WSOP 2014: That's not alcoholism sir, that's environmental protection
In the nine years I've been reporting on the World Series of Poker I've come to expect that certain things are different here, and adjust my lifestyle accordingly. There are a few sights and sounds that happen in Las Vegas that you would struggle to find back home. You just have to be ready for them.
The news here of late has highlighted the plight of Lake Mead, the principle water supply for Las Vegas, which, while keeping people and golf courses hydrated, continues each year to sink lower and lower, threatening the very existence of this city.
While it may be decades before things dry up, visitors do their best to help the situation. While water stocks may be under threat, the supply of margaritas is not. So while you might look upon those people drinking them at the bar at 9am as in some way debauched, they are in fact model visitors, doing their utmost to protect the local environment.
Then there are the gamblers, plugging away at the black jack and Pai Gow tables, yelling at each other at 9.05am because in this town you don't save this kind of fun for the evening. Because there is no evening.
There are other things that cause people to look twice, and not always of the unsavoury kind.
As I left my room this morning on the way to work the maid saw me in the corridor, looked up and down at my collar and tie, smiled and said: "stay out of the heat". I smiled back, but I saw in her eyes that she believed she was looking at a man on his way to almost certain collapse, and heat exhaustion.
People here are expected to dress for the weather, which basically means wearing as little as possible. So add exposed flesh and party frocks to your list of things that should not be considered out of the ordinary at 9.10am.
Then there are the poker players, who turn up in their thousands, convinced, despite all proof to the contrary, that this is their year, that they have as much chance as the next guy at winning and that therefore means it would be pure folly to skip this most famous poker tournament in the world.
Chips and dealers ready for anyone (Photo: Jayne Furman/Poker Photo Archive)
The gambler, the drinker, the guy dressed inappropriately, they're all here and accepted for what they are - fellow poker players, and an additional ten grand in the prize pool.
They'll all do today what several hundred men and women did yesterday - play five two-hour levels, with a 90 minutes dinner break after three. If things go their way they'll return for day two, just as four of the PokerStars stable did yesterday. They are:
Chris Moneymaker - 69,850
Jan Heitmann - 21,450
Naoya Kihara - 124,225
Gabe Nassif - 57,875
For the record they were all sober, well dressed, and played solid poker. But again, that's not a deal breaker if you're interested in taking a seat today.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.