Sunday, July 04, 2010

2010 WSOP, Day 37: Feeling Gravity’s Pull

R.E.M., 'Fables of the Reconstruction' (1985)Early this summer I dialed up R.E.M.’s 1985 LP Fables of the Reconstruction on the music player and have found myself putting it on pretty much every day since.

Fables was one of those records I listened to quite a bit way back when, and have continued to go back to it off and on over the years. I remember at the time it came out the Athens-based band actually spoke badly of the record, complaining about having gone to London to record it with Joe Boyd (producer of the late Nick Drake) and saying it didn’t compare well to their two previous ones (Murmur and Reckoning).

But I always liked it, and felt like the subsequent LPs were a bit of a drop off for R.E.M. I paid attention for a few more records (through Green), but once they became megapop stars I kind of lost the thread. (Now I see a 25th-anniversary edition of Fables is coming out in a week or so, and guitarist Peter Buck now calls the LP a “personal favorite.”)

Anyhow, listening to a record again and again like this means the songs tend to settle in your consciousness even when not listening. And so it wasn’t surprising that last night when I got to the end of an especially exhausting 14 hours or so of helping cover Day 2 of the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em event (Event No. 54), certain phrases from the mostly abstract, even surreal lyrics from the album’s songs began to occur to me…

“I felt gravity pull onto my eyes…”

“Driver 8, take a break, we’ve been on this shift too long…”

“When the world is a monster, bad to swallow you whole…”

“Home is a long way away…”

Of all five different events going on at the Rio yesterday, my Event No. 54 was way down at the bottom of list as far as interest and/or priorities went.

The Ante Up for Africa charity event took up most of folks’ attention, with a crush of stargazers filling the halls in search of a glimpse of Matt Damon, et al. A lot of eyes were on the final table of Event No. 52 as well -- the $25,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event -- eventually won by Dan “djk123” Kelly.

Event No. 55, the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship was supposed to finish yesterday, but when it took them until after 11 p.m. to reach the final nine, they decided to come back and complete that one today. Same problem is happening with Event No. 56, the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event which was supposed to be finished today, but they still had 75 players left when they quit at 3 a.m., so they’ll need to continue through to Monday to finish that one now.

Then there was the WSOP Tournament of Champions, of which not one hand was played yesterday, but which had everyone running back and forth constantly as it seemed at any moment they may try to get that one going again. (They didn’t.)

Anyhow, with all that going on around us, our humble little $1K tourney chugged along in relative isolation through the afternoon and evening. Ours was actually the first one to start yesterday, but thanks to various factors -- on-the-fly scheduling changes with the other events, extra delays because of some computer snafus with the payouts, etc. -- our tournament somehow was the last one to finish.

So I didn’t leave the Amazon Room until 3:45 a.m. or so, at which time the entire, spacious ballroom was almost completely empty save a couple of security guards and a couple of members of the media still stuck behind laptops.

And like most everybody right now -- players, media, staff -- I was feeling gravity’s pull. Tired. A little lonely. And maybe a little unsure about the point of all these “fables” we are pulling together -- these hastily-compiled “reconstructions” of what is happening at the World Series of Poker.

But I’ll save fretting about that later, when I’ve some perspective.

’Cos “time and distance are out of place here…”

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