Las Vegas, NV
This is the day that everyone has been waiting for. The 2009 WSOP Main Event starts in less than three hours at Noon (Pacific Time). The Tao of Poker will be providing coverage. I dunno if updates will come every ten minutes or every hour. That's the beauty of it all. Rest assured, this is the place to get the straight dope on the Main Event.
And don't forget, I have been utilizing Twitter a lot this summer (along with last summer). You can follow along with my Twitter updates. My screen name is @taopauly.
8:58am... New Tao of Pokerati Episodes
Yeah, last night I went to the Bluff party at Sapphire. Last year, it was the party of the year. This year? I have no clue, because I skipped all the other parties. This year was tons of fun as expected. Hung out with lots of friends who were attending their first ever Bluff party. How could I complain about the free booze and the strippers? I was molested by a Russian duo. I think they loved the porn stash.
As soon as I walked into Sapphire, AlCantHang had a brown chest-heavy beauty on his lap. He had his glasses off and the two largest glasses of Southern Comfort adorned the table.
Anyway, even though Michalksi could not attend due to a medical matter, I recorded two episodes of Tao of Pokerati with special guest hosts...
Episode 11.27: The Best Party of the Year with AlCantHang (1:27)For older episodes of Tao of Pokerati, feel free to visit the archives.
Episode 11.28: Grindcore Poker with Change100 (2:51)
Time to shrug off the hangovers and go to work...
11:11am... Beef Jerky Spam?
There are people in red shirts wandering through the tournament area and spamming the tables with free samples of beef jerky. The Everest people have already spammed the chairs with Everest Poker seat cushions. We're gonna use the leftover ones in random throwing things prop bets.
But for the most part, it's very calm in the Amazon Ballroom. Ah, the calm before the storm.
The first song over the P.A.? Jessica by the Allman Brothers Band. Makes me wanna gobble a fist full of mushrooms.
11:33am... Prop Betting on Main Event Runners
Lots of speculation on the official numbers. I have a few bets that are all over last year's numbers and I have one over 6,900 and 7,000. For today's action, I placed a small bet on 1,600 OVER for Day 1A against MeanGene. I have a couple of other bets 1,500 OVER for today and tomorrow.
The Shrink thinks the overall numbers will be less. "The glitch getting money out of Full Tilt and Poker Stars might affect numbers," said the Shrink.
One interesting note... the hallways are not as crowded as in previous years. Is that an ominous sign?
11:47am... The Doors Open...
The security staff opened the doors and allowed players and spectators to wander inside. They didn't knock down the door, like in previous years. The slowly walked inside and wandered over to their seats as TD Jack Effel mentioned a few things over the PA. Most of that was ignored as many first timers soaked up the fulfillment of their dream... to play in a WSOP Main Event.
Interesting note... the cash game area is currently running cash games. In the past, those tables were shut down and turned into Main Event tables. With Brasilia and Miranda, there's no need to convert cash game tables. After all, once players bust out, the suits want them to stick around and play cash games. Churn 'em and burn 'em.
I always tell my friends that the best time to play low limit cash games? During the WSOP Main Event. Hit up the Rio in late afternoon. Players who bust are playing and players who are scheduled to play the other days will be biding their time at the tables. Definitely find out where all of the internet qualifiers hang out... the PokerStars qualifiers are usually put up at Palms. The cash games there are more than juicy. Just ask Otis.
12:00pm... Wow, On Time Start!
Commish Pollack introduced TD Jack Effel who said that any player with Quad Jacks will get a special gift from Jack Link's. I think it's free beef jerky. Go figure.
AC pro and Borgata regular Dale Pinchot gave me his free bag of beef nuggets. He said I need it to keep up my energy level. I would have preferred Adderral.
Players start with 30,000 in chips. I heard whispers that they are only playing 4 levels today instead of 5. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Unless numbers are so atrociously low, this is a bad idea.
The Jack Link's mascot is here. He's like Chaka from Land of the Lost, but on steroids. The beast did the honors for "Shuffle up and deal!" I can't recall a beer can doing that last year.
Cards are in the air. The Main Event officially begins.
12:16pm... Donkey Down
We have our first elimination. Most of Amazon Ballroom cheered at one guy's misfortune.
