Las Vegas, NV
Spectators lined up outside the Amazon Ballroom to gain entry into the greatest show in Las Vegas. As soon as the security guards opened up the doors, several fans sprinted towards the feature table while others took up space on the rail. As usual, the more popular players had the most railbirds... Phil Ivey and Joe Sebok. If the WSOP is a high school microcosm, then Ivey is the best athlete in the history of the school and Sebok is the coolest kid in school who transcended all cliques.
As soon as the doors opened, fans flocked towards their heroes. And even the media rushed to get the best spots on the inner perimeter. A gaggle of unshowered foreign faux-journalists even grabbed chairs to camp out in narrow moat designed for the media. A couple of fame-seeking reporters strategically placed themselves within camera shot so they can get some face time on TV. They were part of the vultures that have been swarming around and pecking apart the carcasses of the remaining players... unscrupulous agents, broke players, sleazy women, overbearing backers, and other scheming shysters were all looking for a handout or a cut of the big cheese. On Day 7, the action intensified inside the ropes, while on the rail, the salaciousness increased exponentially. Even the Sapphire girls wandered around inside the Amazon Ballroom, yet they did not seem out of place in the all-too-familiar circus.
The battle for product placement on the remaining 64 players went on behind the scenes while cash were exchanged for logos, patches, and hats pimping the major online poker rooms. The slithery middlemen ducked in and out of the shadows long enough to rear their ugly heads and shakedown unsuspecting players. With the rules in place about only three players per TV table can wear the same online poker logo, there has been less long term deals going around. Some of the deals are even lower than ever, unless you are the last woman standing then you can garner a big sloppy fat check (because well... she has boobs you you don't) while the unknowns are left in the dust with pedestrian deals. And if you're not a pretty person with a beer gut and have a short stack? You're lucky to get Chico's Bail Bonds to sponsor you.
According to Otis, "A sleazy poker agent just tried to pay one of my writers $25,000 because he thought he was a WSOP player. Gooooooo incompetence!"
Even I got approached by an agent because he thought I represented a European poker site.
"They are everywhere," spat Benjo. "Those vampires tried to ambush a French player in the hallway. He needs to focus on the game and not be pressured for a deal five minutes before dinner ends."
That's just part of the game. Last year at this time, there was a whirlwind side drama going down for the Battle of Tiffany Michelle's Breasts between the Tony G junta, PokerStars, and UB. And this year? Some of the same, yet behind closed doors. Leo Margets already collected a snazzy cup for winning Wicked Chops Poker's Last Woman Standing prize. And now? She's the most sought after property and while you were sleeping, the wheels were in motion. Could she and would she switch up sites? And will online poker rooms gamble on her since she's the second shortest stack left?
Even Ludovic Lacay, who has been a sponsored player on Team Winamax, popped up on the radar of the big boys. For now, he's staying loyal to his fellow countrymen and his friends. But will several million dollars change his mind?
One player quickly juggled online rooms on Tuesday. He had been wearing PokerStars all week before he showed up on Tuesday with a FullTilt patch. Sometimes, it just takes a little money and some arm twisting. That's the Vegas way.
64 players began Day 7 including Joe Sebok, His shoddy luck is renown and he's such a laid-back guy with a self-deprecating sense of humor that he can joke about his bad fortunes. He was finally looking to get that monkey off his back. He finally cashed in the Main Event and made a remarkable run despite being shortstacked for most of not all of the tournament. He had several days where he was ridiculously card dead, yet advanced to the next day. And midway? Sebok caught the dreaded Equus Africanus Asinus Flu that has been going around. He looked so ill at one point that he probably should had been resting in a hospital bed with an IV instead of sitting in Seat 5 in the Amazon Ballroom.
But that's what makes Joe Sebok tick. He's one tough ass motherfucker who refused to give up. Not only did he go deep, but he also drew plenty of attention to his media site... Poker Road.
With Sebok gone, all eyes are on Phil Ivey. He's been in this spot twice before in the last eight years. One bad hand against Chris Moneymaker in 2003 shaped the rest of the poker industry. Perhaps Ivey will get karmic payback and make a run at the November Nine.
If Phil Ivey can advance one more day... everyone wins. The fans. The suits. ESPN/441 Productions. The online poker moguls. The corporate sponsors. Purina's Puppy Chow. The show shine guy in front of the Hooker Bar. Everyone. That's what the public wants... more Phil Ivey. And the deeper that Phil Ivey goes... the more money that everyone makes. Me included. Shit, I might just join in with his rabid fans on the rail and chant, "Ivey! Ivey! Ivey!" every time a dealer ships him a pot.
27 players to go. 18 players will fade into obscurity while the last nine standing will become poker's next superstars.
End of Day 7 Chip Counts:
Darvin Moon - 20.16M
Billy Kopp - 15.97M
Steven Begleiter - 11.885M
Phil Ivey - 11.35M
Kevin Schaffel - 11.245M
Antoine Saout - 11.135M
Jeff Shulman - 10.17M
Eric Buchman - 10.005M
Jamie Robbins - 9.795M
Ben Lamb - 9.41M
James Akenhead - 8.615M
Joseph Cada - 6.565M
James Calderaro - 6.475M
Andrew 'Lucky Chewy' Lichtenberger - 5.625M
Ludovic Lacay - 5.61M
Warren Zackey - 5.485M
Marco Mattes - 5.285M
Tommy Vedes - 5.07M
Jordan Smith - 4.51M
Antonio Esfandiari - 4.47M
Ian Tavelli - 4.385M
Jonathan Tamayo - 3.3M
Jesse Haabak - 2.75M
George Caragiorgas - 1.615M
Nick Maimone - 1.545M
Leo Margets - 1.53M
Francois Balmigere - 1.44M
Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WSOP photos.
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