There’s a lady from Jacksonville, Florida, in the Amazon Room today. Of pensionable age, she is easily the best dressed person in the room, wearing a white silk shawl, white bonnet hat with extended loops, with a string of pearls around her neck and pearl earrings. In her hand is a small white sequined purse. In the other, a Caesar’s shopping bag. Not one of the free ones – one you have to buy. What would make someone dress so well on a Sunday morning in Las Vegas? Church? “For the poker,” she said.
This lady was sadly alone in dressing up “for the poker”, (hat from “the Royal collection”) a simple demonstration of respect for the game, and to the world, which younger folk don’t quite understand. She was right. There was something to say about this day in Las Vegas. If 68 players had to be reduced even further, each after having already survived five days of slog at the rock face, the least you can do was put on some pearls.
The Amazon Room too has dolled itself up a bit. Whereas last weekend it was a conspicuous echo chamber, a place for people to rest their feet and eat takeaway food, now it is the rightful centre of the poker universe, and the spectators know it.
Watching from the rail
Superficially nothing has really changed. You’re still looking at a dazzling red, white and blue construction selling you beef jerky and potato snacks. You’re still too far away to see anything. But that doesn’t matter now because Robbie Thompson is calling the cards and now every hand means something.
Spectators fill every seat. When one gets up another is ready to rush past to replace them. A woman trying to get a better view was asked not to stand on the steps. She apologized but took a few seconds to move. It’s worth sticking around. As a feature table it would serve well as the November Nine, with the likes of Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Jorn Walthaus, Carlos Mortensen and JC Tran in action, as well as Jackie Glazier, the last remaining woman in the field.
Glazier visits the rail often to check in with her corner man, each time she subconsciously pulls up her jeans. As is usually the case, she is better dressed than the men.
The feature table in action
It seems Glazier’s support base is sizeable and vocal. Another man on the rail shouted on her behalf: “Make the nine!” and then “Whoa!” He sounded like he’d never made a “whoa” sound in his life, but you do strange things in times of great excitement, and this was a good time for the first. He sounded hoarse and carried a 32 ounce drink.
Elsewhere a Frenchman was following me. Rather than celebrating his country’s day fo revolution, he preferred to storm a different bastille, hopping from the rail of one table to another and name checking players he knew, Sergio Castelluccio and JC Tran, who he referred to as if they were friends. Maybe they were his friends. He was certainly excited.
The lady in the pearls had no favourites and shrugged when I asked if she was watching anyone in particular. “Just the poker,” she said.