Las Vegas, NV
Ground Hog's Day. Day 1B of the WSOP Main Event. Same shit, different day, different donks. Ah, I'm just kidding. Only about 20% of the room is donkilicious. The rest are seekers, dreamers, bucket-listers, and true professionals.
So let us begin...
Happy Birthday Phil and the Devil's Symbols
Charlie the floor guy got on the mic and was giving the dealers and floor staff last minute instructions. Once everyone was settled in and had ten pristine 30,000 stacks at the tables, Charlie said, "It's time to let 'em in."
The doors flew open and the first wave of Main Event players flooded into the Amazon Ballroom. They made a bee-line for their seats. No music on the background this time. I always feel that Wagner's Ride of the Valkaryries is appropriate walk-in music.
Before action began, Phil Gordon spoke about his Bad Beat on Cancer project. I gotta say that this is one of the coolest things that came out of the poker boom. Gordon helped raise over $3.3 million from WSOP players who promised to donate 1% of their winnings to cancer research. That doesn't count his vested time and all the money that he spent out of his own pocket. Oh, and it's his 40th birthday today too.
TD Jack Effel wanted to recognize the dealers. Each of them stood up during an awkward moment where the players gave them a lukewarm applause. Anyway, a few dealers were mentioned by name for their outstanding work. Ashley from Denver was named Dealer of the Year which means she gets a year-long prescription for Xanax courtesy of the WSOP.com. Ashley also got the dubious honor of giving the "Shuffle Up and Deal!" tagline.
As soon as she was finished, like clockwork, the Devil, sitting at table 333, stood up and smashed his cymbals. That's his way of trying to awaken the spirits of the underworld. I'm not worried. I have everything I need to propel a zombie attack. We are stocked with machetes and pepper spray in the press box. The machetes are for the zombies. The pepper spray is to put down the hysterical masses.
Welcome back to Zombieland. Day 1B of the WSOP Main Event is off and running.
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.
New Episode of Tao of Pokerati: Day 1B Monkeys
Michalski is AWOL. Again. Oh well, luckily Benjo stepped in for him while we recorded a quick episode at the start of Day 1B
Episode 50: Day 1B Monkeys with Benjo - The crew in the press box cannot contain heir excitement for the Main Event during the pre-game rules announcements. At some point Jamie Gold and monkeys come into play. Don't ask why. Just listen.Listen to more episodes at the Tao of Pokerati Archives.
By the way, Jamie Gold, the 2006 WSOP Champion, is seated at one of the tertiary tables in front of the pressbox. TO his left is John Kalmar, the British punk-rocker who made the final table when Jerry Yang won the Main Event. Gold drew the attention of an ESPN camera crew. Greg Raymer sat at the same table yesterday and Fossilman busted within the first level.
The World Cup semi-final game aired on one of the flat screens near the press box. It began at 11:30am while I was doing prep work and my French colleagues were also keeping an eye on the game. I have a few cronies in the Dutch media who were noticeably absent at the start of Day 2 and I don't blame them. This is an important match for them. I don't think they have ever played in a World Cup final since the 1970s, so they were in the process of making history if they could beat Uruguay. I picked Uruguay as one of my sleepers and dark horses, but it looks I should have went with the Orange Crush and the Dutchies. I placed a wager on today's game...nothing huge, enough to get my beak wet and keep things interesting. Anyway, tomorrow is gonna be huge with Spain-Germany's semi-final match up. I got an overall big bet on Spain, so I might hedge tomorrow.
Anyway, when the NBA finals were on, everyone was sweating Phil Ivey who was sweating the game. For the World Cup, it's a lot more random with at least one player per table constantly shifting in their chair to get a good view of the game, not to mention the few spectators who are more interested in the match than the yawn-inducing poker going on inside the ropes.
"Last night the Devil asked the floor guy how much he was allowed to berate the dealer without getting a penalty," said BJ Nemeth.
