Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 WSOP, Day 1: Exile on Hotel Rio Drive

Welcome to the WSOPTap, tap, tap. Is this thing on? Ahem. Welcome, everybody!

It’s the 41st World Series of Poker... actually the 40th anniversary this time, as the first one took place in May 1970. Just seven people gathered around one table at Binion’s Horseshoe for that one. This year there were more than 700 in Event No. 1 yesterday. And there might be 7,000 in the Main Event.

Once just a sideshow, the WSOP is now a full-blown spectacle. A curiosity become a circus. And here I am, among the performers, witnessing all the actors and artists doing what they do once again.

I’ll be here for the first three days this year, then next week am taking that quick trip down to Lima, Peru for the LAPT event. As I’ve done the last couple of summers, I’m planning to keep a running journal of sorts here at Hard-Boiled Poker to go along with my reporting elsewhere.

I’ll be over on the PokerNews’ live blog later today, reporting on Event No. 3, the $1,000 no-limit hold’em event which sounds like it’s gonna attract more than 6,000 to play these two Day Ones today and tomorrow. Will be parked there in the massive Grand Pavilion ballroom, then, for most of the day.

Figured out yesterday that in terms of square footage, the Pavilion is almost exactly the size of a U.S. football field (no shinola). Which means I’ll probably be feeling like I’ve been running back kickoffs for 12-plus hours later this evening when the shift ends. Definitely looking forward to the action starting, though -- to get that ball and go!

Even though I wasn’t on the schedule yesterday, I ended up spending a good portion of the day at the Rio, getting there around 11-ish and not getting back to the home away from home until early evening.

The last two summers I’ve rented a car while here. This time around I’m holding off doing so until after the trip to Peru. Even after I return I may resist renting one until Vera comes to visit, as there are shuttles to the Rio as well as a driver on staff for PokerNews who is around to cart us to and fro if needed.

Without wheels of my own, then, you could say I was kind of “exiled” there at the Rio. Although it was certainly an enjoyable exile, full of things to do and see.

Among the day’s highlights was getting to reunite with several other media types like Dr. Pauly. The good doctor -- in mourning over the death of Gary Coleman (Dr. P’s longtime avatar on Stars) -- brought a copy of my novel, Same Difference, for me to sign. I told him I’d used up all the words in writing the sucker, but eventually came up with a few more to add to the first page. I should mention that Pauly’s book, Lost Vegas, will be surfacing in mid-June. I'll be keeping an eye out for that, and plan soon to challenge him to come up with something witty to write on the first page of my copy.

While spending time there in the media room I also enjoyed hanging out with fellow PN scribe Snoopy, Matt Waldron (of WPT Magazine, Life’s a Bluff, and more), Pokerati Dan, Jon Katkin (writing for Pokerati this year), and others.

'Exile on Main Street' by The Rolling Stones (1972)Later on I’d visit a bit with Benjo, here again to write about the WSOP on Winamax, Wam-Poker, and on his own blog, “Las Vegas Off the Record.” Benjo and I primarily discussed Exile on Main Street, a fave of his and in fact the only Stones record I presently have on my iPod.

I’ve covered this before here (more than once, actually) -- in the Beatles-versus-Stones battle, I early on went in the direction of the former, although did always like that stretch of Stones records that began with Between the Buttons (in ’67) and culminated with Exile, with Exile being really the only Stones album I’ve consistently revisited over the years.

If you can read French -- or at least have enough to muddle through like me -- you can check out Benjo’s breakdown of the recent reissue of Exile in which he advances a persuasive thesis for why he thinks Exile is the “best rock ‘n’ roll record of all time,” one he would carry “to the proverbial desert island... or at least in the car when driving to the Rio all the days and nights for the next seven weeks.”

Chatted some as well with California Jen and few other PN peoples, including our photographers Flipchip and Jonathan Boncek. Saw Joe Sebok, sitting at the PokerRoad tables, and we talked about the recent end of “Poker2Nite” and his future endeavors. And I got to meet and visit with some other folks for the first time, too, such as Bernard Lee (of ESPN and Foxwoods).

Doyle Brunson, talking about David 'Chip' Reese before the start of Event No. 2 at the 2010 WSOPLee and I talked some there at the start of the $50,000 buy-in Player’s Championship. That’s Doyle Brunson on the big screen, talking some about his good friend David “Chip” Reese for whom the Player’s Championship trophy is named. Last year’s winner David Bach preceded Brunson with a short speech as well, and he, too, said some nice things about the much loved and respected Reese and how honored he was to have won the trophy bearing his name.

The setup for the $50K was actually quite ideal, given the new layout at the Rio. While the Casino Employees event continued over in the Pavilion, they had the entire Amazon to themselves for the $50K. And since there ultimately weren’t more than 15 tables needed for the event -- a total 116 players entered that one -- there was a lot of space available for the players and all of the media there to cover the action.

As I say, I got back to the home away from home by early evening and rested up for these next couple of days. You can follow the action over on the PokerNews site, or, alternatively, check out the site where the live updates are also appearing, linked from the Tournaments page over there.

Okay, it’s time to go rip this joint. And round and round and round we’ll go.

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