Atlanta, GA and Las Vegas, NV
The infamous live blog returns to the Tao of Poker just in time for the start of the 2010 WSOP $10,000 NL Main Event Championship. For a sixth straight summer, this will be the place to be to get the straight dope on the behind the scenes action of the most prestigious and richest tournament in all of poker -- the WSOP Main Event. For (yawn) chip counts and hand histories, follow the official updates from WSOP.com. For everything else...come here.
I decided to go old school and use Twitter a lot less during the Main Event. I'll still use my feed (@taopauly) from time to time as a supplement (definitely for Twit Pics), but there's only so much you can say in 140 characters. Luckily, I have Tao of Poker to properly cover the Main Event. Not to mention, the random episode or two of the Tao of Pokerati podcast.
Day 1A of the Main Event begins at noon PT. Check back in with Tao of Poker throughout the day for live updates.
Editor's Note: Due to the extreme length of the live blog, if you're reading this on the front page of Tao of Poker, then you have to click through READ MORE link below to read more.
4:20am ET... Hotlanta: Where It All Begins
I skipped Las Vegas in the middle last week and fled to Raleigh, NC for a five day Southern holiday to recharge my batteries before the Main Event. I needed a break after the grind of the WSOP and the added pressures of finally releasing Lost Vegas last Tuesday. I am fortunate to have amazing friends who are writers who help pick up the slack for me when I head out on a bender. If you haven't seen recent contributions from the Tao All Stars, then I recommend...
Everything All of the Time: the WSOP's Identity Crisis by Change100Anyway, during my excursion, I raged it up during four Phish concerts in three cities (Raleigh > Charlotte > Atlanta). This past weekend, the traveling circus and psychedelic freak show stopped in the Atlanta suburbs. I custied out and booked a hotel at the last minute. Six of us shared a swanky Marriot with one king size bed. Bodies were everywhere. The scattered items in our cluttered room is a reminder that I'm on another planet while embedded with hippies on summer tour: jar of pickles, empty crushed beer cans, nacho chips, salsa, half-drank bottle of champagne, a leaky cooler, ticket stubs, sunglasses, bags and clothes scattered everywhere, random chargers and plugs, a pair of Birkenstocks, feathers, two limes, hemp jewelry, trucker hat, empty pack of cigarettes, two American flags, a bag of earplugs, empty bag of chips, pill bottles, bottle of tequila, a Strawberry Shortcake pillow, two disco ball helmets, random sleeping bags, glowsticks, camping chair, not to forget my laptop and all of my equipment (cell phone charger, voice recorder, camera). Everyone is still up while I scrambled to pack all of my gear and take a shower to sober myself up before a car service drives me to the airport in less than an hour.
A Frightfully British Invasion by Chris Hall
Yes, the WSOP Main Event starts in less than 11 hours. I'm still in Georgia. It's 4:20am local time and the entire hallway in my hotel reeks of weed.
5:01am ET... Spunions in the Lobby
I walked into a part of the lobby of my Alpharetta hotel to say goodbye to a couple of friends. Even though the concert had ended five hours earlier, a dozen or so party people were still wide awake -- either rolling their tits off or tripping balls. Some were both. The last remnants of a dance party were ongoing in a lounge area. A couple of college-aged girls, with glitter all over their bodies, were twirling around in circles while Trance music echoed out of the Joker's laptop. I turned down the offer to purchase "K" otherwise known as Ketamine or a horse tranquilizer. Our hotel was taken over by Phisheads and the staff was overwhelmed on the holiday weekend with dozens of people drinking and smoking tuff outside, one moron shot off fireworks in the parking lot (at 3am), and how could I forget the scores of wookies passed out in the back hallways?
A couple of shady nitrous dealers took advantage of the compromised security situation. The nitrous mafia wheeled in tanks up to the 4th floor and sold nitrous-filled balloons in a couple of the rooms. That stuff freezes your brain and is known among my circle of friends as "hippie crack." The local federales were called in and for three-hours, while the dance part raged in the lobby, a K-9 Unit sat outside ready to spring into action. Someone was dragged out in handcuffs, but luckily the po-po didn't conduct a room-by-room search and bring in the dogs because they'd be rounding up everyone for possession. Well, not me of course, I'd be foolish to travel with anything in these troubled times. Suffice to say, I did everything I was going to do at the concert and did my best to sober up before I had to pass through airport security and proved my worthiness as a non-threat. And sadly, no pharmaceutical souvenirs for my friends in the press box.
