2008 WSOP Day 46: Main Event Day 7 - Nonagon
Las Vegas, NV
Down to nine in the WSOP. Commence the final table delay and start up the hype machine. One of the nine guys I watched play poker the last couple of days will become the next WSOP champion.
Dennis Phillips, Craig Marquis, Ylon Schwartz, Scott Montgomery, Darus Suharto, David 'Chino' Rheem, Ivan Demidov, Kelly Kim, and Peter Eastgate.
It's gonna take a while before we find out which one of them will become poker's next celebrity.
As the poker world holds its breath for three months, the life cycle must continue. I wish that I can put everything on hold over the next three months and follow the Nonagons around and see how they live their lives and find out how celebrity and fame and money alters their already complicated lives.
Over the last four years I have seen what money does to people. It destroys lives. It tears friends apart. Too much money and it poisons your soul. Too little money and it makes you do desperate an unthinkable things. And during the pursuit of huge sums of money in the seven and eight figure ranges... your once astute judgment becomes clouded in the fog of war.
Poker is a simple game. Played among friends, it can be one of the most entertaining experiences in life. But when poker is played in a tournament for millions of dollars in a forum where dozens and dozens of corporations can profit from it... things can get ugly. There is no longer white and black, just shades of grey. Working for four plus years in the poker industry taught me that the more money that is involved... the more complicated things can get.
Tiffany Michelle is the perfect example. Even though she busted out in 17th place, she's still in the middle of a massive tug-o-war. Her story had every element that displays both the light and dark side to poker. TV ratings. Agents. Staking. Online cheating scandals. Corporate sponsorship. Media conglomerates.
I had a front row seat to the circus over the previous seven weeks. I gathered up enough material for a book, maybe be more. After 46 brutal, grueling, ballbusting days, the summer session of the 2008 WSOP came to an end. No bells. No whistles. Not even the UNLV marching band performing a cover of an Elvis Presley tune. Just Jack Effel cheesing it out as usual. The hype has already begun.
The room emptied out the moment the final nine were set. Sure, the bottom feeders were out in full force. The broke dicks. The hangers-on. The poker sluts. The unlucky degenerates always looking for a hand out. The undesirables. They were the only ones left.
The anti-climatic ending was sort of sad in a navel gazing sort of way. Have you ever been the first person to arrive at the party? And you see every single stage that a party runs through as it grows and grows and slowly becomes a rager and you can't breathe because there's zero room to move and you want the party to keep burning until dawn and everyone is pressed up against each other in a sausage fest before the party eventually thins out and the last of the drunks stumble out. When the lights get turned on, you discover that unknown guy passed out in the corner who pissed himself hours ago, and you catch the most random couple making out in the closet. And there's your shitfaced buddy holding court in the kitchen smoking banana peels and clutching a bottle of vanilla extract and taking turns with underaged girls doing shots since that was the last thing in the pantry that he could find that would get him off.
The lights in the Amazon Room were turned on the highest settings for the first time in 46 days. The roaches scattered into the farthest corners of the room. Some of the donkey blood has been steam cleaned while random places will be stained forever with the broken dreams of poker players who had lofty expectations but lacked the ability to survive the struggle in the killing fields.
There are no more cries of "All in and a call!" and "Seat open!" Which means I have heard the last shrieks of animals being led to the slaughter. The area that was once used as the killing floor... is now empty.
I kinda wish they played the final table on Wednesday like originally scheduled. I've gotten so worked up the last 46 days that there's really no climax. If anything, Day 46 was the complete opposite. Instead of walking away with a jubilant feeling like I had moments after when Hachem, Gold, and Yang won their championships, I had an ambivalent feeling. I guess my work is done here. I have no idea if I'll even be allowed to sit ringside at the final table in November. I left dazed and confused and unsatisfied.
The end. The bitter end.
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