WSOP 2011: Closing the kitchen

wsop2011-thumb-blog.pngLess than 24 hours ago, a hungry World Series of Poker player could casually stroll from the Pavilion Room of the Rio Hotel and into the WSOP Poker kitchen. There they could buy from any of more than half a dozen food stations a taco, Vietnamese pho, lo mein noodles, a salami wrap, a hamburger, a pizza, or a tropical smoothie. In the coolers were drinks of all varieties. A healthy eater could even find a banana. Now, that can't happen anymore.

Every table has been removed from the Pavilion Room. The television lights are coming down. Before long, the cavernous hall will be available to host a dentists' conference or lingerie trade show (we're desperately hoping for the latter).


The Pavilion Room loses the WSOP

Even if there were enough people to play in the Pavilion Room, there would be no place for them to eat. The Poker Kitchen closed after the dinner break last night. It's now just another conference room in the convention center. All that remains is a lonely, empty condiment bar. The ketchup is dead. Long live the ketchup.


Such is the reality of the World Series of Poker. Though the biggest money is won at the end, most of the excitement (and food preparation) happens at the beginning. With fewer than 260 players remaining in the tournament, most of the vendors have gone (although the oxygen bar is inexplicably hanging around). There are more lost people in the hallways than people coming to play poker.

And it will only get quieter.

As the thousands of dollars turn into hundreds of thousands and sneak up on millions, there will hardly be reason to keep the lights on. Before long, the Amazon will be one giant room with just a couple dozen people playing cards. It could just as easily be a two-table tournament somewhere on the Strip. Except for the millions, of course.

The new quiet wouldn't seem so pronounced, probably, if it wasn't for how big this event has become. What was once a small sideshow at a little downtown casino is now a big money maker for the Harrah's property. After one has seen three thousand people laying cards at the same time, looking at 300 isn't quiet as impressive.

That is, of course, why there's money. And lots of it. If we can't be surrounded by people, if we can't slather our hands with BBQ sauce and coleslaw, if we can't get lost in a sea of humanity in the Pavilion Room, at the very least, we can roll around in big piles of money, right?


Ripping off the bandaid

* * *
The player who stormed out of the Amazon Room, shoving a door open so forcefully that is smacked against the wall and nearly came off its hinges.

"This is some good rock. I love it." - Security guard seemingly enjoying Thin Lizzy's The Boys are Back in Town playing over the speakers in the hallway.

The various ESPN cameras crews running like headless chickens through the orange and purple sections trying to catch too many all-ins and too many tables.

David Bach has so many towers of yellow 1,000 chips that they now reach a third of the way into the center of the table.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker