WSOP 2011: A great deal for some but bubble pressure starting to show
Here's the deal. Turn up today at around noon, sit down, play a while, get knocked out of the tournament, walk over to a room across the hallway from the Amazon and pick up $19,000. Then go home to your family.
That sounds like a pretty good deal, and not surprisingly, the majority of the 750 players remaining think so too.
A week is a long time for anyone to be in Las Vegas. Those that live here can at least escape every night to their homes to engage in real world activities like preparing food, doing laundry and opening a window if they want to. But for visitors the suspension of reality, the principle that this town was built on, can make the time pass slowly. The ordeal has now reached its zenith though, as the money bubble determines just who will be able to leave with a success story worth at least nearly 19 grand.
For the others it means walking away with nothing. You still get to go home to your family but you have to go to an ATM first, an ugly place at the best of times which, if you're lucky spits some money out at you before you have chance to do any arithmetic in your head. For a lot of players that's a reality about to become all too familiar.
One player, Shane Abbott was eliminated fewer than 70 places off the money. We bill the Main Event as a happy place, played in the spirit of friendliness and with a love of poker that unites millions around the world. But the hard reality of that doesn't always look as pretty as it does on paper.
Abbott stood up and gathered his things. Guy Goreli, the player that evidently beat him earlier, did something that Abbott took to be a sign of good-riddance. It wasn't, but Abbott was in no mood for consolation. He'd flashed a polite smile to the rest of the table, saving his grief for private, but that was the extent of his public good cheer - the veneer giving away to deep disappointment.
Elsewhere Kenny Nguyen was getting tetchy. He's down to 50,000, which, in these waters will only keep you afloat for so long.
Nguyen folded a hand face-up, smiling a tense smile as the chips were pushed over to a square-jawed man in a Pirates cap. Nguyen's grin was supposed to be one of knowing superiority, but he couldn't stop his face grimacing for a brief moment, and the explanation that followed, in which he described the mistake his opponent made, gave away his new vulnerability.
It's not all bad news. In the far corner sit nine players, none of whom seem in any danger of risking a pre-bubble elimination. The atmosphere is relaxed as one player read out brief resumes of each of the players at his table, which he'd saved on his Blackberry. The others listen, laughing, not admitting to anything but perhaps enjoying the verbal recap of their personal success - they all seem to have won something.
"I have the biggest cash this year," says the reader, with no small amount of smugness. But it's easy to laugh and enjoy yourself when you have chips.
We expected to be at the bubble at the break, instead we're still 45 players short. They may not know it yet but they're about to start the last level of their World Series. It will be the most important level yet.
UH-OH OF THE HOUR
PokerStars Main Event Passport winner Julian Stuer who started the level with 343,500 and is now down to 120,000 nearing the bubble.
TWEET OF THE HOUR
Daniel Negreanu: "End level 126k rough level but I played amazing I promise!"
CHIP COUNT OF THE HOUR
Dennis Phillips on 180,000
DISAPPEARING SECTION OF THE HOUR
The blue section is now close to being empty, with just five tables remaining. Once they break we'll be down to the purple and orange sections only.
UNHAPPY BREAK OF THE HOUR
The player on Dennis Phillips' table who, on the last hand before the break, had his kings cracked by queens to leave him short-stacked.
MOST COMMON BREAK-TIME PHONE CONVERSATION OF THE HOUR
"I'm still in!"