The fact that he asked meant that he was going to push the elasticity of the rule. The Devil is a weird cat. He wanders around looking at table numbers and lurks in the shadows. He whispers to our lost souls on nights when the Las Vegas demons get a little too close to the Strip. He's also tough to photograph. He can't be looking right at you, otherwise he blurs the photo. You have to catch him when he's not looking or in the middle of one of his trances.
Mercdawg from Part Time Poker mentioned that one of the dealers at the Devil's table asked to be taken off ASAP. The words "explosive" and "projectile" were mentioned in passing. What the hell is going on there? Is he gonna start spewing pea soup?
The White Section Report - Breaking Tables in Pavilion
38 tables were set up inside the Pavilion, which almost filled up one quadrant in that room. Yesterday, 18 tables were used so add a quick 180 players to yesterdays total which pushed the number of runners over 1,400. Registration is open until the beginning of level 3 so you still have time to get into today's event if you can scrounge up the rest of the $10,000 buy-in. Heck, you only need half the buy-in and a little gamble in ya -- go to the roulette tables with 5K and bet it all on black.
Anyway, here's my quick update...
- The loudest players in the area were Bobby Bellande and Robert Williamson III. RW3 was holding court at his table. Seriously, he was the only one speaking and everyone was attentively listening. RW3 was also sporting some serious bling.
- A hungover-looking Mike Wattel was in the middle of a deep massage. You know you're having a bad day when you're ordering a massage first thing out.
- Perry Friedman was going for an Uncle Sam look today with his choice of hat. Speaking of hats, what's with all the wool hipster hats at the tables? I mean, I know it can get chilly at times. But for someone with an exposed bald spot, I have never gotten that cold that I needed to cover up my head. So it begs the question -- who the hell is stupid enough to wear a fucking wool hat when it's 100 degrees outside. The answer -- fashion conscious tools. That's who.
- Action Dan Harrington was titillating ESPN's camera crew by eating a candy bar. I stood on the rail for three minutes while the crew clocked his every move -- well, his every bite. I couldn't tell if it was a cereal bar or a Three Musketeers. Yep, that's as much Action you'd get with Action Dan.
- And yes, when I arrived inside Pavilion, the first table was in the middle of being busted. DonkeyBomber's table was next which sucked for him because he had an entire ESPN film crew to himself. When his table broke, the crew remained in the Pav. DonkeyBomber made the trek from the Pav into the Amazon Ballroom, but he'll be easy to find because he's wearing a Loudmouth Golf blazer. It's very colorful, so colorful that I'm getting flashbacks from Grateful Dead's Spring 93 tour.
Arnaud Matterm = Busto
Frenchman Arnaud Mattern is one of the pros that I've befriended over the years. I covered him many moons ago on the EPT and the guy can play. He was also one of the pros that Benjo worked with at Winamax, before he became one of the sponsored pros for PokerStars Team France.
I'm kissing Mattern's ass because he was the first pro to buy a copy of Lost Vegas. He wanted a copy in English, but he also promised to read it in French once Benjo was done with the translation. Mattern and I have a lot in common with regarding to writing about strippers. Check out this post he penned titled The Stripper Astrologer. It originally appeared in French but here's the Google translation.
Mattern busted his ankle a couple of weeks ago in a competitive high-stakes tennis match with a couple of other French pros. Since then, he's been hobbling around on crutches with a hardcast. He mentioned that the hospital gave him pain medication, but it was too strong. I told him that's I'd glady take it off his hands. Magic pills like that can transform a tilt-heavy day in the pressbox to the 4th of Fucking July. Fireworks and laser shows.
Mattern tried a scooter to get him around, but didn't like it because it wasn't fast enough. I told him to go up to North Las Vegas and find someone who can pimp out his ride and give him a nitrous boost. Alas, he'll have to hobble around for a little while longer.
Mattern was one of the first named pros to bust out on Day 1B. On a positive note, most pros get super pissed when they bust, but Mattern stopped by the pressbox to chat with the French media and to ask me for a book.
The Orange Section Report - Golden Railbird
I headed over to the Orange tables to survey the scene. The reporters assigned to the section said the same thing, "Boring. Nothing to report." Alas, they were partially correct. Here's what I got...
