Las Vegas, NV
Welcome back to the slaughterhouse as we celebrate America's birthday.
I got early word that 1,114 runners were signed up as of 11:00am. That number will jump a bit. I dunno if they will get as many as yesterday, which was 1,297.
Stay tuned for live updates.
In position for Day 1b. I'm sort of sleep walking through today. I glimpsed at a preliminary list of players in today's field. That includes the Boatman brothers, Finnish Boy Toy Patrik Antonius (aka Snoopy's model friend), Bill Edler, Nordberg, Bruno Fitoussi, Kristy Gazes, Jamie Gold, Thor Hansen, Orel Hershiser, Kenna James, Alex KGB Kravchenko, Kathy Liebert, Erick Lindgren, Tom McEvoy, Daniel Negreanu, Greg Raymer, Erik Seidel, Vanessa Rousso, Kenny Tran, Lee Watkinson, Vicky Coren, Matt Hilger, Jesse Jones, and Robert Varkonyi.
Doors opened at 11:40, which was twenty minutes earlier than yesterday. The intro music was extremely... flamboyant. It sounded like something you'd hear at Plato's Retreat. Who picks the music here? Awful. They have a specific playlist from a single mix and depending on the day, they play specific tracks.
Anyway, players trickled in as soon as the doors opened. The early birds. As Benjo remarked a few weeks ago, the players who arrive early are almost always donkeys and dead money. Pros never show up on time, let alone twenty minutes early.
Ah, the eager beavers. They want to soak up every ounce of the WSOP experience which includes being bombarded by loud and obnoxious music. I have on noise reduction headphones and I can't drown it out. The WSOP has always been known for its high cheese factor and today is no exception.
Some country western singer got on the mic to sing the Star Spangled Banner in honor of July 4th. He also asked veterans or current soldiers to stand up so we could give them a round of applause and thanks them for their service and dedication.
Jeffrey Pollack asked players to wave mini flags that they were given depending on their country. He asked them to wave them for the cameras. That sort of backfired. Another interesting concept that failed in the execution stage.
Pollack introduced 2007 WSOP Champion Jerry Yang who spoke to the crowd. In his yoda-like vernacular, Jerry Yang referred to the Commissioner as "Jeffrey Pole-lock"... I almost fell off my chair. He then uttered the famous words, "Shuffle up and deal!"
Cards went in the air at 12:08pm. Five levels today. Levels are two hours.
The Brasilia Room will not be used today. And the Red section is not even full according to Poker Shrink. Stay tuned for official numbers.
And yes, the Green Box Conspiracy continues. They are covering up the official numbers. Trust no one. The truth is out there. Otis was the gunman on the grassy knoll. Check the Zapruder film.
Recent Eliminations: Ted Forrest
The Suicide King went out after he flopped a set of deuces and lost to a guy who had a big draw and got there. Forrest was an early casualty. He had a $1 million prop bet with Phil Ivey that he'd win a bracelet this year before Ivey did. Ivey has yet to play the Main Event, while Forrest's 2008 WSOP is over. Unless... he gets a dealing job with the Wynn and then becomes eligible to play in the Casino Employees Event.
Had a chance to chat with Pat Dittmar. He's an interesting cat who is head of trading at TradePointTechnologies.com. He recently published a book called Practical Poker Math... which focuses on basic odds and probabilities for hold'em and omaha. Check it out when you can. He gave me a free copy and autographed it.
He's probably one of the most intriguing people I met so far at the WSOP. He's a former ship captain that worked trading routes in West Africa. According to his bio he's run with a "colorful assortment of ships' Captains, mercenaries, black marketers, spies, and Angolan diamond smugglers." Sounds like my kind of guy. That's what is great about poker... it brings all sorts of characters from the farthest corners of the world.
Hal Lubarsky is back. He was the blind player who played in last year's event with the help of a friend who whispered the cards in his ear.
I did a quick run around the room. I sweated a couple of Scandi players such as William Thorson (latest PokerStars team member and his screen name is 'William' which indicates how long he's been playing on Stars) and Borge Dypvik the Norwegian Thugger. "Oh he's finally old enough to play?" mentioned Change100 when I told her I found one of my favorite Scandi young guns.
