As you’ve probably read elsewhere, the turnout was huge, with 872 players altogether, making the prize pool somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million. That meant 89 tables to start out. The Venetian Poker Room is already quite large, but only holds room for about 40 tables, so there were tables set up all around the perimeter, filling every space there between the Poker Room and the Race & Sports Book, Noodle Asia, and the Casino.
I made it down early to get acclimated, and was glad to see Mad Harper (whom I last saw about 6,000 miles away in Kyiv, Ukraine) who helped get me oriented, as she helps everyone do at these things. Also glad to meet up with Garry Gates soon afterwards, with whom I’d worked the last two summers at the WSOP.
Brad, California Jen, and Joe (our photographer) had ourselves a nice spot from which to work, and once we got set up we were on our feet a lot, making the long circuit in and out of the tables. Had some more fun reunions while making that trek, including with Benjo, Gary Wise, F-Train, and Donnie Peters (who, by the way, final tabled one of the preliminary events at the Venetian).
Incidentally, those jokes the last couple of posts about my new computer were partially true -- I am now writing on a MacBook Air which so far has worked like a charm. Still getting used to the basics, but as other Mac users have said time and again, the sucker is set up in a way that it generally isn’t too hard to figure out how to do what you want to do. The fast start ups and shut downs are pretty cool, too.
There was a little bit of talk here and there before things got going about the absent Team Full Tilt folks, but not a lot of attention to that story once the cards were in the air. Fact was there were plenty of big names there -- including a lot Full Tilt pros, just none of the toppermost guys (and gal). Much more interesting to focus on who was there than who was not.
For a quick overview of Day 1, you can check out Brad’s wrap-up post which also has links to the live blog. Also check out the PokerNews’ reports for further details of the day.
The stacks were -- as the “Deep Stack Extravaganza” name suggests -- mighty deep, starting at 30,000 with 50/100 blinds and with a very gradual schedule of increases. So aside from a few bits of drama early on (e.g., Daniel Negreanu doubled up on one of the day’s first hands), it was slow going poker-wise for the first couple of hours. But things soon picked up and by day’s end the field was down 510. The plan is to be down to 24 by the end of Day 3 (Monday), though, so we’re anticipating a couple of long ones today and tomorrow.
Phil Hellmuth arrived at the start of Level 5 -- the last possible moment, I believe -- and was soon gone after somewhat stubbornly running his pocket queens into Eric Levesque’s pocket aces. Enjoyed hearing about that hand from Kathy Liebert (who was at the Poker Brat’s table), although Cali Jen had already been there to report it on the PS blog.
Speaking of Liebert, Jen and I have begun a new “He Said/She Said” column over at Woman Poker Player, and in the first one we separately discussed the issue of women and sponsorships in poker. The idea was partly suggested by some recent debates about the issue in the poker media, debates which invariably involve Liebert, the most successful no-limit hold’em player among women who doesn’t currently have a sponsorship. We've both been getting some nice feedback on those articles -- here they are, if you are interested: He Said & She Said
Like I say, a nice start, and it’s only going to get more exciting as the tourney progresses. And I’m glad once again to be working with and alongside a bunch of talented and smart folks. Follow along over on the PokerStars blog for all of the latest.