Las Vegas, NV
It all began with an itch.
Every single player (1,116 to be exact) who bought into Day 1A of the $10,000 Main Event championship each had one thing on their mind... winning millions of dollars in the most prestigious poker tournament in the world. It doesn't matter about the faltering economy or waning popularity of poker. What does matter is that Las Vegas (and specifically the Rio) over the next two weeks has been transformed into the Mecca of poker. Players, both amateurs and pros alike, have traveled lengthy distances to take their shot at the big time.
Several pros have a tinge of self-awareness and know that they are a long shot to win the Main Event. While other amateurs are blinded by the tantalizing allure of seizing their moment in the bright lights while bathing themselves in stacks and stacks of money.
Dreamers. The Amazon Ballroom was filled with dreamers on Day 1A and thousands more will show up over the next three days. They each paid their $10,000 for a ticket to a lottery of a lifetime.
Yet, only nine players will advance to the November Nine. As most pros note, the worst day of the year is when they bust from the Main Event. These days $10,000 means a lot. It's a nice chunk of change even for the pros with the deepest of pockets. And for the broke dicks out there? It's just another hunk of cash that they owe their backers.
Day 1A kicked off on time. Kudos for the tournament staff for launching the Main Event in a timely matter. The only travesty was the hairy beast and the mascot from WSOP sponsor Jack Link's Beef Jerky kicked off festivities with "Shuffle Up and Deal!" Actually the Chaka on steroids couldn't even speak, but grunted the words.
Alas, just a quick reminder that the WSOP has gone corporate these days. I wished they would have focused on the rich history of the WSOP and allowed a former WSOP champion or a Hall of Famer to do the honors. After all, they survived the gritty days when poker was full of lying scumbags, cheats, criminals, and other people of ill repute. It's the elders in poker who deserve a nod and recognition, and not some a guy in a fuckin' monkey suit.
Chaka tries to eat Commissioner Pollack
Photo by MeanGene
The biggest story of Day 1A involved the number of entrants. I knew my OVER bets were toast when cash games were still running in the Amazon Ballroom at the start of the tournament. I also took note of the handful of tables utilized in the Brasilia Ballroom. Overall, only 1,116 runners were in the field on Day 1A, down from 1,297 the year before.
That number meant that last year's Main Event tally of 6,844 might not be broken. Some suits were worried about the 6,000 level not being reached. At this point, I'm guessing the overall number will be somewhere in between. 6,420 is a solid bet.
TD Jack Effel also announced that action would be reduced to four levels instead of the usual five. That was done in order to make sure the money bubble does not break before Day 3 due to the smaller amount of runners. Many conspiracy theorists suggested that the real reason was to generate cash for the various Harrah's proprieties since they're keeping more people around for the next few days while they wait to play Day 2. As much as I'm partial to my fellow media reps who sport tin foil hats and subscribe to Alex Jones newsletters, I gotta say that the staff was looking out for the best interests of the players in this instance... however, they also welcomed the byproduct of their decision... that more players will be lingering around to spend money.
Day 1A was one of the most subdued opening rounds of the WSOP that I had seen since the WSOP was moved to the Rio. Even media director Nolan Dalla had similar feelings. I told him that the room lacked a certain frenetic energy like in years past. The Amazon Ballroom and the hallways used to be a zoo with a carnival like atmosphere. Not this year. Much more mellow. I could walk from one end to the room with relative ease.
