WSOP 2016: November nine ball, corner pocket
By this time tomorrow night, everyone in the poker world will be talking about the November Nine, while people still at the Rio will be more inclined to talk about nine ball.
It's coming up on 8:30pm in Las Vegas, and the illusion is starting to crack. With 14 players now left in the Main Event, there are precious few eliminations left before the end of the summer. Five more people will leave here devastated, the rest will start their long wait for November.
It doesn't take a keen eye to see through the drapes and realize that it's all very Wizard of Oz-y on the other side. This has all felt very real, and for those in the November Nine, it will be real, For everybody else, the hallucination will start to shimmer in the carpet and then disappear entirely.
The most literal example of this is just down the hall where all the poker tables in the Brasilia and Pavilion rooms have been replaced with pool tables. Before the money-winners here have found a proper place hide all their loot, the places they sat are disappearing before their eyes. The WSOP only has a need for 14 chairs, and each passing hour spotlights the ever-dwindling necessity.
Watching the pool tables get brought in on forklifts is a stark reminder for anyone left here at the Rio. We--players, people, writers, and roustabouts--are easily replaced. What was once a poker city is turning into something else entirely. When the pool players at the 2016 BCAPL National Championships show up here on Wednesday, there won't even be an echo of chip shuffling. All the noises will be different. All the lights will be different. The queens and kings of poker stardom will be gone and people with cue sticks will run this nation on their own. The thing that's been the most important will simply disappear as if it had never existed.
For an event of such import, it is--like most things in poker--temporary. It's sad, but it's life. We are guaranteed nothing, not a tomorrow, not a chip stack, not a day when fate chooses to be kind. We know this, because we have watched four people bust out in the last hour, and we know it because the eliminations won't stop for hours.
It could be, if you think about it too long, a little depressing to see this event once again dismantled. Then again, just as sure as they tear it down, they'll be planning to build it again in 2017. In the meantime, rack'em up. There is a pool tourney to play.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Follow him on Twitter: @BradWillis.