WSOP Main Event: "Do you?" "Yes." "Right, let's play poker."

wsop2009_thn.gifThe swimming pool at the Palms Hotel, Las Vegas, is no place to be if you're a gangling, milk-white, skeleton-thin-yet-with-a-paunch poker reporter from the United Kingdom. Nor is it much good if you're a red-haired, even-milkier-white, walking commercial for factor 900 sunscreen. But if your two PokerStars blog writers are to give themselves even an outside chance of staying alive through three weeks at the World Series, they're going to need to splutter through a couple of early-morning lengths in the closest pool to their hotel rooms; braving the humiliation and the shoulder blisters to swim among the beautiful people, where each of the employees seems to have answered job adverts such as: "WANTED: Person to sit by pool. Must be an absolute stunner, perfect figure, magazine-cover looks. Responsibilities: Must make the average feel inadequate. And hand out towels."

For all this misery, however, the early-morning swims can sometimes be very worthwhile. Ahead of day 1b, these two sorry figures were doggy-paddling their way up and down the Palms Place pool when they were joined by a family of seven people, boasting a familiar accent from the north of England. Within moments, the pool had been hijacked by a discussion about matters ranging from the World Series, Vegas weddings, British betting shops, Elvis costumes for two-year-olds, expensive card protectors and online satellite qualification.

The PokerStars qualifier Jason Herbert was at the centre of all of it: he was relaxing after completing day 1A with 50,000 chips, and was preparing for his wedding that very afternoon, where he was to marry his then fiancee Catherine Philips, who he met while he was habitually cashing out online poker winnings in the betting shop where she worked. A Hummer would be arriving to the Palms to whisk Herbert and his family -- his 2-year-old son Alister, his 1-year-old twins Toby and Jay, his mother Elizabeth and his two step-children Helen and Daniel McPhillips, plus the bride, of course -- to the Little White Wedding Chapel, where Elvis, Sinatra and Britney all once tied the knot. One more detail, Herbert would be dressed as Elvis, and he had also enquired about kitting out Alister in similar attire. Unfortunately no suits were small enough.

"I qualified for $30 online," Herbert said. "But the trip ending up costing about four grand."

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Jason Herbert

Herbert, from Scunthorpe, explained how he had previously attempted to fly to Vegas last April to get married, but Catherine was unable to fly because she was pregnant with Toby and Jay. But then, after he won his seat to the World Series on PokerStars, they decided that since his passage to Vegas was already secured, the whole family should come out to rail him at the Main Event and to attend the rescheduled nuptials.

For day 1a, Herbert had used his wedding ring as a card protector. On his return for day two, it is now proudly on his wedding finger, with the box it came in now sitting atop his cards.

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Jason Herbert's day one card protector, on his finger, and day two protector in front

Typically, he had some stories to tell from the wedding day, which he first described as "Great", before filling in the characteristically British self-deprecating details. First up, the Hummer arrived on time, but it had not been equipped with the three child seats the family had requested. "I called them and they said that we could always go in a taxi," Herbert said.

Understandably reluctant to arrive to his wedding from the back seat of a Las Vegas Checker Cab, the family went in the Hummer nonetheless, with the children perched on knees. But when they arrived at the chapel, one of the kids knocked over a candle in the lobby, costing Herbert another $500 before any vows were even exchanged. "But it was brilliant," Herbert assured me.

Now, however, he is unsure how to proceed through day two. The family have flights booked back to the UK for tomorrow, but Herbert still has chips. "It's a catch-22 for me," Herbert said. "Do I get knocked out and fly home with them, or stay in and stay here by myself."

A tough decision no doubt, but there's one hell of a honeymoon (and an awful lot of candles) you could buy with $9m. Stick around, Jason. Stick around.

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ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR

Sandra Naujoks is out. The EPT Dortmund champion pushed in with A♥K♦ with her last 13,025 and PokerStars qualifier Stuart Atkin in seat two was happy to call with his Q♥Q♣. The board ran out 6♠8♣Q♦[10h]4♣. Atkin was smiling but that queen was no joke to Naujoks, who busts in level five.

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ONLINE QUALIFIER PHONE CALLS HOME TO THE WIFE OF THE HOUR


#1: "I had him crushed on the turn and he rivered a royal flush against me."

#2: "Why should I leave? My hotel room is already paid for!"

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TWEET OF THE HOUR

"I have 20k. Goal #1: get back to average, around 45k. Goal #2: get the chiplead at my table, currently 70k." -- @barrygreenstein

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OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTE OF THE HOUR

"What if an airplane engine drops on us?

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MOST EXCITED PERSON OF THE HOUR

PokerStars qualifier Denise Molloy in the Brasilia room allowing herself a silent fist pumping cheer after eliminating a player.

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JOE GIRON'S PICTURE HOUR

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Feature table, featuring Greg Raymer and Jason Alexander