Sunday, July 06, 2008

2008 WSOP Day 37: Main Event Day 1C and the Tao of Five with Flipchip

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

It felt like Ground Hog's Day. The third Day 1. 38th day in a row. My brain is/was/is/was fried. Anyway, the biggest field showed up so far at the WSOP world championship and when action ended on Day 1c, Harrahs dodged a bullet and got more entrants signed up than last year with one more flight to go.

I could do a recap but just read the blog from Day 1c. It's better than anything I can whip up.

Iggy survived the 1,928 person field and advanced to Day 2. Plenty of hot chicas that I know all played... such as Liz Lieu, Lacey Jones, Michele Lewis, Tiffany Michelle, Isabelle Mercier, and Kara Scott.

Liz... (courtesy of

* * * * *

On Day 1c, I spent a lot of time with Flipchip talking about a variety of topics. I recorded some of our conversation and decided to use excerpts for a new installment of Tao of Five.

Flipchip has been photographing the WSOP for over three decades. I have been working with him since 2005 and he's known around town as the best in the business.
How did you get into photography?

Flipchip: I liked it when I was a kid. I hauled around my grandmother's Browning and took pictures of things other than relatives which labeled me as weird. When I served in Vietnam, the military is when I saw my first real camera. A Nikon OM1. I hardly knew which way to point it. They gave it to me. They needed photos of dead people and I just happened to be standing there. I ended up with the camera and the film. I went out and took the pictures. If there wasn't any dead people, we'd fake it. We'd have people act dead. It was like being in a movie. I was like a movie director. 'OK, you guys lie down.'

I took photos of dead people. On both sides. I figured those (photos) were used for propaganda. We were so confused we really had no idea anything what was going on. We knew that the country hated us. When I came home I was told not to wear my uniform and not to go to a civilian church. When we got to the airport, people would spit on us. We got to fight in one of the big mistakes. America doesn't like losers. That's the sad part. Nobody likes losers.

Can you capture the essence of humanity with your camera?

Flipchip: Anyone who has played in any poker tournament knows that feeling the moment you find out you're out. You're empty. The world is over. You don't want to walk out, you want to run out. You want to disappear. We see all that heartbreak. That's what I try to do with the camera. I try to capture that look of the moment that they know it's over for this year. The dream is gone. The life has gone from the eyes. I do that every time I hear an "All in and a call!" I can get one of those photos of the light going out. I do about a thousand photos a day or more during the WSOP. We get 54 winners photos and 30,000 loser photos.

From up here in the press box, as you look out into the sea of players on Day 1c, what are you thinking?

Flipchip: You see all these thousands of people in the Amazon room, pick out a face and ask them where hey got an extra $10,000 in this economy to come over here to play cards. I look at these average joes and wonder where the hell they got the money to play in the WSOP? Anyone who knows anything about stats and fall out rates and dead money knows that you have slighter better odds than buying a lottery ticket. Here, there are some people would couldn't win it if you gave them a seat at the final table.

What's one of the biggest differences of the WSOP from twenty and thirty years ago?

Flipchip: Back in the 1980s every table was a killer table. You knew everybody there. There would be a few rich guys, mostly Texans, that would come and tell you right up front, 'I know that I can't win it. But I can go home and say that I sat next to Doyle Brunson and TJ and I won a pot from them...' They paid to have that memory and have those bragging rights.

In the 1970s and the 1980s it was about poker. Now today, it's about sponsorship money and a hundred million dollars to the corporations. They turned the WSOP into a huge profit center. It's no longer about poker or the player. It's about the corporate branding of the WSOP. That's kinda sad to see it happen. I guess in today's world it had to happen in order to survive. Well it's also good for us, because without that we would not have a job. It's blood money, very much so.

What was the difference between the mob that used to run Vegas or the suits in corporations who run it now?

Flipchip: When the mob ran the joint, and the joint means 'the town', we had a lot less potholes. It was really easy to get a comped meal. You didn't need to have players cards or prove you've done whatever. You just had to have juice. Jucie meaning that you knew someone named Dominic. We all know a Dominic around here. I know two or three. That was like your golden ticket. It would get you free food, it would get you free rooms, it would get you whatever you wanted.

They had a very direct way of dealing with things around here. They're business methods are very successful and they're very blunt and direct. If you screw up with those guys they break your arms or kill you. I thought it was better then. Las Vegas was a better place.

The downfall of Las Vegas, and there are lots of reason, but Howard Hughes was one. He came to town with the idea of cleaning it up. He ran out the guys that we knew were crooks and bad guys and they were part of the landscape. He brought in his set of crooks. The only different was that they were suits and you didn't know they were crooks. I prefer the guys with the baseball bats. They got more things done and were more fun to be around. They had lots of great stories of the old days.

But the new Vegas is a world spectacle. It's worth coming here to see this marvelous thing that people have built in the dessert.
Don't forget to check out Flipchip's photos.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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