WSOP Main Event Day 6: Breaking down in silence
The man looked hungry. He walked with purpose down the long hallway leading away from the Amazon Room, turned on his heel, and faced the door leading into the Poker Kitchen. For the past seven weeks, the giant ballroom had served as a lunch counter and convenience store for the thousands of people playing and watching the 2010 World Series of Poker. Now, the man was looking at a shell of the former food court. Workers were breaking down everything and taking it to whatever will serve as the Poker Kitchen graveyard.
It's the same up and down the corridor. The booksellers have reduced their prices by 50% and still get no customers. The girls behind the desk are munching on lunch and watching a TV program on a laptop computer. The sole food proprietor in the area is a smiling woman who has formed a heart out of a dollar bill and taped it to her tip basket. She will call you "honey" and bat her eyes, but she still won't make much money today. All she has to offer is stale Pizza Hut pizzas, long forgotten salads, and cold sandwiches.
This is how the WSOP begins to redefine itself. At one time, it was a giant festival teeming with hopefuls from all over the world. Fans, family, and the curious would come in to watch, spend, and serve as a sort of arterial adrenaline for the convention center. Now, with the tournament below the 170-player mark, the festival now looks like a high stakes poker tournament.
When the day began, Tournament Director Jack Effel looked out over his remaining charges. What was once the second-largest live poker tournament field in the history was now something that looked like the 7pm nightly tourney at Caesars, only with a lot more chips. Before, Effel had to stand on a tall podium and look out over the floor. Now, he can stand on the carpet to say what he needs. It won't be long before he won't even need a microphone.
For the uninitiated, it could almost look boring. When Arie Kliper comes in for a raise from the small blind, Marcelo Dabus moves all-in for a little more than 800,000. Kliper takes to thinking. It's quiet. The cameras are off doing something else and the few fans on the rail have been pushed back several feet from the action. Kliper asks the dealer to pull in Dabus' bet, then leans over to try to get a look at Dabus' face under the green hoodie. Kliper then looks at a reporter, as if whatever notes he's writing might offer some assistance. Four minutes have passed and a tournament director mistakenly thinks he hears someone say the word "clock." He jumps to action, despite the fact no one ever called for time. In any case, it shakes Kliper from his reverie. His cards go in the muck. Despite the fact it will be one of the scarier moments the Brazilian Dabus will face all day long, it will never be reported, never discussed on the rail, or never be a part of poker's history.
Two tables away, Matt Reed raises from the button and John Racener re-raises from the big blind. Reed seems to ponder his options. This is a new era of poker in which a three-bet might as well be a limp. It's not been 24 hours since we saw players five and six-betting with complete air. Racener's re-raise could mean nothing. Or, it could mean everything. It's up to Reed to make that decision. He finally does, putting in a re-raise of his own, now worth around 400,000. Racener takes less than two seconds to flick his cards into the muck. It's a big moment, but one that will draw zero attention from any corner. No flop, no showdown, nobody cares. Still, it's power poker with million-dollar implications.
The cognitive dissonance is hard to shake. Anyone who has been here for any length of time gets used to the noise, the barking idiots, and the rampant greed. Now, most of that is gone or slipped far enough in the shadows that it's hard to notice. While a Rio work crew stacks seven more unused tables on a portable forklift, a flunky for a poker agency notes the sponsored players in the field and which ones are still available for the vultures. It's quiet enough for a man to still think of love.
When an hour has passed with only the fast trickle of defeated players to serve as visual entertainment, suddenly the room explodes from its center. "Oh my God," says a man on the rail as Johnny Chan's pocket kings are defeated by Robert Pisano's aces for a pot that made Pisano the chip leader ( reported in this last post). Within the last hour, Chan became the last former WSOP champion eliminated from the event. This will be the story of the hour and probably the story of the day.
All around us, the world's biggest poker festival is a picture of deconstruction. All that's left is the poker.
And a lot of people would say that's a good thing.
SELECTED CHIP COUNTS OF THE HOUR
Robert Pisano - 5,600,000
Michael Skender - 3,300,000
Fokke Beukers - 2,990,000
James Fennell - 2,950,000
James Carroll - 2,800,000
Bryn Kenney - 2,790,000
Evan Lamprea - 2,580,000
Johnny Lodden - 1,730,000
William Thorson - 1,700,000
JP Kelly - 1,474,000
Gualter Salles - 1,250,000
EXCUSE OF THE HOUR
JP Kelly was unable to attend UKIPT Brighton, which started today, because he remains in the World Series Main Event....
FEAR NOT OF THE HOUR
...He can still make day 1B if it all goes belly up this afternoon.
SNACK OF THE HOUR
1 x green apple (Johnny Lodden)
OUT OF CONTEXT ATOMIC FIREBALL QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"I point the finger, but it's me who ate the Fireball."
PEGAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!! OF THE HOUR
VIDEO OF THE HOUR
Here's everyone's favourite race-car driving, chip and a chair story, Gualter Salles:
TELEPHONE CONVERSATION OF THE HOUR
"Know what I'm doing now? You might see me on TV. I'm at the poker."
FRUSTRATION OF THE HOUR
"We can't wait all day." - Tournament official pausing an all-in showdown to wait for TV cameras, now in constant action, to arrive.