I asked Otis to name five pros sitting in the section in front of the press box. He was struggling. I didn't blame him. Lots of unknown faces in the crowd. I did spot Taylor Caby and Perry Freidman and saw Ray Rhame wandering around.
12:24pm... Steve Rosenbloom Sighting
The infamous Steve Rosenbloom made a cameo in the press box. He's the only legit sports journalist in the building. It's an honor to be in his presence and I always learn something about life and writing.
1:01pm... Slim Pickins in Brasilia
To be honest, this crowd doesn't have the "feel" of a Main Event. The Amazon Room is definitely buzzing, but it lacks the intensity of previous Day 1s.
I wandered over to the Brasilia Room. Only 11 tables are used. A few others have just a dealer sitting and waiting to accommodate late registrations.
Biggest fear? Players getting shut out on Day 1D because they wait until the morning of that day to buy into the Main Event. Just a word of advice, if you want to play on Day 1C or Day 1D, I suggest you register ASAP.
Jimmy 'Gobbo' Fricke is sitting in front of the pressbox. I can keep great tabs on him for Gobbomom. He showed up thirty minutes late along with a handful of other [pros who wanted to avoid the initial crush such as The Unabomber, who quietly snuck into his seat.
Katkin told me that Nelly and Jason Alexander (aka George Costanza) was seated at the same table. Sure enough, they were. Right next to each other.
The biggest international celebrity in the room (not named Nelly, but I argue that a cricket God is more well known than a pop/hip hop star) has to be Shane Warne. He's like the Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth of the cricket world. I met him in Australia many moons ago because he's mates with Gaz, who I used to work with at Poker News. Warne can't walk down the street in Australia without a mob gathering around him. Even my British friends (who rarely display any inkling of emotion) ere giddy when I told them that I met Warne. Cricket is huge in the former British colonies and in countries like India and Pakistan and the Caribbean. Alas, this is one of the few places where Warne can just be another guy playing poker.
2:01pm... Who's Here?
The Main Event always attracts a handful of celebrities. This year? Jen Tilly, Nelly, Jason Alexander, Brad Garret, Shane Warne, Voitto Rintala (Finnish metal singer) and Orel Hershieser are all in the mix on Day 1A.
Change100 got a Dodgers hat for Orel to sign for her father, who is a huge Dodgers fan, but she left it back in our hotel room. On the break, she managed to score a baseball. I tried to show Benjo how to grip it and throw a two-seam fastball. He seemed unimpressed.
Other notables included Michael Craig, DonkeyBomber, Gavin Smith, YellowSub, Gobbo, and LJ who is somewhere out there in the killing fields.
Jerry Yang is here. Thankfully Oliver tweet'd his seat assignment so I can keep tabs on the former champion.
Recent Eliminations: First player of note to hit the rail? John Phan.
Still waiting on official word of the number of runners today.
On the first break, DonkeyBomber told me that he had 1,500 more than he started with. The former WSOP Player of the Year had an awful summer and cashed in one event out of something like 20 events that he played. His wife, Julie, went 2 for 2 including a final table in Triple Draw. Combined, them might have broken even for this WSOP. Anyway, DonkeyBomber, like many pros who were shutout this summer, is hoping that his luck turns around for the Main Event.
3:01pm... Surviving the First Break
Chipleader: Tony G (wow, will The G go deep this year?)
Players Remaining: UNKNOWN at press time
Recent Eliminations: George "The Original Scarf Boy" Danzer
Players returned from a break and were greeted by a bracelet ceremony for David Bach's victory in the 50,000 HORSE event. As I walked into the Amazon Ballroom, one online pro rushed passed me into the hallway. He refused to watch the national anthem. He was American and not being un-patriotic. Rather, he thought the entire thing was bullshit and detracted from the Main Event. He said he was here to play poker. I walked inside and stood next to Joe Sebok as they played the Star Spangled Banner.
I first wandered by one of the massage stations where six or seven massage girls gathered. They exchanged bad beat stories from the opening level. Two were absolutely disgusted at the foul smelling beasts that they had to work on. Another was shocked that a European player asked her to come up to his room on the dinner break for some oral relaxation therapy.
"I would have done it to Gus," one of them joked. "And for free to."
