WSOP 2011: Chew on this

wsop2011-thumb-blog.pngIn the barfight scrum that is Day 1 of the WSOP, there are no winners per se. It's a bloody battle that sees people hit with broken pool cues that look like deuce-four offsuit and barstools made by the Runner-Runner Seating Corporation. Even if you win today, you have to come back and go through the fight again on Day 2, and probably again on Day 3 before you'll win anything. And for the privilege, you've paid $10,000. Winning is bloody and bloody expensive work.

Day 1 has its losers, to be sure. Take 2007 WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider. A proven non-slouch, the man known as Donkey Bomber was on the road home to Phoenix before 4pm, the victim of having to fold a set of tens to Greg Raymer's set of queens and then running pocket kings into Bob "Poker Grump" Woolley's aces. Schneider managed to avoid winning to the degree that he thought about driving off the Hoover Dam on his way home (although not before divesting himself of his remaining food vouchers).

Schneider also avoided creating for himself a goal that means next to nothing. See, there is a subset of the poker community that will celebrate making it to this point in the day. It's an almost arbitrary finish line. We call it dinner break. The Dinner Break Subset (DBS) calls it victory. For this achievement, they will receive no money. They will receive no bracelet. At best, they will receive a (reportedly salty) short rib pot pie at the Rio's All American Bar and Grill. Nevertheless, for the DBS, 6:45pm PT is celebration time.

Day 1A began some six and half hours ago. When registration shut down, 897 people had signed up for the first of the four Day 1 flights. The same day in 2010 saw 1,125 entries. You don't have to be a math wizard to see the 20% drop in numbers from last year. What does it mean? Well, what does anything mean? We've covered the elephant issue already. If you care to extrapolate the numbers a little, it goes something like this: if the 20% reduction in the field size holds, the WSOP will be about the same size it was in 2005 when Joe Hachem won the Main Event. That happens to be still twice as big as 2004 when Greg Raymer won. So, smaller? Yes. Any less impressive? Probably not.

Looking at the numbers now is a lot like worrying about the dinner break. Once you're into it, the size of the field probably isn't going to affect how you play the game. The numbers are probably a lot more interesting to the people writing about poker than the people playing it. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out, I've never made a WSOP dinner break. So, there's that. We'd all do well to take a lesson from Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer. Does he look like a guy who is going to call back to Germany and tell his folks he made the dinner break? I think not.

Danzer et al will be back at 8:15 for more action. So will we.

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NOTABLE ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR
Peter Hedlund is out. Wearing the Hedlund uniform of branded shirt, shorts, socks and sandals, the Swede recounted how he had lost with aces, kings and queens, as well as a few other big hands that I was too slow to write down.

PETER HEDLUND QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"It's not bad luck," he said. "It's normal for me."

NOT-AS-FUNNY ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR
Doyle Brunson, busting out just short of the dinner break.


QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"You look like a gentleman. I look like a jackass." --Ricardo Pinto to PokerStars Blog's Stephen "I apply my shaving cream with a badger-haired brush" Bartley


PRACTICAL SOLUTION TO AN OPTOMETRIC PROBLEM OF THE HOUR
Sunglasses on with reading glasses perched carefully at the end of the nose.


STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
The combined number of bracelets won by Mel Judah and Chris Bjorin, currently at the same table: 4

MISGUIDED RAILBIRD OF THE HOUR
"Is this the final table?" asks a woman gawping at the feature table from behind the ropes.

ESPN CAMERA FOCUS OF THE HOUR
1987 and 1988 Main Event champion Johnny Chan has the TV crew hovering around his table.