WSOP 2011: Now that's what I call a poker face

wsop2011-thumb-blog.pngI hope Mrs Young is not reading this, but I have found the beautiful face of poker. As the masses gathered for what could be the biggest Day 1 flight in WSOP history, fate decreed it was my turn to cover the Shuffle Up and Deal. I'm not one to gloat, but yesterday Brad Willis did the opening ceremony and got to write about cupcakes. On Friday, Stephen Bartley grinded with Michael Mizrachi.

Today, I got to admire Holly Madison, the former Playboy Playmate and reality television star perform the official duties. Get in!

Oh, and Phil Hellmuth was there, too.

Some say today's Day 1D field could be as high as 2,700 (it was below 900 on Day 1A), and there was no doubt the Amazon and Pavilion Rooms were buzzing. The star-studded opening ceremony was worthy of such an expectant crowd.

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Holly Madison

First, tournament supremo Jack Effel rattled through the rules and regulations. He's done this so many times he must know it off by heart by now. He then gave some thanks: to ESPN for filming this thing (applause) the staff and dealers (loud applause), the poker media (quietest applause!) and finally the players (loudest applause of all).

Then he revealed we would have not one, but two hosts for the opening ceremony. Well, a host and a hostess to be precise.

Or beauty and the beast.

First Hellmuth was introduced and presented with a trophy by Bad Beat on Cancer's Phil Gordon. It seems Hellmuth, who has been cashing for fun throughout this WSOP, has made more pledges to the Bad Beat on Cancer cause this year than anyone else. Some $16,000.

"I finally won something," quipped Hellmuth, a reference to his three runner-up finishes this year.

And then the moment I for one had been waiting for. Hellmuth stepped to one side and Effel introduced the Poker Brat's co-host, Madison.

A star of reality television and shows such as Dancing With the Stars and Holly's World, she is a former Playboy Playmate and once held the enviable position of Picture Editor at Playboy Magazine. These days she is filming another reality TV show (about herself) and starring in Peepshow, an exotic performance right here in Las Vegas that I now want to see, even though I know I should not.

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Holly Madison, Jack Effel and Phil Hellmuth take the stage

Madison tottered on stage, resplendent in a short red dress, with perfect features, bright red lipstick and blonde hair flowing around her neck. I admired her instantly for her intellect, of course.

"Hello everybody," she cooed. "Let's shuffle up and deal."

That was it, but I was smitten, realising grimly that the prospect of staring at the grizzled faces of folk like Barry Greenstein and Joe Hachem for the rest of the day could never match what I had just seen. Thank goodness Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree is in the field.

For the record, Mrs Young can relax. While Madison would no doubt have loved my company at dinner, she disappeared surrounded by heavies before I so much as had a whiff of a chance to tell her how much I admired her work.

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STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
There are roughly 175 main event tables in operation in the Pavilion, in addition to those being used in the Amazon Room.

THE ONLY A MAN WITH TOO MUCH TIME ON HIS HANDS COULD FIGURE THAT OUT FACT OF THE HOUR
22 of the 57 bracelet winners in 2011 had facial hair in their winner's photo.

ARRIVAL OF THE HOUR
Joe Hachem, in a very (almost laid back) casual walk down the Rio hallway, partially soaked from yet another desert downpour.

STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
Number of combined miles run by the Team PokerStars Blog writers before work today: 5 (we won't say who ran what)

FRIGHT OF THE HOUR
Cymbal-crash by player known as The Devil making sure PokerStars Blog writer Brad Willis won't enter the Orange section of the Amazon Room today

ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE HOUR
Sent by Marcel Luske to Noah Boeken today (and then badly translated through TweetDeck: Books take time and keep the pots small, so you too badly played by many, so slowly that opbauwen stack.Succes ..;)