Have only really explored this one corner where the Press Box is located thus far, but it does appear as though every table in the room (around 165, I think) is filled with players. There are also tables set up for Event No. 2 over in the Tropicana Room as well as out front of Buzio’s, a seafood place down the hall. At the moment (12:20 p.m.), the board says 3,449 players have entered thus far. I just overheard an official explain to a player that it will not be known how many are officially entered in the event until tomorrow.
Just after play began, the long line of spectators I walked past a few moments ago were allowed to enter and watch. Each section of tables is roped off, of course, so they cannot actually mingle in between the tables as do the field reporters, video crews, and other media. But they are close, not more than a foot away from the tables on the outside edges.
Gonna wander a bit, I think, and be back with more in a little while. Will just be updating this post for a while -- rather than creating new ones -- each time I have something new.
12:54 p.m.: Just made a quick tour of the room. Lots of unfamilar faces, as you might imagine. Whereas yesterday every table had at least one and sometimes four or five known players (for Event No. 1, the World Championship Pot-Limit Hold’em event), it is not at all unusual here to walk past several consecutive tables without knowing anyone.
There are quite a few big-timers here, too, though, who didn’t want to miss out on all the dead money in the room. Confirmed for a field reporter that yes, indeed, that’s Jeff Madsen over at Table #43. Ended up running some names of other players back to the bloggers. During this early stage of an event, the bloggers are writing a lot of posts that just pass along names of recognizable players entered in the event.
Was pleased to have been useful there. I’m off, technically speaking, but definitely glad to be able to help out if needed. Have the feeling, though, that I probably won’t be coming in on my days off once the grind truly begins for me.
1:56 p.m.: Just had the pleasure of meeting Michele Lewis, who is sitting next to Pauly in the row behind me. Pauly asked me whether I was going to play in Saturdays with Pauly, his weekly PLO tourney on PokerStars (which began at 1:20 p.m., Vegas time). Was tempted, but decided against it. Maybe once I’ve seen a few dozen of these tournaments I’ll feel comfortable enough to jump in an online tourney while the live one goes on before me. Not today, though.
The Media Press Box is a two-level raised platform, providing a nice vantage point from which one can see the room. From my location, I can probably see about 35-40 tables, and can also make out faces at the farthest ones. Can only really follow the action on the tables situated nearest to where I sit and type, but it isn’t difficult to hop down and walk around to get a better look, if I wished to do so.
For example, a little while ago I walked over to Table Orange #18, where I found a very relaxed-looking Ted Forrest leaning forward, head resting on his elbows, while he received a massage. I decided to stay and watch a few hands.
This was the middle of Level 2, with the blinds at 100/200. The starting stacks today were 3,000, so there are already players whose shorter stacks have them in a potentially uncomfortable spot.
In the first hand, Forrest was in the big blind. A player in middle position raised to 300, and everyone folded, giving him the blinds.
In the second hand, an early position player raised to 300, the button thought about ten seconds and called, Forrest folded from the SB, and the BB called. “Three players,” said the dealer, who burned and dealt a flop of . The early position player (the raiser) bet a single blue 100-chip. The button and BB both folded, and he took the 950-chip pot.
In the third hand, the table folded (hastily, it seemed) to Forrest’s button, but he folded as well. The SB raised to 250, and the BB went away.
I decided to go away, too, as I didn’t want the table to start becoming aware of me following their action. After I came back to my seat, a couple of field reporters came over to chat for a brief moment. Each is covering twelve tables, and each has only two name players among the hundred or so they are watching. In one case, those two players -- Erik Seidel and Kido Pham -- are sitting right next to each other here at Table Orange #21. He doesn’t want them to feel like he’s hovering too much, but I don’t think he has anything to worry about. They know and understand why he’s there.
We’re getting close to the end of Level 2 and the first break, in anticipation of which they have just started herding the spectators out of the Amazon Room. Not sure how many have busted to this point, though I see PokerNews is reporting a few big names have already hit the rail, including Freddy Deeb, Tom Schneider, Daniel Negreanu, and Hevad Khan.
