Wednesday, June 09, 2010

2010 WSOP, Day 12: Rejoining the Spectacle

Welcome BackDay started slowly for me yesterday. I had slept away most of Monday -- day and night -- recovering from that red-eye flight back from Peru. Got up Tuesday and made plans with Spaceman for lunch, and we ended up over at the Wynn for a delicious buffet meal.

I joked with Spaceman how we’d enjoyed a decent buffet at the Atlantic City Casino every day while at LAPT Lima, one that included an octopus salad which I had sampled more than once while there, and that I wouldn’t be satisfied if there weren’t octopus also on offer at the Wynn. There was.

We trucked over to the Rio afterwards, where Spaceman was going to work on various items as part of his freelance work for a few different places this summer, including Bluff and PokerListings. Meanwhile, I had decided that even though it wasn’t a scheduled day of work for me at PokerNews, I wanted to go in anyway and spend a few hours with the site, primarily to reacquaint myself with the blog and its various features. After a bit of a stumble out of the gate, the PN site is running quite well now and I just wanted to work with it a little bit when everything was functioning so as to be ready for my return.

Ended up helping out FerricRamsium and TassieDevil over on Event No. 17, the $5,000 NLHE event which had a seriously stacked field. I started out just helping enter chip counts and handling some of the busywork, writing a post or two here and there. At some point later in the evening FerricRamsium wasn’t feeling well and since I was there we sent him home, and I rode out the shift with TassieDevil.

We had a couple of terrific reporters helping on this one (Mickey and Brett), then a third (Neil) join us, too. By the end of the night, we had something like 250 names updated in the chip counts -- that’s out of a field of 792. Still not everyone, obviously, but kind of amazing for a Day 1 (in my opinion). More than anything a testament to the reporters’ knowledge of players and their day-long hustle.

Of course, even less knowledgeable folks could recognize a lot of players in this event. Just about all of the “names” were there, it seemed -- Ivey, Hellmuth, Esfandiari, Cloutier, Obrestad, Lindgren, Ferguson, Negreanu, Seidel, Tran, Mortensen, and many, many more. And the fans were definitely enjoying themselves.

I was reminded at one point how neat the WSOP can be for spectators. A couple had approached our table there asking us where Ivey and a couple of other players were seated, and as we told them you could sense how excited they were -- and surprised -- that they could walk over and watch hands at such close proximity. If you have never been to the Rio during the WSOP, and you are at all curious about what happens, by all means come on down and check it out. The WSOP continues to be special this way, I think, in how it allows fans’ access.

In truth, even players sometimes get a little starstruck at times. Or at least caught up in the spectacle that the WSOP can create.

At one point, I happened to have been standing by a table at which were seated Brandon Adams, Shannon Elizabeth, Dan Heimiller, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Ferguson, and David Williams. Got to witness (and eventually report) from beginning to end a fairly big hand involving the latter four players. Was one of those neat situations, actually, where as a reporter I was able to get pretty much the whole story of the hand -- all of the action, table talk, etc. Something like that can be hard to come by sometimes. (I wrote something about all the factors affecting a hand report last summer in a lengthy post called “Anatomy of a Hand Report.”)

In this hand, Heimiller had opened with a standard raise from the hijack seat, Hellmuth had called from the cutoff, then Ferguson reraised from the button. Williams then called the reraise from the blinds, Heimiller folded, and Hellmuth took some time deciding what to do. At some point in there I noticed Heimiller snapping a photo of the three biggies still in the hand. Elizabeth had taken a picture as well, which I later saw on her Twitter. Kind of funny to be the one there reporting, but seeing the players likewise chronicling the action.

When our event ended for the day, I was curious to go over to the Amazon to see the battle between Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, Jen Harman, John Juanda, Steve Zolotow, and Frank Kassela for the Event No. 15, the $10,000 buy-in Stud/8 bracelet. Ended up taking off, though, mainly because I still don’t have a car here yet, and so had to grab a ride back to the home away from home with our regularly scheduled shuttle.

I see this morning that they ended up playing several more hours, with Kassela outlasting the Chainsaw for the bracelet. Kassela is a friend of Spaceman’s actually -- both are Tennessee guys -- giving the day-slash-night a bit of symmetry.

I’ll be back over at the Rio tonight for a regularly scheduled shift helping cover Event No. 19, the $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball Championship (No-Limit). Should also be a stacked field for this one, so I’m anticipating more spectacle. And spectators. Follow along over at PokerNews’ live reporting page.

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