WSOP 2017: Housekeeping done, the big flight is now airborne
Two poker supporters wandered into the Amazon Room at around 11:05am today.
"Wow," one of them said, surveying 39,000 square feet of poker room in front of him. "Did he tell you which table?"
It immediately became clear that these guys were here to look for their buddy who had apparently told them his rough location. He had at least saved them a trip around the Pavilion Room, the Brasilia Room and the Miranda Room, all of which are also in play today, but just saying "Amazon Room" on Day 1C of the World Series of Poker Main Event is not good enough either.
This place was absolutely full to bursting.
Yes, as you may have detected already, the 2017 WSOP Main Event is now in full swing. And for the first time this week, it really feels like the tournament is under way. There's that familiar buzz of something big.
Jack Effel, tournament director, seized the microphone at the front of the stage in the Brasilia Room and ran through his housekeeping speech. Effel had notecards in his right hand, but he didn't need them. This is a speech he can give in his sleep.
"Welcome to the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event!" Effel enthused. "How's everyone doing?!?"
There was applause and a few whoops. Everyone in front of Effel would have been nervous and excited, but they were channelling their energies into the furious riffling of chips.
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"Alright, I know there's a whole lot of pomp and circumstance to get these things started, but we will cards in the air here in about two minutes or less," Effel continued. "Just a few housekeeping items that I want to share with you, that would be the rules for today."
Effel then directed players to the official WSOP rules on the organisation website, but wanted to draw attention to one or two in particular.
"A clock can be called on you at any time by a player or floor person at the sole discretion of the floor person for zero up to 30 seconds," he said. "That means we can also give you a 10-second countdown right off the bat if we feel that the situation calls for it."
This is one of the WSOP's new rules, brought in to halt what many players consider to be excessive and unnecessary tanking. The "William Kassof rule" to give it its unofficial title.
"You must be at your seat by the time that the final player receives a complete hand, or you'll have a dead hand," Effel continued. Nothing controversial about that.
Also nothing controversial about the insistence that players keep their chips in front of them at all times, even when they're moving tables. However, this is a rule that very often catches out amateurs, who stuff chips in their pockets or backpacks as they move from table-to-table (and sometimes room-to-room) only realising too late that they risk surrendering those chips.
"Concealed chips will be removed from play," Effel said. "Keep them in plain view, keep them in your seat or move them to your new seat in plain view of everyone."
Out in the corridor, a member of the Rio's maintenance staff was crawling along on his knees. He had scissors in one hand, snipping away frayed edges of carpet lest anyone trip. It's unclear how often the carpet in the Rio Convention Centre corridors frays away to nothing, but the extreme footfall from the World Series of Poker can't help. There was housekeeping both in and out of the convention rooms.
"When play starts and we put the cards in the air, there must be at least two players on every table to start dealing," Effel continued. He still hadn't so much glanced at his notecards. "Registration will be open until the end of the dinner break tonight, approximately 7.10, 7.15. When cards are back in the air, registration will be closed. Make sure you're in your seat before that time."
And then he had to get serious: "Last but not least, we do track all penalties," Effel said. "If you get a penalty, we will track it. If you get two penalties they could be more severe, based on your prior penalties."
By this point, most of the players had arrived and taken their seats, including the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Jason Mercier and Daniel Negreanu who had been seated next to one another on the feature table. It's a random seat draw, but this was a TV director's dream, especially as Day 1 of the WSOP screens on mainstream television for the first time.
Victor Saumount, the film director and long-time friend of PokerStars Blog, would have loved it too, had he not have also been drawn on that table. It's the kind of thing you don't mind watching from the couch or down a camera lens, but don't necessarily want to see from across the felt.
"You get 50,000 chips today," Effel continued. "We play two-hour levels. We take a 20-minute break after each level. We take a 90-minute dinner break after Level 3, approximately 5.40pm tonight. You will play a total of five levels, and those of you who finish today will actually shuffle up on Wednesday to play your Day 2. Your Day 2 will start on Wednesday, but this is actually a twist. Your Day 2 will actually start at noon. 2C starts at noon. That's s slight modification on the schedule. Be sure to get a structure sheet so you know the different starting times. Make sure you're paying attention to those times."
Eventually, the housekeeping was done and Effel was able to welcome to the stage Ahmed Khater, the World Series Dealer of the Year, who had the honour of doing today's "Shuffle up and deal!"
And just like that, the action was under way.
Oh, and our friends looking for their buddy in the Amazon Room? They found him. First table, just inside the door--about a 300 to one chance. With run-good like that, those guys should pull up a seat of their own.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.