I also did a quick hat count...
Black Fedoras: 1Almost an hour into today's event, smooth sailing so far. Kind of mellow for 4th of July. I expect the drunks to start trickling in over the next couple of hours.
PokerStars Straw Hats: 4
Cowboy Hats: 11
Cowboy Hats with PokerStars Patches: 2 (by Tom McEvoy and Vicky Coren)
Pink Cowboy Hats: 1
I caught one bustout hand between two unknowns. Aces versus Kings. "That was kinda boring," said one player at an adjacent player who stood next to me to sweat the action.
Still awaiting on official numbers.
Big stacks: Stephen Ladowsky, John Robbins, Giles Smadia, Michael Guzzardi, and Kristy Gazes
Shorties: Tuan Le
Recent bustouts: Daniel Negreanu, Andy Black, and Sebastian Ruthenberg
I got some unofficial numbers...
Day 1a: 1,297Those number are subject to change and will increase.
Day 1b: 1,164
Day 1c: 1,458
Day 1d: 1,304
Total Registered for Main Event: 5,223
Kristy Gazes busted a player and she almost doubled her starting stack.
I spotted Anguila from Spain playing in today's event. He's wearing his trademark blue scarf, shades, and listening to his iPod.
FTrain told me about Jamie Gold's table. They started with 25/50 blinds instead of 50/100. Ooops.
I wandered over to the featured TV table. Erick Lindgren is there. He's a quiet guy and not as animated as Scotty Nguyen, so I expect them to rotate him off an put someone else up there. I checked out the Beast lounge. Not that many drunks up there yet. It has half empty.
ESPN's cameras were camped out at Orel Hershiser's table getting some b-roll of everyone's favorite pitcher. Of course, the Michale Jordan of cricket, Shane Warne from Australia, is here playing in today's event. In Las Vegas, he has the odd Aussie media rep sweating him. In Australia, he has legitimate paparazzi following his every move.
Jay Greenspan sighting. He looked great because he's not stuck in the trenches logging long hours like he had to do in previous years. He was here with his lovely wife.
Did John Duthie bust? Duthie raced across the Orange section and went out the side door. Usually you can tell by the pace of the walk whether a player is a) eliminated; b) has to take a piss; c) jonesin' for a smoke. As it turned out Duthie had to take a leak.
And don't forget to take a peek at Flipchip's photos from Day 1A.
Big stacks: John Robbins, Raul Paez, Giles Smadia, Steve Brecher and Stephen Ladowsky
Recent bustouts: Dewey Tomko
What do I see from the pressbox? An ESPN camera crew stands off to the side awaiting instructions from their feild producer who is scanning the Orange section looking for something interesting for the cameras. I guy in a Bellagio sweat shirt threw his hands up over his head. I assume it was a bad beat or he folded the nuts. Sam Grizzle stood up and hitched up his pants. He shook his head and shifted the toothpick in his mouth. A LA douchebag in an Ed Hardy t-shirt called over a cocktail server. A Scandi looking guy with huge headphones scanned his iPod for a song as he held up the action on table #32. Felipe from PokerNews stopped in the middle of two tables and bent down to get into better position to snap a photo. A guy wearing desert army fatigues at an Hal Lubarsky's table jumped up and pulled a small digital camera out of his pocket. He took a photo of the cards on the table. The gentleman put his camera back into his pocket, shook his head, and walked away from the table. I assumed that it was a bad beat. He head to the rail. The causalities are mounting.
"All in and a call on table 16!" one dealer shouted. Thirty second later, "Seat open on Table 16."
I had an awesome ten minute shat with Steve Rosenbloom. Awesome guy and one of my favorite sports writers. He's one of the few legitimate writers here. He gave me a bit of advice on writing and we also chatted about his hometown Bears. He also referred to Red Bull as "tastes like lion piss."
