Friday, July 04, 2008

2008 WSOP, Day 35: The Big One

The End Starts HereThe World Series of Poker. Am still a little in awe of the fact that I’m here in Vegas writing about this sucker, helping to try to tell its story to the outside world.

At a moment when it is probably safe to say more people are interested in hearing that story than ever before.

And now we’re talking Main Event. The end has finally begun. The Main Event may not have the biggest buy-in of all of the events. But the stakes are definitely higher.

Way higher.

While poker players and enthusiasts will debate endlessly over whether the Main Event’s nominal claim to crown a “world champion” really signifies much at all, the Main Event is always going to be the one poker tournament that attracts the most scrutiny of any other. Period. And that goes for the play and the coverage.

Yesterday -- “Day 1a” of the Main Event -- felt similar in some ways to all of the other days I’ve spent covering the WSOP thus far. But there were some big differences as well.

I think it might have taken all of us a few moments to get the hang of working with 40-plus colleagues at once rather than just a handful. But these are all smart, quick-witted folks I’m working with at PokerNews, and it didn’t take long before we were all playing along together like the UNLV marching band who kicked off the day with an encore of “Viva Las Vegas,” the same song with which they ushered in the WSOP over a month ago.

But I’ll admit to having constantly felt this nagging worry, pretty much all day, that we were in the midst of something too, too huge to share properly with those not there to see it.

That’s not to say that when covering one of those 2,700-player “donkaments” one ever gets the feeling that the event is containable -- that it is ever possible to tell the “whole story” of what is happening. But the fact is those preliminary events all ultimately produce, in one way or another, stories of narrow scope, with few meaningful subplots and only a couple or more characters who emerge as essential to the narrative.

No, this is too friggin’ big. So much so I got the sense that even the “usual suspects” -- i.e., the name pros whom we tend to latch onto early because they are familiar and make for easy, relatable posts -- were really and truly just minor players here.

Almost felt sorry for them, sitting there helplessly amid the sea of unknowns. Maybe if they get to Day 3 or 4, when the money bubble bursts and the final table starts to become a more concrete possibility, that’s when yr David Benyamine or Josh Arieh or Dan Harrington or Freddy Deeb could theoretically emerge as an important figure in this here epic tale. But not before.

Of course, all of those guys I just named got bounced yesterday, as did numerous other “name” pros. But some advanced, like Kido Pham, a guy I’d like to think might have a real shot at going deep in this one. I spent a bit of time near the end of the day watching him work his table of less experienced players. Ended up writing a longer-than-usual post about what I saw, trying to convey what I sensed to be a seasoned pro in complete, awe-inspiring control of a potentially-chaotic situation, surrounded by amateurs yet having tamed them utterly into doing his bidding.

The hands I reported were fairly mundane, and I don’t know if the whole idea of Pham’s dominance really came across or not. (Go read the post and you tell me.) In fact, the post is kind of a weird one, I think, with me just describing three almost-random hands that seemed to illustrate something about what was happening there at that particular table, and perhaps elsewhere in the Amazon Room on Day 1a of the WSOP Main Event.

Like I say, dunno if any of that landed or not. But like all those amateurs at the table, I took my shot. I mean, hell, what is this life about if not for that?

There were some other good moments yesterday, such as another post near day’s end when I told about an eighth-grade school teacher having made it to the end of Day One. (Titled that one “What I Did On My Summer Vacation.”) And some not-so-good moments, too. I’d left out a key step in a Barry Greenstein hand early in the day, and it took a short while before I’d finally realized my snafu and fixed it. Not a huge deal, but mildly embarrassing, and it kind of put me in a funk for an hour or so there. As anybody who reads this blog probably has figured out long ago, I’m not one to just write any ol’ error-filled, half-assed thing and hope it flies. So I hate, hate, hate to put something out there that reveals in unambiguous, full-blown glory my own fallibility.

But, of course, as any reader has surely also picked up on, I ain’t so deluded as to think I’m without flaw. Am gonna screw up, and so will deal with it and move on. And I think most folks reading along -- both here and over on PokerNews -- understand that, too.

Will be back at the Rio at noon for more Day One craziness. They have us working every day, though tomorrow I’ll get to leave at the dinner break so as not to expend every little bit of creative fuel I might have left here at the end of this marathon. Am also looking forward to a brief meet-up with Scott Long, co-host of one of my all-time favorite poker podcasts, Ante Up!, this morning before getting back to work.

Follow along as always over on PokerNews, y’all, to see how well me and my colleagues over there are able to get this sucker across.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Along with David Benyamine, Josh Arieh, Dan Harrington , Freddy Deeb there is Ted Forrest, Daniel Negreanu, Andy Black, David Pham, Tom Dwan gone. They are dropping like flies. Donkeys flapping their tails perhaps, swatting those flies.

and no need to sweat any little snafu Shamus...You're doing a great job!

7/04/2008 10:25 PM  

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