WSOP 2014: It's all about the preparation
As someone once said, depending on the website you Google first, "Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted".
It's an adage that applies to many things; wedding planning, the line at Space Mountain, and orchestrating a pincer movement against an Imperial Star Fleet. But it also applies to poker.
With multiple flights on days one and two, players have time to look up the opposition. Once the table draw is published the preparations begin. Not Preparation H exactly, although given the amount of time they'll be sitting down eating sandwiches, more Preparation P for Poker.
So you grab the back of a napkin, or a neat spiral bound notebook if you're a high roller, and draw a circle on it, scribbling on the names of each player at your table. Then get to work.
Daniel Negreanu took this approach on his day off yesterday, tweeting proof of his homework last night:
My table draw for tomorrow. Looks like a good one based on the research I've done pic.twitter.com/TaxGSKiPuE— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 9, 2014
Money earned is the principle indicator, a well as the type of games the opposition cash in, all of which is available online and can provide relevant information.
Negreanu is not alone in taking time to prepare. Several players took their seats today clutching pages torn from yellow legal pads. Over on Table 279 in yellow section for instance, Keith Block from New York State, looked down at his scribbled notes and then up at each player seated around him, putting names to faces.
It wasn't clear what notes he'd made but he will have gulped as he spotted Michael Woo next to him, with nearly $2 million in tournament earnings, as well as former bracelet winner Miguel Proulx. You know, on second thoughts, it's sometimes better not to know this stuff.
Hopefully for Brock his time spent in reconnaissance will actually pay off, but given that his table will be among the first to break it won't pay off for long.
For others preparation is a different process. It's about getting comfortable, or the more basic process of actually trying to find your seat.
One man, Robert McVeigh of Hunting Beach, having tried three different seats at his table, finally asked the dealer for help determining which one was his. "I have new contact lenses in," he confessed. "Usually I can't see anything up close, which makes playing poker interesting."
Others scurry around swapping chairs that wobble for ones that keep them on an even keel. Others spend the time talking. After all, for a lot of players reaching day two is accomplishment in itself, and like soldiers in the old black and white war films sharing photos of each other's families, they get pally with those around them, hoping to bring a touch of civility back into a cut throat environment.
But just like in the films their futures here might be short.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.