Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Big Numbers at the Bellagio

The World Poker Tour has returned to the Bellagio this week for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, a $10K buy-in event that has become a huge punctuation mark of sorts to the poker calendar each year.

I had the chance to help cover this one three years ago, the last time (I believe) it still had Doyle Brunson’s name attached to it. Dan Smith won the event that year, topping a 449-entry field to win about $1.16 million.

In 2014 they drew 586 entries, and Mohsin Charania won it, earning $1.18 milly. Then last year there were 639 entries, with Kevin Eyster taking the title and a big $1.59 million first prize.

This year the Five Diamond is even bigger with a whopping 791 entries, which means the first prize is way up to $1.938,118 and even the runner-up will win seven figures. It’s a re-entry tournament, which helped boost the overall total. Still, that’s a huge turnout, suggesting the Five Diamond has become kind of a must-play for many top pros as they plan out the close of their tournament year.

Am seeing Jennifer Tilly is second in chips out of about 270 players heading into tomorrow’s Day 3. Tilly sent a funny (and insightful) tweet late in the day alluding to her status near the top of the leaderboard.

“Trying to hold on to my big stack is exhausting!” she wrote. “It’s like trying to keep a giant rock from rolling down the hill.”

I know some players thrive when they have a big stack, and in fact some aren’t comfortable otherwise. But many (most of us?) are more used to being in the middle somewhere or on the short side, which can sometimes make the new challenges presented by having a lot of chips especially taxing or even anxiety-producing.

I guess the Five Diamond (and WPT) is itself kind of experiencing having built up a “big stack” (in a way), with such a big field having turned out. As always happens with tours and particular events, drawing huge numbers presents a new challenge for organizers, sometimes causing problems as they discover various reasons why it isn’t so easy to accommodate so many. Thus will certain events peak in terms of turnouts, then fall back to something more sustainable thereafter.

I haven’t followed things that closely, so don’t know how well the Bellagio -- which doesn’t have the biggest room -- managed things these last couple of days. Hope all has gone well, though, and that sucker can continue to grow going forward.

Have to admit Tilly’s giant rock metaphor made me think as well about my status in my Pigskin Pick’em pool, where I continue to maintain a lead (and have for most of of the season). It is exhausting -- that is, the amount of mental energy I’ve found myself putting into this sucker when both picking games and sweating them every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday.

Am hoping Tilly can keep that big rock of chips right where it is as the tournament continues. Meanwhile I’ll be jetting in the other direction tomorrow, heading over to Prague for the European Poker Tour’s last festival, where I imagine some of those playing in Las Vegas this week will be heading once they are done.

Will have to see how well EPT Prague does to close out both 2016 and the EPT (nominally, anyway, as the rebranding begins in January).

Image: “2008-03-26_IMG_0519_Las Vegas - Fountains at the Bellagio” (adapted), Dieter Weinelt. CC BY-ND 2.0.

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