When I covered the 2006 WSOP for the PokerStars Blog, I was responsible for covering their pros. That year, it seemed like 40% of the room was filled with players who sported PokerStars gear. Hats. Hoodies. Shirts. What have you. This year? There was a serious lack of branding in the Amazon Ballroom. The only obvious branding occurred with the players who managed to reach the featured TV table or the secondary table. Agents were swarming and hounding those lucky players who were moved under the bright lights. It appeared that the three online poker rooms (PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Ultimate Bet) were the most aggressive and locked up as many unknown players as the could. The battle for the hearts and minds of online poker players still continued, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Most of the railbirds clocked to Gus Hansen's table. The Great Dane sat at Blue #5, right on the corner of the crossroads inside the Amazon Ballroom. An ESPN camera crew hovered over his table for most of the last two levels as spectators, fans, and women with wet snatches stood five and six deep to catch a glimpse at one of the more popular pros in the room. One douchebag in a wrinkled Margaritaville shirt literally shoved me out of the way to catch a glimpse. At the time, I had hidden my badge and was undercover and embedded with railbirds. It seems that drunk assholes treat their fellow spectators with the same amount of disdain as they do media reps. I told the soused Parrothead to stop pushing me and the second time he did it, I just gave him a quick elbow to the ribs. It's a dirty, yet effective trick I learned from playing basketball on the mean streets of the Bronx,. He spilled his beer all over himself and stormed off.
Most of the buzz involved the starting table with two celebrities... Nelly and Jason Alexander. Nelly's claim to fame is that he's the dude with the band-aid on his face who belted out the ever popular, "Hot in Herre." I still have no idea why there's the extra 'R' and if I get a cance to interview him, I'll ask. And Jason Alexander is most known for his role as the ultra-neurotic and sex-crazed George Costanza. Nelly busted out early on and Alexander ended up accumulating chips at a much faster rate than both his celebrity peers and everyone else in the room. When the day ended, Alexander was among the Top 31 in chips.
End of Day 1A - Top 10 Chip Counts:Controversial former hockey pro Eric Cloutier ended Day 1A as the chipleader. That made all the Canadian media smile, despite all of his tax evasion and fraud charges.
1 Eric Cloutier (Canada) - 150,750
2 Redmonf Lee (London, UK) - 134,275
3 Jean Docquier (Paris, France) 122,755
4 Marcucci Gianluca (Claviere, Italy) - 118,000
5 Peter Buermann (Parts Unknown) - 117,400
6 Ebrahim Mourshaki(Irvine, CA) 116,025
7 Balazs Botond (Budapest, Hungary) - 113,000
8 Alexander Grishchuk (Moscow, Russia)- 111,875
9 Guinther, Jimmie (Hudson, NH) - 110,425
10 Arthur Rhea (Indianapolis, IN) - 109,275
Alexander, Jason 89,575
Warne, Shane 87,625
Elezra, Eli 83,375
Olson, Carl 80,825
Schneider, Tom 79,600
Serock, Joseph 78,700
Williams, Jeff 77,550
Naujoks, Sandra 76,725
Hennigan, John 76,250
Maier, Lana 75,600
Sexton, Paul 70,350
Lunkin, Vitaly 68,300
Nguyen, Van 66,550
Jelassi, Ramzi 66,525
Mahmood, Ayaz 65,750
Fricke, Jimmy 63,425
Arnaud, Mattern 62,575
Lawson, Ted 60,000
Gracz, Maciek 59,375
Black, Andrew 56,475
Baker, Amanda 56,400
Lellouche, Antony 55,150
Pickering, Jamie 53,650
Ludovic, Lacay 53,425
Laak, Phil 53,025
Rahme, Ray 52,125
Nardi, Anthony 47,775
Rasmussen, Thayer 45,700
Pinchot, Dale 42,400
Tony G 42,325
Mizzi, Sorel 41,375
Finkelstein, Loren 41,125
Mercier, Jason 41,125
Sexton, Mike 41,000
Hansen, Gus 38,075
Baron, Isaac 37,500
Etayo, Javier 37,300
Garrett, Brad 36,625
Caby, Taylor 36,600
(Editor's Note: I only posted notables from the Top 420 players)
LJ ended up 71st in chips! Spanish pro/blogger Anguila also made the cut.
My buddy Carl 'The White Phil Ivey' Olson finished the day 50th in chips. A couple of Frenchies also survived along with AC pro and Borgata regular Dale Pinchot.
Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne finished in 35th overall while online pros such as YellowSub and Gobboboy all advanced to Day 2A.
Day 2A will start on July 7th, while Day 1B will begin at noon on Saturday which is the 4th of July.
Don't forget, you can follow along with my Twitter updates. My screen name is @taopauly.
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