WSOP Main Event Day 6: It's all about the new guy (or gal)
With 150 players left in the Main Event the divide between familiar and not so familiar faces becomes apparent.
For years the $10,000 feature of the World Series attracted the best in the game, plus a few hopefuls and celebrities, and was generally won by the best player on the day from the toughest field anywhere in the world.
So should the Main Event winner be a familiar face, one seen on magazine covers and on poker TV shows every week? Or should it be someone completely new, a brand new hero that the media and the poker public have never set eyes on before?
Those days may now be over thanks to Chris Moneymaker's once in a generation win in 2003. His performance, that of the amateur beating the best in the game, opened the gates for players who had previously been kept out by the $10,000 price tag who could now play the big one for just a few dollars. It was no longer an exclusive tournament for the rich, famous and elite; it was an open contest for poker players everywhere. Everyone was invited.
But that's the Main Event's new charm. It may have lost the old Vegas charm of Binions and adopted the wide open spaces of the Rio, but it doesn't need a high profile winner to make headlines anymore or inspire a new generation of player. The event itself is the attraction; the winner just holds the lease of the richest title in poker.
That may sound a little sappy but it's a thought shared by some of the spectators watching from the rail.
"I'm glad someone new wins, instead of the same old faces," said Stacey Chambers, from Bel Air, California, with much agreement from those nearby. "When Moneymaker won it took it to a whole new level."
That's likely to be the exact sentiment of several players still in the field on day six, players like Breeze Zuckerman, James Carroll and Robert Pisano. All three are PokerStars players who I'd bet you'd never heard of before this week, and before they had started to take off in the main event.
For Zuckerman, from Bakersfield, California, it's an adventure that has her sitting on the secondary feature table right now, alongside Brazilian Team PokerStars Pro Gualter Salles. Playing the biggest event of her life and set to receive the biggest poker pay day of her career, Zuckerman is living a dream shared by many on the rail, and she still has a million chips with which to go as deep as possible.
It's a similar story for James Carroll who has flirted with the chip lead for days now, transforming himself from member of the day one crowd to become an individual with a real shot at glory, beginning today alongside Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden. While for Robert Pisano, part slayer of Johnny Chan, and now the chip leader, this trip to Las Vegas will be the most profitable of his career, a life changing amount now a real possibility.
It's thoughts like this that many find to be the great appeal of a tournament life this. Ten grand is still a lot of money, but the general idea that if you have it you can play sits well with spectators.
"It gives you the feeling you can be the winner," added Chambers, as more players made their way to the payout desk. "It's good for the game. If it's the same guy, I'm not playing. I'm not even showing up."
COOLER OF THE HOUR IN WORDS AND PICTURES
Bryan Pellegrino's World Series is over - and no one can really blame him for getting all the money in on the turn looking at these four cards: 9♠Q♣4♣Q♠. Pellegrino was holding A♣Q♥. The only problem was that Josh Brikis had pocket nines. Bye, bye Bryan.
JOHNNY LODDEN HAND OF THE HOUR
If our German PokerStars Blog reporter Robin Scherr is the model of precision and tracksuits, his Swedish counterpart, Lina Olofsson, is his antithesis. The closest she has ever come to a tracksuit is while walking past the sports section to the handbag aisle, and here's an example of her hand reporting.
"Do you want a Johnny Lodden hand?" Olofsson asked recently. Sure we did.
"He bluffed at a huge pot and won it," Olofsson hurdy-gurdied. And off she went.
More of that over at PokerStarsBlog.nu
"HOW TO BLOW IT ALL" OF THE HOUR
Players who bust out now will get $57,102. Here's what they could spend it on tonight
STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
Time it takes for PokerStars player James Carroll to sprint from table, to bathroom (where he presumably did his business) and back to table: 1 minute 47 seconds
FIST PUMP OF THE HOUR
QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"Bad hand, but good ending." David Benyamine, responding to a opponent's "nice hand."