I said a couple of good-byes and couldn't tell if my friends were too tired, too spun, or too drunk to remember our farewell. Once I slid into the back seat of a town car and shut the door, I knew that my holiday was coming to a sobering end. But that's OK because for the first time all summer, I'm actually inspired, excited, and can't wait to get to work. No, that's not the residual effects of the intoxicants. I'm still the same jaded vet, but if there's two weeks a year that I get fired up about poker -- it's the WSOP Main Event.
6:20am ET... Another Day, Another Airport
Made it to Atlanta airport with zero traffic, which is a shocker to anyone who lives in Atlanta. Yep, my fourth airport in five days. It's sort of eerie driving on empty road as we sped toward south of the city to the airport. I lived in Atlanta for four years during college, but I hardly recognized the city today. Atlanta's airport is notoriously one of the worst in the world, which made me worried about my flight to Las Vegas. I'm supposed to get in with enough time to get to the Rio by "shuffle up and deal," but with delays on a holiday weekend -- you never know.
I gobbled down a croissant and iced tea at a bakery stand. I found a seat and finished uploading a photo gallery of my Southern travels. I also posted a video of hundreds of highly-inebriated wastrels shooting off fireworks in the parking lot after the concert last night.
And don't forget that I've been podcasting with my crew from Coventry Music. Our podcast project is titled Wook Patrol and we recorded six episodes already live from the parking lot of the concerts. The hippie getting tasered episode has been making the rounds. Listen in when you get a chance. Funny shit.
I caught up on the current happenings at the WSOP. Event #55, the 10K PLO Championship had a final table that included Alex KGB Kravchenko and Benjo's buddy Ludovic Lacay. Alas, Ludovic finished in 4th place while Daniel Alaei took down the bracelet. He now has three in his collection. And remember the TOC? Well they finally played it out after a delay. Huck Seed beat Howard Lederer heads-up for the TOC title.
7:45am ET... Waiting on a Plane
Bad news. Delayed flight. Good news. I got upgraded to first class. Now I don't have to get stuck with the unwashed masses herded together in coach.
I rarely sleep on planes unless I take measures to knock myself out. I only save those instances for journeys lasting 12+ or more. Since this is just a four-hour flight, I'm hoping for a cat nap at some point. I haven't slept much since I left Vegas. I wish I could say that I spent most of my vacation resting up. I wish. Alas, I got less than eight hours of sleep in the last five days. It's much easier to operate on vapors when you're tearing it up on a bender, than when you're bogged down at work.
Boarding shortly. If all goes well, this will be the last update until I arrive in Vegas...unless I get wifi on my flight.
In the meantime, read through my archives for this summer to catch up on some of your favorite stories from the 2010 WSOP such as Phil Ivey Beats Supercomputer and Most Likely You Go Durrrr's Way (And I'll Go Mine).
9:32am CT... Aeroplane Musings
Greetings from 35,000 feet up in the air somewhere over the country of Texas. I was losing the battle of the heavy eyelids and tried to sleep on my flight, and I did, but my cat nap lasted a mere 25 minutes in between taxiing and getting stuck on the tarmac for several minutes during morning rush hour traffic at Hartsfield Airport. I woke up shortly before one of the lovely first class flight attendants asked me if I wanted breakfast. I initially declined, but then realized it might be my only meal of Day 1A. I usually opt out of airplane food (you can usually get better microwaved food in a gas station), however, this is first class and the foodstuffs on the menu are typically above average -- shit it beats anything I can get in the fucking Poker Kitchen. I quickly went to work on a bowl of fruit, a croissant, and two sausage links surrounded by a delicious omelet. I started out my first few days in the South devouring two things: BBQ and Waffle House. By the end of my vacation, I was eating one meal a day.
