WSOP Main Event Day 1A: Cowboy up

wsop2010_thn.jpgPeople change. We know that. Some players will lose weight in between World Series Main Events. Others might buy a new pair of spectacles. Few change so much, however, that our keen blogger eyes can't pick them out of a crowd. We're professionals after all.

We'd heard German Team PokerStars Pro Sandra Naujoks was in the field today. We drew straws for who could go out on the coverage, and I drew the assignment (I cheated). And so through the throngs I traveled in search of a pair of piercing eyes that have the ability to melt diamonds and charm vipers.

I'd passed by every table and was ready to return to my work station with the news Naujoks hadn't arrived. That's when I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my soul turn to the consistency of a fruit smoothie (peach).

I turned on my heels.

She was here.

Somewhere.

I looked in the direction of the force-shift but didn't see her. I looked again, unfocusing my eyes like I'm looking at a shopping mall trick poster. Then, like a balding, chubby moth to a very German flame, I felt myself drawn toward a seat. I found myself looking at...

A cowboy.

I'll be honest, even in my most wild and embarrassing dreams, I've never thought, "Boy, I'd like to get a cowboy involved."

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Now, all of the above would be irrelevant, sexist rubbish but for the fact that model-turned-cowboy Naujoks is one hella good poker player.

Now, maybe you don't know her. She hasn't appeared much on American television and she's not yet won a bracelet here at the World Series. She has, however, won an EPT and over the course of the last 24 months has put together 12 cashes and nearly $1.8 million in winnings.

A one-time student of history, Naujoks was looking to become a teacher. She eventually wandered into the world of graphic design and modeling. Then came a two-month run on the Casinos Austria Poker Tour that saw her make two final tables, one that turned into a win worth more than $200,000.

While impressive, those wins paled in comparison to her $1.3 million victory at EPT Dortmund in Season 5. And then a final table of a PCA side event and two deep cashes at this year's WSOP. She may be pretty, but she is more dangerous than your average German cowboy.

She sits with 32,400 as we prepare to go into the third level of the day.


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CHIP COUNTS OF THE HOUR

Thierry van den Berg - 74,500
Fatima Moreira de Melo - 44,200
Andre Akkari - 38,600
Pierre Neuville - 35,200
Sandra Naujoks - 32,400
Ruben Visser - 31,000
Julian Thew - 22,000
Thomas Bichon - 17,600
Johannes Strassmann - 16,500
Anton Alleman - 16,500

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IMPROVISED BRANDING OF THE HOUR

There are few players... nay, there are no players ... who are more proud of their association with PokerStars than Pierre Neuville. Last season on the European Poker Tour, PokerStars Blog christened Neuville the "Serial PokerStars Qualifier" after his habit of qualifying for every single event via the online tables. In response, Neuville went out and got "Serial PokerStars Qualifier" embossed on his shirt and wore it at every event.

Soon after, Neuville was officially named "EPT qualifier of the Year" at the EPT awards, and was upgraded to "Friend of PokerStars" alongside the likes of Bill Chen and Darus Suharto. But there's no official badge for a "Friend of PokerStars".

No problem for Neuville, who knocked one up himself and sewed it onto his shirt:

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TWEET WE'RE STILL DECIPHERING OF THE HOUR

@MarcelLuske: "Im sure do have a better balance in live now with this rubber EFX band , though the deck of cards dont know that...{;"

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SALBON UPDATE OF THE HOUR
The Main Event is sapping most reporters' energy, but let's not forget the final table of the $2,500 no limit hold 'em event taking place next door in the Pavilion Room.

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Salvatore Bonavena

Eight players are now left in that and Salvatore Bonavena is still way out front. He has 4,350,000, which is still ahead of his closest challenger Tomer Berda, who has 3,900,000. Third is a million chips behind that. Vladimir Kochelaevskiy has 1,900,000.

We'll pop in every now and again to get our latest SalBon fix.

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VIDEO OF THE HOUR

Ladies and gentlemen, Andre Akkari: