A ton of familiar, top-level pros played this one, although to be honest my colleagues and I have been doing this long enough that sometimes it feels like everyone is familiar on some level. Just looking through the list of 117 players who survived to make it to today’s Day 2, I found myself thinking of how I’ve probably at least reported one hand on nearly every single one of them before (no shinola), thus ensuring their names are at least familiar to me, and for a lot of them their faces are, too.
Speaking of recognizing players, the theme of the day emerged early on yesterday after I’d made several rounds to gather names and start reporting. It was more than an hour into the event, perhaps even longer, when suddenly I realized I’d passed by a nearby table a dozen times without recognizing Sammy Farha sitting at it, playing his first event of the summer.
Every year a common question gets asked a few weeks into the WSOP: “Has anyone seen Farha?” He generally doesn’t play many preliminary events, although he always plays the Main. Last year he played just two prelims, and the year before four. Among the few he does play are always the bigger buy-in PLO events, though, and so it wasn’t a surprise at all to see him making his 2013 debut in Event No. 41.
What startled me, though, was how I didn’t trust myself initially that it was in fact Farha. That is him above, of course, as photographed by Joe Giron for PokerNews and the WSOP yesterday.
He was wearing a dark t-shirt and jeans and early in the day had sunglasses on. Later he’d remove those and occasionally wear dark-framed eyeglasses, and after being quiet for the first few hours he became more animated, eventually emerging as that Cheshire-cat-grinning, life-of-the-party character with whom many of us are familiar from his TV appearances. The fact that he began accumulating chips later on might have helped him suddenly seem more like himself, too (if that makes sense).
I realized later that while Farha looks great, he is like the rest of us a decade older than he was when he made that first, most lasting impression upon us all during ESPN’s coverage of the 2003 Main Event. We all look a little different than we did then, perhaps markedly so. I thought it was interesting, though, that I’d struggled initially to trust my recognition of him.
Soon after that I found myself doing a similar double-take with Andy Bloch. It’s been a couple of summers now since Bloch has donned his once signature big black cowboy hat and sported Full Tilt Poker logos, so like with Farha, Bloch’s current appearance doesn’t necessarily match the image with which most of us first got to know him.
After that it was Brock Parker who stymied us for a short while after having shaved his beard this week. Is that him, we asked? I covered one of his bracelet wins back in 2009, the year he won two, and like everyone else have grown accustomed to spotting his bald head and full beard in tourney fields. Took a moment or two extra, but again came recognition.
I think I might be feeling a kind of long-range effect of repeating the sequence year after year, with the Rio and specifically the Amazon Room being the only place in the world where I keep seeing a certain group of people over and over and over again. In any case, today I’ll get to see Farha, Bloch, and Parker again, along with many others for Day 2. Click over and follow along today, and see how many of the players are familiar to you.