I’ve written here in the past about the huge challenge of trying to report on a large field tournament with few resources, and so am not going to go over all that again today. Was a little disheartening, I’ll admit, to pretend to do justice to the sucker with no one else around to help fill the huge gaps.
One aspect of this particular event I had hoped to give attention to were some of the stories players brought to it. The ladies event brings out interesting people, people who come to the tournament via many different paths. And their stories are often less common and thus more interesting than what one normally encounters at most poker tournaments.
But there just wasn’t enough me to do much of that. I was really only able to share a couple of those kinds of stories, the best being the one about the 94-year-old retired NYPD deputy inspector coming back to play the ladies event after having played at the WSOP a lot in the past, including making a final table in the ladies event at what had to have been around age 80.
Another aspect of the event I didn’t really care much about focusing on at all yesterday was the participation of men in the tournament. That story was big in 2010, the first time it happened. It was kind of big again last year, when a man made it all of the way to the final table before busting in ninth.
Not this time, though. Is already part of the deal. Doesn’t take long in poker or at the WSOP for the creating of “traditions.” And I suppose we can say a few men playing in the women’s event has by now become one.
Sure, when I first passed through the field searching for familiar faces and perking my ears up to catch table talk and perhaps find items of interest to share, I noticed the dudes. Couldn’t help it.
Each time I saw one, I was seized with a small pang of disappointment. And I guess a kind of pity, too -- for the guys for having somehow convinced themselves that playing in the ladies event was a sensible thing to do, and for the women, too, if any were at all bothered by the men playing.
I mean it was just a bummer, and that was it. And I didn’t want to write about it, because doing that would have been a bummer, too.
I found the topic so uninspiring I couldn’t even bring myself to mention the men in the live blog at all yesterday. The fact was, there were hundreds and hundreds of women playing in the event about whom I also was unable to write. So it didn’t make much sense to me to give any of the very limited time and energy I had to writing about the men.
In some cases the men were friendly and chatty, and I didn’t see women appearing especially bothered about their presence at the tables. Even by the couple who were wearing dresses hardy har.
It wasn’t all hunky dory, though. It may be a tradition, now, that a handful of men play in the ladies event. But not everyone is ready to accept that without asking some questions about how this new tradition came to be. And continues.
It was late in the day when Victoria Coren decided to ask the man sitting at her table why he had decided to enter the event. I’d passed by Coren’s table a time or two before, even reporting on a hand. By then the field had shrunk down to 25 tables or so, and thus I was able to make another circuit back when I heard her asking the man her question.
I lingered and listened. I was curious. Being a fan of Coren’s writing I wanted to be an audience to how she might choose to interrogate the man. I suppose in the back of my mind I thought I might share something of what I heard here, too.
Rather than retell it all, I can point you to Coren’s own account which she’s already published on her blog. There she describes the entire episode in detail, explaining what she and the young man said to each other, and then delivering a judgment upon him.
In asking her questions of the man she was not rude. Despite what some on Twitter who were not there might be inferring from Coren’s post or elsewhere, it wasn’t even close to verbal harassment. She was asking questions. As another player characterized Coren's questions when the floor came over, “It’s banter. It's part of the game.” She used wit which he didn’t seem to follow. And when he became uncomfortable he called the floor to request they make her stop saying things to him that made him feel uncomfortable.
Having heard most of it, I can say Coren’s account is accurate. I only recall hearing one thing that was said that she doesn’t mention. It was something the man said early on during her questioning, when she was still trying to get at the reason why he had decided to play.
Among his initial responses, I remember him saying “I want to buy a condo.” That was why he was playing, he explained. To try to make enough money from it to buy a condo.
Suddenly that feeling of disappointment I mentioned before multiplied tenfold. He either didn’t understand the purpose of the question, or didn’t care. What I was hearing was too dumb for words. Which again, was the real reason why I didn’t choose to put it into words last night.
If one of the two dudes who made it to Day 2 makes it further -- if he ends up becoming part of the tourney’s narrative in a way that demands his being included in the “coverage” -- I’ll write about him. If he emerges as a chip leader, or makes it to the last few tables, I’ll write about him. If he wins, I’ll write about him.
But let me tell you, if any of that happens, that would be a bummer. As would writing about it.