The first break of the Main Event is always interesting if you like to eavesdrop and listen into people's conversations. Several amateurs could not contain their excitement as they phoned their loved ones back home and told them about their progress. Some had stories about sitting at a table with a pro, while others bitched and moaned about bad beat stories. I definitely heard more international chatter. Lots of groups of five or more players from a random European country standing around chain-smoking cigarettes and making fun of Americans.
I gotta say, that I prefer the no smoking rules in the hallway. My first WSOP in 2005? It was bloody awful to have to walk through a hallway filled with thick second-hand smoke. It feels good to be able to breathe.
4:01pm... Where's the Hooker Bar?
Chipleader: Ludovic Lacay
Recent Eliminations: Japanese industrialist Masaaki Kagawa, online pro Mike Sowers, Belgium pro Davidi Kitai, and German pro Jan Von Halle.
Who's getting massages? Will 'The Thrill' Failla and Shane Warne.
Been hearing whispers about 1,100 entrants today, which means my overall numbers are in jeopardy along with today's wagers! Plenty of theories swirling around on the real reasons they will be playing four levels. The tin foil hat kids think this was a plan to keep the players on property to play cash games or table games. After talking to a few floor people who explained me their thought process, I'm understanding that they're anticapting a smaller field than last year and don't want the money to break on Day 2.
At least three of the members of the international press asked me the precise whereabouts of the Hooker Bar. It's become a landmark.
I walked over to the Brasilia Room and two tables were broken. They have around ten left in there.
More late arrivals included Johnny Chan and a wobbling Gus Hansen. "Gus might be drunk," said one member of the Aussie press.
4:20pm... "Smoke 'em if you got 'em!"
Today's smoke break is brought to you by... PokerStars!
Just so you know, there will be a dinner break at 4:30pm. I know. Who eats dinner at 4:30pm besides your grandma down in Florida? The WSOP Main Event players, that's who. Since we're playing four levels tonight, the break is after level 2.
6:05pm... Grub Time Over; Two Levels To Go
Chipleaders: Ludovic Lacay and YellowSub
Recent Eliminations: AC's Nicky Frangos
Did you enjoy your Early Bird dinner specials? I wonder how players today are at a disadvantage because they didn't know about four levels and a 90 minutes break at 4:30 instead of closer to 7pm. Some poker pros are creatures of habits. They need their meds to kick in at certain times or know how long to space out meals.
We don't know how many players remain. I can guestimate that 1,100 or so were in today's event. I heard some rumblings from the dealer's smoking porch that the number might be lower tomorrow.
Benjo's buddy Ludovic Lacay is among the chipleaders. Could this be the year of the Frenchie? Or will Lacay be that guy who jumps out to an early lead on Day 1, only to fizzle out before the money? It's almost like a curse to go into Day 2 of the Main Event with the chiplead.
Gobbo, Dale Pinchot, DonkeyBomber, and LJ are all alive.
Alas, two more levels to go. I'm gonna hit the floor and check out the Poker Palooza.
7:05pm... Officially 1,116
Chipleaders: Dragan Galic(who Benjo says is a "Croation Donk"), DonkeyBomber
Recent Eliminations: UK wizard Chris Moorman, Aussie ad boy Mark Vos, I love this name... Wooka Kim, 'My Main Man' Freddy Deeb, AC mixed game grinder Matthew Glantz, and Nelly. Poor Nelly couldn't make it to a shortened Day 2!
It's official. 1,116.
I saw one horrible hand. All in preflop. 6-6 vs. A-5. 5 on the flop. 5 on the turn. 6 on the river. I love poker.
Norm Chad was wandering around the tournament area glad handing fans. A few were trying to convince Norm to give them face time on ESPN.
I spotted a slender Vinny Vinh roaming the hallways. I asked him what day he was playing and he shrugged his shoulders.
Marcel Luske bought me Starbucks. Chris Moneymaker wandered through the Orange section of the Amazon Ballroom. By now, all of the Brasilia Room tables have been broken. The rest of the Main Event players are all inside the Amazon.
8:05pm... One More Level
Chipleaders: Dragan Galic, Eli Elezra
Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne slowly walked past the press box. I wondered if he had to piss or if he went busto?
Not as much online poker room branded players like I saw in previous years. In 2006, half the room was draped in PokerStars. This year, aside from a few patches and international poker sites, the room looks fairly normal.