Big stacks: Raul Paez, John Robbins, Michael Watson, Helge Stjernvang, and Giles Smadia
Recent bustouts: Scott Fischman and Tuan Le
Main Event Entrants: 5,278 and counting
Photo courtesy of Filpac from PokerNews.com
Fear the Eel! Javier "Anguila" Etayo is from Madrid but writes a poker blog in English called Runner-Runner. It's one of my favorites and they few that I constantly read. We first met at the EPT Barcelona in September and he has been here for several weeks. He was excited about Spain's victory in the European Championships. He had a nice score in March when he won his first ever live tournament. He took down the Campeonato Espana De Poker event at the Casino Barcelona for $63,923.
Anguila is playing at Matt Hilger's table. He just lost a pot but he's still above average. Juan from the PokerNews Spain site told me that Anguila has been running hot and destroying the local tournaments in Madrid. Stay tuned for more Anguila updates.
Norm Chad stopped by a table to chat. Wen he left two guys made fun of him and the entire table burst out laughing.
Not very much to report in the second level. To quote F Train, "It's dead out there."
AlCanthang sighting in the Amazon Ballroom.
Today's smoke break is sponsored by PokerStars!
* * * * * *
Big stacks: Patrik Antonius, Mike "SirWatts" Watson, Raul Paez, Johnny Caruso, and Aliaksandr Yalouskikh.
Shorties: Orel Hershiser, David Bach, and Julius Colman
Recent bustouts: Greg "Fossilman" Raymer and Kenny Tran
Players Remaining: 1,044
Updated unofficial numbers...
Day 1a: 1,297As I chatted with Rigs and AlCantHang, a 60 year old woman walked past me in a wedding dress. OK, that was a tad peculiar but not the weirdest thing that I had ever seen in Las Vegas. During the drive to work today, I commented to Change100 that Day 1a lacked the circus-like atmosphere in that players weren't dressed up and doing goofy shit. Sure, there was that guy dressed up like a wizard, but aside from him that was it. No fake nuns. No Joe Sebok in a bear suit. No guys wearing Elmo masks. I haven't even seen that guy with the chef hat. Just an ordinary field of rodents and other assorted sea life.
Day 1b: 1,158
Total Registered for Main Event: 5,301
I'd love to see a guy show up in a donkey costume. I'd buy that guy a beer for sure.
Nollan Dalla got on the mic and asked everyone to give Howard "Tahoe" Andrew a round of applause for being the only guy in the room to have played in every WSOP since 1974. Dalla told me that Sklansky argues that he should be mentioned too because he has been at every WSOP since 1971. However that is a technicality because Sklansky admits that he only played cash games the first couple of years and did not play in any events.
Players recently returned from the second break. I hate breaks on Day 1s because the hallways are crowded with guys doing one of four things... smoking, eating, pissing, or talking on the phone. Sometimes they do all four at once but often a combination of any two. I once saw a guy eat a slice of pizza, smoke a cig, while pissing and telling someone a bad beat story on the phone.
During breaks the massage girls huddle up in the corner, sit down, relax, and exchange masseuse bad beat stories. One of the hot ones complained about one guy who smelled very bad. Another talked about the old creepy guy who wanted his feet massage. I know what you were thinking. It wasn't Sklansky. And the other wondered when Gus Hansen would be here so she could "work on his muscles."
The WSOP is a cacophony of bad beats. Players. Dealers. Floor staff. Writers. Masseuses. Even the working girls at the hooker bar get sucked out from time to time. Chugging cock is so fuckin' rigged.
Big stacks: Patrik Antonius, Mike "SirWatts" Watson, Christina Hall,Stephen Ladowsky, and Redmond Lee
Shorties: Jamie Gold
Recent bustouts: David Bach, Julius Colman, Ram Vaswani, and David Levi
Players Remaining: 99
I found MeanGene in the corner and we chatted about total number of entrants.
"1,100? Whoa...." he said. "But it's Fourth of July."
"Stop making excuses!" I yelled.
Change100 mentioned that they need 2,000+ runners the next two days to breaklast year's number.
I bumped into DaveShoelace in the hallway. Everyone's favorite British writer was playing heads up poker in the Ladbrokes Lounge.
"I took up your advice and played PLO at the Mirage," he said. "Then two guys with cowboy hats who never played PLO sat down and all I could think was... fantastic!"
DaveShoelace is not playing in the main event. He's among a group of foreign players who come to Vegas for a few weeks during the WSOP but don't play in events. They play cash games and stake other players.
