WSOP Diary Day 1: Going supersize in Las Vegas

wsop2010_thn.jpgIf there's one thing we've come to expect from the World Series of Poker, it's that the event's enormity will be a nailed-on eye-opener each and every year. This is my sixth assignment to poker's annual jamboree, and after walking from my home-from-home at the Palms in Las Vegas to the Rio yesterday to collect my media pass, I was surprised once again.

If you're familiar with the layout, you'll know the Amazon Room, where most of the tournament play usually takes place, is impressive in its size - an apparent aircraft hanger capable of housing a sea of humanity chasing the poker dream. It's there again, but prepare yourselves for something else: this year, instead of having four or five other smaller tournament areas, WSOP staff have opened up the whole Pavilion space to create one gigantic playing arena.

It's huge, and quite frankly it makes the Amazon Room seem like a closet by comparison. Furthermore, it creates a vivid first impression. If you walk, as most visitors will, from the main casino in the Rio down the corridors to the convention area - passing giant posters of previous WSOP Players of the Year, including Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu - your eyes are drawn to the open doors of the Pavilion.

Inside, a breathtaking space with seemingly endless rows of poker tables. The 'smaller' events and the cash games will be housed here this year, keeping them away from the Amazon Room which will be reserved for the big tournaments and final stage action of others.

That's not all. WSOP staff have thought long and hard about the layout in general. The WSOP official store (if you fancy spending some of your bankroll on a $34.99 polo top) and the Poker Kitchen now share the same large space close to entrance. This will appeal to those who hated going outside in previous years when the kitchen was in the parking lot, surrounded by smokers. The food, however, will be the same: sushi, sandwiches, pizza, Chinese and the 'Sports' Deli - which is anything but athletic, seeing as it dishes out burgers and hot dogs.

The rest will be familiar with massage bays, booths for folk selling poker products and services, the registration area and the media center.

Cash games were under way yesterday, but the real action begins today. We should not ignore Event # 1, the Casino Employees $500 NL Hold'em, but the real excitement is Event #2, the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship, a five-day mixed 8-game tournament which kicks off at 5pm. Most consider this to be the ultimate test of a player's skill. The winner will win the respect of his or her peers - as well as several million dollars.

It's the event the top dogs come out to play, and that means a large band of Team PokerStars Pro will be making their WSOP 2010 debuts early. Trying to second guess exactly who will be playing is tricky, but I'd suggest we'll be seeing Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, current WSOP champion Joe Cada and Greg Raymer among many others. Dennis Phillips is certainly not playing - he's off to Peru early next week for the PokerStars LAPT and Americas Cup of Poker events.

daniel_negreannu_big_wsop_1.jpg

Daniel Negreanu

The $50,000 event, with 150,000 starting chips, requires participants to play a rotation of eight popular forms of poker - Limit Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split 8 or Better, No Limit Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball. The game rotates every eight hands and all levels are 90 minutes.

barry_greenstein_wsop_1.jpg

Barry Greenstein

The WSOP first added the $50,000 event in 2006 in response to player requests to
participate in a high-stakes game to determine the professional poker player's true champion. It was an instant success, and a commemorative Chip Reese Trophy is awarded and named in honor of the first winner of this event, the late David "Chip" Reese.

greg_raymer_wsop_1.jpg

Greg Raymer

So to capture this big start to the WSOP, and indeed all 57 tournaments, the PokerStars Blog HQ has shifted to Vegas for the next couple of months. For the duration of the prelim events we'll file daily reports capturing the progress of PokerStars players as well as the atmosphere of the whole extravaganza.

Then, when the Main Event gets under way on July 5, we'll shift up a gear with in-depth coverage each and every hour following Team PokerStars Pro and our army of online qualifiers. For those of you who have already won your $12,000 packages for the Main Event with PokerStars, we hope our reports will whet your appetite. There's still time for you to grab a seat and take a shot at poker glory - go to the PokerStars WSOP page to see how you can qualify now.

* * * *

Tweets of the Day

@FossilMan: filmed cash game for WSOP Academy Online yesterday. Now to Rio to get safe deposit box and then play a satellite for the 50K and save $47,750 on the buyin. :-)

@RealKidPoker: Just did another laser hair removal and cursed more in 30 minutes than I have in 5 years. I kept wondering why the hell I decided to do it.

@Dennis_Phillips: Hangin in Vegas playin some small tournaments. Won't be able 2 play 50k event ~ Pokerstars sending me 2 Peru 4 LAPT & Americas Cup events ...

@NoahBoeken: Playing the $50.000 8-game Wsop event tomorrow! Will be tweeting!! Long grind ahead! :)

* * * *

Thought of the Day

WSOP 2009 total prize pool: $174,013,215
WSOP 2010: ?

joe_cada_wsop_1.jpg

Team PokerStars Pro Joe Cada

Contact: blog@pokerstars.eu