Anyway, it occurred to me that I completely missed the party season at the WSOP. During my initial WSOP in 2005, I couldn't wait for the party season because I wanted a break from poker and how could I turn down free booze? 2006 might have been the pinnacle of the party season with many online poker rooms trying to outdo each other with the swankiest party. I wasn't as jazzed about the parties but since it was my girlfriend's first WSOP, she wanted to check out all the hoopla. The BoDog Party at Tao (which I briefly wrote about in Lost Vegas) still holds up as the best party in the history of the modern WSOP. 2007 was rough because I only had two days off all summer while working as a slave for PokerNews live updates team. I'm racking my memory trying to recall any sort of party-themed memory from that summer but I'm coming up blank. I'm guessing I skipped most of the parties because I was working at the Rio, otherwise, I got so completely blotto that I don't remember a thing. 2008 was the first year that I actively went out of my way to not attend any of the parties, save for one -- the Bluff party at Sapphire. Same holds true for 2009. I only attended the Bluff party at the strip club. So when it came time to make a decision in 2010 -- WSOP pre-Main Event parties or go see four Phish concerts -- it was very easy to pick. Shit, one Phish show would have won out, but the fact that I got four was a sincere bonus.
It was absolutely foolish of me to skip town the day after my book came out. I really should have attended as many WSOP parties as possible to schmooze industry titans and pimp my book. I might be making a huge mistake here, but at this point, I really don't care anymore and my mind is on other projects. The five-year process was so complicated and the last four weeks of trying to get the fucker self-published was an absolute nightmare. Ergo, I had no inklings to want to talk about it. That's why Phish tour seemed so much more appealing to me -- very few people out there knew about the book and my friends who did know, knew that I wanted to avoid the subject.
I skipped this year's WSOP parties without regrets. I realize that subconciously, I needed to get the hell out of dodge because I'm a mental sponge and the overall negativity of the WSOP was corrupting me. The entire vibe of the WSOP was homely this year. Everyone seemed to be covered by a damp blanket of malaise. In six years, I have never seen pros argue about so much petty shit (with the fans, with the WSOP, with the media, and with each other). And many of my friends in the media had a collective abysmal experience this summer -- many of who had to take pay cuts of 10-20%.
I skipped the parties and for the first time in six years, I'm not wicked hungover on Day 1A of the Main Event. I'm all other kinds of sluggish due to the encyclopedia of pharmacopoeia that crossed my path. But not to fear. I have a little secret, how I get a head, and as soon as land, I'll be eating a steady diet of speed, Clif Bars, and iced tea during the Main Event.
10:50am PT... Wheels Down, Vegas
My flight to Vegas arrived only ten minutes late. One of the benefits of the first class upgrade was the nicer shitter and the ability to be one of the first people to disembark the plane. Luckily, Michalski offered to pick me up at the airport but he shook me down for 50% of all pharmies that I acquired on Phish tour. Alas, I had to give up some Adderall, which is the small price I had to pay to get to the Rio in time before a Eurodonk member of the media who just arrived to cover the Main Event stole my reserved seat which I had been keeping warm the last five weeks. That's been happening a lot during my vacation -- veteran reps who have been here for five weeks all of a sudden come in and find their spots hijacked.
By the way, moments after dropping me off, Michalski ran over one of the orange witch hats in front of the passenger drop off area. His vehicle crushed the fucker. He now owes the Rio a new orange cone.
On a good note, we managed to record an episode of Tao of Pokerati while driving down the freeway. Listen here...
Episode 49: Main Event Airport Run - Dan picks Pauly up at the airport only 90 minutes before the Main Event begins. Dan gives Pauly guff for taking off while others were hard at work. Dan catches Pauly up with the latest happenings and poker media gossip.Yep, I'm back at the Rio and in the pressbox. Cards in the air in an hour or so. Stay tuned.
11:24am... Food Prop Bets: Flowers for Cash
Last night was a big party night and a few members of the media are wicked hungover, including Chip Bitch. I offered him $20 to eat an ornamental flower that is included with every fruit salad at the Poker Kitchen. Chip Bitch agreed and here's the video...
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11:50am... The Swarm of Media; Norway Is the New Jersey of Europe
The Main Event brings in lots of familar faces. I hadn't seen folks like Joe Giron, Stephen Bartley, Otis, Mean Gene, Fun Warren, or Steve Rosenbloom yet. Rosenbloom stopped by the press box to say hello. He's my personal hero and it's always good to shoot the shit with him. He gave me solid relationship advice (much to the delight of Change100) and we shot the shit about members of The Sopranos who were shooting commercials to entice LeBron James to sign with my hometown Knicks. During our brief chat, a dozen toe-headed media guys including a documentary film crew were following around a guy with a white Oxford shirt and a Norway flag on his sleeve. Mean Gene assumed that he was a soccer player. He took a seat at one of the tertiary feature tables in front of my press box.
"Noway is the New Jersey of Europe," blurted out Rosenbloom.
Does Norway smell like the NJ Turnpike? Norway is the only Scandinavian country that I did not visit, so I can't tell.
On an unrelated note, I showed up at the Rio with travel gear. Change100 brought in a proper change of clothes for me and I switched clothes in the parking lot while I gave her a quick rundown of our hippie friends from Colorado, Florida, and the Carolinas.
12:06pm... Cards in the Air!
REM's Losing My Religion was playing on the loudspeakers. Change100 scoffed at the song. Even Benjo disagreed with the selection: "Losing my religion? More like losing my money!"
TD Jack Effel prattled off a laundry list of announcements which delayed the start of Day 1A by a couple of minutes. At one point he said that "Everyone is a winner!" Um, nice try. This isn't the Special Olympics, Jack, where everyone gets a medal for participating. This is the real deal -- the WSOP Main Event -- where dreams are shattered, hopes crushed, and aspirations gets flushed down the toilet like a lazy floater.
The buzz returned to the room as spectators rushed to the rail. The spectators make up approximately 65% friends and family of players and 35% hardcore fans. The noobs take flash photos which draws the occasional warning from one of the floor staff.
By the way, action began ten-handed today instead of the traditional nine-handed. Currently, seat 3 is vacant and they will pull stacks if a massive wave of players register for Day 1A at the last possible moment.
And Fossilman had "Shuffle up and deal!" honors on Day 1A.
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12:28pm... Fossilman On Verge of Extinction
Fossilman is playing at the table in front of the press box. I spotted an ESPN producer run over to the table and the media quickly converged. The former champ, with his mural hanging up behind him, found himself all in with Kd-Qd for top pair and a flush draw. His opponent flopped a set of tens. Fossilman could not catch a diamond and he was crippled. He's currently on death watch.
1:11pm... Tweaked Schedule and No Mas Pavilion
On the original schedule, Day 1s were supposed to be four full levels (two hours each) instead of five. Well, when I returned to the Rio, I discovered that had changed. Day 1s will play out 4 full levels and half of level 5 for nine full hours of action.
Day 2s have been changed to accommodate the popularity of Days 1C and 1D. Players who survive Day 1A and Day 1C will play together on Day 2A, while Day 1B and Day 1D
1:20pm... Smoked Fossils
Happy 4:20 to my East Coast readers. If you're ripping bingers while reading this, then I salute you. If not, then get with the friggin' program.
Anyway, Fossilman had been on death watch for about an hour and I can officially tell you that he's out. Dunzo. As Change100 noted, he lasted "81 minutes." Man, Raymer went super deep in the 2005 Main Event -- my first one -- so I'll never forget his epic run as he made it to the final two days of the Main Event at the Horseshoe. A bad beat prevented Raymer from making consecutive final tables. Five years later, Raymer's run ended as quickly as it had started. Maybe if he pulled a Hellmuthian move and showed up two hours later, he would still have a stack?
2:19pm... Make the Break
Small steps. As much as your overall goal is to win it all, for many players (mostly rookies) they have a simple goal -- don't be the first one to bust. Next up is -- make the first break. Not being the first one out takes a ton of pressure off of everyone. Until the first person busts, the room is overflowing with tension. Some of the quietest poker you will ever see is during the first fifteen or twenty minutes of the opening flights of the Main Event. Aside from Matusow jawing, you'll only hear the clattering of chips.
The next goal for the newbies is to make the first break. That's a confidence builder, with the next goal -- making the dinner break.
The hallways become a claustrophobic clusterfuck on the first break with the nicotine freaks leading the charge towards the doors. The guys who have been holding in an insane piss are right behind them. Once that wave passes, the starving players are part of the next surge. Add them to the mix of players not paying attention to where they are going because they are too busy looking at their phones and writing text messages about their progress. They clog up the hallways like a deep-fried twinkie congesting an artery. I'd rather deal with those slow walking CrackBerry and iPhone addicts than the nicotine freaks who used to light up the moment they stepped into the hallway. Back in 2005, smoking was permitted in the hallways which polluted the recycled casino oxygen. They since outlawed smoking, but I've seen players fire up in the hallway on a lazy walk to the outdoor smoking areas.
