Check in, and the person manning the front desk wishes you good luck. Ask where the elevators are located, and after getting your answer the person helping you wishes you luck following directions. Even last night when my blogging partner Rich and I went for dinner, the host passing us off to the person seating us wished us good luck, which we both agreed hopefully wouldn’t be so necessary with regard to the upcoming meal.
As someone who is not really here to gamble, but rather to help cover the three-day, $1,650 buy-in WSOP Circuit event being held here through Sunday, such wishes seem a little incongruous. They are certainly well taken, though. Indeed, now that I think about it, there’s always some luck involved whenever a small team -- in our case just the two of us -- try to cover a large field, multi-table tournament such as the one Rich and I were monitoring yesterday.
A total of 442 came out to play the event, well above the 300 or so I was hearing most estimate prior to it kicking off. That meant the spacious Palladium Ballroom was fairly packed, with Rich and I doing a lot of hoofing it over the long day of play. They played 16 40-minute levels, which including breaks took us from noon until close to 2 a.m. Went from 442 players down to 81, which I think is just about right on schedule as far as these things go, with the plan being to play down to a final nine today.
For the reporter, then, luck does play a role in that constant search for the little stories that ultimately add up to the larger tale of the tourney. (Thanks, by the way, to PKR for the “good luck” comment to yesterday’s post.) Most of those stories obviously center around hands played, although other “color” items often make it into the mix as well. If one is lucky, that is.
Was able to spin a few fun ones yesterday. Probably my favorite involved Andy Santiago, an amiable guy who had actually come around to say hello while I was visiting with WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla on Thursday. Santiago had written out a signed “affadavit” (as he called it) predicting he was going to win the tournament, delivering it to Dalla. He then got off to a very good start yesterday, which gave us occasion to tell his story.
Unfortunately he ran into a couple of very unlucky hands late in the evening to bust before day’s end, including one where he’d flopped trips while an opponent flopped a boat. He was good-natured about it, though, and chatted with us some more after his elimination.
In fact, as he was leaving I remember wishing him “good luck.” Even though he’d just busted, it still seemed like the right thing to say.
As happened a lot during those $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em events I covered last summer at the WSOP -- occasionally referred to here as “The Grand Games” (such as here and here) -- we had a lot of interaction with the players yesterday, many of whom are locally-based. A big difference from the WSOP, of course, is the fact that there really aren’t a lot of media here other than Rich and myself, perhaps making it even more likely for us to draw the players’ attention.
Had a few funny exchanges as the day and evening wore on. “You drawing sketches?” asked a player of me once with a mischievous grin as I stood nearby with pad and pencil. Another time one got up and walked over, put his arm around me, and offered to give me humorous “Cliffs Notes” regarding the personalities at his table, and I subsequently chronicled his explication here.
Another time a player stopped me to ask if any famous players were in the event. I rattled off a few, and he told me he had plans to be among that list one day.
Actually there were really only a few so-called “notables” in the field for this one, including Steve Dannenmann, Sirous Jamshidi, Beth Shak, Paul Volpe, Josh Brikis, Matt Matros, and David Apostolico. Had the chance to speak some with Apostolico, a friendly guy and author of several interesting poker books including ones relating poker to Machiavelli's The Prince and Sun-Tzu's The Art of War.
None of those folks made it through to Saturday, however. Probably the best known player still remaining among the last 81 is Eric Buchman who finished fourth in the WSOP Main Event in 2009, although he’s on the short side and will need things to go his way in order to make it to the top 45 and the cash. Mike Kosowski -- the retired NYPD sergeant who defeated Daniel Negreanu heads-up to win $1 million on the “Million Dollar Challenge” in late 2009 -- is still in as well.
Even without the big names, though, I’m sure we’ll find plenty of stories to tell as they play down to the final nine today. You can check in over at PokerNews to see how it goes.
And for whatever else you end up doing this weekend, good luck.