WSOP 2016 Main Event: Where fields became field
"In my day, this was all fields." -- Traditional
A decade is a long time in poker, and for anybody who was at the Rio back when the World Series of Poker first transferred to its present surroundings in 2005, it remains tempting to chart the changes over the past 11 years.
Much remains the same, but much else has changed: the food is better; the TV stage is more space-age; the media is far more populous; and some of the biggest stars today were still at high school when Joe Hachem was strapping on his bracelet.
The most significant change, however, is the transformation of the Pavilion Room. In 2005-06, the biggest floor space in the convention center complex was essentially a trade show, full of merchandise stands. At that point, the cavernous Amazon Room was still considered cavernous enough to accommodate the largest number of entrants in world poker. But the players soon over-ran it and not only did the Brasilia Room come into operation, but the merch stands were booted into the hallways with poker tables taking their place.
The merchants were not concerned. Their job was done. All of those people who, back in 2006, browsed the stands, picked up the free gifts, bought the books, T-shirts and baseball caps were duly converted. The traders moved out to make space for their customers: a rare and tangible representation of the power of commerce.
For the first two opening flights of this year's Main Event, the Pavilion Room has been full of cash games and nightly tournaments, with the $10,000 buy-in players comfortably fitting into Amazon and Brasilia. But today, on Day 1C, the Pavilion Room is in operation.
It means that an old-timer may stand at the door, peer wistfully across the room and invert his usual lament: These days, all this is field.
All this goes by way of introduction to Day 1C of the 2016 WSOP Main Event. It is by far the biggest of the three opening flights, with around 4,000 players expected. At the end of Day 1A, 546 players remained from 764; at the end of Day 1B 1,302 remained from 1,733. Today will dwarf both.
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Joe McKeehen, last year's World Champion, took to the stage to go through the "Shuffle up and deal" formalities, using the platform to offer three entreaties. McKeehen encouraged players to "help the dealers" by putting "blinds out where they can reach them"; not to tank excessively and to not "be afraid to call the clock"; and, most significantly, "Have as much fun as you possibly can."
But this one will also be tough. Among the players from under the Team PokerStars banner playing today are: Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier, Barry Greenstein, Felipe Ramos, Andre Akkari, Chris Moneymaker, George Danzer, Liv Boeree, Randy Liu, Celina Lin and Jake Cody. That's a whole lot of talent, whose progress we will track throughout the day.
A reminder of red spades' progression so far:
Vanessa Selbst: 133,900
Marc-Andre Ladouceur: 103,700
Bertrand Grospellier: 102,300
Jennifer Shahade: 62,800
Victor Ramdin: 60,400
Fatima Moreira de Melo: 60,000
Aditya Agarwal: 57,100
Jason Somerville: 45,600
Luca Pagano - eliminated Day 1A
Naoya Kihara - eliminated Day 1A
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.