WSOP Diary Day 37: Welcome PokerStars players!

wsop2010_thn.jpgThere are numerous ways to detect the imminent arrival of the World Series Main Event: The opening of poker lounges in busier corridors at the Rio, a longer line of reporters at the media desk collecting credentials, and the slow to a crawl of hotel internet services as online tables sap bandwidth. The most obvious, however, is the stealthy arrival at the Palms Hotel of the PokerStars logo, which has spread like measles across the casino in the past 48 hours. (Nice measles, but extremely virulent.)

The supporting pillars beside the roulette wheels and slot machines are now sheathed floor to ceiling in the familiar star and spade of the best online card-room around, while the tables in the bricks-and-mortar Palms poker room also carry PokerStars on their felt. This city, ordinarily impervious to outside interference, is bracing itself for the arrival of a battalion of PokerStars qualifiers who will, if past years is anything to go by, soon become the dominant poker force in town.


Welcome to the Palms

If you're among them, congratulations. You're probably reading this en route to the airport, or already snugly nestled in your room at the Palms. That's where we're all staying: staff and players alike, including most of the megastars on the Team PokerStars Pro roster.

For some of you, this will be your second, third, fourth visit to the World Series. But for others, this is your debut in the big time--and this is your brief guide to getting the best out of your stay. Ideally, you're going to win the tournament and blaze a trail through poker for the coming decade. If you don't, why not just have some fun?

Once you've arrived and checked in (I'm not providing a crib-sheet for that process), you will probably want to head to the Rio (see How To Get There below) to check out the World Series arena. Gorp at the bracelets in the display cases; check out the merchandise stalls; buy a Coke at the poker kitchen; get your ears accustomed to the clickity-clack of a million chips.

With all that done, head for the cash desk and buy in to the Main Event as soon as possible. There's no two ways about it, there will likely be a long line and the earlier you get there the better. Don't delay on this one. You could save yourself a couple of hours by buying in early and avoiding the mayhem later.


The tournament area on Main Event day

How to get there
The Palms Casino is just across the street from the Rio, although in Vegas nothing is all that close by. During the Main Event, a free shuttle bus runs daily from the Palms to the Rio for PokerStars players, but there are other options too. You could splash the roll and take a cab (a bus is available) or you could even walk (a bus is available).

If you decide to walk (a bus is available) your best bet is to cross over Flamingo Road directly outside the Palms, go through the parking lot of the Gold Coast, and delve into that establishment at the first opportunity (a bus is available).

The Gold Coast--nicknamed the Old Coast for reasons that will become apparent--does not trouble itself with too much glitz. (A bus is available). We sometimes have a bet on how many people we will see smiling in the place and usually set the line at one. (Take the under.) However, make a right and head out the main entrance/exit and into the covered parking lot. Walk through the lines of Ferraris and Porsches (a bus is available) until you reach South Valley View Blvd. There's no official crossing point here, and there are six lanes of traffic, but anyone familiar with Frogger won't have a problem. (A bus is available.) Get yourself through the Rio parking lot and inside the casino before your skin starts to blister.

You enter the Rio beside the poker room in the main casino, and you need then to make another right and walk past all the slots (on top of which some people may be dancing) and keep going until you see Buzio's Fish Restaurant. Take a left there.

Walk down the long, long corridor (a bus is available), past Starbucks and the Penn and Teller Theater, until you get to the Pavilion Room. You have now walked about half a mile and will feel grrrrrrreat. Or you could just take the bus. (A bus is available.)

Getting your player bag
All the way back at the Palms, PokerStars has an office at the Key West Suite, which is conveniently beside the poker room. Its opening hours are:

July 2-3: 10:00AM - 1:00PM; 2:00PM - 6:00PM
July 4: 9:00AM - Midnight
July 5-7: 9:00AM - 11:00PM
July 8: 9:00AM - 6:00PM
July 9-16: 10:00AM - 6:00PM

A smiling staff will be on hand to cater to your every need (not that one), just as long as the vast mountain of PokerStars player bags hasn't avalanched onto them. You can help reduce that possibility by claiming your own player bag, which is stuffed full of the kind of swag you usually exchange FPPs for.