At Table #1, Jamie Gold is sitting in Seat 1. Two tables away at Table #11, Robert Varkonyi is sitting in Seat 1. Talk about a tale of two champions. Jamie Gold's mom said hello to me as she wandered by to see how her son was doing.
Tao of Poker reader Tim Jaxon has about 32k in chips. He's sitting right in front of MeanGene. He also had a cool cardcapper/good luck charm which was an old school pocketwatch. He said it had an interesting story that he'd tell me someday.
My favorite Norwegian thugger Borge Dypvik appeared fascinated with woman's softball. He kept a keen eye on plasma screen. Either he has a big bet with Phil Ivey, or the kid has a fetish for softball players.
The ugliest hand of the day? All in on an Ace high flop between Q-7 and 6-2. Of course the 6-2 won.
I walked past Kristy gazes table and she flashed her superstar smile.
"What is on your iPod?"
"Ryan Adams. You listen to him?" she said.
I shook my head.
"What's on your shirt?" she said and pointed at my chest.
"It's the drummer from Phish."
"You're such a hippie," she said as I walked away.
Phish in Las Vegas circa 1996
* * * * *
Big stacks: Patrik Antonius, Mike "SirWatts" Watson, Erick Lindgren, brother of the Grinder, and Ron Adams
Shorties: Bill Spadea
Recent bustouts: Jamie Gold and Olga Varkonyi.
Players Remaining: 909
Wow.... Robert Varkonyi outlasted his wife Olga this year.
In competitive eating news, Joey Chestnut defended his crown in the Nathan's hotdog eating contest. He and Kobayashi were tied and they had to go into overtime for a five hotdog eat-off. Chestnut won consecutive titles.
According to WSOP fashionista Change100... Tiffany Michelle and Mario Ho walked through the room. Ho was wearing super short shorts. As they strolled through the Orange section, every guy's head turned to look. Even the stone cold faced Alex KGB Kravchenko had to turn to look. That's you know when you are hot... when Alex KGB stops what he's doing in the middle of a hand to peer up at Ho's goodies.
I can hear the rattle of the chip racks in the background over all the other noises in the Amazon Room. When the rattling racks gets closer and closer to the press box it means that tables are breaking, The entire red section has been converted to cash game tables and they began breaking tables in the orange section.
ESPN cameras hovered around Lee Watinskon's table in front of the pressbox. Since he was the biggest named pro at the final table last year, Lee is on ESPN's radar.He's even chatting with ESPN host Lon McEachern. I can see Billy the Croc at the far end of the Orange section. You can't miss him with his Crocodile hat.
The girl wearing the pink cowboy hat is still in. Vicky Coren was also wearing a straw cowboy hat and she's still alive as well.
I went to sweat Erick Lindgren on the featured table. I was stopped by three different Harrah's interns. They each asked to see my media credentials.
"You are unable to conduct or solicit any business with players on the table," he said.
"Me? I'm worst than an agent. I'm the media. I'm just here to get the story. And you know what, our little exchange is the story. Thanks," I said and left the area.
Harrahs is keeping the agents away from the TV table. Finally. They are policing the area and cleaning it up sort of like when crack swept into NYC in the 1980s and things got ugly. The city eventually cleaned up the streets because as we all know, crack is whack.
Harrahs is trying to keep out the seedy element from the TV table. That also included those skanky models that different companies send to sit in the stands are try to get free face time. You can't get something for nothing, right?
These peanuts are making me thirsty. And up in the press box, one European media guy is playing six tables of online poker... at once... on two different sites.
Players are going on a dinner break until 8:30pm.
Big stacks: Patrik Antonius, Markus Golser, The brother of the Grinder, Redmond Lee, and Erick Lindgren
Shorties: Jacobo Fernandez
Recent bustouts: Orel Hershiser
Players Remaining: 881
As players made their way back to their seats from dinner break, Hal Lubarsky was led through the maze of empty tables by his whisperer.
One random player tried to smooth talk a masseuse. He wanted to tell her about how much money he won last night her response? "Do you ever feel like we're just rats in a maze?"
