Sunday, July 08, 2012

2012 WSOP, Day 42: Chips in Play

The rail is packed for the start of Day 1a of the 2012 WSOP Main EventSo yesterday my blogging partner Daniel and I arrived at the Rio thinking we’d probably be looking at a relatively short day. We were covering Day 3 of Event No. 59, a $1,000 no-limit hold’em event, in which 51 players were left from a huge field of 4,620. The schedule called for them either to play 10 one-hour levels or down to a final table of nine, and by our guesstimates we figured the latter much more likely.

Before wandering over to our event, I took a peek at the start of the Main Event over in the Amazon. The rail was packed with onlookers (see picture), and it appeared most of the tables in Amazon were filled, too. I then moved down to the Pavilion and by 1 p.m. Daniel and I were scrambling to chronicle all the knockouts and track who was surviving in our event.

As it turned out, we were both right and wrong with our start-of-day predictions.

We were right about the field shrinking down to nine in short order -- in fact, they’d get there by the end of the sixth level played yesterday. But we were wrong about that making for a short day, as tourney staff decided to play 10 one-hour levels, anyway, then have whoever was left come back on Sunday to finish the sucker out.

Thanks to a dominating performance by the young German, Dominik Nitsche, at the final table -- aided in part by a timely rush of cards (including pocket kings twice, pocket jacks, and pocket nines, all of which scored knockouts) -- they were able to make it all of the way to the end last night, with Nitsche ultimately outlasting Jonathan Hilton to take his first bracelet.

Hugs for Dominik Nitsche after winning Event No. 59 at the 2012 WSOPI remembered Nitsche from that trip down to Marrakech, Morocco in late 2010 where he’d final tabled the WPT event that year. A strong player and a friendly guy, and it was nice to see him grab the bracelet and celebrate with the large group of supporters who were there at the end. (That’s Nitsche with his back to the camera, getting hugged.)

As it turned out, then, we were in the Pavilion for something over 13 hours or so, following our preliminary event to its conclusion while the Main Event got going down the hall. Looking at the stack sizes, I guess it wasn’t all that surprising to have seen them get from 51 players down to just one in a single day as they did, but it still seemed kind of remarkable.

Got me thinking about those 13,860,000 chips in play for Event No. 59 and how they were divided. When play began the average stack was around 27 big blinds, which was small enough to ensure eliminations would be coming at a rapid clip. That average stack would gradually increase (relative to the blinds) as the day wore on to close to 40 BBs by the time the final table started, then came a wild level in which six players went out in an hour, five of them knocked out by Nitsche, to help them cruise toward a conclusion.

Despite our Day 4 getting canceled for Event No. 59, I’ll still be at the Rio today helping out with the Main Event coverage before getting a couple of days rest. Looks like they drew 1,066 players for yesterday’s Day 1a, and as I mentioned yesterday it sounds like expectations are to get more today and a lot more on Monday for the third and final Day 1 flight.

Players taking the first hands of the 2012 WSOP Main EventWill be good to look in on the Day 1 action, which often brings out some characters and side stories that help make the Main Event different from any other tournament. The super-deep stacks and slow structure will necessarily mean a much slower pace of play than what I saw yesterday, of course, with players starting 300 BBs deep and those making it to the end of Day 1 with an average of more than 120 BBs or so.

Follow along over at PokerNews to see where the 200 million or so chips end up going at the Main Event.

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