You will also sign a terms and conditions document there, which will release the bonuses on PokerStars players. The full details of bonuses will be explained to you at the office, but suffice to say, that logo on your sleeve can bring you untold riches.

You'll learn your starting day when you buy in to the Main Event. Day 1A is Monday July 5, 1B is Tuesday July 6, 1C is Wednesday July 7 and 1D is Thursday July 8. You'll almost certainly lose track of the real day once you're in town and quickly lapse into WSOP time, where the day is defined in terms of the tournament.

For the record, day 2A is on Friday July 9 (and will feature survivors from days 1A and 1C) and day 2B is on Saturday July 10 (and will feature survivors from days 1B and 1D). Please note: this is different from previous years, and different from what was published here about an hour ago. But it's right. Days 1A and 1C combine on day 2A; days 1B and 1D on day 2B.

You'll have a day off on Sunday July 11, although don't plan anything because...

PokerStars Party
It's not often the entire poker world unites as one seething mass of excitement but the PokerStars World Series party is always one of those times. From Dita Von Teese, through Nelly, and now Snoop Dogg, the entertainment at the Rain Nightclub in the Palms is always top drawer.


Nelly at last year's PokerStars Party

And even if the scheduled act is not to your liking, you're also pretty much guaranteed to see at least three poker pros in compromising positions, another nine or ten throwing down some humiliating shapes on the dance-floor, and 99 percent of reporters with dribble on their chins. OK, so the last one isn't that appealing, but who doesn't have to cut loose once in a while?

Last but not least, here's a cry to our readers. PokerStars Blog will be at the World Series Main Event in great force. Well, not that great, but there will be three writers and a terrific photographer in town just for the English language side of operations--and we want to hear from you. Yes, YOU. (Especially you if you've read this far down the page.)

If you want to keep your family and friends updated on your progress through the Main Event, the best bet is to come and introduce yourselves to us and we can keep you on our radar throughout. We'd like to hear your story of qualifying; we'd like to learn a bit about you and put some flesh on the bones of a chip count. We can put your picture on the blog and make you a person with their picture on a blog famous.

In 2008, we featured both Darus Suharto and Ylon Schwartz on their first day of action--and tracked them all the way to the final table. We're good luck charms and even if you don't fancy rubbing our magic lamp, just give us something to write about.

The four of us are Brad Willis (look for Ecco shoes, bags under the eyes, Diet Coke and a few stacks of red at the $2-$5 no limit tables); Stephen Bartley (red hair, crisply-ironed shirt with a maximum of one button unfastened, "Bobbie" sandwich and a rage just beneath the surface), Joe Giron (dextrous camera skills, earrings, tales of rock-star debauchery, bump on the head) and Howard Swains (tall). If you see any quartet answering that description and sitting in a media gantry, that'll be us. We'd love to hear from you.

And if you're following this from afar, please get in touch at and tell us who you want us to follow. It would really help us out if you could tell us a bit about your friend/family member and maybe find out their table assignment. Then we can begin our stalking of them into the deep stages.

See you all soon!



The Main Event is close, but it's not here just yet and there's still the not-insignificant matter of four more preliminary events to get through. This post might have been The Daniel Negreanu Post - at the start of writing, KidPoker was cruising into the very late stages of the $25,000 six max no limit hold 'em event, the tournament with the second-highest buy in of the Series.

By the time it was three-quarters done, however, Negreanu was out.


Daniel Negreanu on day three of six max

Eighteen players reconvened yesterday afternoon, spread across three tables, and it all went swimmingly for Negreanu in the early stages. He won a decent pot from Frank Kassela with top pair kings, and broke through the million chip mark. But his next two notable skirmishes both went against him. He called Michael Thuritz's three-bet pre-flop with Q♠J♠ and then re-raised Thuritz all in on a flop of 6♠3♦2♠. It was Thuritz at risk, but his pocket kings held to take a pot of more than 1.2 million and leave Negreanu with the short stack.

