“Great!” answered Mason with a smile. “I’m at the World Series of Poker!”
Mason had enjoyed a terrific first hour of play yesterday, winning a couple of big hands to move from the bottom third to the top third of the leaderboard. So he had reason to smile. But the worn-out green WSOP baseball cap atop his head suggested his enthusiasm wasn’t strictly inspired by the status of his chip stack.
A quick check over at Hendon Mob further explains why Mason might be having a great time at the WSOP this summer, one that began with his first-ever WSOP cash in the Casino Employee’s Event. Last night’s 11th place finish was his fifth cash already, with the $42,000-plus he won yesterday appearing to have given a nice boost to the bankroll.
I’ll be honest. When I saw I’d been assigned to cover Event No. 34, the fourth of seven of these massive-field $1,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em events on this year’s schedule, I wasn’t exactly excited about the prospects of doing so.
Sort of felt like Odysseus when he and his men land on the island where they’ll encounter the goddess Kirke. They’d just escaped another island where the flesh-eating Lestrygonians had chomped a bunch of Odysseus’ men and wrecked a bunch of their ships. Understandable, then, that Odysseus would be in kind of a sour mood. After they land, Odysseus goes up on a hill to see what he can see, and when he comes back his report isn’t all that cheery.
“All that I saw when I went up the rock was one more island in the boundless main,” reports Odysseus. “A low landscape, covered with woods and scrub, and puffs of smoke.” Just another friggin’ stop in our meaningless -- and now seemingly doomed -- journey of life.
It’s actually one of my favorite moments in the poem, where Odysseus momentarily becomes somewhat existentialist -- and even more “human” -- while expressing doubts about the meaning of it all.
Such is the feeling I’ll admit to have gotten around noon on Tuesday, when I was looking out over the landscape of two thousand-plus players taking their seats for Event No. 34. Over the next three days, I’d be spending about 40 hours reporting from this sucker.
You hear these events referred to derisively as “donkaments” because so many inexperienced and untutored players choose them to take their WSOP shots. And it is true -- you see some howlingly-bizarre plays here and there, particularly on the first day.
I happened to see one of these hands on Tuesday. It was Level 8. The board was 7-4-3 with two clubs, Jonathan Little had pushed all in for what appeared to be a huge overbet with pocket fives, and he had been called by a player holding . A jack came on the turn, the river bricked, and Little left quickly and quietly, not too happy with his opponent’s crazy call. “You’ve got guts, kid,” a player said afterwards, explaining how on the flop he’d folded Q-7. (Dunno if I’d call it guts.)
From a reporter’s perspective, though, poor play makes the thing more interesting to follow and write about. No, those feelings of dread at the start of another $1,500 NLHE event don’t stem from the prospect of witnessing bad poker. (Not for me, anyway.) They arise from the feeling that it’s just another poker tournament -- “one more island in the boundless main.” Those who have entered care a lot about it. And there’s a group of people following online, many of whom are friends with or fans of some of the entrants, who care, too. But in the grand scheme of things, how can I get invested in this sucker? How can I care?
Then the tournament starts. Chip stacks grow. Personalities emerge. The thing becomes gradually more and more interesting. And yesterday was a total blast. It’s amazing how this scenario happens over and again. What begins a nondescript island turns into a full-fledged episode -- another adventure-filled stage in the WSOP odyssey.
And I think to myself this is pretty great. I’m at the World Series of Poker!
Actually slept past noon today, about ten hours, the body (and mind) recovering from the most recent three-day challenge. Might come back on here either today or tomorrow and talk more particularly about why yesterday’s final day of Event No. 34 was so fun. I have a little break here before I get back to it, the next event I cover being the $2,500 Mixed Event in which they play eight different games (Event No. 42).
Meanwhile, go over to PokerNews’ live reporting page to follow still more episodes in the WSOP’s still unfolding story.