Monday, July 09, 2012

2012 WSOP, Day 43: Flying Along

'Like you are airplanes,' he saidThere to the left is a picture I took from the media box near the end of the dinner break on Day 1b. PokerNews photographer Neil Stoddart had an idea to snap some photos of the dealers waiting out the break at the tables, and at one point he got them to stand and hold their arms out.

“Like you are airplanes,” he told them.

The dealers laughed and played along, grateful for something to help them pass the time waiting out the break while confined to their tables. I wrote a short post in the live blog once play resumed, where you can see Neil’s better photo.

Meanwhile, the 2012 WSOP keeps flying along. There were 2,114 players who bought $10,000 tickets for the Day 1b flight yesterday, making that the starting point for their Main Event tourney journeys. For 727 of them, Day 1b also marked the end, too.

As usually happens with these Day 1 flights, a little over a third of the field fails to make it through the first day of play. On Saturday (Day 1a), there were 1,066 entered and 657 survived (61.6%). Then yesterday 1,387 made it through out of 2,114 (65.6%).

So far 3,180 have played, and for today’s third and final Day 1 flight the WSOP knows for sure there will be at least that many playing, and likely a good bit more. In other words, the total number is going to rival the 6,865 who played last year.

They can certainly handle 4,000 playing today. They proved they could three weeks ago when 4,128 came to play the first (and only) Day 1 for Event No. 29, the $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship, which I believe was the largest single-day start of a tourney in WSOP history.

The WSOP has been saying there are a total of 478 tables available for use in the Amazon, Brasilia, and Pavilion rooms, which means at ten-handed they can easily accommodate a crowd as big as that which showed up for the Seniors event, and even more.

I remember well the fiasco that was Day 1d at the 2009 WSOP Main Event, when something like 400-500 players apparently were turned away as they could only handle 2,809. In a post at the time I talked about how the PR problem resulting from not being able to seat players wanting to play in the ME would be “as massive” as the field was.

Definitely a situation the WSOP never ever wanted to encounter again, and I think they’ve planned well enough in the years since to prevent just such an occurrence.

By the way, looking back at my 2009 post sent me on an excursion through Dr. Pauly’s live blog from 2009, reading what he wrote then about the big snafu in his live blog as well as in a second, feature-style piece titled “No Soup for You.”

I am not the only one here who is missing the good doctor this time around. In fact, it was impossible not to think about him yesterday when during the final break of the evening a WSOP staff member filled the time playing the Grateful Dead over the PA, which put smiles on everyone’s faces for the entire 20 minutes. Was from the Charlotte show in 1973, he explained afterwards, promising he might play some Phish today. Pauly, as some know, is “gone Phishing” this summer, following the band on tour rather than covering the WSOP as he’d done for the seven previous years.

Doyle Brunson says he might not play this year's Main EventSpeaking of missing folks, Doyle Brunson tweeted at the start of the day yesterday that he was thinking of skipping this year’s Main Event, although today he’s tweeting he might still get over there during late registration. Brunson’s played a very limited schedule this year -- the only time I’ve seen him, actually, was during the $50K Poker Players Championship. Here’s hoping he does take a seat this afternoon. Heck, he’s been taking a seat at the WSOP ever since the sucker started in 1970 (only missing a couple of Main Events along the way). Wouldn’t be the same without him.

As far as working went, yesterday was a fun day, providing a lot to write about in the PokerNews live blog while the poker was moving at a slow enough pace to afford space to scribble. Or perhaps it just seemed slower after following the nutso final day of Event No. 59 on Saturday when they swiftly played from 51 down to a winner.

Had a few conversations with folks yesterday talking about how the ME didn’t seem particularly different from any of the prelims that have been playing out the last six weeks, atmosphere-wise. Indeed, that whole carnivalesque quality of the ME -- with crazily-costumed players, antics galore, and other sidebar stuff -- seems largely gone. Although I imagine that might change some today, with the larger turnout upping the likelihood for such.

ESPN didn’t fully cover Days 1 or 2 last year, and while I don’t know their plan this time I’m guessing they are following a similar strategy. There certainly weren’t many cameras around, and those that were I believe were primarily just grabbing some b-roll stuff and not really trying to capture hands or chronicle it all in earnest.

The removal of that sort of coverage probably lessens the incentive for some to do what they can to “get on teevee.” By Day 3 they’ll be starting with around 2,000 players and playing down to less than 1,000, which will be in shouting distance of the money (the bubble will burst on Day 4). The excitement will necessarily build from that point forward.

And after that, when the field narrows further and they begin to break down and remove tables from the Amazon, we’ll know for sure that the Main Event isn’t like the prelims. Or any other poker tournament.

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