WSOP 2014: Bottled Buzz for sale as Main Event kicks off
This is the tenth year the World Series of Poker has been played at the Rio. As you might imagine at lot has changed in that time. You'd be right.
For one thing there was no-one playing music on a mixing desk in the middle of the Amazon Room in 2005. There was today, Albert Lineses, the official DJ of the UFC, combining the likes of Eurythmics and Queen with a lot of bass, in front of a crowd of people, part photographers, part middle-aged men in sports shirts tapping their feet.
Official DJ of the UFC Albert Lineses in action before the Main Event (Photo Jayne Furman/Poker Photo Archive)
This was the prelude to Jack Effel arrival on stage. Effel is tournament director in these parts and went through the plan for the day, adding, with considerable understatement that, with $10,000,000 guaranteed for first place, the winner of this event was going to be very happy.
Effel then gave way to WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart who took a moment to look back on ten years of the Main Event at the Rio, won that year by Joe Hachem.
Hachem was in the Amazon Room to start the proceedings today, but not before Stewart talked of how ground breaking a moment Hachem's win was - a result which, as he said "put the 'World' in World Series of Poker."
This much is true. Hachem was the first non-American winner of the Moneymaker era, and talked eloquently about his experiences as he took his seat in that momentous year, thinking, as he looked across at the 2,000 other players in the field, whether it might not be a bad idea to cash in his ticket. Thankfully for him he stuck it out.
All of this took place as the Day 1A players, seated in all directions, sat patiently riffling their chips, eager, as the clocked ticked past noon, to get their campaign underway. These are the players who keep coming, the players who are forever inspired by the likes of Hachem and every winner since, content in their belief that they too could walk away from here a champion.
That's one of the things that will never change, and that's not the only thing. Take the television stage, a neon "mother ship", now as familiar to poker fans as many other sporting arenas. Then there are the stories, each spoken down telephones in the hallways of the Rio, a never ceasing apology to those rooting for more back home.
Players arriving at the entrance to the Rio (Photo: Jayne Furman/Poker Photo Archive)
And lastly the vendors lined up outside the tournament rooms selling everything from books to sunglasses and jumpsuits. And also that one stall, reserved for that most optimistic of entrepreneur, bottling up a natural phenomenon and selling it for it's questionable health benefits. Last year it was oxygen, this year negative ions, all of which are guaranteed to make you a better player. I for one will sell you a bag of gravity at a discount rate, guaranteed to keep you in your seat after a long day. Bring a ten dollar bill to the press room for more details.
But even this, essentially putting faith ahead of facts, can sometimes be a good thing, certainly in the World Series of Poker Main Event. Frankly, that's what this event is all about. Put a dose of rational clear thinking in the mix and suddenly your back home paying off school loans and mowing your parent's lawn. Where's the romance in that?
And so things get started on a new Main Event campaign. It looks the same but is different at the same time. It never fails to attract the people, professionals and amateurs, in their thousands. As Jack Effel put it: "poker's in the air, everyone can feel the buzz."
He's right. Plans to bottle "Buzz" and sell it in the essentials store for its life affirming ingredients are yet to be confirmed.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.