After folding a couple of orbits, and chopping one pot with Q-J again, Negreanu was all in with K♣J♣ against Kassela's pocket eights. Negreanu whiffed the flop, turn and river, and headed to the $2,500 no limit event, which was beginning a few tables away. (He was one of the first eliminations from that event.)

With the six-max playing down to its final, most eyes now shifted to the £10,000 pot-limit Omaha Championship, which was into its second day. With many of the established professionals favouring Omaha over hold 'em, this was one that plenty had been waiting for.

Certainly the likes of William Thorson, the recent winner of the Omaha prize at the EPT awards, was preparing for a deep run. Likewise Vanessa Selbst, Team PokerStars Pro's latest addition, who has a bracelet in PLO.


William Thorson in $10,000 PLO


Vanessa Selbst

But here's a familiar story: neither of them made it through the day. Selbst couldn't beat Vitaly Lunkin's pocket kings with her queens, and Thorson also fell deep into the afternoon. By that point, Rino Mathis, Greg Raymer, Thomas Bichon and Noah Boeken were also on the rail.


Rino Mathis

However, Team Pro is still well represented into day three. Alex Kravchenko, who spent much of the day sitting beside the November Niner Kevin Schaffel, progresses - and was responsible for the final elimination of the night.


Alex Kravchenko and Kevin Schaffel

The EPT tournament director Thomas Kremser was in player-guise in Vegas, and made it into the money in the $10,000 Omaha. That was until Kravchenko polished him off with aces against kings (Kravchenko had A♦A♠K♦J♣; Kremser had K♣K♠9♠5♦). Expect some dubious rulings next year on the EPT, Alex.


Thomas Kremser

Jason Mercier is also running into form at the right time. He bagged up 213,000 at the end of play - some way behind Tom Dwan's leading 910,000 but in with a shot. Day four is today.


Jason Mercier in $10,000 PLO

The final $1,000 no limit hold'em event will play through day two today and we'll pick up coverage of that as it gets into the money. Likewise the $2,500 event, the final bracelet tournament before the Main Event, which attracted 1,941 players.

At the end of day one, only 585 survived, but Salvatore Bonavena, Angel Guillen, Ivan Demidov, Vicky Coren, Andre Akkari and Veronica Dabul are among them. Let's see if any of those can win their Main Event buy in on the eve of exchanging it for a ticket to the big one.



Poker tweets get more articulate and polite. Must mean @victoriacoren is in town: "Thanks for all the lovely messages. It's bedtime in Las Vegas. We play again in about 10 hours time.... Night night."

@RaSZI (Lex Veldhuis), movie reviewer: "Airbender was disappointing. Special effects were awesome but the movie was too PG. If it had ninja assassins violence would be best ever."

A prayer from @NHGG (Gavin Griffin): "15025 first break of #wsop56. Dear poker gods: please keep JJ+ away from me for the next 3 levels unless I get to win with them."

(It didn't work. "Busto #wsop56".)


Previous WSOP Diary entries

WSOP Diary Day 36: Deal me a winner. Meeting the dealers
WSOP Diary Day 35: Vanessa Selbst and David Williams sign for Team PokerStars Pro
WSOP Diary Day 34: The De Meulders and the Hachems. Team Pro's band of brothers
WSOP Diary Day 33: World Series Rio style
WSOP Diary: Day 32: Bracelets only for Tournament of Champions
WSOP Diary: Day 31: Soccer sickness infects the Rio as WSOP pauses for World Cup
WSOP Diary: Day 30: Climbing the cash ladder with Humberto Brenes
WSOP Diary: Day 29: Mandy "roxy24" Thomas mixes it with the big boys
WSOP Diary: Day 28: Barry Greenstein eyes final as shark attacks the Rio
WSOP Diary: Day 27: PokerStars party goes Dogg style
WSOP Diary Day 26: Bill Chen: Poker player, wedding planner, bridesmaid
WSOP Diary Day 25: Cutting through the throngs
WSOP Diary Day 24: Last chance to join us in Las Vegas
WSOP Diary Day 23: Anh Van Nguyen, remember the name

Read all WSOP diary entries here.