By the way, players who failed to make the first break? Greg Raymer, Nick Schulman, and some guy named Tibor who is the Hungarian Monopoly champion.
3:18pm... The Red Section Report - Ass Massage
If you don't know, the Amazon Ballroom is divided into three color-coated sections. I made a quick pass of the Red Section. Here's what I jotted down in my notes...
- The mysterious guy with the satchel is playing at Juha Helppi's table. Never trust a Russian and a Fin in a knife fight. Not that they have knives, but you never know.
- Whenever I see an ESPN film crew around a table I quickly assume it's a named pro or a celebrity. In this instance it was Ray Romano. I realized that if you're an amateur who wants face time in the WSOP, you can do one of two things: 1) Bust a Full Tilt or PokerStars pro deep in the tournament, or 2) Sit next to a celebrity on Day 1. Note that I say Day 1 because most celebs are outskilled in these events, even most of the amateurs have more game than them. Tournament poker is not as hip as it once once with the Hollyweird Glitterati. In 2005 and 2006, the room was packed with random athletes and other dignified celebrities. These days, you really have to stretch to find someone of note.
- Speaking of Ray Romano, I stood on the rail on the otherside of the section and two older guys with a thick Brooklyn accent shouted, "Ray Romano is somewhere in here." His buddy responded, "He is? Where? Where? Where's Ray?"
- Guy in a Hawaiian shirt was getting his upper-ass worked on by an uninspired massage girl. I'm sure she was contemplating turning tricks for a living. With massages, it's a time thing so you have to gut it out no matter what. However with the prostitution industry it's both timed and a one-shot deal. Once you're done -- you're done -- and the working girl gets paid and quickly leaves.
- Shortstacked Andy Black was playing at the same table as Aussie Gary Benson, who almost looks like he should play a bad guy in a British indie flick. Black had white tape on two of his fingers (middle and index on his left hand).
- Guy in a football jersey was sending constant Facebook updates on his Droid.
- One woman in our section was wearing some sort of leopard or cheetah print blouse. I'll leave the fashion reports up to Change100, but all I know is that her choice in accouterments is something that I would have seen Tarzan wearing in those black and white Johnny Weissmuller movies.
- Archie Karas wandered around the rail. Looking for a stake? Sweating his friends? At one time he had a bigger bankroll than durrrr, and that was before the kid was even born.
- Bobby Baldwin was playing with two players in their twenties. I wonder if they knew who Bobby Baldwin is... and more importantly, if they knew that Bobby Baldwin was sitting across from them at their table? To them, Baldwin looks so innocuous, like one of their father's golf buddies.
4:01pm... Hallway Harlots
"She can't be a hooker," said my colleague Vin. "Hooker are better kept."
She looked like a skank for sure. Short jean skirt. Tight pink top. Bright red runny nose. Yep, she wasn't a working girl, just a Euro cokeslut. Vegas needs more of those.
4:20pm... Smoke 'em if you got 'em
Today's smoke break is brought to you by Lost Vegas. Yep, I'm shilling my own shit this Main Event, so support an independent writer and artist by buying my book. Heck, buy 2 or 3. There are free shipping options available over at Lulu.com. For more info, check out the Lost Vegas FAQs.
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4:50pm... Break Dos
Recent Eliminations: Victor Ramdin and Chino Rheem. Two PokerStars pros down.
Two levels down at the 2010 WSOP. Day 1A started off amid pomp and circumstance and the excitement level plummeted. "Boring," is how one veteran reporter described it.
We figured out who the Norwegian guy with all the cameras following him around is -- Petter Northug. The cross-country skier won four medals at the Vancouver Olympics including two gold medals (thanks to Snake at Wicked Chops Poker for the difficult research). Northug is a national hero in Norway. Too bad he wasn't a biatholon champion. That's my favorite Nordic sport... first you ski, then you shoot a rifle, then you ski, then you shoot, then you ski some more, then you shoot, and then you finish skiing.
On the break, Thor Hansen posed for a photo with Northug. It was like the Godfather taking a photo with Mickey Mantle.
The Starbucks closest to the Convention Center is always packed (even not on breaks). It has become a hangout for caffeine addicted media reps along with scribes trying to get away from the drama in the pressbox or the media room. And then are a few random guys with laptops who got denied press credentials so they set up shop in Starbucks. When I walked by, Marcel Luske was being interviewed by a Dutch reporter. He must have been a rookie -- you always bring a recorder when interview Luske.
