WSOP Main Event Day 7: Lights, camera, Thorson
When it comes to sitting down in front of the box in a few weeks time to watch what we're writing about today, everything you see will look brilliant. Sure, the images will be sharpened by that end of day beer by your side as you lie back in your favourite arm chair and put your feet up. But the atmosphere will be real, and you won't miss a thing.
Actually, that last bit's not true. You will miss some things. The reality is there's just too much to include, and by now, if you're a regular TV poker viewer, you'll know that what you get on screen is just a sample of what took place in the Amazon Room's sharp end.
Take the secondary table, lodged at the back of the main stage. Seated around it are some of the best players still in this tournament, but right now there's too much at stake for animation and play inches forward at a pedestrian pace. No "Andiamo!," no barking, not even much table talk.
William Thorson at the secondary feature table
One man used to this stage of the Main Event is William Thorson. You may remember back in 2006 the Team PokerStars Pro crashed out of the Main Event in 13th place, running jacks slap bang into the Midas touch of Jamie Gold's kings, who would eventually win the bracelet. The memory of that day was of Thorson's look of devastation - something it took the Swede two years to shift.
"It's not about getting close," said Thorson, recalling that day. "I could have busted at number 30 and been happy about it if I made a correct play."
There's no going back though, however much you might dream of it, but you sense that experience has proven a valuable lesson for Thorson's 2010 campaign. So far Thorson has not yet held the chip lead, but absolved from that pressure he has been building his stack at will, gradually working it up over the last two days, standing 4,500,000 high at the first break of the day.
Thorson likes to dominate, and thrives under the lights and attention provided by his table, lined on each side by camera men and spectators in shorts and polo shirts who allow each other no elbow room. One man, of retirement age stepped aside from his position on the rail to cough violently. Before he could come back his spot had been taken by another guy with white hair.
So far this afternoon Thorson has been investing in hands, speculating and using his stack to suss out the opposition. He leans forward in his seat, yawning occasionally, big hands riffling chips, hair gelled back, red rimmed sunglasses hanging from his Oxford Crew jersey and face glowing in the limelight while others hide beneath caps and hoods. Throwing out chips, he waits to see what happens, giving it up when someone challenges but taking the loot when not entirely convinced.
This goes on for most of the level, pots going in all directions but Thorson never far from the action, with a display of what it takes to win one of these things without running the length of the room in celebration, or winning huge hands.
For Thorson, this will be a chance he won't give up easily.
"You know when you sleep, when you're alone you start to think a lot, the first year was really bad," said Thorson, recalling a two year period of pain. "I had nightmares and I was just dreaming about getting back to the situation where I was folding the hands and end up winning the tournament.
This might be that opportunity and it's no dream.
You might not see how he gets there in full, but if Thorson reaches the November Nine it'll be easy to understand why.
WHO DOES SHE LIKE BEST? OF THE HOUR
The last words said by our favourite snack-stand attendant during the past three visits from PokerStars Blog reporters to buy junk food (in reverse order of flirtatiousness):
"You're welcome my love."
"Come back soon sweetheart."
"Would you like your receipt?"
ATOMIC FIREBALL EATING THEME OF THE HOUR - AND EVERY HOUR PRIOR TO THIS
DENNIS PHILLIPS CALL BACK OF THE HOUR
David Assouline wearing a St. Louis Cardinals cap with a PokerStars patch on it.
UNSUSTAINABLE PACE OF THE HOUR
Fourteen players were eliminated in the first hour of play today. At that pace, Day 7 will end sometime in the middle of the fourth level of the day. Our prediction is the pace is unsustainable.
STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
Percentage of the remaining players representing PokerStars: 43%
ATOMIC FIREBALL FACT OF THE HOUR
An Atomic Fireball (Official Candy of the PokerStars Blog) takes two weeks to create and has 100 layers of sugary goodness by the time it is complete.
RAILBIRD OF THE HOUR
Gualter Salles railing his countryman Eduardo Parras