Friday, July 13, 2012

2012 WSOP, Day 47: Tracking Stacks

Tracking StacksWas another busy day yesterday at the Rio for Day 3 of the World Series of Poker Main Event. More than a thousand players were eliminated yesterday, with the field shrinking from 1,765 down to just 720 by night’s end. That means it won’t be long after today’s Day 4 begins that the money bubble will burst.

That’s right. Friday the 13th will start very unluckily for a few dozen players, namely those who don’t last to the final 666. (Sinister, eh?)

Gaelle Baumann began the day yesterday as the chip leader with a stack of 505,800. Someone asked me before play started whether anyone would reach 1 million yesterday and I said I thought a few probably would. I imagined the field would be cut in half, which meant the average stack would double and so 1 million seemed likely for a leader or leaders.

In fact, they busted at a faster clip than I had expected, with about 100 players hitting the rail every hour. One player did make it to 1 million just before the last break of the night, Benjamin Alcober. He’d slip back below that milestone by the end of play, but by then four others had gotten to seven figures: David D’Alesandro (1,100,000), Sean Rice (1,076,000), Jacob Balsiger (1,065,000), and Leo Wolpert (1,003,500).

It was during the last break of the night that the PokerNews video team had the neat idea to shoot Mickey Doft counting Benjamin Alcober’s stack. Check out the master at work in “Mickey Doft vs. The Stack”...

It’s true that covering any large field, multi-day tournament usually involves some scrambling around at the end of the night trying to ensure the big stacks are found and identified for the last reports of the night.

Usually the chip leaders will be players we’ve been tracking all along, although sometimes it will happen that someone will suddenly win a couple of big hands and appear with a big stack at the end without having been noticed earlier. Such can happen in the Main Event where there are so many players and so many chips in play.

Of course, finding the chip leader at the end of each day of the Main Event is a bigger deal than in other tournaments, since that person often becomes the focus of headlines and stories to begin the following day. And every once in a while a player might do something to make that task less simple than it might seem.

For example, at the end of one of the three Day 1 flights this year, the player who ended the day as chip leader refused to give his name when asked during the day. Of course, he ultimately had to write it on the slip of paper they pass out at the end of the night as well as on the bag in which he put his chips, so eventually his name was found out. But his refusal earlier made working him into the coverage a little awkward at the end of the evening.

I know I’ve written about this issue coming up before in a couple of different contexts, once in 2009 in a post called “The Name Game.” I remember back a few years ago a player who ended one of the early days -- I think it was a Day 1 -- actually writing down a false name which then got reported all over.

This year a player intentionally wrote down a larger number for his count than he had at the end of a day 1 (he added 200,000), thereby undeservedly earned himself a spot at the top of the counts and in headlines on the following day. Other, unintentional errors occasionally come up in the writing down of names and numbers, and in the transferring of names and numbers to official reports, too.

Such problems are mostly minor and/or temporary, though. Actually identifying players becomes less of an issue each day, of course, as the field continues to shrink. And there will be fewer and fewer stacks for Mickey and the rest of us to count, too.

Head over to PokerNews to follow today’s Day 4 as the stacks -- and the hands -- get bigger and bigger.

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