WSOP Main Event Day 1A: A wake-up call
If you had your back turned or your chin on your chest, you would've been startled. You might have even thought someone was heckling the feature table. Turns out it was just one of the players, not surprisingly Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, screaming at the near-silent gallery.
"Hello, Mike!" the chastened crowd responded in unison.
"Everyone awake?" Matusow asked.
"We are now," one man muttered.
"I saw a couple of you snoozing in the corner," Matusow scolded.
With his alarm clock job done, Matusow went back to playing. The crowd members settled back into their seats, effectively hitting the snooze button.
The implication here was clear: poker at this stage is...brace yourself...sort of boring.
Make no mistake, to play at this level is terrifying, exhilarating, and requiring of almost total concentration. Watching play at this level requires an inappropriate amount of caffeine and a fetish for watching people do next to nothing for long periods of time. Yet, there are railbirds here as far as the eye can see. They clog the hallways and seek autographs from people who look even vaguely poker-famous.
Imagine this: you are given an opportunity to spend the day with your hero. Be it Dale Earnhardt, Daniel Negreanu, or Captain Kangaroo, you can spend ten to twelve hours with the person you most admire. There is only one catch: said hero will do nothing but sit in a chair and stare at a table all day long. What do you do?
What most people who love poker don't know is the sausage-making that it requires to reach exciting televised final tables. There are endless days of next to no action. Sure, the players are getting in some pots, but the time between all-ins (when compared to what you watch on TV) seems endless.
Consider this: when we came back from dinner, the players were entering their seventh hour of play. Even someone who only still had his starting stack had 100 big blinds in his stack. Only 200 of the days starters were gone when we broke for dinner. That is a long way of saying, you just can't expect players to get all froggy just for our entertainment.
And so the World Series goes. This is the biggest tournament in the world and it will crown a champion by the time it ends. It will just take a long time get to that point. A very, very long time.
With Day 1A nearing its end, we are nearly 25% through the first step on the journey.
HAND OF THE HOUR
Apparently, Swedish skiing sensation Marcus Hellner knows how to compete without big boards strapped to his feet. On a flop of J♦7♥8♦, Hellner led for 2,200. Mohammad Kowssarie raised to 8,000, and Hellner made the call. When the Q♠ came on the turn, Hellner moved all-in. Kowssarie made the call to see Hellner's K♥K♠. Kowssarie was technically behind, but had the world with top pair and a gutshot straight flush draw.
The river came as the 6♠ and Hellner was up to 60,000.
ELIMINATION, PHOTO, TWEET, AND CAPTION OF THE HOUR
Photographer Joe Giron happened to be right there as German Team PokerStars Pro Michael Keiner was eliminated. Keiner's subsequent tweet tells the whole tale.
OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"This time this gentleman knew how to prepare. He had top-top."
ONE-SIDED CONVERSATION OF THE HOUR
"Kings? Worse? Unbelievable."
EPT INVASION OF THE HOUR
It seems likely that every single poker player in the whole of Europe will win an EPT before anyone repeats, but that doesn't stop any of us being impressed to be in the presence of an EPT champion. Or even a near miss.
All seated in close proximity in the Amazon Room this evening are Max Lykov (EPT Kyiv winner), Holger Kanisch (EPT Dortmund runner up), Tony Gregg (PCA runner up), Rob Hollink (EPT Grand Final champion) and Johannes Strassmann (three-time EPT final table-ist).
Lykov is ahead of that pack, with about 60,000, then comes Kanisch with 38,000, then Hollink with 36,000, then Strassmann with 29,000 and then Gregg, who has 11,200.
Gregg should not be dispirited, however. He has about 11,200 more than another EPT champion, Allan Baekke, who is missing, presumed busted.
HOW MANY PLAYERS ARE IN THIS THING? OF THE HOUR
With a field of more than a thousand, it's got to be unlikely to find three players as talented as the Team PokerStars Pro Thomas Bichon, Richard "chufty" Ashby and Johan "busto_soon" van Til all in a line. But it's precisely those three who are occupying seats seven, eight and nine on table 366 at the moment.
SALBON UPDATE OF THE HOUR
This chapter of the Salvatore Bonavena fairy tale is over. The EPT and IPT champion, who was chip leader going into today's final table of the $2,500 no limit hold 'em event, has departed in fourth, earning $254,777.
His final hand was a mite cruel. Mike Wattel opened with an all in shove for 685,000. Bonavena found pocket eights and moved all in too for 915,000. He was ahead of Wattel, who had A♠J♦ but was behind Bryan Porter, who moved all in over the top of them both with his J♣J♥.
The board was completely blank, meaning Porter eliminated both Bonavena and Wattel. Bonavena claimed the fourth-place prize money as he entered the hand with more chips. Good game, SalBon. Now for the Main Event.
VIDEO OF THE HOUR
Have you ever wanted to hang around and ride horses in Nevada with Greg Debora? I thought so. Now you can: