WSOP 2011: Live from Las Vegas

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World Series of Poker Tournament Director Jack Effel stood as high as the Amazon Room bleachers would take him. With lights in his face and microphone gripped tightly in his hand, Effel surveyed the Day 3 field. Below him, players scurried from table to table, studied the seating cards in their hand, and looked every bit the chaos one might expect when nearly 1,900 people are scheduled to sit down and do something at the very same moment. The WSOP usually rides the balance between complete chaos and a well-choreographed flash mob.

Now Effel was more than a poker lawman and party host. He was a TV director with hundreds of actors milling around his stage. He was not taking the job lightly.

"Less than four minutes!" Effel called through the mic. "Less than four minutes! We are going live and the cards will be in the air."

A few minutes ago, the WSOP marked a landmark moment. For the first time in its history, the WSOP will go out live (on a 30-minute delay), with hole cards visible at some times, on the ESPN network and others around the world.

"We are no longer just a documentary or an infomercial," said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP. "We have hit the big time in a way many people never thought possible."

Beginning today and running through the end of he summer action, ESPN will offer its coverage streaming online on ESPN3 and on television on ESPN2. For people who don't have access to those networks, the streams will be available on WSOP.com.

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As the main television table players took their seats, sideline reporter Kara Scott eased up to the edge of the stage. A boom camera swooped down to her face as she turned to the man in the hat next to her. Daniel Negreanu would soon sit down as the very first star of ESPN's live WSOP coverage.

Said poker's uber-agent Brian Balsbaugh, "If you are ESPN and you are trying live poker for fist time ever, really only choice for feature table today is Daniel Negreanu."

"Two minutes!" Effel yelled through his mic.

The countdown clock on every screen in the room started ticking down. With the Mothership television stage glowing like a craft from another galaxy, the production took on a briefly ominous quality.

"I assume you've seen Independence day?" said a man on the rail. "If that clock starts blinking with zeroes at the end, we're all screwed."

But the clock did not. It flipped to show two hours remaining in Level 11, the first time that level would ever go out to viewers around the world.

Godspeed, Mothership. Godspeed.


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APT HALLWAY MUSIC OF THE HOUR
You Better You Bet - The Who

Top 5 Who songs they should also play at the WSOP:
1 My (Internet) Generation
2 Won't Get Fooled Again
3 Let's See Action
4 Squeeze Box
5 See Me, Feel Me (half of that works, the second half is a bit pervy)

Top 5 Who songs we'd rather not get at the WSOP:
1 Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (album)
2 Real Good Looking Boy
3 It's Hard
4 A Legal Matter
5 A Quick One, While He's Away

MISSING STALL OF THE HOUR
The beer stall in the Amazon Room has been removed to make more room around the main stage area.

THAT WAS QUICK OF THE HOUR
"Holy crap, that was over sooner than I thought," son to father as he walked away from the table and over to the rail. "I had kings and the big blind woke up with aces," was the rarely-ends-well explanation

BUST OUT OF THE HOUR
Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier is out of the main event.

OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTE OF THE HOUR
Woman: I was freaking out!
Man: I was freaking out for you!

SACCHARINE DOSE OF THE HOUR
Dealer: "Every year when we get to the bubble I start to cry."

VIDEO OF THE HOUR
It's the Day 3 update, folks...

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker