WSOP 2013: Despite nothing to see Negreanu is still the main attraction
There are currently 22 people watching Daniel Negreanu. He's not playing many hands, and even if he was you couldn't see them from anywhere on the rail. But he is getting a massage. So essentially these 22 people are watching Negreanu get a massage.
But given that you can't really get a good look at anyone in the Amazon Room, despite there being a thousand players, you may as well stare at someone you recognise from television. So Negreanu it is.
Negreanu, a natural showman, did his best to keep them interested. "Twenty-five dollars!" he cried at one point. He was referring to his ante, but it was enough to blow away a few cobwebs from those on the rail without anything to lean on. They'd all come a long way and most carried WSOP shopping bags or wore branded sweatshirts. They weren't budging, even if that meant watching Negreanu fall asleep.
The main attraction in the main event: Daniel Negreanu
Not that there's nothing fascinating about a massage, particularly to curious visitor not familiar with the essential role massage therapists play in relieving the stress poker players often feel in their lower backs when their wallets get too heavy.
"Two dollars a minute," said one woman, confiding in a friend. To most people the other side of the rail really is a different world.
The crowd had been there all day, moving only when requested by security prior to breaks, to allow players room to leave their tables. That security is arranged by a diligent blue-shirted guard by the name of Wyatt Earp, or, to give him his full name, Wyatt Earp Lovejoy, a veteran of 18 years at the Orange County Sheriff's office. Lovejoy was a man proud of his name and proud of his record, and growing up with a name like Wyatt Earp means you're destined for in enforcement. You're never going to be a computer engineer or a racing driver with a name like that.
But as he marshalled the crowds back a little it was interesting to how the people on the rail did as they were told without averting their eyes from the action on the table. It's easy to forget how genuinely interested people are in watching poker events unfold. It's day one, there's a full week of play to go, the chips are of small denomination and the big pots are rare. And yet these people are genuinely thrilled to watch Negreanu fold for a while.
Lovejoy moved the barrier again, restricting the viewing area slightly, an efficient job but perhaps and unnecessary ruthless one. One woman said she couldn't see much but was content to watch what she could from behind a man who promptly moved aside, giving up his own spot from which he had a better view. These are the people who will stay up all night to watch the final table in November. We should be providing these people with boxes to stand on, not turning them away.