They are making announcements over in the far corner of the room regarding the seating of the 70 remaining players in Event No. 1, which should be resuming shortly. Things continue to appear to be moving along smoothly, following yesterday’s successful launch. Once they get started, I’ll try to get over there and get a look.
3:23 p.m.: Just now got to meet Nolan Dalla, co-author of One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey “The Kid” Ungar and WSOP Media Director, and we had a brief and friendly chat. B.J. Nemeth tells me that Jason “Spaceman” Kirk is here and looking for me. Coincidentally, Pokerlistings just posted the first part of Spaceman’s interview with Dalla a little while ago.
Just overheard Dalla telling someone as of right now 3,504 total entrants have registered for Event No. 2. The PokerBlog tells us that’s a new WSOP record for a non-Main Event tournament, breaking last year’s high of 3,151 for Event No. 49. And of course there’s another Day One for this event tomorrow, so more could show up then as well.
I took a walk to check out Day 2 of the World Championship Pot-Limit Hold’em event. Lots of gawkers gathered around the roped-off corner of the Amazon Room where the remaining 60 or so players are gathered around seven tables. I edged my way through the crowd and through the opening allowing entrance into the playing area.
Even with the onlookers being three and four deep around the tables’ perimeter, there’s definitely a more intimate feel over there than what we’re seeing in the rest of the Amazon. Since there are so few tables, you don’t have a lot of criss-crossing traffic constantly going on like you do elsewhere. Besides the media folk, out here you’ve got activity all around, with waiters and waitresses, massage therapists, and players just stretching their legs all constantly passing to and fro. Over there it is quiet. Sober. Intense.
Lots of stars left in the field, by the way -- Jesus, Bloch, Elezra, Antonius, Benyamine, Brenes, Chen, Harman, Liebert, Sexton, just to name a few. And like I say, they’re focused. Nearly $800,000 for first prize in this one. Decent chunk of change, that.
I didn’t spend very long inside the ropes. No need for me to be over there, really. Indeed, we’re getting close to the point in the tourney where just about every major happening in Event No. 1 can be chronicled by PokerNews.
Am changing the time stamp on this post with each addition. I should mention that is Eastern time down there. Can’t change that without it changing the times throughout the blog. Is getting on toward late afternoon here. I think I might duck out to grab something to eat, then come back over later, perhaps in the early evening. Go to PokerNews Live Reporting to see the latest. Be back later.
7:19 p.m.: Spent the afternoon getting some grub and relaxing. Now I’m back at the Rio in the Amazon Room where both of the events going on today are currently on break.
Event No. 1, the World Championship Pot-Limit Hold’em event ($10,000 buy-in) is on a twenty-minute break. They’re on the cash bubble, down to 37, and playing hand-for-hand. One more elimination and everyone left will cash. They’ll be playing down to the final nine tonight, so they have some poker left to go. Event No. 2, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event, is on their dinner break. They’ve played six levels so far; when they return the blinds will be 300/600 with a 75-chip ante. They plan to play either four more one-hour levels or down to 225 players, whichever comes first. Likely going to be the latter, as players are dropping fairly rapidly. I’d guess they’ll be wrapping up somewhere around midnight.
When I first came in I thought about setting up in the media room, located next to the Amazon Room, a relatively serene environment replete with tables, ethernet jacks, and other info useful to those reporting, such as the 2008 WSOP Media Kit. Decided instead to resume my spot in the Media Press Box. A bit more cacophonous, but you have a better chance of seeing people out here and, besides, you feel more like part of the action when you’re in the same room.
