WSOP 2011: Something for everyone


I ran into a young player about to make his first trip to Las Vegas at Gatwick airport on the way to the World Series. A successful player for a few years now, having played EPTs and big events across the UK, he was flying in two days before his 21st birthday. Now he's legally entitled to play everything from the $10,000 main event at the Rio, to a $2-$4 limit game at the Palms.

The idea of coming to Las Vegas for the first time is an appealing one; to be able to experience that first glimpse of the strip from McCarran airport again, the shining towers of the Mandalay Bay and MGM; the neat windows of Bellagio and Caesars, or the ludicrous, yet strangely magnificent presence of an Eiffel tower replica - all now familiar to those of us repeat visitors but enough to make the debutant gawp.

But look close enough and Las Vegas offers enough originality for even the most seasoned visitor, enough mystery and intrigue to keep you knee deep in stories for when you get home and enough oddballs to make yourself feel normal. It's there all right; you just have to look in the right places.

For instance; every morning, from my hotel room window, I see the same man walking the length of the parking lot - backwards. The day after arriving and on my way to the Strip, the taxi driver swerved violently, ramming on the breaks, so he could roll down his window down and make a remark to two women walking buy - a Knieval-type performance that cost me an additional 90c at the lights.

While wondering if the "Redemption Centre" offered hotel guests the opportunity to cash out their winnings or change the course of their lives, I watched a woman multi-table video Keno while talking on the phone and smoking cigarettes - public smoking being a curiosity in itself without the Keno.

Then back to my room, where the sign on the hotel night stand warns guests of the $5 fine that will be imposed on them should they remove a pillow. Surely there's money to be made, (with a built-in permanent supply of new stock), selling hotel pillows on the sidewalk for $6 a time.

All this awaits the visitor to Las Vegas, along with the storm about to break out over the city, currently being treated like a tourist attraction by dealers outside on a break.

The Amazon Room without the rush

There's also the spectacle of close to 1,000 people cramming themselves into the Amazon Room for a statistically reckless yet heroic attempt to turn ten grand into several million dollars. Keep the Bellagio fountains, the Grand Canyon helicopter rides and the Stratosphere roller coaster; this place alone captures the human competitive instinct

Players have returned from the break and will play two more levels tonight before the close.

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"Playing @WSOP Main Event tomorrow! Day 1C !! I can't wait!!!!!" - 2010 World Champion and Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel.

Edwin Kim is sitting with 115,000 after dinner and appears to be our current chip leader.

"Right. I'm off to get my shoes shined." - PokerStars Blogs' Stephen Bartley.