5:49pm... The Orange Section Report - "Nothing to See Here"
I finally had a chance to check out the Orange section. Here are my notes...
- Two reporters used the word "boring" to describe the action in Orange. Another used the expression "Painfully boring." I know, I know... it's Day 1A of the Main Event. it's hard to get excited about the opening flight of an 8-Day event. The scary thing is that if people are bored on Day 1A, what's gonna happen on Day 1C or Day 1D, when everything takes on the Groundhog Day feel. Maybe we need a streaker or something to run through the Amazon Ballroom and then get tasered by security. That would give everyone something to write about.
- A cute Asian girl in a purple top drew the attention of ESPN cameras, yet no one seems to know who she is. Maybe we need to send F Train over to investigate?
- I watched 2010 bracelet winner Praz Bansi's table for a little bit. The Hit Squad member bullied an old guy in two consecutive hands.
- On the rail, one 20-something kid try to explain to a cute girl what the UIEGA is in a nutshell. He did a rudimentary job but made his point. Then he started bragging about how much money he had in FT but couldn't get out.
- Lacey Jones has a big stack and she has lots of chips too. Underneath her seat is an empty ZizZazz wrapper. She's not just a spokesperson -- she's also a client! It's sort of like a natural energy drink in power form that you add to water. She gave me a box last summer. It didn't really do anything for me, then I started snorting it which gave me a mild-hallucinogenic effect -- so much so that I started talking to my girlfriend's dead German grandmother. The scary thing was that I don't speak a lick of German but I understood everything the ghost told me.
6:22pm... Side Boob Sara
Playmate Sara Underwood
It only take one floor reporter to catch a glance at a side boob and the entire room explodes. I won't mention his name, but this veteran pulled me aside and told me about Sara Underwood's choice of clothing. She's not wearing a bra and when her top slides off her shoulder, there's ample opportunity to catch some side-boob action but you have to go into full on stealth-stalker mode.
I'd rather get side-boob than a nipple slip, but that's just me.
6:44pm... Dinner Break
Recent Eliminations: Pumpkin, Gobboboy, Sugar Bear, and Will Jensen.
By the way, here's some unofficial numbers courtesy of PokerStarsBlog's Twitter feed... "1,125 with 4,400 registered so far."
Play resumes in thirty minutes or 8:15pm PT. In the meantime, check out my archives from the 2010 WSOP.
8:15pm... Official Numbers; No Live for Day 1A
The unofficial official numbers... 1,125 runners for Day 1A. When players returned from break, 907 players remained. 218 players have already dusted off their stacks and contributed over $2 million to the final prize pool. Thanks for your donations and enjoy the food comp.
By the way, those 907 players have returned from dinner break. We will be playing out 1.5 levels. After one two hour level, then players will take a break and return for half of level 5.
8:33pm... Hot Scandi Ass
One girl caught everyone's eye and it wasn't Sara Underwood -- rather it was a railbird named Rachel Nordtomme, otherwise known in the Scandi tabloids as the girlfriend of the Phil Ivey of cross-country skiing, Peter Northug. Good news is that Northug is still in. Bad news is that his girlfriend is AWOL.
9:32pm... Fuck You, I Won't Do What You Tell Me
Sometimes poker media is such a fucking drama club. Jesus fucking Christ. WE ARE ALL SHILLS FOR THE ONLINE POKER INDUSTRY. By the way, play on PokerStars.
All I want to do is tell you the stories that are NOT on the official coverage. Side-boobs. Farting on David Sklansky. Euro coke sluts roaming the hallways. Brokedicks like Eskimo waiting for the UB lounge to open in the morning.
I'm a one-man team with cool and talented friends (Tao All Stars) who help me out from time-to-time so I can tackle other responsibilities and take time off to prep myself for the Main Event -- poker media's equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest.
All I want to do with my life is write. I dunno why I get sucked into this petty bullshit. Which is why I'm glad I ambushed by a bunch of trannies on Day 1A. It's a healthy reminder of what people's real motives are (greed and power) and why I'm here.
