WSOP Main Event: Max Shapiro Report

With all the action, we're just catching up to Max Shapiro's insights. Enjoy.

WSOP: Just Another Typical Day

By Max Shapiro

What a way to start the day on Thursday. Not much past dawn, the security alert system at the Rio blasted off: WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! "This is a security alert. Something's happening, but we're not sure what. It might be a terrorist attack, or it might be that someone hit a slot jackpot and we don't have enough money to pay it off. But we'll let you know as soon as we figure out what the problem is."

This ear-shattering and rather idiotic message is then repeated, not once more, or twice more, but three times more! Finally, after cussing and then fitfully falling asleep, I'm blasted awake again with another WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! Alert 10 minutes later:

"This is a security alert all-clear. Nothing to worry about, folks. We've figured out the problem. Somebody threw up in an elevator.'

Groggily getting up a couple of hours later, I head down the corridor to the pressroom to sign up for the afternoon media/charity tournament. Walking down the passageway, I see a line of people stretching all the way down the hall and out the door to the parking lot area. It's the opening of the WSOP Lifestyle show. Last year everyone was forced to detour through the show to get to the tournament area, and it's the same this year. Talk about a captive audience! Fortunately, I was able to skirt the line and walk directly to the pressroom by showing my media badge. A couple of hours later, though, when I try the same tactic, I'm told that now, even the press has to walk through the Lifestyle show. Hey, don't you know who I am? (Maybe if they did, they might not have let me in at all.)

The Lifestyle show is even more overwhelming than last year and is prime evidence of how poker has grown into a major industry. Just walking through briskly, I was besieged with tee shirts and various offers and forced to take a photograph with some near-nude model named "Amber," Miss January on a calendar for some online site. In a subsequent article, I'll try to report on what's going on at the show.

HOW TO GET STAKED DEPARTMENT: Later I ran into Greg Grivas, a friend of mine from the old Oceanside Card Club days. Greg has since worked at the Bellagio and the World Series. He was beaming all over. Seems he was having a chicken parmesan sandwich at the poker kitchen when a stranger noticed his World Series bracelet. They got into a conversation, and he offered to stake Greg in the main event. "Are you kidding?" Greg asked. He wasn't. He called his secretary, and the next thing a stunned Grivas knew, he was signed up, on a 60/40 basis.

Then there's Frankie O'Dell. He was standing at a urinal when a stranger offered to stake him in a super satellite. Frankie played, and ended up winning a seat. Seems like a new twist on the legend of Lana Turner being discovered at Schwab's drug store.

NEWS FLASH: I just heard that they may take away Phil Hellmuth's 10th World Series bracelet. It seems that he tested positive for steroids!

Later in the day, I attended the WSOP press conference, where they announced that Billy Baxter and T.J. Cloutier were being inducted into the World Series Hall of Fame, offered various statistics such as an anticipated total prize pool of about $150 million, and showed clips from the upcoming poker movie, "Lucky You," with Drew Barrymore in attendance. But for me, the major news came when a reporter asked if was true that a chimpanzee would play in the main event, and WSOP Poker Commissioner sternly replied that no chimp had been signed up, "Nor will there be one." Oh, well, there goes my big interview story.

Later in the day I played in the media/celebrity charity event. They had a few poker-connected names in the event such as Jennifer Tilly, Cindy Margolils,and James "Maverick" Garner. Also playing was Ron Jeremy, the well-known porn star. I couldn't figure out what his connection to poker was until I realized that his industry was the inspiration for such poker terms as "Don't limp," "Play hard," and "I'm all in."

The media event wasn't exactly a championship structure: Blinds started at $25-$50 and doubled every 15 minutes. I lasted two hours, but went out in style. I limped with an A-4 suited, check-raised all in when ace flopped, and was called by a player with a monster draw who proceeded to make a royal flush on the river! I suppose I could say that I deliberately busted out so I could finish this report, but nobody would believe me.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker