WSOP 2012: Ruthless efficiency as exit door gets a workout
It almost never fails. When the bubble bursts at the World Series of Poker, the exodus looks like a frat party that ran out of free beer. It's as if everyone didn't care so much about winning the World Series of Poker as min-cashing and rushing as quickly as they could to see Carrot Top at the Luxor. Small children were in danger of getting trampled. The security officials looked like they wanted riot gear. If it helps you, imagine rats in a flooding basement. It had become something like tradition--dozens and dozens of smiling people running out to get their cash and be done with a week's worth of poker. In fact, it was such a lock to happen, we put it on our coverage schedule today.
"Right," said Stephen Bartley. "I'll write about the bubble. You cover the mayhem."
So, I was on mayhem duty, and the mayhem didn't happen. Oh, sure, we've lost more than 150 people in the last couple of hours. The field is now down below 500 players, but I'll be damned if it isn't almost...and it pain me to say this...orderly.
The nylon-roped path--a snaking, Disneyland style maze--is empty. A lonely woman in a WSOP shirt stands at the entrance with a blank stare and calm thorazine smile on her face. When I watch her turn a man away, I ask what offense he committed.
"Forgot his Total Rewards card. He's coming back," she said. That's literally as bad as it gets.
There is no screaming, running, and stomping. People aren't getting drunk and high-fiving the custodians. I didn't even hear any bad beat stories. Across the hall, the queue for the cashier's cage looks like a short line of people waiting for ice cream sundaes. It's professional in a way that we just don't see here very often. It makes me uncomfortable.
But then! Then! A crackle on the floor staff's CBs.
"Catch that guy in the striped shirt!"
It sounds like the police radios on my old beat. It's a chase!
I look up to see a young man in a striped shirt walking toward me. A floorman hurries to his side.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Striped Shirt says. "I thought it was over here."
It was, at worst, a misunderstanding. The floor restored order in a mater of seconds.
It's 5pm. The players are headed to dinner in about an hour and half. There are 486 of them left right now, and the exodus will only become more orderly. It's as if the WSOP has grown up. The people are here. The big money and fame are here. The only thing missing is the mayhem.
VIDEO OF THE HOUR
PHOTO OF THE HOUR
CHIP COUNT OF THE HOUR
Vanessa Selbst: 930,000 , a top 20 stack with 486 players remaining