You need to make sure of one thing when you're walking through the main corridor outside the Pavilion Room during World Series of Poker time. (Well, perhaps two things, but you should always have your zipper done up in public no matter what; that's not site-specific.)
No, the principal concern as the throngs of poker players head towards their seating assignment at the Rio is that you're walking in the right direction, going with the flow. Swimming against the tide is a hazardous business; as poker players enter "the zone" the blinkers go on and tunnel vision descends. Forehead slapping forehead in a full frontal collision sounds like dropping a melon onto a parking lot from a third-floor window. And we've all heard that I'm sure.
Yesterday was my first visit to the World Series of 2010 and I made the schoolboy error of heading the wrong way down the corridor at the wrong time. It was doubly dangerous owing to the wide-eyed wonderment of the new kid in town. "Oh, so they've put the poker kitchen there this year," I pondered aloud before clattering into the posse of Boise Boyz, transferring their Idaho home-game to Vegas and not permitting anything, least of all a skinny Englishman, block their path to the tables. (The medallion mark is still imprinted on my cheek.)
"Hmmm, I must make sure I check out that merchandise stall later in the week," I chortled merrily some moments later. Suddenly: Vrooooooom, Doyle in his "Brunson Burner" motorised trike left a tyre print on my foot.
Although none of this actually happened, the point is that it might have done. The original observation about the busy corridors stands. But walking against the flow yesterday was actually a good thing: it provided my first glance of the Series of some of the characters who will undoubtedly come to define the next four weeks.
First up was the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Alexandre Gomes and Andre Akkari. It would take nine hours of surgery to remove the smiles from either of their faces, so you can imagine the radiance exuding from the Brazilians as they hot-footed it from watching their soccer team beat the Ivory Coast in the World Cup. Gomes was wearing the distinctive canary yellow of the soccer side; Akkari was half way through a pizza. There was something for each of them to be proud of. Both would end up busting from the $10,000 pot-limit hold 'em event yesterday, but I'm sure they're beaming still wherever they are now, pizza close to hand.
There were other notable Team PokerStars Pro successes on the first day of that event, however (number 38 of the Series). Daniel Negreanu finished in the top 20, bagging up 63,800 - plus a bonus $100 chip. KidPoker laid himself at 100-1 that he would reach day two of the event and Kathy Liebert took $100 of the action. Liebert can't be disappointed with the value on offer, but she came out on the losing side. Negreanu takes the c-note straight to the bank and will return to make the chips work on day two today.
The European stalwarts Noah Boeken and John Duthie also had a very prosperous outing. Boeken four-flushed Barny Boatman late on - jacks against Boatman's kings - sending the Dutchman into the top ten and sending Boatman down the river. Boeken finished with 136,400, which is eighth over all. Duthie is two spots ahead with 171,400 after a quiet day flying under the radar and into the top ten.
Pierre Neuville (57,000), Johannes Strassmann (47,100), Arnaud Mattern (38,900) and Joe Hachem (34,000) also all have chips. Sandra Naujoks, Alex Kravchenko and Barry Greenstein are clinging on too. (Kravchenko was another who nodded and smiled during my perilous walk down the corridor. Nice to see you again Alex.)
Tom Marchese, winner of the Venetian leg of the NAPT in February, continues his 2010 heater to the top of the counts. Marchese has 334,600 to bring back to day two.
Rousso heads up, heads out
It would have taken a keen observer to spot Vanessa Rousso in the masses pouring towards the tournament area yesterday - in keeping to her impeccable yet imperceptible style around the tables, Rousso manages to skip through thronging hordes in the blink of an eye. But Lady Maverick was indeed making her way back to the tournament arena yesterday afternoon to contest the deep stages of the $10,000 heads up event.
Simon Young detailed Rousso's progress through the the early rounds in yesterday's diary and she returned on day three of the tournament to face the German player Ernst Schmajkal in the last eight.
Their match, on the television table in a quiet corner of the Amazon Room, lasted for close to three hours, but after taking an early lead, Rousso couldn't get much traction in the later stages and eventually succumbed. On the final hand, Rousso's A♥4♥ was outdrawn by Schmejkal's J♠3♠ and that was the end of another fine run. Rousso took $92,580 for reaching the quarter finals, while Schmejkal went all the way to the final, which will be completed today.
Cash. More cash
As all this was going on, event 37, the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event was playing through day two. Pat Pezzin added yet another cash to this year's results page. Pezzin's $5,791 for 43rd place was his sixth in-the-money finish of the Series so far.
In the same event, Katja Thater made her first visit to the banker and won $6,807 for 34th. Team Online's Andrew Goetsch took $8,008 for 26th and was the last to bust on the day.
However, Goetsch left behind Chad Brown (17th) and Bill Chen (14th) to mix it up on day three and seek the final table. Few would bet against either of those two making it into the winner's enclosure. We'll track their progress through the late stages.
Tweets of the day
@RealKidPoker (Daniel Negreanu) Ended the night with 63,800 and won by 100-1 bet phew.
@billchenpoker (Bill Chen)
146.5k last break of the night, 36 remain. Phone may die...
Thought of the day
Here until the bitter end. Either of the World Series, or me. Whichever comes soonest.
Previous WSOP Diary entries
WSOP Diary Day 23: Last chance to join us in Las Vegas
WSOP Diary Day 22: Anh Van Nguyen, remember the name
WSOP Diary Day 21: Love to hate Phil Hellmuth? You gotta see this
WSOP Diary Day 20: Classic rub down for Daniel Negreanu
WSOP Diary Day 19: Maria Mayrinck, something in the water
WSOP Diary Day 18: Who needs a rest anyway?
WSOP Diary Day 17: An apology
WSOP Diary Day 16: George Danzer just misses first bracelet for PokerStars
WSOP Diary Day 15: Negreanu, Danzer eye $10K Lowball bracelet
WSOP Diary Day 14: Hold me, darling - this is going to be BIG