled over to the rail where their boyfriends (Avery Cardoza and David Benyamine) had words with each other.
Before the break there was a woman on the rail screaming "Give it to me! Give it to me!" She was drunk and I assume was looking for cock.
The tables are starting to break in the Orange section. We just started Level 5 which is the last level for Day 1a.
I made the rounds and spoke to PokerNews photographers, floor reporters, and bloggers. They all said a similar thing... "nothing is going on" or "boring night" or "rather dull" as one Brit said. They all pointed out that most of the big pros were not playing today and that bigger crowds are expected for Saturday and Sunday.
Players Remaining: 675
Big stacks: Mark Garner, Patrick Fortin, Stefan Mattsson, Brandon Adams and Bryan Colin
Shorties: Steve Sung, Jonathon Little
Recent bustouts: Erica Schoenberg, Alan Smurfit, Thierry van den Berg
I got word that only 1,047 players are registered for Friday aka Day 1b.
This is the after midnight edition... and action has slowed a bit. Not as many "all ins on table 23!" as there were in the hour after the dinner break. Players are being more cautious as they approach the end of the day. That allows aggressive players to pick up lots of uncontested pots.
VietHottie is still alive. Her table recently broke and I lost track of her. Bobby Baldwin, Michael Craig, Chau Giang, and Gobboboy are still in the mix along with The Eggman and Paul Wasicka.
I have not seen Eskimo all day, although I spotted Cowboy Guy smoking out back by the poker tent.
The cash games are in full swing as are satellites across the hall are also running nonstop. Harrahs is trying to give away as many main event seats as possible. They are hoping that lots of punters, donkeys, and weekend warriors arrive in the next 24 hours to juice up the prize pool.
Holy shit. I just won the latest installment Lime Tossing with Otis! We had pushed our first couple of matches, but this time I prevailed. +20 so far this year.
Play is over for Day 1a. Approximately 657 players are left.
Recent bustouts: Steve Sung, Jonathon Little, Luca Pagano, and Berry Johnston.
Thanks for following along. See you tomorrow at noon for Day 1b.
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