WSOP 2011: No tournament for old men
I am 37 years old. The hair in my beard started going gray five years ago. I shaved it. My hair started losing its color a few years back, too. I cut it shorter, but couldn't give it up entirely. When you have so little of something, you cling to it like a child with a moth-eaten security blanket. My knees crack when I bend down. I spend 90% of my clothing budget on comfortable shoes. At this point, the only thing that can make me feel young anymore is walking through the Gold Coast around the time Ping Pang Pong early bird special lets out and the people with walkers make their way to the Pai Gow tables.
This is my seventh consecutive summer covering the WSOP for the PokerStars Blog. When I started, I was a younger man who could function on three hours of sleep a night and a mainline drip of caffeine. Those days are long gone, not-quite-forgotten, and probably vacationing with whatever parts of my liver ran off with the labor lawyers years ago. The WSOP is no place for a man sniffing at 40.
Or so I thought until this morning.
The WSOP released a pile of statistics from its first 57 events of 2011 (that's everything but the Main Event if you'd lost count). Among that pile was the most refreshing piece of information I've read in the past four days.
The average age of WSOP preliminary event entrants this year is 37.33. It's an encouraging sign. I thought when I played my first WSOP event in 2005 that I would soon be past my prime. Instead I learn some seven summers later that entrants on average are exactly my age.
Of course, that's where the good news ended for your less-than-humble blogger. The average age of people who cashed in WSOP events this year came in at 36.1. About the time I was watching Jonathan Duhamel snap off Matt Affleck's aces in 2010, I was also sneaking past prime age for posting a WSOP cash.
No worries, though, because the big money isn't just in cashing. It's in making a final table, right? That's where old men might as well go back to playing bocce. In 2011, the average age of final table players is a staggeringly young 33.61. It makes one wonder why ESPN doesn't tape the final tables at Chuck E. Cheese.
It's all just numbers, however. There's no reason for the aging, decrepit, fixed-income, need-a-blender-for-our-ribeye-steaks among us to worry. All of these averages don't matter a lick when you focus on the real prize. We don't come here in hopes of just entering. We don't expect our grandchildren to talk about the time we posted a min-cash in a $1,000 tournament. Our hometowns won't built bronze statues in our honor if we bust out in eighth place of a $1,500 limit hold'em scrum.
No, no, no. All numbers aside, the World Series of Poker is all about that gold bracelet. It's about being able to say, "I didn't just place. I didn't just go far. I beat everybody. I am, in no uncertain terms, a winner." The bracelet. That's the thing.
As it happens, the WSOP kept track of the average age of this year's bracelet-winners, too. It's here we can certainly find some hope. It's in this magnificent number that we can relish these laugh-lines on our face.
The average age of 2011 WSOP bracelet winners?
Forget it. It's almost 4pm. I'm going for Singapore noodles at Ping Pang Pong and a game of min-bet Pai Gow.
I need to be with my people.
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DON'T MESS WITH ME TABLE OF THE HOUR
Featuring two people we're scared of meeting in a dark alleyway: Alex Kravchenko and Jeff Lisandro
DAFT HATS OF THE HOUR
#1 A furry, black buffalo hat, complete with two horns
#2 Another furry animal, maybe a fox but could be a chipmunk. Wildlife not our strong point.
TWEET OF THE HOUR
@BarryGreenstein: "We just filled the 10 seat at my table with none other than Victor Ramdin."
NELLY SIGHTING OF THE HOUR
The great man was just spotted making a phone call outside where the dealers go to smoke. It's still 1 hour 20 minutes to the next break.
REJECTED REQUEST OF THE HOUR
The player who asked the dealer to shuffle the cards faced up.