Then I got into poker, both playing and writing about it. And the all-nighters returned.
All summer we’ve been hearing about this so-called “hard stop” rule at the World Series of Poker, the one that has dictated tourneys not extend beyond ten levels in a single day. The rule has frequently led to final tables being halted prior to completion -- sometimes with only two players left -- and tourneys being extended into an extra (usually fourth) day.
We knew at the beginning of Day 4 of Event No. 55, the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship, that the “hard stop” rule would not apply to our event. The tourney’s complicated structure dictated 100-minute levels (as opposed to 60), with short breaks, usually 15 minutes long, after each one. For Day 4, the event’s penultimate day, the sheet did not say how many levels were to be played, but rather simply that they’d restart at 3 p.m. and “play down to a final table.”
There was actually some question early on about whether that meant they’d play down to nine or eight players before stopping. The tournament is being played in that “eight-game mix” format until the final table, meaning they must play eight-handed until then. But the final table will be no-limit hold’em only, so they could certainly stop with nine left and call that the FT.
Adding a further wrinkle was the presence of the ESPN crew shooting what I assumed was B-roll footage to supplement their later, edited program showing the $50K final table. Now that ESPN has returned to the WSOP (having been gone since the first week), they will start calling shots regarding scheduling and other matters for the $50K as well as for the Main Event. Meaning whatever was going to happen yesterday was going to happen according to ESPN’s plans.
There were 29 players left when we returned, and it took almost three of those 100-minute levels to get down to 16 and the money. One more elimination happened right before dinner, and so there were just 15 left when that one-hour break arrived.
Vera Valmore is in town for a couple more days, and the two of us enjoyed a nice quick soup-and-salad meal during the break. We had a few minutes afterwards to spare and so ambled over to the “hooker bar” where we were able to visit briefly with AlCantHang, PokerLawyer, Kara Scott, and Marie-Lizette. Got back to the Amazon Room shortly thereafter, said goodbye to Vera and something about hoping it might not take too long to finish, and soon fell back into reporter mode.
Eight hours later, that’s where I’d still be. We’d cruised past 3 a.m. -- the time when those “hard stops” generally would come -- and there were still 11 players left. Jeffrey Lisandro finally busted in 11th, followed in 10th by Vladimir Shchemelev (whose name I can now type without looking up). Then the last nine reassembled around a not-officially-final final table and played another hour or more. By the way, that pic above is of the scene with nine left, snapped about 5:30 a.m.
They made it to the end of the seventh 100-minute level of the day-slash-night-slash-morning, at which point a phone call was made to the TV producers to see if they needed to continue on to get to eight or not. Word came they could stop, and thus it ended up being after 6 a.m. when I finally made the long trek through the Rio and outside to greet the sunrise.
It’s definitely a challenge to become so tired you can’t really think clearly or cleverly, especially when the task before you is to write. (Heck, my poor brain is still operating in a low gear this morning as I type.) The Day 4 blog ended up being a monster, with well over 200 posts, most of which are on the long side since those 2-7 Triple Draw, PLO, and H.O.R.S.E. hands tend to require a bit more narrative than do your average write-ups of NLHE confrontations. Not a lot of fuel in the tank by night’s end, for sure, which meant it was hard to do much more than relate action, results, updated chip counts, and move on. Made me think of a similarly long day from last summer when Vera was here, and how at the end of it she had come to pick up me and Ducky at dawn.
Thankfully I’m off today, which means I won’t be seeing the $50K through to its completion and whether or not Phil Hellmuth will get that 12th bracelet. Am certainly intrigued by that, but am much happier about being able to spend Vera’s last full day here with her. We’ll probably be doing some shopping on the strip this afternoon, go to Fremont Street at some point (which Vera still hasn’t seen), and certainly find ourselves a nice buffet or something for dinner. No shows this time around, but fun, quality time together.
Not easy putting in such a long day like that. But it’s still fun once in a while to stay up all night.