WSOP Event #2: In the groove

If you've never been to the World Series of Poker, or if you've only experienced the pre-Rio years, the madness that surrounds an event of this size (the only bigger one was last year's main event), would likely surprise you. Nearly-naked women are around every corner and make every effort to shove their respective products in your hands. Wads of cash are tossed about like hot potatoes. Miracle four-outers seem to hit at a frequency that makes them seem less like miracles and more like the mass-produced efforts of sweatshop workers.

And yet, for anyone who was here last year, it all seems--if I can say this without losing my Reality Club membership--normal. After about ten minutes, the circus that surrounds this huge event is like wallpaper in your parents' house. It may be loud and sometimes obnoxious, but, after a while, you stop noticing it. After all, this is not about the circus. This is not about the lion-tamers and the recently-tamed. This is about the cards, the chips, and the millions that will be won and lost over the next six weeks.

Still, you can't help but notice the little eccentricities in the room. There's the goth guy with spikes sticking from his wrists. There is a Milwaukee's Best tent set up to look like a combination of a man's play room and a garage. There is a girl hawking credit cards with Chris Moneymaker's picture on them.

Win $2.5 million...and get your credit line increased

The product of a man's faux-garage

It's almost enough to draw one's attention away from the fact that Event #2 of the WSOP drew more than 500 alternates. That's right. This event drew 2776 people--more than any other WSOP event except the 2005 main event. That is, in a word, incredible. The winner of this event is going to take home more than $700,000 for a $1,500 buy-in. There have been greater returns on an investment, but rarely do investments involve so much fun.


As the hour grows late (at least late for a guy who usually wakes up on the east coast), I find myself fascinated with the solution to last year's bathroom woes. The lines for the men's room last year were insane. This year, Harrah's has brought in what some people are calling porta-johns. In fact, they are more like...I dunno. Charter buses? Trailer homes? Neither is correct. I can only attest that they are nicer than most rest rooms a man will find in a time of need.


It's now time to head back into the tournament room and see how much closer we are to the money. With such big sums at stake for the final table players, I think even a 270th place finish might be disappointing for some folks. However, with six weeks and more than 40 events to go, any win is a good win.

Until a little later, here are some snaps of people proudly flying the PokerStars flag.

Humberto Brenes

The PokerStars folks working for their players

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker