WSOP Main Event Day 1A: Forget the 20,000
Shortly before handing over to Greg Raymer, who then gave the order to shuffle up, tournament boss Jack Effel suggested that with 100 million poker players around the world every player in the Main Event represented roughly 20,000 of them. It's an admirable spirit, one of a world brotherhood that reads well, but, boiled down by anyone sitting in the Amazon Room with 30,000 chips in front of them, ignores a most basic truth. Poker is a game for the individual.
Ready to play
In this game you renounce camaraderie and instead clasp icy selfishness to your bosom. It's part Thunder Dome, part American dream. In this house the individual thrives, free from the real world restraints of personal responsibility and the burden of having to think of others. Poker players, this is your front room.
That said there are a few things you can't change, things that newbies must be braced for in their new land of opportunity, to be ready for sooner rather than later.
You'll need to adapt to hundreds of poker fans standing by your table to watch the guy two to your left who they once saw on television.
Just one of the feature tables in the Amazon Room
You'll need to survive the audio assault of unflagging Billboard pop music, intended for kids across America, piped across the halls, lobbies and elevators to their parents in Las Vegas.
Whether you like it or not you're going to run into bad luck and a new guy taking your chips when all of the game's logic points to the contrary.
You'll need to accept several TV cameras into your life, along with the booms that follow them, whether or not you're at a feature table.
And you'll need to find even more remote bathrooms to avoid queuing and embrace pizza as one of your five-a day.
You'll have to accept that the fresh air moment to shake off a bad beat will take place outside where the sun will bake your head as you try to untangle what's inside it.
But at least you can wear Native American head dress and nobody will care, listen to music through giant headphones, and if your affectation is for a mass produced thin-brimmed trilby then go ahead. Anyone can play, as long as you have the magic ten grand. Just remember, no man has ever won a World Series Main Event wearing a comedy hat.
VIDEO OF THE HOUR
UNEXPECTED SIGHT OF THE HOUR
Humberto Brenes signing an autograph for...former PokerStars card room manager Lee Jones. (Jones later explained he is working with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and needed a gift for his "little brother.")
STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
Number of Atomic Fireballs consumed by the PokerStars Blog crew in the first level of Day 1A: 21
ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR
Greg Raymer. It was coming. And it came. The Fossilman had red pocket eights, half way to the winning hand he had in 2004. This time he was up against pocket aces, however, and couldn't outdraw. Raymer is gone.
IMPROMPTU PRESS CONFERENCE OF THE HOUR
On his elimination from the Main Event, Raymer headed to the halls, where he was accosted by a gang of fans and journalists asking him for the post mortem. Or a photograph. Or an autograph. Ever the multi-tasker, Raymer provided all of that in an impromptu press conference in the hall. Joe Giron was on hand with the camera:
"Question from you sir, at the back..."
HE DIDN'T KNOW I WAS WATCHING OF THE HOUR
The gentleman in Starbucks, working on his laptop, quaffing an iced coffee, and feasting on the contents of his own nose.
SHE DID KNOW I WAS WATCHING OF THE HOUR
A woman posing for the cameras beside the floor-to-ceiling poster of Daniel Negreanu in the halls outside the Amazon Room - with her finger, and then her whole fist, posed as if being inserted in Negreanu's nose.