Still alive? Taylor Caby, Michael Craig, Dale Pinchot, and Gobbo, who's getting a massage.
The action has been mellow and lacking that frenetic energy like previous Main Events. The rail is very quiet and not a zoo. Let's see if things get interesting during the last level. Mayb more of them will start drinking and get rowdy.
Level 3 is going on a break. When players return they'll play one more night.
9:05pm... Orel, Yoda, and Mr. Kotter Strike Out
Chipleaders: Dragan Galic, YellowSub
Players Remaining: 910/1,116
Recent Eliminations: Orel Hershieser, Jerry Yang, Gabe Kaplan, and Perry Friedman
More celebrities goes busto on Day 1a. Mr. Kotter is nevermore and L.A. Dodger pitching ace, Orel Hershieser, hit the rail shortly before the break. Luckily, Change100 was smart enough to get his autograph for her old man before the dinner break just in case he busted out.
An ESPN camera crew hovered over former champion Jerry Yang's table. He was super short and on life support. According to Change100, he was all in preflop with "Jd7d vs. AK. 7 on flop, K on turn." And Yang hit the rail at the start of Level 4.
Gobbo lost half his stack earlier but after the massage, he's cruising as he slowly builds a pyramid of chips. He's already starting a second story on his stack.
YellowSub and Galic (who is actually German, but Benjo calls him the Croatian Donk) are among the first players to pass the 100K mark.
EPT Dortmund champion, Sandra Naujoks from Berlin, is among the chipleaders. Lots of people are curious of the German bombshell.
I asked the cashier in the gift shop about this year's sale. She said that they were not as good as last year. A couple of popular t-shirts sold out while no one has touched other gaudy items like jackets. The gift shop is selling old school hardback editions of Super System for $150.
According to Ted Lawson's wife, a player got hit by a taxi in the parkinglot on dinner break. Despite the injuries, he returned to play in the Main Event. I hope he knows a good lawyer.
So who played today? According to the official list...
39 GermansI'm not making this up. His name is Stephan Swillens and he's from a small province in the middle of the Netherlands.
and 1 player from Flevoland.
10:05pm... On the Cusp of Advancing
Chipleaders: Redmond Lee, DonkeyBomber, Jason Alexander
Players Remaining: 890/1,116
Recent Eliminations: Scandi wunkerkind Soren Kongsgaard, Isaac Haxton, David Grey, and Darryl 'Deep' Dicken
The most railbirds in the room surrounded Gus Hansen's table since he as on a corner table. An ESPN crew continuously taped Hansen until he played a pot.
I forgot to mention that Johnny Chan and Jerry Yang were at the same table before Yang busted.
French pro Arnaud Mattern rushed past the press box. It seemed like he was doing the "I can't wait for the break because I gotta piss now" walk. He returned a few minutes later and headed back to his table. Fellow member of Team Winamax Ludovic Lacay slipped out of the chiplead.
Over on the two TV tables (the featue table and the secondary table), a couple of unknown players scored a few extra bucks to wear online poker gear. Savvy agents hung out near the tables and convinced these guys to wear PokerStars, Full TIlt, and Ultimate Bet. At Sam Farha and Greg FBT Mueller's table, three guys proudly displayed brand-spanking new UB hats.
With about twenty minutes to go, players tighten up because they want to make it to Day 2. Perfect time to start picking up chips.
LJ, Gobbo, Dale Pinchot, and Carl Olson who John Caldwell was nicknamed 'The White Phil Ivey'.
10:30pm... Day 1A Complete
Chipleaders: Redmond Lee
Players Remaining: ???/1,116
Recent Eliminations: Andy Bloch, Allen Cunningham, Men the Master, MrSmokey1
Wow. The fastest Day 1A that I've ever covered. 4 levels or just 8 hours of play. In that short time, Jason Alexander jumped out to the lead pack. We'll have to wait and see for official chipcounts to see how far up the food chain that the actor ended up with on Day 1A. He started the day with Nelly at his table. Although Nelly and a handful of other celebs hit the rail, Alexander flourished.
Just before the day ended, a couple of high caliber Full Tilt pros, Allen Cunningham and Andy Bloch.
Players who survived Day 1A will return to play on Day 2A... or Tuesday.
Day 1B will begin at noon local time. See you then for live updates.
And stay tuned for an official end of day recap.
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