- You can spot the Dutch soccer fans in the Amazon Ballroom because they are wearing bright orange t-shirts. A couple of them were actually in the orange section.
- Jen Tilly drew most of the attention in the this section. Cameras always flock to her and an ESPN crew hovered over her at all times. She was looking especially booblicious today. As one reporter said, "You can see her cleavage from 10 miles away."
- A random spectator walked inside the ropes to take a photo with her tiny digital camera. I guess everyone let her do her business because she was wearing tight yellow pants.
- I stood on the rail looking for familiar faces when a player with his back to me quickly turned and unleashed a sneeze. Unfortunately for me, he turned around and sneeze on me. He apologized, but the damage was done. If I get the bird flu, it's because of that fucker.
- Norwegian pro Johnny Lodden is playing today. He's a fucking kamikaze on Day 1s. He'll either end Day 1A as the chipleader or bust out in the next level. He's an all or none kind of guy.
- Jamie Gold's mother sat in the orange section. While I was sweating her table, an old lady walked right up to me and tried to squeeze into a one-inch space that separated the rail and myself. She didn't say anything and had her back to me as she tried to box me out. I cleared my voice with a loud "Ahhhh-hem." She turned around and said that I was in her way. Life is funny like that. I'm at work, yet I'm in the way of spectators. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
- A few moments after I jotted down the above note, I saw Jamie Gold standing next to me. He was talking to his mom who appeared to be consoling him. He had just busted and went over to rail his mom. Jamie and I chatted for a bit and he mentioned that this was only the second event that he's played this summer. I looked up an noticed that ESPN's cameras were capturing our chat about reality TV projects.
- The Devil was seated at an adjacent table near Jamie Gold's mother. He had some sort of white board underneath his chair. I wonder what the fuck he was going to write on it. Otis wandered by and suggested that the Devil had a "kill list." My theory was that he was making lists of "souls to take" later that evening. Maybe the Devil is not really the Devil, but rather the Grim Reaper?
- Erick Lindgren sat a table with a Jesus Ferguson doppelganger. Full Tilt should hire that guy to pretend to be Jesus when the shit gets too hot and the federales decide to raid the Rio.
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.
Click here to purchase!
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Recent Eliminations: Arnaud Mattern, Rafe Furst, Liv Boeree (no longer sponsored by UB), Mark Seif, Dan Shak, Sam Stein, and Jamie Gold.
The Red Section Report - Toy Story
Here it is... dispatches from the Red section.
- The toy guy is fucking odd. I dunno what to make of it.
"You know about the creepy toy guy?"
"You mean the guy with the wizard hat?"
"Yeah, he has an entire chest of toys with him that he keeps taking out and putting away. It's just creepy."
Old guys with chest of toys? That sounds like something you'd see on To Catch a Predator. OK, so he might be creepy, but he's really a nice guy. The Toy Guy is his real nickname. He even has a red baseball hat with "The Toy Guy" in quotes on the front. He likes to switch out hats and toys in an attempt to tilt his opponents. I dunno if it's working, but at the least, it's given photographers something to take photos about.
- John Kalmar is rocking orange sunglasses and a punk band t-shirt for The Adicts. If you don't know your British punk history, I'll clue you in. The Adicts were formed in the mid-70s in Ipswich (also the hometown of PokerStars' Simon Young). They used to dress up like the freaks in A Clockwork Orange. Man, I would have loved to caught one of their shows in a random English pub in the 1970s. Wanna talk about tough? If you can survive a punk concert in the UK in the 70s with all of the fistfights, bloody noses, headbutts, spitting on the bass player, and dodging all of the flying bottles -- that gives you instant street cred.
- Julien Brecard, one of the Frenchies who went deep last summer, is sporting a Boston Celtics warm up jacket. He supposedly loves the Celtics. "I hope you won't be upset with me," joked Julien. "I know you love the Lakers." I told him that although I live in LA (and I had bet on the Lakers against the Celtics in the final game), I was a die-hard Knicks fan. Speaking of Knicks, I spotted a tall dude in the hallway who was a dead ringer for former NY Knick center Chris Dudley. He was an oafish white dude who went to Yale (I'm not 100% on that and too lazy to check Google). Dudley was one of the worst free throw shooters in the history of the NBA. Wonder if it was him?