I'm not afraid because I'm not here to make money. The people who are trying to intimidate me are only here for that reason. I'm the only person in the room in the press box that doesn't have to be here because they need a job. I'm here because I want to be here. I want to tell you stories about the struggles of humanity using the game of poker and the city of Las Vegas as a backdrop.
Shit, the last thing I wanted to do this morning at 5am was hop into a taxi and go to the airport. I should have been partying it up until noon with the rest of my friends, but I made a conscious choice to return to Las Vegas and cover the WSOP on Tao of Poker. Not out of greed. But out of the pure love of writing and commitment to all of these readers and my friends who have supported me over the years and bought my book. I owe them my best effort and I'm not going to back down to school yard bullying. No one is going to intimidate me into being a sheep cowering in the corner. If I do, I lose all respect for myself.
Sorry for the rant. I returned to the WSOP utterly exhausted, yet inspired and passionate about telling you stories about the Main Event. That's my intentions. To tell you stories. Yet, that makes me a threat. Why? Because I don't care about money and I have nothing to lose. That freaks the fuck out of people because they can't control me.
A fire has been lit under my ass. If this is going to be my last WSOP, then I'm going out blazing.
10:31pm... Last Hour of Play
Recent Eliminations: Andy Black, Mike Caro, Justin Beiber, Ray Ramano, Some fat guy named Sully, Kirill Gerasimov, and David Steicke.
The remaining players in the Amazon Ballroom are one hour away from advancing to Day 2. For many players, that's an achievement in itself, sort of like getting to second base. The mood is a little more tense as the clock ticks down and with every "All in and a call."
I ran into Steven "Cuz" Buckner. He's originally from Brooklyn, NY. One of those old school wise guys who worked in the Hunts Point Market for many moons. Anyway, he's an unknown to the military-industrial-entertainment-online poker-complex, but he's on Tao of Poker's radar. You see, we love old school wise guys from Brooklyn who won't back down to the likes of guys like Mike Matusow who tried to intimidate him. When Matusow jawed at him during a Bellagio tournament, Buckner jawed back.
"Never back down," he told me.
I bumped into Buckner in the hallway. He was super pumped because he had just won his seat into the main event after grinding it out in the satellite room all weekend. He's playing tomorrow and I'm hoping that Buckner makes a deep run because everyone loves wise guys... Godfather, Goodfellas, Sopranos, et al.
11:38pm... WSOP Main Event Day 1A Over; 819 Advance to Day 2A
Recent Eliminations: NBA hoopster Shawn Marion, Beth Shak, T.J. Cloutier, Richard Ashby, and Nikolay Evdakov.
On Day 1A, a total of 1,125 players showed up at the Rio, told that they were "special" and the fought off opening round jitters. This year's record smashed 2009's numbers of 1,116.
Like every single Day 1A of a tournament, the day ended somewhat unceremoniously. Spectators failed to leave the room despite pleas from assistant TD Steve Frezer to do so. You gotta love angle shooters. The security guards shooed out the last of the stragglers as play was completed. Rookies were confused on how to bag their chips. A couple made mistakes and had to sheepishly ask for another bag. The vets bagged and tagged within minutes and bolted out the door to more pressing matters like blackjack, cash games, weed, hookers, buffets, playing online poker, or to rush on home to go back to their regular jobs because they don't have to play again until Friday.
Benjo's future ex-wife
The remaining players from today will return on Friday at noon to play out Day 2A (which includes players who survive flight 1c). Last year, Day 1B was hosted on July 4th, which accounted for the lackluster number of entrants -- an anemic 873 runners.
So who survived?
Players You Might Know Who Advanced to Day 2: Vinny Vinh, Lacey Jones, Owen Crowe, Nordberg, Maria Ho, Matt Glantz, Bobby Baldin, James Akenhead, and the hot chick with the sideboob.Projections from a straw poll in the press box indicted that Day 1B should be around 1,420 or so.
2010 Bracelet Winners: Matt Matros, The Grinder, Steve Jelinek and Dutch Boyd
Players You Should Keep An Eye On: Court Harrington, Jesse Martin, Randal Flowers, Dwyte "The Mayor of the WSOP Circuit" Pilgrim, and Anthony Nardi
Scandis: Petter Northug, Søren Kongsgaard
Brazilians: Felipe Ramos, Andre Akkari
By the way visit WSOP.com for end of Day 1A chip counts.
Photos courtesy of Harper & Benjo.