WSOP Main Event Day 1D: Best but worst seat in the house


So this is it, the culmination of a long journey that for some started with the laptop "On" button, then a password and the opening up of the PokerStars tournament lobby. Move the mouse over to the satellite tab and away you go, maybe checking emails or playing 27 other tables at the same time.

For thousands of players the first World Series experience comes when a few dollars and some hard graft in a PokerStars satellite turns into a tournament package of Main Event seat, hotel accommodation at the Palms across West Flamingo from the Rio, with travel expenses taken care of.

Or there was another route, sign up as a PokerStars player after touching down in Las Vegas to enjoy all the benefits - a party invite, one of those great looking goodie bags everyone seems to want, and a ticket to the PCA if you finish in the money.

Regardless of those details though on day one, with 30,000 chips and eight other players with similar intentions, the real work begins. Winning the World Series of Poker Main Event ahead of several thousand players with exactly the same intentions.

Of course that's no easy feat, especially when the random table draw is less kind that you'd like it. For PokerStars players and qualifiers day one can pit you against eight men and women you've never seen before, or a face so familiar, it comes with a gold bracelet and a crowd of people on its shoulder.

Take Lisa Nomura and Eugene Yanayt. Not cast as inexperienced fodder for the big guns, both have experience of the business end of a World Series event. Yanayt, a SuperNova from California, cashed in a hold'em event earlier in the Series while Nomura made the money in the ladies event. But today they have a sterner test than most, sitting in perhaps one of the worst seats in the house, directly to the right of multiple bracelet winner Phil Ivey.

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Eugene Yanayt and Lisa Nomura with Phil Ivey (foreground)

You can imagine you'd do your best to appear calm and confident. Nomura did this by playing with her chips, but then dropped one of them, sending a yellow disk rolling across the table towards Ivey who was too busy on his Blackberry to notice. Nomura grinned the type of defensive grin you hope no one ever sees you making and sheepishly reached over to take her chip back, braced for accusations of robbery perhaps. Ivey didn't notice any of it.

Elsewhere another SuperNova Dan Hirleman faces Jason Mercier with something to prove. Hirleman has one cash this year to go with his two in 2009 and while it may appear he is David to Mercier's Goliath, the pro player from Las Vegas will likely relish taking on a champion who at times this past 12 months has seemed unstoppable.

There are others here and there, players who got here on the back of an investment worth just few dollar in a PokerStars satellite, now hoping that before long we won't have to nudge them to ask their name.



Two banana peels and empty box Pizza Hut personal pan pizza--under the chair of Sorel Mizzi



Percentage of one table that will need to be treated for whiplash after a 6-foot, female massage therapist walked by: 20



Two members of the 441 television production team wheeling a 25-foot boom jib crane camera down the convention center hallway



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Steve Dannenmann greets the Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem on day 1D of the 2010 World Series Main Event. The players were heads up for the title in 2005, where Hachem prevailed.



Jeff Lisandro, hiding under a hoodie, atop which is perched his trademark hat.



Number of bona fide, all star, comedy geniuses sitting on Jason Alexander's table in the blue section of the Amazon Room today: 1 (Jason Alexander)

Number of players on Jason Alexander's table telling jokes when the ESPN cameras come round: 3 (does not include Jason Alexander)

Number of laughs generated by comedy non-geniuses on Jason Alexander's table when ESPN cameras come round: 0

Approximate flops seen by Jason Alexander in opening stages of Main Event: All of them.



"I think she's aware Ernest Hemingway hasn't joined Team PokerStars Pro."