Official numbers have been released...
Day 1A: 1,125
Day 1B: 1,489
The first two flights have 2,614. Day 1C and Day 1D should attract at least 2,000 each day.
Won't Be Coming Back After Dinner
Recent Eliminations: Jeremiah Smith, ZeeJustin, Erick Lindgren, Brandon Adams, ElkY, Gank, Darus Suharto, Ashton Griffin, John D'Agostino, Robert Williamson III, LAPT Argentina champ Benny Spindler, and Jen Tilly.
New Episode of Tao of Pokerati - Welcome to the Tao of Schmoozarati
Episode 51: Welcome to the Tao of Schmoozarati - Pauly was shocked to find Dan hanging out in the press box during the Main Event. Pauly gives him guff for schmoozing with everyone, while Dan vehemently denies everything.
Episode 52: Phreindly Lost Vegas Update - During the last few minutes of the dinner break, Dan asks Pauly about the first week of sales for Lost Vegas. And then out of nowhere, a familiar song begins to play over the sound system and a few of the dealers get a little giddy.
Listen to more episodes at the Tao of Pokerati Archives.
The Blue Section Report - The Life of Laak
I wandered over to the Blue section and did not have time to check out everything over there, so I'll have to return in a little bit. Anyway, here's what I discovered...
- Shaniac, Maridu, and Robert Iler (who played AJ in The Sopranos) were all at the same table. Shaniac played almost every hand and Iler needs a haircut. On the dinner break, a Vespa whizzed by me in the parking lot driven by Maridu with her boyfriend David "Bakes" Baker in the back.
- A couple of friends from Europe were in the Blue section and I finally had a chance to check up on them. My Russian buddy, Ilya G, was in the far corner. He's trying to go deep again. It's hard to miss Anguila (aka The Eel) with his patented scarf wrapped around his neck. The Spanish pro bubbled off one final table this year and who knows...maybe this is his year to go deep in the Main Event?
- I stopped by Flipchip's area and chatted with him while he uploaded pictures. I made a wise ass remark about one player who reminded me of The Joker from Batman. "She looks like evil," said Flipchip who struggled to find a photo to soften her up.
- Another tough table that I saw featured Ludovic Lacay, Lucky Chewey, David Plastik, and that Finnish wook who went deep last year.
- Eric Schoenberg waved at me. Just when I was having an existentialist crisis...life finally had meaning.
- Phil Laak had a perpetual camera crew on him. As Flipchip said, "Laak is the only player with life in him in this section."
Featured Tables Update - The Gavin Smith Show and Annette15 Struggling
I have been running around so much that I finally had an opportunity to watch both the secondary beef jerky table and the featured TV from high up in the beef jerky lounge. Annette15 was out on the beef jerky table and she had a couple of very curious fans on the rail in addition to an odd stalker or two. Annette has been struggling most of today. "Where all those donks? I heard about?" she wondered on Twitter.
Over underneath the bright lights of the featured table, bracelet winner Gavin Smith held court. That area was so exciting that one spectator was napping in the stands. Who said Day 1s were boring?
Scandi Walking; Annette15 Busto
I passed Annette15 in the hallway with a glum look on her face. She was walking out which only meant one thing -- she was busto from the Main Event. I'll write a little more about Annette15 for my end of Day recap.
Recent Eliminations: Annette15, Joe Sebok, Sebastian Ruthenberg, The Camel, Alec Torelli, Craig Marquis, and JC Alvarado.
Day 1B Complete
1,489 players entered today's flight. Over 420 met their fate on Day 1B. 1,017 plares remain.
In the immortal words of Benjo, "So yeah, a bunch of people busted out from a poker tournament today. Some others did not. And that's it for my Day 1B recap."
Get official end of Day chipcounts here.