Sunday, May 30, 2010

2010 WSOP, Day 2: The Grand Games

One of these gets you a seat in Event No. 3 at the 2010 WSOPThey call them the “donkaments.” The low buy-in no-limit hold’em events, such as the $1,000 NLHE Event No. 3 to which I was assigned to help cover yesterday for PokerNews. The term is a bit of a double jibe, as I understand it, against both the potluck nature of the events and the (presumed) average skill level of those who enter it.

In the case of the $1K event, players start with 3,000 chips, with blinds just 25/25 to begin. And in fact they do get to play five one-hour levels before the antes kick in. However, the structure is ultimately fast enough that one generally does have to have things go one’s way early and often in order to get anywhere. As an indication of how quickly the pace generally goes, we started with 2,601 players yesterday, and after ten levels ended the day with just 276.

As far as the quality of play is concerned, the low buy-in does encourage a lot of folks to take shots who perhaps otherwise wouldn’t be playing in the World Series of Poker. And, yeah, you do see occasionally some not-so-smart play when passing through the tables, especially on the first day. Folks committing themselves unnecessarily in bad (or hopeless) situations, and joining the parade of “donks” that were leaving the tournament at the rate of about four per minute yesterday.

That said, I generally find myself hesitant to use that term “donkament.”

I obviously don’t use it while reporting the event, as I have no particular desire to denigrate either the event or those participating in it. And in fact, I tend to avoid using it even when speaking less formally about it to others. “What event are you covering?” I’ll be asked. “The $1K,” I’ll reply. “Ah, the donkament,” comes the usual response, the term in this case sometimes also involving a note of pity, as those events do tend to be quite arduous to cover.

Indeed, it was a pretty demanding day yesterday. We were at the Rio for about 15 hours, having arrived a bit earlier than usual to get acclimated over in the Pavilion and in the newly-arranged Amazon, and staying a little later, too, to tie up loose ends when finished.

I spent the first four hours or so over in the Amazon, where about 60 of the 270-plus tables devoted to Event No. 3 were situated. Eventually all of those were broken down and players sent to the Pavilion, where I followed them and remained for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

I began the day situated in one of the media boxes next to Nolan Dalla, the WSOP Media Director. About an hour in I remembered that when my work at the 2009 WSOP had concluded last July, I was also sitting next to Nolan in the Amazon Room as the Main Event played down to its November Nine. “Seems like we were just here,” I said to him and he laughingly agreed.

Once over in the Pavilion and all set up there with the witty Danafish (my blogging partner for this weekend), I found it a little disorienting at times to be working and moving around in such a huge room. It kind-of-sort-of felt exactly like the Amazon, but once you reached the end of a long section of tables there was another one. And another one.

The Pavilion Room, emptyThe sucker is too big to keep entirely in one’s field of vision. Someone mentioned to me when they saw that picture of the empty Pavilion Room I’d taken earlier in the week it reminded them of The Matrix.

I thought about that observation yesterday, as that “Matrix” effect is heightened a bit when one walks through the many tables full of players with hands being dealt and played, chips passing back and forth, again and again and again.

We made it through the day in relatively good shape, having endured some technical issues to survive the proceedings well enough. Both Danafish and I agreed by the day’s end it felt like we’d been there much longer than just one day. And we return today for Day 1b, where it is expected we’ll see an even larger field of runners. And we’ll do it all over again.

At one point yesterday I was able to hear a conversation between a couple of players just after the dinner break in which one revealed he’d never made it that far in a tournament before. Ended up writing a short post sharing the story. I guess in some ways the story reveals why I ain’t so quick to use the “donkament” word.

Sure, these $1K events aren’t the most prestigious (although they’re arguably among the most challenging). But I’m probably much more apt to identify with those who enter these than the high rollers over in the $50K Player’s Championship. I kind of felt glad for the guy for whom making it past the dinner break was a milestone of sorts. He had a short stack and probably wasn’t going to be making it much further, but he’d accomplished something. He’d survived to that point, and was gathering experience to help him perhaps achieve more in the future.

And for those of us reporting the event, well, we survived, too. Which’ll help us when we try it all over again today.

Okay, so they’re donkaments. But they end up being special experiences for many who play them. And there’s something pretty cool about that, something that makes me want to find a better way of referring to these events.

There are six of these $1,000 no-limit hold’em events on the WSOP this summer. I think I’m assigned to at least of couple of them. I believe I’ll start thinking of these events as “The Grand Games.” That distinguishes them from the other bracelet events, but also suggests something that better evokes how, in fact, these events are a pretty good time for most of those taking their shots in them. (Can throw in the Ladies’ and Seniors’ events into this category as well, both of which also cost a grand to play.)

So... coverage of this first of The Grand Games continues over on PokerNews’ live reporting page today.

By the way, this will be my last day for a little while at the WSOP, as I travel to Lima, Peru tomorrow to help cover that LAPT event. Hope to continue posting updates of what I’m up to while there over the next week, but we’ll see how that goes. In any event, there will be a brief interruption in the WSOP stuff here for a short while.

Wish me well as I go check out what that other hemisphere is all about.

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Blogger cmitch said...

Have a safe trip and fun down there.

When do you head back to LV?

5/30/2010 1:19 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks, cmitch! Returning to LV on 6/7.

5/31/2010 10:42 AM  

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