Thursday, July 19, 2012

2012 WSOP, A Reporter’s Notebook

2012 WSOP, A Reporter's NotebookFive years is a long time. That’s how many years I’ve had the chance to report on the World Series of Poker for PokerNews.

This time around I had conversations with more than a few others who had also been coming to the WSOP for many years about how the experience changes each time. The novelty had worn off for us all long ago, but other factors keep us coming back. I think on some level we’re all still fascinated by the game and the people who play it. Not to mention the always present possibility that something new can and will happen.

As in past years, I kept a kind of daily WSOP journal here during the time I was in Las Vegas. Like last year, I only started it once I arrived in Las Vegas about three weeks after the sucker had begun. And as I did in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, I’m compiling all of those entries into a single post for later reference.

Like last year, I think the entries tended to be more personal and about the experience of being there and reporting, rather than focused on the events themselves. Although there are a few fun items from the events, too -- anecdotes that came up that perhaps didn’t get reported over in the PokerNews live blogs but seemed worth passing along.

Back on the RoadBack on the Road (to the WSOP)
A preliminary post written the day I was flying back out to Las Vegas in which I reflect a little on how the experience of going to cover the WSOP changes with each year.

2012 WSOP, Day 23: “Everybody Hang On!!!”
The post’s title is a quote from an inebriated passenger on my flight to Vegas. His hysterically-delivered advice came just as the plane’s wheels were leaving the runway, although seemed to have other applications as well.

2012 WSOP, Day 24: Easing In
A little on Phil Ivey -- who was making his fifth friggin’ final table in two weeks -- and a little on my own low-limit adventures.

2012 WSOP, Day 25: Chasing Dreams
Talking about a variety of subjects here, including betting on players entering the final days of events, a crazy shove with 6-2 by an opponent versus Phil Ivey’s pocket eights in Event No. 35, the overall “scaling back” of coverage by poker media, and a conversation with Pokerati Dan.

2012 WSOP, Day 26: The Vibe
A hastily delivered opinion (after only one full day of work) regarding what seemed like a less intense, less animated World Series of Poker.

2012 WSOP, Day 27: “WHATTTAREDBOOOOLLLL!”
Kind of an homage to a certain cocktail waiter with a distinctive and memorable way of soliciting orders. Honesty compels me to report that the person I had in mind wasn’t in fact around this year, although his signature call had been uncannily echoed by another well enough to inspire the post.

2012 WSOP, Day 28: The Future Is Now
Some funny one-liners in this one from players like Alan Boston and Andy Bloch, as well as a discussion of the new chip-tracking idea “ChipTic” experimented with some at this year’s WSOP.

Adults Playing Games2012 WSOP, Day 29: Adults Playing Games
Covering Event No. 42, the $2,500 Omaha/8-Stud/8 event, was a blast, thanks in large part to the collection of comedians who’d made it to the final three tables, among them ESPN poker commentator Norman Chad who ultimately finished sixth. Click to read about Chad’s shenanigans at his first ever WSOP final table.

2012 WSOP, Day 30: Attempts at Time Travel at the WSOP
In which I discuss that controversial hand that arose in Event No. 45, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, the PLO hand that featured an all-in that wasn’t really an all-in that had to be considered an all-in.

2012 WSOP, Day 31: Hot Rocks
I finally get a day off and spend it climbing the rocks at Red Rock Canyon with F-Train. A few days later I’d imagine that day as if I had visited the moon or something, it having been so very different from every other day I’d spend in Las Vegas this summer.

2012 WSOP, Day 32: In Which My Shoes Give Away Where I’ve Been
Poker author and coach Tommy Angelo and I meet for breakfast, and like a real shamus he instantly describes my activities for the previous 24 hours just by glancing at my shoes.

2012 WSOP, Day 33: Cruising Along
I meet with Scott and Chris of Ante Up, then go watch an injury attorney win the first WSOP event he’d ever played in his life.

That's a Bummer, Man (Men in the Ladies Event2012 WSOP, Day 34: That’s a Bummer, Man (Men in the Ladies Event)
I had the opportunity this year to cover Event No. 51, the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship, from start to finish, and so got to witness the spectacle -- somewhat muted, this time -- of a dozen or so men playing in the event.

