Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 WSOP, Day 28: The Future Is Now

The Pavilion RoomYesterday at the Rio I saw Event No. 40 ($2,500 short-handed limit hold’em) play out in exciting fashion.

Was sorry to see Terrence Chan come up short to finish in seventh yesterday (his eighth cash of the summer). Chan is an amazing player, great writer and thinker, and all-around good guy. But it was fun to see another good guy, Ronnie Bardah, somehow manage to comeback from 10th out of 10 to start the day to win the bracelet.

His heads-up opponent, Marco “Crazy Marco” Johnson also made a wild comeback yesterday, starting in ninth. The two of them had about 5-6 big bets each to start the day, and went off at 18-to-1 (Johnson) and 20-to-1 (Bardah) over in the Rio Sports Book.

The final table took place in the Pavilion Room, up on a stage positioned at one end. It was the first time I’d worked there so far this summer, and so got to experience the weird, almost uncanny feeling of sitting in such a large space (see above). They’ve removed a wall this year, I believe, thus and have fit a whopping 257 tables in the massive room.

Announcements of seats opening for players in the cash games echo back and forth above the players’ heads, sounding something like what you might hear in an airport terminal. Looking down on the scene from the stage, the set-up resembles some sort of huge disaster relief shelter or something. A very odd vibe (to evoke something I discussed earlier this week). Post-apocalyptic-like. The kind of scene you cannot help but survey and think of what the WSOP once was, and how different it has all become.

We actually began the day over in the Amazon Room, crammed next to a couple of other tournaments. We had several reporters sitting elbow-to-elbow at a single small table along the wall, with one of the tables for Event No. 42 ($2,500 Omaha/8-Stud/8) mere inches away from us.

Alan BostonAmong those seated at the table were Andy Bloch, Alan Boston, and Cyndy Violette. Boston had us all cracking up with his various quips, including comments about the tableau we reporters formed sitting around the table. Someone else said it looked like the Last Supper.

“It’s only the last supper for him,” said Boston, pointing at me, the only one among us with gray hair on top and eyeglasses (both of which definitely tend to give away the fact I have a few years on my colleagues). I laughed, and he said he was jealous of my having hair at all. He then continued forward with one of those hilarious self-loathing monologues such as you might’ve heard him deliver in interviews on the Two Plus Two Pokercast and elsewhere.

“This is how f*cking pathetic my life is,” he explained, noting how coming to play in the event represented a special day out for him. He also had little optimism about his prospects in the tournament. “Hey,” he added with mock glee, “I’m going to the Rio tonight to get f*cked!”

The fun continued as Andy Bloch noted how close we were sitting behind him. Bloch was wearing a black t-shirt with one of those evolution-of-man sequences on the front showing white silhouettes of crawling cavemen becoming upright-walking humans becoming a robot.

“You guys comfy back there?” he asked. “You want to help me play my hands?” he then added with a grin.

You get the sense that guys like Bloch and Boston have experienced all sorts of craziness at the WSOP, and thus can take the perhaps-not-so-ideal conditions in stride. However, before my event moved away from that location and to the Pavilion, I did notice one example of players being less than happy with one particular element of how their tourney was being run.

A Blackberry Playbook tablet being used for the new 'ChipTic' tracking systemThat Event No. 42 utilized this new “ChipTic” tracking system that involves dealers using Blackberry Playbook tablets to note bustouts and report chip counts at breaks. I hadn’t seen the system in use before, and so got a dealer to show me her tablet during the first break.

In theory the idea seems like it could be a nifty addition that might help a lot with keeping track of who is left in events as well as keeping tabs on their counts. I did notice a problem, though, when I saw that during the breaks there were ChipTic folks counting players’ chips not by eyeballing them -- as we reporters always do -- but actually handling them to count them out.

A few players hung around during that break to complain, with Greg Raymer in particular pointing out how it was a very bad idea to allow anyone to handle players’ chips when they were away. In fact, he refused to leave during the break as he did not want to be gone while others touched his chips.

Raymer’s absolutely right, and as someone who has been counting chips for years without ever touching a single one, I know there is no reason whatsoever why the ChipTic guys need to be handling chips as they are. I have to imagine the WSOP will put a stop to it quickly and instruct everyone to start counting chips by sight.

There were also large screens displaying a scrolling list of bustouts for the event, all having been entered by the dealers as they occurred. Up-to-the-minute stuff, as you see the exact time the player was recorded as having been eliminated. I snapped a pic of one such screen just as Mickey Appleman had wandered over to take a look.

Mickey Appleman checks out who has busted in Event No. 42Seemed like a funny juxtaposition to see Appleman -- who has played at the WSOP for more than three decades -- standing there in front of the display checking out who has busted, like some sort of meeting between the past and the future. Kind of reminded me of Bloch’s t-shirt, actually.

Boston had some funny lines about ChipTic, too, suggesting they could start tracking players by their ethnicity, chosen faith, or other factors.

“You know they could enter the data and sort it... they could even have a column for the players’ IQs! You know... over on the right there have a little ‘null set’ sign!”

Will be back at the Rio today, helping out with the coverage of Day 3 of that Event No. 42. Neither Boston, Bloch, Violette, nor Appleman survived yesterday. But of the 22 who did make it to today there are a lot of interesting names at the top of the counts, including Jeff Lisandro, Norman Chad, Tom Schneider, and Bryan Devonshire (all in the top 10).

Should be a fun one. Skip over to PokerNews' live reporting today to see what the future brings.

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Blogger AlCantHang said...

The handling of chips was removed from the procedure after one day. It was a crap notion but it came from on high.

6/24/2012 7:12 PM  

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