2007 World Series: The equalizer
The Amazon Room is full of young guns, online poker prodigies, and youthful geniuses who get quite a kick (and quite rich) out of fleecing people two and three times their age. Yeah, they may be young guns, but they aren't one of the Young Guns.
In the house tonight is Lou Diamond Phillips. Sure, it's been nearly 20 years since the Hollywood star rode in "Young Guns," but in my aging and addled mind, he will always be Jose Chavez y Chavez.
The World Series is not unfamiliar with stars of the big and little screens. Just last night I watched Shannon Elizabeth play in the Stud Hi-Lo event while Tobey Maguire sat at the same six-handed table with Isabelle Mercier. However, it was Phillips entrance tonight that dove home for me the equalizing nature of the World Series.
Tomorrow will host yet another in a series of $1,500 No-Limit hold'em events. Usually, the night before these events features a line for single-table satellites that snakes out of the Amazon Room and into the hallway. Unlike in the main casino, there is no special line for Diamond Card holders or casino hosts ushering players into secret rooms where the wealthy gamblers plot the overthrow of Pahrumph. No, the satellite line is a Line. The people who run the line are like the Soup Nazi. You don't mess around, you state what you want, and you move forward.
In Hollywood, Phillips may still have enough cachet to be waved to the front of the line at the best clubs (or, maybe he doesn't--we don't hang out together, so I wouldn't know). Here, Phillips has to stand in line to play a satellite just like anybody else. And that is exactly what he was doing when I left the room a few minutes ago. Alone, arms crossed, Phillips stood about 30 people back and waiting to get a seat in one of the many winner-take-all sit-and-gos that happen all night long.
Phillips' place in line reminds me of the simple premise on which this entire event is based: If you have the money, you can stand in line and get your seat like everybody else. What you do after that is up to how well you play poker. If you do well enough, it doesn't matter if you are Lou Diamond Phillips or Captain Lou Albano, you can walk away with a bracelet.
That's what is happening nearly around the clock here. At this hour, you can watch every variety of unknown, celebrity, or poker pro playing in a variety of different events.
Among those players, you will once again see Barry Greenstein multi-tabling two tournaments. He has a seat in both the $2,000 no-limit hold'em event and the Limit 2-7 Triple Draw rebuy event. During his dinner break from the no-limit event, he ran over and worked up a stack in the 2-7 game. Then, when 2-7 broke for dinner, he made his way back to his no-limit table. I'd lost track of him for a few minutes when I received a text message that read: "21 steps apart. Good chips in both events." It was a reminder of the day he did much the same thing: Seventeen Steps With Barry Greenstein.
Earlier today, I wrote a bit about how the 2-7 event tends to make my head explode. Later, I stepped up to Greg Raymer and said much the same thing.
"It's not really that hard a game," he said. This was coming from the man with Joe Tehan on his right and Todd Brunson two to his left.
"See, that's the thing," I said. "It looks easy, but I think it's much harder than it looks."
Five minutes later, in between hands, Greg had almost convinced me the game was easy. In fact, if it weren't for the fact registration was over, I might have plopped down my cash and sat down. (No, not really.)
That said, Greg's short lesson further spoke to the Lou Diamond Proposition. If I really had the time and really had the inclination to let the likes of Greg, Daniel Negreanu, or multiple-occasion champion Billy Baxter beat the hell out of me for a few hours, I could sit down and play with the best. It's a point that has been made so many times that it's almost trite, but I'm never going to have the chance to play 18 with Tiger or catch a Superbowl touchdown pass from Brett Favre. However, given that I ever stop writing long enough, I might get the chance to get check-raised by KidPoker or play William "BrettFavre" Jensen heads-up.
Or, had the occasion presented itself, I might have just ended up playing alongside Noah "Exclusive" Boeken today. He started the $2,000 No-Limit event today with 4000 chips like everybody else. By dinner he had turned that 4,000 into more than 45,000.
In another room, but the same tournament, sat Tom McEvoy, the 1983 World Series Main Event champion and the first person to ever win the big one after getting in via satellite.
Not to belabor the point, but this is what I'm talking about. Thirty years ago, McEvoy was basically an unknown. He made his way into a satellite, played the main event, and has spent the last 25 years making a name for himself both in tournament poker and as a poker author. When McEvoy won his championship, Boeken was two years old. Now, thanks to online poker and the globalization of the game, both men are making their way through a field so big it would've seemed silly a few years ago. On this stage, they are equals with only their chip stacks marking their difference.
That's how the room looks tonight. As Phillips' Chavez said "I told you I would find the way, and the way is west."
So is Las Vegas.