Got to meet Gary Wise of ESPN, Bluff, and Wise Hand Poker who has also set up shop in the Box this evening. We talked about his podcast, the poker media, and Des Wilson’s Ghosts at the Table. I’d read Ghosts not too long ago, he’d interviewed Wilson recently for his podcast, and we both agreed it’s a worthwhile book that contributes fairly significantly to poker history writing. Before we parted, Wise offered the WSOP rookie some advice about covering the Series, in particular advising me not to be shy about approaching the “stars” of the poker world when necessary.
Think I’ll head over to that far corner to see if I can witness the Event No. 1 bubble burst. I don’t believe I’m going to stay too long into the evening -- probably just another hour or so. So at least one more report today.
8:08 p.m.: The Event No. 1 bubble has burst.
Made it over there in time to see a big pot brewing between chip leader Eli Elezra and Vivek Rajkumar. Elezra ended up rivering a queen-high diamond flush, taking about half of Rajkumar’s stack. Elezra now has 670,000 or so, a quarter million more than his nearest competitor.
They were playing hand-for-hand, so several of the remaining players from the other four tables had gotten up and were standing alongside the reporters watching the action unfold. There was Kathy Liebert, in a pink cap and pink shirt, one of two remaining women in the tourney (the other is Jerri Thomas), leaning over to get a glimpse of that diamond on the river. Patrik Antonius was standing over to the side, wearing a black zippered jacket and jeans with holes, chatting with three of his tablemates, one of whom was Full Tilt cowboy hat-wearing Andy Bloch. As Elezra dragged the pot, the announcer directed the players back to their seats.
I took a position near Antonius and Bloch’s table and watched the next three hands go by. Play was tight. In the first hand I watched, Bloch was in the BB. The table folded around to the blinds, and Bloch ended up taking a smallish pot from the SB after a bit of light sparring on a raggedy board. The next one saw the table fold to Antonius in the cutoff position. With the blinds 3,000/6,000, Antonius slid two orange chips and three yellow ones toward the center, a raise to 13,000. Action folded to the BB who studied for a moment. Antonius sat motionless, looking in the BB’s direction but not directly at him. He finally folded.
The next hand played similarly, with Antonius again raising preflop. This time when it folded to the BB I saw Antonius already moving to bring back his chips even before the BB folded. Clearly these guys weren’t very interested in mixing it up too much with the Finnish star here, despite his relatively small stack.
A massage therapist, purple cushion in hand, stood before me chatting with one of our field reporters, asking him why the players weren’t playing. As he explained hand-for-hand to her, there was a sudden commotion as we had an all-in at the next table. Two players had gotten their chips in middle on the turn, and when their hands were revealed we saw the shorter-stacked player, James Gorham, had flopped two pair, but his opponent who had him covered had made a better two pair on the turn. The river didn’t help Gorham, and the first cashes of the 2008 WSOP were secured.
I wound my way back over to the Press Box. “Who’s the bubble boy?” was the question of the moment. An announcer over the PA explained to the remaining thirty-six players the procedure henceforth. With each subsequent bustout, the eliminated player would be assigned a red card on which his or her place number would be recorded. Players were additionally instructed they would no longer be allowed to listen to their iPods at the table.
Three more players have been bounced in quick succession since I’ve returned to my seat. Antonius is currently one of the short stacks, as is Liebert. Will be interesting to see how much longer they last.
That’ll be it for me today. I don’t really intend to do this sort of live reporting too much here on Hard-Boiled Poker as the Series progresses. I’ll be way too busy on the days I blog for PokerNews, and I don’t imagine I’ll want to be spending hour upon hour in Rio on my days off. Most of you reading this already know where to go for some truly hardcore live blogging. There’s Dr. Pauly’s daily live reports on Tao of Poker. Also, Pokerati is well worth returning to throughout the day.
I will, however, certainly keep posting various reflections as we go. Will probably come by at some point tomorrow, but doubt I’ll stick around too long. I need to adjust my sleep schedule, as I begin at 5 p.m. on Monday and will be working deep into the night. So the plan is tomorrow to have a restful day so I’m ready to go Monday.
Thanks for reading, everybody!