WSOP Main Event: The job
This is the job. You win a step six satellite on PokerStars and you fly to Las Vegas from Paris, France, to play in the World Series Main Event. You sit down, you fold the first couple of hands and then you get dealt pocket fives. You get to a flop with a solitary opponent, and your prayers are answered when the five you'd been looking for appears. You and that solitary opponent get all your money in the middle and the dealer bellows, for the first time in the day: "All in and call on table nine!"
This is the job. You arrive at the Amazon Ballroom for day 1C of the World Series of Poker where you will be wandering the floor, searching for the stories, looking out for the poker stars of today and the poker stars of the future. You know to keep an eye tuned for the players in the PokerStars livery, which gives as good an indication as any as to where the stories will lie. You have barely started the day, met no more than two other people and worked for about seven minutes, when you are passing through the red section and hear a familiar refrain: "All in and call on table nine!"
This is the job. You sit at the table and watch in part anguish, part exhilaration as the dealer asks for cards to be exposed. The dealer has previously dealt the flop of 5♦[10h]J♦ and you know you have flopped bottom set with your 5♥5♠ concealed. Your opponent, named Andreas Doess (although you don't know that yet), shows his hand first. He has [10d][10s] and the knife sinks into your heart. This is the job. You slap your cards onto the felt, knowing you are now beat. You shove your chair back and you know that you are looking for two cards in the deck to rescue your tournament life, your million dollar dream, your shot at the big time. You haven't noticed that there are swarms of vultures descended upon the table, some clutching video cameras, boom-mics, notebooks. The dealer turns 4♠7♣. Your dream is dead. This is the job.
This is the job. You watch a man slap some cards onto the table, you watch another calmly turn his over. You watch a man allow himself a smile, you watch another feel as though he has died. You watch railbirds chatter, you watch cameras dive and swoop. You know that you were an eye-witness to the first story of the day from the World Series of Poker and you know that you need to know the name of the deceased. You know you must perform the death knock. This is the job. "I'm so sorry," you say. This is the job. "But can you please tell me your name?"
This is the job. You can only think of getting away. You can only hope the world will swallow you whole. Your tournament has lasted seven minutes and you want it to last no longer. But you turn to depart, take your first five steps away from the executioner's block, when you feel a tap on your shoulder and turn to see a man standing there with a notebook. He has a pen poised and he wants to know your name. "Am I the first one out?" you ask, and the realisation only now dawns what this means. The man with the notebook winces. He says he is sorry for your loss, but he says that yes, you are the first man out. You don't hear a number of other players laugh from the neighbouring table. (They are laughing not at you, but partly in amusement at the reporter's awkwardness and partly out of relief that they are not you.) You say: "Robert Vincent" and allow even a smile. You seem to realise that neither of you want to be doing what you are doing, having this conversation, not hearing the laughs, saying or writing your name. But you do it and then you walk away. This is the job.
Robert Vincent, PokerStars qualifier from Paris, France, was the first player eliminated from day 1C of the World Series of Poker Main Event. He had pocket fives and flopped a set. His opponent, Andy Doess, had pocket tens and also flopped a set. It was bigger. He won.
You will be both back next year. This is the job.
With apologies to David Simon
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STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
Number of pink hats worn by men on day 1C: 1 (Team PokerStars Pro, Gavin Griffin, breast cancer research supporter)
MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH OF THE HOUR
Less than ten minutes in, an all-in on a board of Q♥[10d][10s]6♦Q♦
Player 1 (who had just folded pocket kings): You didn't play it like you had a pair. You played it like you had ace-king. You played it like you had ace-queen.
Player 2: Good fold. I had you beat. Not on the flop...
Player 1: On the turn or river?
Player 2: I've said enough. Possibly too much...
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VIDEO BLOG OF THE HOUR
Team PokerStars Pro on quick thinking in poker
Watch WSOP 2009: Inside the game - quick thinking on PokerStars.tv