WSOP Main Event Day 1A: Dutch, Dutch, more Dutch
It's been documented many times before how the field of multi-day poker tournaments tends to be unevenly balanced. There's usually a healthy number of players on day 1A, considerably fewer on day 1B, a sharp incline on day 1C and then the most on day 1D*.
Today 1,125 joined the fray - this stat has now been confirmed by tournament officials - and wandering the room this morning made it apparent that a disproportionate number of Dutch players were in the house. Over here was Ruben Visser. Over there was Fatima Moreiro de Melo. Then there was Thierry van den Berg.
I also spotted the EPT stalwart Govert Metaal, who is a PokerStars qualifier here in Vegas. And other keen Dutch eyes picked out Ton Kleijnen, Sven Mol, Daniel Van Kalkeran, Paul Valkanburg and Gijs Verhagen. And then there was the the EPT Grand Final champion from season one, Rob Hollink. And the online sensation Johan "busto_soon" Van Til.
Steven Smith, who is covering the Main Event for the clog-wearing, finger-in-dyke-jabbing, orange-clad, tulip-cultivating, windmill-owning, bike-riding, mountain-fearing, mayonnaise-lapping, pot-smoking cousins at the Dutch PokerStars Blog has a list of 26 players to follow today. That's more than you might expect.
The reason, however, is simple. Tomorrow morning, Holland's soccer team will be lining up in Cape Town, South Africa, to play Uruguay in the first semi-final of the World Cup. The match kicks off at 11.30am Vegas time and the last place any Dutchman wants to be is at the poker table while that match is on.
They have also cleared the schedule for day 1C, pending an almighty hangover, and they might as well clear day 1D too to continue the party.
It means that Smith is being kept exceptionally busy today, but will have a long time to either luxuriate in victory or mourn in defeat, as the rest of the field contests their day one.
So far, none of the Dutchies has bust, with Van den Berg sitting behind the most. He was up to about 70,000 at one point, but has slipped to about 50,000. That's still pretty good for this stage.
*I struggled to find the right analogy for this phenomenon - passing through bar-bell-shaped, wedge-shaped and hourglass shaped - until my colleague Brad Willis managed to nail it with: "the career arc of Mickey Rourke."
SELECTED CHIP COUNTS OF THE HOUR
Thierry van den Berg - 47,000
Fatima Moreira de Melo - 17,000
Andre Akkari - 34,000
Pierre Neuville - 33,400
Anton Alleman - 33,100
Chris Moneymaker - 42,500
Ruben Visser - 28,600
Julian Thew - 17,000
Johannes Strassmann - 13,000
STATISTICS OF THE HOUR
Unofficial number of entries on 2010 Day 1A: 1,125
Number of entries 2009 Day 1A: 1,116
Unofficial number of total entries so far 2010: 4,400
Total entries 2009 WSOP: 6,494
LEGENDARY CONVERSATION OF THE HOUR
When the ESPN cameras are working with an impressive ferocity on Day 1A, you know something big is happening. Something like Doyle Brunson stopping by Mike Caro's table to sweat his buddy for a few minutes. As you should know, Caro ws one of Brunson's co-authors on the poker bible "Super System."
OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"It's like someone raids your village when you are a caveman." -Said by an anonymous player with a remarkable amount of earnest.
THE 'JUST DEAL THE CARDS' MOMENT OF THE HOUR
"I'm really good. What chip trick do you want me to do? I'll do it!" - A dealer, to a player, in the Amazon Room.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT OF THE HOUR
"He really was just trying to get to that game." A gracious lady on the rail who nearly lost toes as a player driving a motorised scooter hand brake turned his way back to his seat.
TWEET OF THE HOUR
@RealKidPoker (Daniel Negreanu) baffled by celebrity: "So bizarre, I signed yet another female body part that will become a tattoo. I will never, ever, get used to that."
ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HOUR
That's dinner! We'll be back in 90 minutes.