Monday, July 16, 2012

2012 WSOP, Day 50: Racing to the End

The final four tables at the 2012 WSOP Main EventIt has come fast. The last day of the 2012 World Series of Poker -- save the Main Event final table, to play out in late October -- has arrived.

Yesterday’s Day 6 was a marathon, made both longer and more challenging by the many breaks taken throughout the day and night.

I mentioned yesterday how this year ESPN essentially has five “feature” tables around which they can shoot -- the main one in the “mothership” arena, a secondary one to the side, and three more over in what used to be called the “Blue” section but last night was dubbed “Gold.” Those pictures were from when they had gotten down to four tables, with the main, the secondary, and the two on the side.

They played down from 97 to 27 players yesterday, which meant in addition to those five tables there were six more “outer” tables set up to begin play, but gradually as players busted those were broken, the remaining players reseated, and the tables literally broken down and taken out of the Amazon room.

The various areas are quite far apart, actually, which was one reason why extra breaks would come up in order to give players time to find their new locations. They’d occasionally switch entire tables sometimes, too, in order to make one or another “featured,” and that do led to the extra 10-minute pauses in the action.

So it was a long one. All in all, it would take until after 2 a.m. (five two-hour levels plus part of a sixth) to eliminate 70 players and establish today’s final three tables. (I should mention the ESPN folks have been great to work alongside, and we’ve had many occasions to help one another out while making space for each other, too.)

The knockouts came quickly at the start, though the pace would slow down as the day wore on. There was some minor buzz about all of the “big names” getting knocked out on Day 6, including Gavin Smith, Vanessa Selbst, Jason Somerville, David “ODB” Baker, and 2011 November Niner Sam Holden. At the dinner break I joked on Twitter that there were still big names left, including Martinezalonso, Israelashvili, and Gwennael Grandmougin. Typing those made me think of players from past WSOPs such as Manoj Viswanathan and Meenakshi Subramaniam.

There will be plenty of intrigue today among the final 27, led currently by Marc Ladouceur who finished 63rd in the Main Event just last year. Also of note is the fact that two women still remain as well, Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille, with Hille currently fifth in the counts. I will have to look it up to be sure, but I think 2000 might be the last year two women made the final 27 when Annie Duke finished 10th and Kathy Liebert 17th.

Today may take a while, with the average stack still deep at a little over 61 big blinds, and only four players returning to less than 30 BBs. Who knows, though? I’m remembering 2009 when everyone was sure the 27-to-9 day would be lasting until dawn and they ended up racing to the end by 9 p.m.

Establishing ground rulesSpeaking of racing, I’d be remiss not to mention the late night chair racing competition that came after all was done last night in which Remko, Rich, B.J., and Ali Nejad invented a competition and executed it in the most hilarious fashion imaginable.

The contest required participants to run with a dealer’s chair, gathering momentum and then jumping on it at a certain point to see how far they could ride afterwards. Kind of like bobsledding, although the ultimate goal was distance, not speed.

The order and results could not have been funnier.

First the sight of Remko, literally a flying Dutchman, establishing the mark to beat.

Then Rich, despite his best efforts coming up short of Remko’s mark.

Then B.J., who looked for all the world as though he was about to cruise past Remko when he leaned too far and fell forward, crashing to the sound of laughter all around.

And finally Ali, there to shoot the last of his ESPN video reports for the WSOP, providing his own commentary then expertly gliding past Remko to victory.

We were still laughing as we left, racing back to get a few hours rest before today’s Day 7. Like I say, today may take a while. But I’m guessing no matter how long it takes it’ll seem like we’re flying.

(EDIT [added 7/23/12]: "The Great WSOP Media Chair Race" on YouTube.)

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