Friday, July 22, 2011

2011 WSOP, A Reporter’s Notebook

2011 WSOP, A Reporter’s NotebookAs I’ve done every summer I’ve been to the WSOP, I thought I’d compile in links to all of my daily reports in a single post if only to make it handy to find things later. (Here are the compilations from past years: 2008, 2009, 2010.)

These aren’t so much reports on what was happening at the WSOP as personal reflections on the experience of being there. In fact, looking back over these 30 or so posts, my sense is they are even more personal-sounding than in past years. There are a couple of reasons why, I think.

One, I had less time this summer to write on Hard-Boiled Poker than in the past, partly because of my work schedule, but also because I had other writing obligations beyond the live blogging for PokerNews. Thus I was more apt to stick to my own stories and not take the time to research and report on everything else going on.

Also, having done this four times now, I’m certainly less starry-eyed and/or affected by the novelty of it all. The WSOP remains an incredible spectacle, something any poker player or fan should check out at some point in his or her life. But while every tournament is different and produces its own unique stories, much remains the same from year to year. And thus the only thing that seems to be changing is how one responds to it all. And so that’s what seems worth sharing, if only to provide something new and different here than what I’ve written before (or what others are writing).

To Vegas, To Friends
A prelude, noting how one of the best things about returning to the WSOP each summer is getting to reunite with old friends (and make new ones).

The Rio in the sun2011 WSOP, Day 22: The Longest Day of the Year
My long day of travel to Las Vegas coincides with the summer solstice, i.e., the longest day of the year. I share a few quick reunions, meet a few new folks, and start preparing mentally for the four weeks of work to come.

2011 WSOP, Day 23: Percentages, Points, and Kevmath
I talk with WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla about turnouts, play some pub trivia, and have brunch with Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers.

2011 WSOP, Day 24: In Which the World Gets Smaller
I help cover Event No. 40, the $5,000 NLHE (Six-Handed) event. I meet and chat with Jim McManus, our conversation interrupted by a playing of the national anthem.

2011 WSOP, Day 25: Just One More Thing
I mark the passing of Peter Falk. I also share some uproarious questions asked by the rail of Phil Hellmuth.

2011 WSOP, Day 26: Game Shows in the Desert
A bit about the “Mothership” or “Thunderdome” or whatever you want to call that elaborate set constructed there in the middle of the Amazon Room to showcase final tables at this year’s WSOP.

2011 WSOP, Day 27: Look at You Look at Me
I move on to Event No. 45, one of the $1,000 no-limit hold’em events, and talk a bit about eye contact, both between players at the tables and between players and reporters passing by.

Getting Loopy2011 WSOP, Day 28: Getting Loopy
I’ve only been reporting for a week, but already I’m starting to be affected (again) by the repetitive nature of tourney reporting, i.e., the patterns, the loops.

2011 WSOP, Day 29: Split Day
I start out covering the last day of Event No. 45 ($1,000 NLHE), then hop over to help with Event No. 47 ($2,500 Omaha/8-Stud/8), and remark some on the differences between the two fields and the overall vibes of each event.

2011 WSOP, Day 30: Coincidences
Full Tilt Poker suddenly shut down altogether the day before, so there was no avoiding talking some about that. I also met Julius Goat, and there was no avoiding talking about that, either.

2011 WSOP, Day 31: In Which I Lose to Joe Hachem Playing Chinese Poker
I’ve moved over to Event No. 51, the $1,500 PLO/8 event. And yes, me and two colleagues did lose to the 2005 WSOP Main Event champ, although I did make kings full to take the bottom.

2011 WSOP, Day 32: Snapshot
I stop by to look in on Day 1 of Event No. 53, the $1,000 Ladies NLHE Championship, where I run into the photographer Wolynski, leading me to think a little about how capturing the scene in images compares to trying to do so in words.

2011 WSOP, Day 33: Come On Get Happy
I reflect on the exciting finale of Event No. 51 ($1,500 PLO/8), won by a fellow playing in his first ever WSOP event using money he’d made working for $10/hr. for his father.

2011 WSOP, Day 34: Connections
Vera Valmore is in town, and we have an enjoyable visit with the poker player and coach Tri Nguyen before checking out the final table of the Ladies Event.

2011 WSOP, Day 35: I See What You Are Doing, But What Are You Thinking?
I help with the coverage of Event No. 55, the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship, and reflect a bit on what a reporter can and cannot do.

2011 WSOP, Day 36: No Hard Stop
A post written after working until after dawn, the only day all summer I had to do so.

Despite others' theories on the matter, a Coke float requires no ice2011 WSOP, Day 37: Exploding Floats and Missed Flush Draws
I enjoy a day off with Vera, a highlight of which was being delivered a perfectly absurd lecture by a waiter on the science behind Coke floats. We also check in on the final table of Event No. 55 (the $50K Poker Player’s Championship), where Phil Hellmuth would miss all of those flush draws.

2011 WSOP, Day 38: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
The Main Event begins, a player dressed as Snow White plays, as does the Poker Grump (not a dwarf).

2011 WSOP, Day 39: KK vs. AA
Having a day off, I play a “deepstack” event at the Rio and run kings into aces relatively early, thereby allowing me to get away from poker for much of the day and evening.

2011 WSOP, Day 40: The Utility Player
Back to work at the Main Event, I spend Day 1c running around to various sections of the Amazon, filling in wherever needed.

2011 WSOP, Day 41: The Lottery
Reporting from the super busy Day 1d of the Main Event, my favorite story involves a player who won his seat via the North Carolina lottery, and played like it.

2011 WSOP, Day 42: 6,865 & Other Numbers
Crunching a few of the numbers regarding Main Event entrants, the total way over most folks’ expectations.

A glimpse2011 WSOP, Day 43: A Glimpse
I’m back at the Main Event, helping cover Day 2b, and am moved to remark on how fast it is all going, and how hard -- or impossible -- it is to keep up with it all.

2011 WSOP, Day 44: Unwind
The WSOP takes a day off, I play in the media tournament, do the pub trivia thing again, and just hang out for awhile.

2011 WSOP, Day 45: Places, Everyone!
Day 3 of the Main Event, and the ESPN cameras are all around us, shooting everything. Starting to feel a bit like we are all -- staff, media, players -- actors on a set, with the directors guiding our every move.

2011 WSOP, Day 46: A Short-Stacked Story
We’re already up to Day 4 of the Main Event and the money bubble bursts. Moments before, I find myself becoming most interested in the shortest stack in the room, wondering whether he’s gonna make it or not.

2011 WSOP, Day 47: Thinking Poker
Moving on to Day 5, highlighted by dinner with Andrew “Foucault” Brokos and Nate Meyvis, both of whom would crack the top 100 of the ME.

2011 WSOP, Day 48: Access
By the time we reach Day 6, the number of people covering the Main Event well exceeds the number playing it, and space becomes limited.

2011 WSOP, Day 49: In the Thick of It
Getting down to just three tables on Day 7 of the Main Event, and my friggin’ laptop won’t seem to fire up.

2011 WSOP, Day 50: Smile
The November Nine is set. And they are all smiles. And so is everyone else, it seems.

Rio in the rearviewRio in the Rearview
A quick postscript on the journey home.

Thanks again, everyone, for reading.

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Blogger Pauly said...

As per usual, great job! Good to see you this summer, but bummed out we didn't get to spend more time together.

I applaud your shift in coverage this summer -- the readers really got a view of the WSOP through your perspective. It's not easy to write about the WSOP year after year without feeling as though you're repeating yourself. Well done.

7/22/2011 2:46 PM  

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