WSOP 2012: Main Event party starts, crowds on the way
In the social study of poker players, there exists a hypothesis that one should not be first to the party. Perhaps it's that forced, awkward small talk that happens between a host and his first guest. Maybe it's a fear of appearing too eager. Maybe, just maybe it's a case of "why do now what I can do later." Whatever it is, the first flight the World Series of Poker Main Event just doesn't get a lot of love.
Make no mistake. Day 1A of the 2012 Main Event drew an impressive 1,066 people, 19% more than the 897 in 2011. Knowing that, you should also note that 2011 had four Day 1 flights. This year's Main Event has been reduced to three day ones, and anybody with a lick of sense knows Days 1B and 1C will look monstrous compared to Day 1A.
As you might expect, that meant a lower turnout of Team PokerStars Pros in the field for Day 1. Most of the names you know had other plans for Day 1A. Daniel Negreanu watched Rocky movies all day. Jason Mercier sipped cocktails by the pool. Only a few Team Pros braved the societal stigma of a Day 1A. Among them was 2011 WSOP champion Pius Heinz. He spent the entire day on the grind at the feature table and still managed to pose for pictures with fans during his breaks. He finished the day short, but still in contention. After getting as low as 10,000, he finally worked his way back up to above his starting stack toward the day's end.
"Couldnt be happier considering how the day went before dinner," Heinz said.
The reigning champ led the charge for fellow Team PokerStars Pros David Williams, Ivan Demidov, Pierre Neuville, and Luca Pagano. Pagano was gone early in the day. Demidov followed later when his pocket aces got outdrawn.
"It happens," Demidov said. "Looking forward to 2013."
In the last level of the day, Neuville was desperately short and clinging to life. Williams doubled twice toward the end of the day, but still finished with a short stack. All in all, Team Pro has had better days. For now, those who finished with chips look forward to Tuesday's Day 2.
The light Team Pro presence in today's field gave us the opportunity to take a closer look at some of the finer points of this year's WSOP, including the battle for the bathrooms, the Technicolor dreamscape, how to act like a real poker player, how to act like a crazy poker player, and what this day means to poker's everyman.
Day 1B of the Main Event kicks of at noon PT tomorrow. While Monday's Day 1C flight will almost certainly be the biggest, we're expecting a bumper crop on Sunday. Join us back here for more coverage then.
Until then, goodnight from Las Vegas.