First off, it was overcast and raining in the morning, which alone can add a hazy layer of oddness to a July day in the Nevada desert. Also, it was Friday the 13th, and within the first level they’d reach the final 666 and the money bubble burst. In a place as superstitious as Las Vegas, all of that was enough to make even the most level-headed raise an eyebrow.
In fact, the bubble bursting was a bit odd in the way it played out. It didn’t take long for the field to be trimmed from 720 to 669, at which point the tourney staff quickly applied the brakes and began hand-for-hand play across the 75 remaining tables.
Surprisingly there were five “all-in-and-a-call” situations during the very next hand dealt, and all five were made to sit and wait for all of the other tables to play out before they each were instructed to complete their hands one by one. My buddy Remko Rinkema snapped that photo below of the dealers standing and waiting.
I was waiting by one of the tables where a player was all in, and I know it was at least 10 minutes between the preflop action and the dealing of the community cards. In fact, the entire hand probably took close to 20 minutes.
As it happened, four of the five hands resulted in eliminations, so it was a good thing they started hand-for-hand when they did. Normally in such a situation the finishes of those eliminated would be determined by comparing their starting stacks to begin the hand, with the player having the least chips of the four going out first and so on.
But the WSOP announced all four would finish tied for 666th, meaning they’d get to split the $19,227 due that spot. The WSOP also traditionally rewards the last player out before the cash a seat in the following year’s Main Event, so in this case they announced they’d have the four play a sit-n-go to determine who won the seat. One of them, David Kelley, offered to give the other three $2,500 each for the seat, and the others agreed, so no sit-n-go was played.
Incidentally, another of the four was a player named Steve Rosen who just happened to have narrowly avoided going out on the bubble in 2011. I wrote a bit about Rosen here at the time in a post titled “A Short-Stacked Story,” and reported on him on the PokerNews blog, too.
Like I say, all of that took a while, stretching out the moment of the bubble bursting so long that there really wasn’t any cheer or celebration to mark the occasion.
Immediately afterwards another bit of weirdness came up. Apparently a player sitting over in the Orange section had taken out a fountain pen and opened it, but in fact it was a pepper spray pen and he had unwittingly set it off. About four tables’ worth of players immediately left their seats, people began coughing all over that side of the Amazon room, and even over in the Purple section (where I was stationed) we could feel a tickle in our throats. Play was stopped for just a short while -- perhaps a minute -- but it was still somewhat unsettling.
Then after a couple of two-hour levels there was a long, unexplained delay before the start of the third. We watched the staff huddling and discussing something, and it appeared for a while that there might be some kind of major screw-up involving how the first couple of hundred payouts had gone.
The delay stretched on and on, then finally players were sent on their dinner break early so whatever the problem was could be sorted out. As it turned out, nothing had gone wrong, but it had just taken a while to ensure that was the case. In any event, once everyone returned from dinner, the last couple of levels went relatively smoothly as the field shrunk down to the 282 who’ll return for today’s Day 5.
On the reporting side of things, the day was already challenging. In the Main Event, the day the money bubble bursts is always the most difficult because the field is still very big to start the day, yet there’s a need to try to keep track of all of the players. Things get more manageable today, and even more so going forward.
But the interruptions and delays and rescheduling yesterday all affected the usual rhythm of the day, making it all seem even more rough-going. Ended well enough, though, and there’s definitely a lot to look forward to over the next three days. Still some big names left, although all who make it deep in the Main Event become compelling enough whether or not they were familiar before.
I imagine they’ll play down to around 80 players or so today. The schedule calls for five levels, although they’ll end early, I think, to keep from having too short a Day 6 (when they’ll go to 27) and/or Day 7 (when they play down to nine). Follow along over at PokerNews.
I see rain is in the forecast, but it is clear and sunny at the moment, with the temperature already starting to rise. It’s a more familiar scene through which to take that trip over to the Rio today. We’ll see what awaits us there.