Most years when I’ve come out to help report on the WSOP I felt something similar when stepping into the Rio that first day, especially early on. But I can’t really say I felt too much of that yesterday as I jumped in for my first full day of live blogging for PokerNews, helping out the team reporting on Event No. 32, the $5,000 NLHE 6-max. event.
I’ve mentioned to a few folks I’ve been reuniting with these last couple of days how it seems like the intervening months since the 2012 WSOP passed by more quickly than ever. Got to chat with both Jess Welman and Lukas Willems of the WSOP team yesterday and said as much to both of them, noting additionally how during this last year I’d been on a number of trips -- including several WSOP Circuit events -- which made coming out this year seem a little less momentous than in the past. Of course, both Jess and Lukas well knew what I’m describing, as they are both on the WSOP beat all year round.
So picking up with reporting on the second day the $5K 6-max. felt a little like stepping right back into something that hadn’t ever really ended for me. The PokerNews site had a redesign just before the start of the WSOP, and so there were a few small puzzles to solve yesterday to figure out how things were done. But none of it was too troubling, and I had both Jon and Mat to help me along the way, anyhow.
I’ve reported on this same $5K 6-max. event in the past, and it always proves to be one of the tougher events on the schedule, attracting both the toppermost tourney regs and the many online MTT and SNG grinders, too.
I remember well the 2009 WSOP when Matt Hawrilenko won this event, Josh Brikis took second, and Faraz Jaka third. There were 928 playing that year, with Hawrilenko earning over $1 million for first. The turnout slipped to 568 in 2010, though, and so for the past two years they’ve made it a $10K and drew fields of exactly 474 both times (with the winners each earning over $1 million).
Just 516 played the $5K 6-max. this year, meaning there’s a little over $600K up top for first. Of those 128 returned for yesterday’s Day 2, and 14 of them survived to night’s end, led by Jonathan Little, Allen Bari, and Vasile Buboi. Others still in the hunt include Ryan D’Angelo, Erick Lindgren, Andrew Robl, Jon Aguiar, and Lee Markholt.
There were tons of other notables among the eliminated and small-cashers yesterday. T.J. Cloutier was solidly in the mix right up until the money bubble, but he had a momentary slip-up to go out a few spots shy of the money. In his final hand, Cloutier four-bet jammed more than 60 big blinds with 8-7-suited and Mike Sowers was quick to call with his pair of kings.
“How’s that for ABC poker?” said Cloutier afterwards, as Jon reported. After losing the hand and during the counting down of chips, Cloutier expressed how he hadn’t realized Sowers had as much as he did and thus had him covered.
The table talk was generally engaging and fun for eavesdroppers. Lindgren was very chatty throughout the day and night, talking golf a lot with Craig Fishman near the end. Allen Bari could be heard occasionally sharing observations about life. Also Matt Glantz and Daniel Negreanu had a long, interesting conversation about the WSOP Player of the Year race and the inclusion of the WSOP Asia Pacific results.
Negreanu, of course, is at the center of that discussion currently as he leads the POY race thanks to his performance in Melbourne (including a Main Event win), with Tom Schneider’s second bracelet win this week putting him squarely behind Negreanu at the moment. Both Negreanu and Schneider are gunning for an unprecedented second WSOP POY title, by the way, with Negreanu having won in 2004 and Schneider in 2007.
The play was solid throughout, and obviously several steps up from what I experienced in my little tourney on Tuesday. There were a few situations like Cloutier’s bustout that perhaps appeared to ride that fine line between “move” and “mistake,” but as always I don’t think a person watching intermittent hands at a table can ever be wholly confident about such judgments.
It was a long day, and I suppose even after working a lot of events over the last several months I found myself dragging a bit as we crossed the 2 a.m. mark to work that 15th and final hour. Playing for 11 hours the day before probably didn’t help.
Will be back at the Rio today and the next several in a row, this time stepping over to join the coverage of Day 2 of the $3,000 pot-limit Omaha event in which 137 remain. Step over to the PokerNews live reporting page starting this afternoon to follow along.