WSOP 2013: Rise of the machines

There is a definite if unspoken line in the PokerStars stable. On one side of the barn sit the Team PokerStars Pros, live rounders, many of whom were poker celebrities long before they hoisted the flag of the big red spade.

On the other side of the stable (near the power outlets, obviously) is a row of machines known as Team Online, men and women who might have had live poker success but--by and large--allegedly made their bones playing online.

While the line in the dirt is there, they all walk out the same door when they head to the WSOP. If there is any question the Team Online folks are just as good playing on one real table as they are with 24 on the screen, let me point you to the list of PokerStars survivors who are playing Day 2.

You don't have to look closely to see some names that are making Team Online shine.

Here are Team Online's Day 2 players.

Isaac Haxton (134,250)
Randy Lew (120,500)
Mikhail Shalamov (81,000)*
Gabe Nassif (25,600)
George Lind (18,425)
Adrienne Rowsome (15,175)

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As I looked over the list, it occurred to me that I've likely had more interactions with all of those people in live forums than I have ever watched them online. We were introduced to Isaac Haxton when he finished runner up at the PCA. We've spent countless hours watching Randy Lew play, most notably when he won APPT Macau. Gabe Nassif was one of the first people I ever met on tour. I met George Lind not too long after when he was playing EPT Monte Carlo. And Adrienne Rowsome? Bless her heart, she was a PokerStars WSOP qualifier back in the very early years of this blog.

As I look at their success here this week, I find myself wondering just how blurred that line in the stable has become. Judging by their live play, it's almost as if the machines are trying to masquerade (gasp) as real human beings.

And that's troubling, I think. When the machines start to rise up, we humans are doomed. And if Team Online's success so far in the WSOP is any indication, we may be further down that road than we know.

With that in mind, I'd like to be the first to welcome our new Team Online overlords. Hopefully they'll find a place for me in their new society.

*This post was edited after we discovered Team Onliner Mikhail Shalamov was also in the field today. We inserted him later because 1) It's fair and 2) We don't want him to beat us up.

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Photos courtesy Poker Photo Archive.