It’s the third starting flight of what is apparently the greatest poker tournament in the world. I use the word apparently because I have never been fortunate enough to play in it. Despite the professional poker players continually telling me that it’s the softest event of the year, I seem to hit a brick wall everytime I consider spending $10k to play in a poker event. Not owning $10k is the brick wall that holds the matted blood.
But even from the retrospective view of the quill, the event still does something for me. It’s different from any other event I have experienced, and it creates a different sort of energy. One young man who was enveloped in spellbinding energy during yesterday’s action was Daniel Cates; the online battering ram known as The Jungleman finished Day 1B with 198,425 in chips. In fact, only Clement Tripodi bagged more with the Frenchman ending the combined first two starting flights as the early chip leader with 207,500 chips. All the Jungleman had to do was to increase the size of his value bets and the poker writers of the world would have a much better range of titles to choose from when writing about yesterday’s shenanigans.
Shame on you Cates…shame on you.
Moving on to the third and final starting flight and the place is absolutely packed. Registration has ended and the final numbers are being crunched, but I think around 3,466 players have turned up to pay $10k for their shot at glory. With 943 players turning up on Day 1A, 1,942 doing the same yesterday we have a total field size that’s going to be a few numbers either side of 6,352 players.
If that figure stands true then it will be the third successive year that numbers are down. So what does that mean? It just means that fewer people have a spare $10k lying around to spew on a poker tournament and there are fewer people buying action than in the past. Or maybe people are just fed up with doing their nuts each year and have decided instead to use $10k to buy something more practical like a car or a handbag.
Walking around the Amazon it’s great to see the Main Event still has the ability to lure the autograph hunters over to the Rio. The rails are packed, which is the direct opposite of the mother ship. It’s dark and lonely, and I imagine it’s what the bridge of the Starship Enterprise would look like if Spock forgets to pay the electric bill. The ESPN Sideline Reporter, Kara Scott, is in the midst of the darkness. She is huddled with her crew going through preparations. The heels are back at the hotel. Today, comfort overrides glamour, but she still manages to shine like a pearl in a shit filled oyster.
Moving past the chunky security guard stood picking his nose, there is a host of waiters buzzing around the players like bees on pollen. Some of these people must have biceps like Arnie. During a game, the other day, I was told that these guys make six figures running back and fore to the bar to hand drinks out. That’s means they are earning more money than 50% of the poker players I know.
I get crushed in the break. I’m trying to grab the attention of Daniel Negreanu but I’m just not cool enough to catch his eye. Instead I am swept into the hallway by a sea of pessimists, all talking about their bad beats. The guy in front of me drops $10 and a pack of cigarettes. He picks up his tabs and leaves the $10 behind, obviously, not a cool move to pick up the $10. Someone will have it though – probably me on my way back.
There are fake boobs everywhere in this corridor; tiny little girls who would fall over if I nudged them. Actually, they would probably bounce back up again.
Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.
They are all selling things from the sidelines and the movement of the crowd is akin to a car crash on the freeway as everyone slows down to see if they can catch the glimpse of a stray nipple.
“What is the WSOP anyway?” Asks an elderly female tourist.
“I think it’s a card game.” Replies what appears to be her husband.
“Like poker?” She replies.
“Just like poker.” He replies.
The doors of the Amazon, Brasilia and Pavilion open wide, the sea empties and the mammary glands head outside for a little heat. I walk into the Pavilion and the energy is different to that of the Amazon. I can’t help get the feeling that people who end up in the Pavilion think they must have done something wrong. That playing in the Pavilion is a penalty for not being any good. Some of them are even wearing dunce’s hats. Except, in the land of the Stars and Stripes they call them Stetsons. Am I the only person who thinks that a guy wearing a Stetson whilst flicking a toothpick between his teeth just looks like a twat?
Depressed I head over to Brasilia, different vibe over here, and much better energy. The stage is empty and will remain empty for the rest of the tournament. There are no more bracelets to give out. Jack Effel might as well pack up and go home. Photos of the winners at this year’s series surround the stage. The stand out achievements for me are Chad Holloway, Athanasios Polychronopoulos, Tom Schneider, Davidi Kitai, Ken Lind, Erick Lindgren, Michael Gathy, Loni Harwood and the three Brits Matt Perrins, Barny Boatman and Matthew Ashton; each with a completely unique and compelling story.
So that’s my aimless stroll around the cavernous poker halls of the Rio on Day 1C. For those of you who care about poker I had better tell you that Jonathan Driscoll is the chip leader with 140k. Freddy Deeb has 126k, Michael Mizrachi has 110k and the recent Bet Raise Fold producer Jay Rozenkrantz has 90k.