I stood at the crossroads in the middle of the Amazon Ballroom. The remaining 900 or so players rushed past me to take their seats. They had two more levels to survive before they advanced to day two. With four tedious hours ahead of them, the players shifted back into playing mode. The hats when up. The shades back on. The iPod cranked up. A couple of players finished up last minute phones calls.
"I'll call you as soon as I bust," said one pessimistic guy in a LA Dodgers hat.
"I outlasted David Negreanu and Fossilman," another player bragged.
As soon as cards were in the air, one dealer immediately screamed out, "All in on table 21."
Overheard on the smokers porch: Two dealers talked about the casino employee event.
"Only if I get staked. You wanna buy a piece?"
"Maybe, you have to be better than the idiots I dealt to yesterday."
Big stacks: Patrik Antonius, Brian Schaedlich, Ron Adams, Mike "SirWatts" Watson, Alexander Meidinger
Shorties: Sam Grizzle, Robert Varkony
Recent bustouts: Marc Goodwin, Nordberg, and Matt Brady
Players Remaining: 819
One player showed up in a robe and sat down in an empty seat at table #21. Nice. Finally someone with a sense of humor. Within minutes there was another all in at that table.
Sam Grizzle still chomping down on his toothpick, while Erick Seidel got a massage.
The voice from the sky boomed, "Open seating for 20/40 limit hold'em."
And yes, that was the most exciting things that I saw in the last twenty minutes.
"Nothing is happening," mentioned Maridu, a writer from Brazil.
She titled her latest blog post "tranquilo." I don't speak Portuguese but I know enough Latin to tell you that it means tranquil or calm or quiet. All three proper adjectives to describe the action, or lack of action. Last night, the hour after the dinner break featured a flurry of eliminations.
A very attractive woman with a tight red cocktail dress stood on the rail. She was two-fisting it with a glass of champagne and some sort of vodka drink. Her friend in an equally stunning dress stood behind her. They totally looked out of place... I think they were at a wedding down the hall and wandered by accidentally.
Only half of the cash games tables are filled which is a surprise for 9pm. But then again, the 4th of July holiday has had an obvious effect with the lack of railbirds and players looking for cash games.
At the featured TV table, there were lots of empty seats. It was hard to get people to watch because there weren't too many spectators milling around in the first place. Even the Milwaukee's Beast lounge was sparse with more people watching Erick Lindgren and eight unknowns branded in Full Tilt or PokerStars hats than wanting to knock back cans of Beast.
The cute dealer was at Blue #47. One guy was trying to angle shoot and say that he did owe what he really did.
Nolan Dalla got on the mic and mentioned that Tom McEvoy won the WSOP 25 years ago and that he was the first satellite winner into a WSOP event. The crowd gave him a warm round of applause.
I shouted out, "Give him a free food comp!"
McEvoy is a Team PokerStars player and he's is still alive along with Vicky Coren. Both outlasted fellow PokerStars players Fossilman and Danny Boy.
When I wandered into the poker kitchen, I could hear random pops from nearby fireworks display, perhaps from Mandalay Bay? I ran into two readers from St. Louis who wanted to know where the hooker bar was located.
Check out MeanGene's latest post about the 4th of July... Happy Birthday Indeed. Very politically honest.
Big stacks: Brian Schaedlich, Anders Berg, SirWatts, Marc Karam, and Rob Eckstut
Shorties: Blair Rodman, Jacobo Fernandez and Sam Grizzle
Recent bustouts: Patrick Bueno, William Thorson, DanDruff, and Ross Boatman
Players Remaining: 738
Main Event Entrants: 5,558 and counting (according to Benjo)
French high stakes cash game player Patrick Bueno was eliminated before the final break. One of the cute chicks from the French press walked over to Benjo to tell him about the hand. "Bueno busto," she said.
See you, don't need to speak French to understand poker lingo in France.
I asked Howard Swains from PokerStars Blog about his thoughts on Day 1b. "Oh today has been one of the best days of my life," deadpanned Howard.
I love British humor. Biting sarcasm. Harsh realities.
"Actually, today is much like any other day," he eventually added.
