The second “Day 1” of Event No. 2 was spread out around much of the room, though there were cash games going on as well. Final tally on that one ended up being 3,929 entrants, a new record for a non-Main Event WSOP tourney. Don’t think that record will be broken anytime soon, as they’ve capped registration at 2,760 players for all of the other preliminary events. (That could change, of course, if demand warranted.)
Was too late to see Phil Hellmuth. California Jen told me he had arrived in full racecar gear at some point during Level 3 and within a half-hour of arriving had busted. The reports on PokerNews say that he’d been blinded down to 1,900 by the time he arrived -- that’s over a third of his starting stack.
I’m not 100% certain, but I believe players are allowed to register up until the end of Level 2, and those who do come in with the full complement of chips. However, if you preregister and arrive late (as Hellmuth did), you start paying blinds from the first orbit. Have no idea if perhaps Hellmuth wasn’t aware he was losing that many chips by arriving late today or not. In any event, seems like a sketchy strategy to come in when the blinds are 100/200 and you are having to start the tourney with an “M” of 6 or 7, even if it is one of your trademarks.
I walked around the perimeter and to the far side of the room, chatted with some reporters and bloggers briefly, then moved over the small, “stadium” area where final tables will be held. They were about 15 hands into that star-studded final table for Event No. 1 when I arrived. Two players had already been eliminated, Phil Laak and Mike Sowers.
One of the neat things about poker -- I’ve written about this before -- is how accessible it all is for fans who want to follow their favorite pros battle for the big money. For those who have never been in Vegas during the WSOP before, if ever you did happen to be here when it was going on, know that you can always come over and get a look at the action, and even watch from relatively close proximity an entire final table play out, if you so desired.
The staging area is surrounded by stadium-style bleachers which can accommodate around 80 or so spectators. Then there is a platform over looking the table as well. It was crowded this afternoon with several dozen onlookers. The table itself is on a raised oval which sits on a larger, rectangular surface on which four ESPN cameras were circling in some sort of specially-designed motorized wheelchairs. There was also a fellow operating a large motorized crane with another camera for high angle shots. Then there’s the camera shooting the bird’s eye-shot of the felt, and that image is projected on four monitors directly above the table. All that, plus the hole card cameras, adds up to a hell of a lot of footage for ESPN to edit down to the two-hour presentation scheduled to be aired on July 22nd. (They’ll be filming Event No. 4 as well, so I’ll be seeing all of this again from a lot closer vantage point on Wednesday.)
Between two sets of bleachers sits another small, raised platform with the cabinet full of Corum bracelets on display. Then, on the furthermost side of the little arena sat Mean Gene, Change100, and Don Peters (the live bloggers) and WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla. An announcer paced back and forth before them, narrating all of the activity into a microphone for everyone to hear. Not difficult at all to follow the action, even if one’s view of the players isn’t ideal.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention. The cash. Lordy, what a load of cash. Bricks and bricks of it on the table behind the players.
I watched a few low drama hands go by. I sensed the crowd favoring Mike Sexton, dressed in a pink, long-sleeved Party Poker shirt today (after yesterday’s lavender version). Made my way down and back through the room. I’ll have my chance to see all this again very soon.
Looked back at the reports a little while ago and saw they were now down to four -- Sexton, Liebert, Bloch, and Medic -- with Bloch holding a commanding lead with over two-thirds of the chips in play. But within a dozen hands both Medic and Sexton doubled through Bloch, so we may be in for a battle here.
More tomorrow. For now, go follow the rest of the action with me at PokerNews.