2012 WSOP, Day 35: Waiting for the Big One to Drop
Was still on the Ladies event, but with the $1,000,000 buy-in “Big One for One Drop” getting started, everyone’s attention was being diverted.

2012 WSOP, Day 36: Same But Different
A curious contrast, as I started the day covering the final table of the Ladies event (which finished early), then hopped over to help with the coverage of the “Big One for One Drop.”

2012 WSOP, Day 37: Wake Up
A short post mostly confessing to fatigue after working another long stretch of days without a break.

2012 WSOP, Day 38: $18,346,673
I finally get a day off, but had to spend part of it at the Rio because curiosity compelled me to go see what it looked like for someone to win more than $18 million in a poker tournament, as Antonio Esfandiari took down Event No. 55, the $1,000,000 “Big One for One Drop.”

The Big Picture2012 WSOP, Day 39: The Big Picture
In this post I discuss a bit how one’s sense of perspective gets easily skewed when immersed in covering a single event at the WSOP. Hard sometimes to step back and get an idea how the WSOP as a whole is playing out, never mind recognizing how it fits with the culture at large.

2012 WSOP, Day 40: Cheering Is Allowed and Encouraged
A short discussion of the phenomenon of cheering at final tables in which I ask my readers for their thoughts on the subject.

2012 WSOP, Day 41: Don’t Miss the Main Event!
While I helped cover the last $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event (Event No. 59), the Main Event was about to get underway, having snuck up on us all, it seemed.

2012 WSOP, Day 42: Chips in Play
Kind of a weird, unexpected finale to Event No. 59, with the field of 51 players playing all of the way down to a single winner in just one day (not the original scheduled plan, which called for the final table to come back the next day to finish).

2012 WSOP, Day 43: Flying Along
I hopped over to help cover one of the Day 1 flights, and had a good laugh when during a break PokerNews photographer Neil Stoddart got the dealers to pose with their arms extended (“Like you are airplanes.”).

And Doyle Makes 6,5982012 WSOP, Day 44: And Doyle Makes 6,598
After saying he might skip the Main Event altogether, Doyle Brunson decided to play. Again.

2012 WSOP, Day 45: H.O.R.S.E. Play
On my last day off of the summer, I played in the weekly $120 H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the MGM and had a blast. Also in the field that night were Kevmath, the Poker Grump, Mickey Doft, Brian Ali, Norman Chad, Lon McEachern, and other familiar faces.

2012 WSOP, Day 46: Blogging Blom
I help cover Day 2c at the Main Event and thus got a chance to watch the fascinating Viktor “Isildur1” Blom play live after so many years of following him online.

2012 WSOP, Day 47: Tracking Stacks
A bit about the chip-counting game, highlighted by an inspired video of Mickey Doft counting the first million-chip stack at this year’s WSOP Main Event.

2012 WSOP, Day 48: Atmospheric Disturbances
The cash bubble bursts at the WSOP Main Event, followed shortly thereafter by the bursting of a pepper spray pen, then questions about payouts and whether something might have broken there, too. All in all, a weird Friday the 13th at the WSOP.

2012 WSOP, Day 49: Running Out of Chips, Players, Days
Day 5 at the Main Event, highlighted by a player choosing not to come back to play his short stack, then another choosing to fold his way to the end of the day despite his short stack.

Racing to the End2012 WSOP, Day 50: Racing to the End
The next-to-last day at the WSOP, with lots of exciting poker followed by an exciting competition involving riding dealer chairs across the empty Amazon floor in which some excel, some come up short, and one crashes spectacularly.

2012 WSOP, Day 51: C’est Fini
Possibly the wildest day I can remember at the WSOP, in particular the conclusion in which the two remaining women -- Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle Baumann -- went out in 11th and 10th places (respectively), just missing the final table.

2012 WSOP, Postlude: Like a Dream
In which I share one last anecdote from the WSOP involving the end-of-summer chip leader, Jesse Sylvia, and his expressing how much the day and Main Event seemed to him like a dream.

Thanks again, everyone, for reading along this summer and for all the nice comments both here and on Twitter. As with going out to the WSOP, the blogging thing, too, has evolved into something very different than what it was at the start. But it remains fun for me and I’m grateful to have people read and respond. Also glad to have these little “notebooks” to look back on, to help me remember some of what happened during these adventures, which seem to go by even faster with each successive year.

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