2009: Fifteen Minutes

I glanced up at the clock. There were less than two minutes remaining in the level. I made a mad dash for the door and exited the tournament area. My intended destination was the toilet.

With well over 600 players still remaining in the tournament (and most of them of the male persuasion), the toilets swell to capacity and a line backs up around the corner. As a veteran reporter, there's one thing I learned after five years on the tournament trail and that's avoid the bathrooms and the hallways on a break, especially on Day 1A.


The line to the men's room

After a 75 minute period of calm, the area outside the Imperial Ballroom is a chaotic zoo for a total of fifteen minute. Some of them are in search of the toilets. The smokers venture outside to the designated smoking area to get their nicotine fix as a thick layer of second-hand smoke hangs slowly lingers.

Several players brought their families along with them to the Bahamas. They utilize their break time to gather with their loved ones. While other players whip out their cell phones and unleashed rapid fire updates to their friends and families back home.

Small groups of players gather in the congested hallways and recount the action and chip movements during the previous level, while others just moan and groan about the bad beats they endured.


Joe Hachem signs a Bahamian $1 bill for a fan

Several Team PokerStars Pro members such as Greg Raymer and Daniel Negreanu are constantly accommodating picture requests from fans.

The hungry players patiently stand in line and wait to purchase a snack and hope to have enough time to gobble it down before their break ends. The more adventurous types make a beeline for the bar and knock back a couple of cold Kaliks.

And then there's the onslaught of bad beat stories which are told in various languages. One young player screamed into his cell phone in German. I didn't understand a single word until the end when he used a familiar phrase, "Sucked out! So sick."

Another young player was apparently speaking to his father back home in the States. He explained his elimination hand in painstaking detail how he had his Kings snapped off by pocket treys. "That donkey rivered a three on me and now I'm done," he explained.

Tournament director Mike Ward made an announcement on the PA system that there was less than one minute remaining in the break. Players abruptly ended their phonecalls and conversations and smokers took one final long puff before they sprinted back into the Imperial Ballroom.

The break was over as an eerie silence fell over the hallway.