WSOP 2013: Zooming in on the opening day

Like any moment of great significance these days, the crowds watching the start of the WSOP main event viewed it all through a two-inch telephone screen held high above their heads. While a few feet away Jack Effel formally addressed the Amazon Room, those watching him looked up rather than directly at him, as if there was a piano suspended above the makeshift stage ready to drop.

This first day introduction is something to tick off in the Las Vegas travel guide, a story to be retold to friends in an "I was there" fashion when the highlights are shown months from now at a post-bottle-of-White-Zinfandel time of night.

As tournament Director Jack Effel took the podium, cameras were lifted and the main event came to life.

Tournament Director Jack Effel

"Welcome to the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event!" he said, after fidgeting with the rostrum microphone in that way people do when standing at a rostrum. It was Effel's job to greet players, and introduce a few rules before getting the show on the road. A tall man, he looked tiny on each two inch screen.

The rules were simple. No chips in pockets and be respectful to each other. The world always feels a little heavier when such reminders have to be made, but Effel offered up himself, or at least his Twitter account, as a target for any vocal, grumpy types.

The rest was brief, as Effel, eager to get Event #62 underway, handed over to the Executive Director of the WSOP Ty Stewart who, after adjusting the microphone, Stewart set about introducing the man who would officially introduce the day.

Stewart spoke eloquently about Greg Merson and of the prestige associated with the World Championships, which offers the winner a degree of fame and immortality. He reeled off four names that have become synonymous with greatness in poker: Moss, Brunson, Chan (I forget the other) before footage from November showed Merson at his moment of triumph.

Then it was Merson himself who stepped up to say a few words. After adjusting the microphone he promised to keep his speech short. He nailed it.

Reigning main event champion Greg Merson

"Dealers, shuffle up and deal," he said as the room burst into applause. Merson set off to defend his title as the crowds dispersed, cameras held aloft.

Photos courtesy of Poker Photo Archive.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.