WSOP Day 2 Wrap-Up

Let us speak of torture. Not the truly ugly kind that we don't speak about over intimate dinners, but the kind of torture than can only be experienced in the realm of poker.

It begins with either playing in the first flight of Day 1 and having to wait two days to play again, or playing in the last flight of Day 1 and only getting a few hours sleep before another grueling 13 hour session. In the middle of this torture is that 13 hours, where your chips teeter on the brink of belonging to someone else all day long, where your cards go dead when you're awake and go live when you're napping. It's the 13 hours where the players stroke their egos by offering caveman yells to the ESPN cameras or wave in the air a Beckham jersey that hasn't been washed...well, ever. It's the 13 hours where the media is pestering you, the energy drinks just aren't working, and some drunk railbird is heckling you from behind the velvet ropes through gargles of beer.

Now, one should feel fortunate, I suppose, to have lived so long in this tournament where more than 5000 other players have been eliminated. One should feel quite lucky (or is it skillful?) to have maneuvered through the minefields of no-limit poker and come out at the end of Day 2 with chips to call one's own.

Why, then, should I speak of torture? In short, because 569 active players are going to bed tonight. If the fates are kind, 569 active players will wake up in the morning. All of those 569 active players will sit down in their seats at noon on Monday. And within just a couple hours, 560 of them will get paid a minium of $12,500.

That leaves nine people who will leave with nothing in their pockets but their wrinkled player's registration card. The torture, friends, is going to bed wondering whether you'll be one of those nine people.

Sure, the big stacks should feel somewhat secure in making the money. But in this game, nothing is secure. Just ask Chip Reese, who had a substantial amount of chips and lost them all to PokerStars player Jon Lane just twenty minutes before the end of play. Twenty-six hours of work can be gone in less than an instant. With the mere utterance of the words "All-in" or, perhaps, even worse, "I call," everything you'd dreamt about for an entire year could be sitting in front of that guy in the six seat.

Here on Day 2, the big stacks seperated themselves from the people who were going home. It seemd a sure thing that Graeme "sacrifice"" Harrison would live to see Day 3. I had already penciled him in as the chip leader among our remianing qualifiers. And to be sure, the Scotsman and retired blackjack card counter still has a mountain of chips.

Graeme "sacrifice" Harrison

But, as mentioned above, the story of the night quickly became young Jon Lane. In a hand that reverberated across the room, Lane and his pocket nines made a full houe to crush Chip Reese's hopes and vault Lane to more than $330,000 in chips. The 22 year-old full-time poker player from Oshkosh (by gosh), WI stood in what looked like awe as Card Player, Poker Pages, and Poker Wire surrounded him and counted down his stacks. Only a big smile he shot to the rail belied his concentration. Lane qualified on PokerStars in a Sunday multi-table satellite and looks to go into Day 3 as one of the chip leaders of the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Jon Lane

At just past nine o'clock this evening, we had our eye on a different player who was rising through the ranks. Jean Pierre Piquette stacked his chips neatly in front of him and seemed the unassuming sort. It was just the assignment for roving correspondent Mad Harper. She went in for the in-game interview and came back with this brilliant report.

Not shaken or stirred

You might think James Bond fan Jean-Phillippe Piquette is not really the ambitious type. Back home in Laval, Quebec, he earns his daily crust as a sandwich delivery boy for a Mike's Submarine franchise. Take home pay? A humble six bucks an hour. Fair enough - there's nothing wrong with that. But Jean-Philippe's been working at Mike's for the last four years and up until yesterday morning, probably had no intention of quitting any time soon.

His extraordinary performance at the WSOP is likely to change all that. Whatever happens when play resumes on Day 3 tomorrow, it now seems pretty likely that the 25-year-old French Canadian can put his delivery days behind him. With a 180,000 stack, and less than 569 players left in the field, "Piquette" seems assured - at the very least - of making the initial $12,500 prize band. Put that in sandwich terms and you're talking a straight 2,083 hours of Sub distribution.

Up until now, Piquette's biggest win - aside from winning the PokerStars qualifier that brought him to Vegas - was $2,500 in an online tourney. And he probably blew all that playing Blackjack. "Basically, my poker bank rolls my Blackjack. It's a catastrophe when I play Blackjack." Piquette took up poker after watching Rounders. It's saved him from Blackjack bankrupty - and brought him within firing range of $7,500,000.


Not to be overlooked or outdone, 2004 World Series of Poker Champion Greg Raymer sat in the very back of the room at Table 1. His fossil, double Diet Coke, and a massive $300,000 in chips were just eye candy. Raymer became the real entertainment. As he raked pot after pot, he entertained his table and the rail with joke after joke. In one particularly hilarious moment, he spoke of body odor, telling the crowd that not once during his championship run did he feel as if he were sweating. But then, when he raised his arms in a winner's celebration, he realized he smelled worse than anything around him. The rail roared and Raymer went back to winning pots, one of just two WSOP champions left in the event.

So, when I lifted my arms up like this...

Rose-colored glasses they are not

As Mad and I stood watching Raymer entertain the crowd, she pointed to a box on the floor and uttered, "Look, a box of broken dreams." There it sat. A box full of good cards gone bad. If there were a metaphor for the 5000 players for whom this tournament is already a memory, the box was it.

Monday at noon, the remaining 569 tortured souls will return to the Rio Poker Warehouse and find the blinds at $1000-$2000 with a $300. The average stack right now sits at just about $100,000.

Any guesses on how many hours the short-stacks will sleep tonight?

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker