Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 WSOP Day 1: The Cold Open

By Pauly
Las Vegas

For some reason, I can recite the opening sentences to many of my favorite novels...
"The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new." - Murphy by Samuel Beckett

"I am a sick man... I am a spiteful man." - Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky

"A screaming comes across the sky." Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

"Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting." - The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." - Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Those were just five lines off the top of my head. Even if you haven't read Charles Dickens, you probably know that one of his novels, A Tale of Two Cities starts off with... "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But not too many of you know the rest of the opening line...
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."
Dickens could be writing about Las Vegas and the crossroad that the poker industry has reached at the onset of the 2010 World Series of Poker. But isn't that the case every year? Some hopes fulfilled, most dreams crushed.

Day 1 should have been a bright day celebrating the beginning of the summer poker festivities, including Day 1 of the prestigious Players Championship in Event #2 $50,000 8-Game Mix. However, most of the whispers and gossip originating in the shadows of the Amazon ballroom involved the potential appearance (or omission) of Jesus Ferguson and Howard Lederer in the 50K. Neither of the two, rumored to be on the DOJ's most wanted list, had showed up during the opening levels. The 50K event started at 5pm, and players went on a dinner break after two levels or around 8:30 or so. Both Jesus and Lederer took advantage of late registration policy and stealthily joined the field after dinner.

NASCAR is popular because so many of the spectators are hoping for a wreck. And I know some people at home (even a few news-thirsty outlets inside the Rio) who were kinda hoping that the DOJ would execute a COPS-like sensationalized raid by the federales in SWAT gear. I had some friends who wanted to bet whether or not the DOJ drags out some of the Full Tilters out in handcuffs in the longest perp walk in history down the lengthy hallway of the Rio's convention center while everyone channels their inner Scorsese and chasing the frenzied mob.

Photo by Matt Waldron
Lederer: "I'm not worried. I'm playing poker, a game of skill. Besides, I just hired Alan Dershowitz as my counsel."

The G: "Whatever mate. They don't let you ride tricycles in prison. Umm... massage girl, can you rub my buttocks now?"
In case you were wondering, the DOJ were absent on Day 1... at least, no known agents. Who knows which folks on the rail could have been spies or undercover agents? That sort of uncertainty has to make everyone involved a tad paranoid.

In America these days... you just don't know who you can trust. Which one of your friends, family or co-workers is going to rat you out for your political leanings or proclivities to hobbies that involve offshore bank accounts. So, you never know who's working for the DOJ, FBI, IRS, CIA -- which is why you should be suspicious of everyone you meet.

Shit, whenever I go to Latin America to cover a tournament, someone invariably accuses me of working for the CIA... because reporters, writers, journalists are perfect covers for spies because they can ask lots of questions, interview people, collect data, snap video and photos without anyone questioning their intentions. That fact makes me even more paranoid that there's like a 17% chance that someone in the media is not who they claim to be. Just the other day, one of my colleagues thinks that someone broke into his apartment and bugged it. I told him he was just experiencing paranoid hallucinations from his speed addiction, but he felt otherwise.

Maybe he's right? I'm gonna be looking over my shoulder all the time now. As the Nirvana song says (as I quoted dozens of times before)... just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you.

* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 1...

I could write something about the lack of respect for Event #1 Casino Employees event, but whatever I say won't be as good as what I wrote last year. Check out... No Respect.

The "inaugural" $50,000 Mixed 8-Game Players Championship drew 116 players. Only 6 busted on the first day which included durrrr and Dan Shak, who took down Gigli honors. My anonymous source at Harrah's said that 118 runners were predicted by WSOP staff. How the hell did they come up with that number? And holy shit that was close. I had won a bet that the field would be under 150. In a different wager, I had picked 141 in one prop bet and I'm think that was a pretty retarded thing to do. Numbers fell way below the average media rep's expectations for a televised event. And technically, the numbers fell below the WSOP's original estimation.

Doyle Brunson kicked off Event #2 with "Shuffle up and deal" honors, but not before the WSOP aired a short tribute film to Chip Reese that was bookended by clips from interviews taken from what looked like almost a decade ago. One of Reese's comments stood out -- something to the effect that all poker players are living on the edge and they feel the pain of losing even if it's at lower stakes. Brunson also reiterated that Reese was the best player he ever played against. David Bach, the defending Players Champion (who had won $50K HORSE last summer in a marathon final table), only said a few words and said that it was a true honor to have his name engraved on his trophy.

Ivey paying more attention to the NBA playoffs
(Photo by Matt Waldron)

A couple of degen bettors had their eyes on the NBA playoff game between Orlando and Boston. Matt Waldron mentioned that old Texas Dolly looked super pissed when Orlando was down by a lot in the first half. Meanwhile, Ivey kept his crazy eyes on the score. I couldn't tell which side he had. Once the game ended, both players seemed more relaxed like they could finally focus on playing poker.

One table in the 50K Mixed 8-Game had marked cards that were pulled out of play. My source revealed that the 2,3, and 7 cards were the ones specifically marked (for Deuce to Seven, obviously someone was seeking an edge). Note to players... if you think the deck is marked, politely inform the dealer who will notify the floor.

1am on Friday is when the freaks come out to play. A whiskey tango drunken chick in tight white shorts was seated on a chair on the rail in between two of the corner tables. She had been making cat calls at Jason Mercier. She even yelled over to Phil Hellmuth's table a few times. When the evening ended, Benjo and I spotted a multiple bracelet winner chatting up one of the whiskey tango girls' soused friends.

I saw the Devil on the rail at 2am. If you don't know, a guy that Otis swears is the devil torments him every summer. He usually wore a black leather jacket and had long hair. He could have been Jesus' brother, except that the Devil was clean shaven. Anyway, I hid my press badge and embedded myself with railbirds. I tried to get within ear shot of the Devil as he chatted with a plump guy in a Hawaiian shirt. They were discussing staking/baking deals before their conversation veered off into environmental disasters and the huge oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. At that point, I was convinced that the Devil was the one who caused the leak so I said a Hail Mary in Latin and got the hell out of there.

After I evaded the Devil, the next spot I stood on the rail reeked like potent marijuana. Good shit too of the Northern California medicinal variety. I wondered if the batch belonged to one of the players. I knew it wasn't me, but I couldn't pinpoint which railbird was holding. Benjo smelled the same thing and he informed Change100, who quickly launched her own investigation. She quickly fingered the culprit -- a dude wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt. Cliches are funny, until they get arrested for fulfilling said cliche, and then it becomes sad and ironic.

I took a couple of random twit pics, including the stage in the Pavilion that is housing the newly designed bracelets. Here's a photo that Flipchip took...

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@taopauly).


  1. Latin America might be okay... Just never go hiking along the Iran border as a writer or journalist.

  2. newinnov4:16 PM

    Keep up the great work; my primary source of info for the WSOP 2010.

  3. pmk-one6:47 PM

    I will be there in three hours but these posts make it alive now!