Nothing out of the ordinary. He did mention that Brits were not very keen on celebrating the 4th of July... for obvious reasons.
When I asked Homer if he felt that the fourth of July was nauseating fro Brits he quoted Dazed and Confused...
"Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you're being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don't forget what you're celebrating, and that's the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn't want to pay their taxes."God bless America.
As players went on a break, several sprinted to the bathrooms or outside to fire up a cigarette in the smoking area. The others called home to tell their loved ones that they were two hours away from advancing to Day 2 of the WSOP main event.
Big stacks: Nicholas Caltabiano, Marc Karam, Ben Sarnoff, Brian Schaedlich, and Liya Gerasimovad
Shorties: Stuart Paterson and Kristy Gazes
Recent bustouts: Tom McEvoy, Sam Grizzle, Humberto Brenes, Jacobo Fernandez, Bill Spadea, and Farzad Bonyadi.
Players Remaining: 665
Another former WSOP champion is out. This time it's Tom McEvoy. he joins Jamie Gold and Fossilman on the rail.
At one point, Jacobo Fernandez was in the lead for player of the year. He lost that honor to Erick Lindgren. Fernandez is out of the Main Event on Day 1b. He had a sick WSOP with seven cashes (in six different events) and made three final tables with second, third, and fourth place finishes.
Cyndy Violette has been grinding it out at the cash game tables over the last couple of weeks. I spotted her playing a high stakes stud game (75/150 I think) against Paul "Cigar" Kinney and a dude with a red mohawk.
I bumped into Laurie the dealer in the hallway. She's dealing the featured TV table. I asked her what has been going on up there.
"Nothing. Totally boring today," she said which echoed the sentiments of several people I spoke to on Day 1b.
"At least you got to stare at Erick Lindgren. He's so dreamy," I said.
"That's the only good thing about today," she said. "Oh my God! He's so hot. I'd ride him like a broken rocking chair. And you can quote me on that!"
Outside in front of the poker kitchen, a female janitor complained about her task. "I can't believe I have to sweep up 75,000 cigarette butts!"
Big stacks: Ben Sarnoff, Brother of the Grinder, Nicholas Caltabiano, Patrik Antonius, and Rob Eckstut
Recent bustouts: Kristy Gazes, Alexandre Gomes, Kenna James, Tim Jaxon, and Matthew Hilger
Players Remaining: 623
I played another round of Lime Tossing with Otis. This batch? Another push. I'm +20 overall this year.
Shortly after midnight, the slackers go home and the remaining media reps get a little bored and start to play online poker. Oh, the irony. This is the part of the night when I contemplate suicide while shoving whole Oreos win my mouth. Six Oreos cookies cost $1.35 in the gift shop.
As the night concluded the majority of the orange section had been broken.
Tao reader Tim Jaxon busted out when his pocket nines ran into Kings according to MeanGene.
Kristy Gazes also busted out during the final level. In her last text message she wrote, " Why do I play the main event? Fucking really brutal. Never again!"
According to Doyle's blog... someone stole his scooter last week. As he wrote, I parked my scooter, which was one week old, outside the VIP room at the Rio and when I came out, it was gone. Of course, I left the keys in it, but what kind of sicko steals a handicapped scooter?
That's it for Day 1b. Day 1c starts at noon on Saturday. There was around 1,500 people signed up earlier today so I expect that number to get close to 2,000. Saturday is a make or break day for the main event. Stop back in for updates.
I'm done for tonight. Thanks for reading and following along. A final end of day recap will be posted in a couple of hours... as soon as I go home and write the damn thing!
Don't forget about Saturdays with Dr. Pauly.... tomorrow. My brother is the defending champion!
If you have problems finding the tournament, you can always do a player search for DrPauly. Otherwise look in the Tourney tab, and then the Private tab.
Previous winners include Grouse14, The Rooster, Buddy Dank, DrPauly, StB, Bikom, Family Ice, Bettercheck4, 23skidoo, USC55ND24, I_CrackQuads, Bayne, Grouse14, MrMojo, and Resdent Evil (back-to-back), CSauve, holdin-ragz!, Sydney 8, OneEyeKeith, Sydney 8 (again), and Derek. See you there.
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