Monday, July 05, 2010

2010 WSOP, Day 38: The Last of the Preliminaries

Watching Event No. 54Yesterday I helped cover Day 3 of Event No. 54, the last of the open-field, $1,000 buy-in, no-limit hold’em events, and one of the last of the preliminary bracelet events. They played from 47 players down to the final nine, a process which took only eight hours or so there in a relatively quiet section of the Amazon Room.

When we arrived yesterday, there were only a couple of players some folks might have known before who were left in the field. Jesse Rockowitz, who just last week won Event No. 45 ($1,500 No-Limit Hold’em), was still with chips, but he busted in 33rd.

And Alex Jacob was still in. Of the field, Jacob was the only guy who’d had any serious screen time before, having won the U.S. Poker Championship in 2006 which was televised and come third in a 2007 WSOP preliminary event which was also aired on the tube, I believe. He additionally had a runner-up in a 2006 WPT event, too, and his wild hair makes him somewhat memorable.

But Jacob busted in 27th, meaning there weren’t really any familiar faces among the field from that point forward.

They became familiar to us, though, as the day wore on, and it will be interesting today to see how the final nine fare. The final table is actually scheduled to be played over in the Pavilion Room -- perhaps the only time all summer that a tournament will be completed somewhere other than in the Amazon Room. (The final table of Event No. 56, the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event, will also be in the Pavilion today.) I hope the table is situated in a place where I’ll have reasonable access to report on it. I’ve been told I might actually be alone on this one, if it is decided to pull Bruno, my blogging partner, off of the event to go help with the Main Event coverage.

More than that, though, I hope the table is located in a spot where players’ family and friends can root them on. This is a big deal to them, and I’d like to see them accommodated somewhat, if possible.

There was a moment yesterday when I was watching the last two tables and I noticed the two dozen or so people leaning over the ropes to see the action. They were positively enthralled, and in my mind I ran through possible reasons for their excitement.

I wondered if maybe that guy with the kind of spellbound look was the brother of one of the players, watching as the kid with whom he grew up and loved was edging towards a possible $500,000-plus payday in a friggin’ poker tournament. The players all seemed pretty cool and collected, but for those on the rail every hand appeared to trigger all sorts of emotions.

I got our photographer to snap a photo of the rail and included a brief post in the blog making reference to them. Nothing too profound, but I wanted to make that part of the story if I could. I know few people are caring much about this Event No. 54, but I want to do what I can to make the coverage of it something worthwhile.

As I say, today I’ll be back on the final table for this one while the poker world’s attention will be focused over on Event No. 57, the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship, a.k.a. the Main Event, Day 1a of which gets started in just about half an hour.

I guess I do feel a bit like I’d rather be right there in the thick of things as the ME kicks off. But one can only play the hand one is dealt. And I’ll join the ME coverage eventually, being there for much of the latter part of it.

Incidentally, I have no real inside dope regarding ME numbers as yet, so no idea as yet how many players will be at the Rio for this first starting day of the ME. I have heard more than 1,000 were registered by the morning hours. Last year the number for Day 1a was 1,116 and I guess I’d be somewhat surprised if there were considerably more than that there today.

One schedule change this year has players who survive Day 1a and Day 1c coming back for Day 2a (on Friday, July 9th), and those who make it through Day 1b and Day 1d coming back for Day 2b (on Saturday, July 10th). That’s different from the past when those playing the first two starting days and surviving would play the first of the two Day Twos, and those lasting through Days 1c and 1d would play Day 2b.

What that means is everyone picking a starting day now has a couple of choices to consider. One is your preferred day, but the other is how many days off you’d like to have between your first two days of play (two, three, or four days).

All eyes, of course, will be on that Day 1d and whether or not the WSOP has successfully managed things so as to avoid last year’s fiasco when hundreds came to play and were shut out of the Main Event. (I will be blogging on that day, which should be an especially interesting one to cover.)

I hope everyone had a fun Fourth of July. And that perhaps you’re enjoying a day off today to relax, read blogs, and check the WSOP coverage over at PokerNews.

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