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The crowd cheered. It was a real, heartfelt, appreciative applause. Someone had made them legitimately happy.

In the early days of the World Series, spectators have been relegated to standing in a long line to get in to see their friends and families. While not the best situation for spectators, it’s immeasurably better for the players and media covering the event. Few people in the room make it easier to move for everybody.

The one exception to this is the bi-hourly cattle call in which around 100 people are let in en masse to watch the ESPN table. These people are told in advance that they will have to stay put for two hours. This is all well and good if you’re lucky enough to have your dad or sister sitting on the featured table. However, the chances of that happening are slim.

So, most of the time, these crowds have to hope to have one of their heroes on the table. Today, the spectators got lucky. Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu sat down at the table to rounds of applause.

© Neil Stoddart

So, when the crowd rose up in one giant cheer, I trotted from the other side of the room. The only reason that would happen is if Negreanu was in a big one. I got there in time to see the river, which, as it turned out, was irrelevant. Negreanu had flopped a set of nines on a Q9x flop against his opponent’s KQ. Apparently, his opponent had called so fast, Negreanu was actually a tad worried.

No need to be, Danny. You’ve got the crowd behind you today.

Credit: Image Masters

Negreanu’s taste for chip sated, I moved on and stopped by Bernard Lee and Jeff Norman’s table. As a cooler for chip leaders, I’ve been asked to stay away from Norman. Team Blog’s Craig Cunningham will have a post up shortly about Norman’s progress today. Still, I couldn’t help but peek in and see how things were going.

They were going, in a word, well, so I scurried away with all due speed.

My scurry landed me square in the face of a guy at Table 2 who looked oddly familiar. I looked once and then again. I couldn’t figure it out. He looked really familiar, but I couldn’t place him. Then, in my mind’s eye, I painted a beard on his face.

Ah hah! ‘Twas Kevin Williams, the young guy who suffered the newest production of Kafka at the Rio and nearly had his buy-in lost in a bit of ethereal red tape. Today, he looked remarkably different than Monday. He’d shaved off his beard and come in looking five years younger.

I wondered if there was some reason for the beard, some call-back to his ancestors–surely brutal crusaders from the UK who wore wartime beards in their quests. He smiled.

“I just get bored with shaving,” he said.

Fair enough.

The shave hasn’t changed his fortune much yet, but as he’s on a complete freeroll, he’s going to have a good time regardless.

Before the shave

After the shave
© Neil Stoddart

Finally, I happened upon the ever-entertaining RaiNKhAN. He sat at a corner table in the eight-seat. I walked up on him involved in what would soon be a very big hand. With a flop reading JdTs8d, RaiNKhAN had led out for 7,500. His opponent came back at him for 23,000. RaiNKhAN thought for a few minutes, counted out some chips, and then bet enough to put his opponent all in. His foe called in a shot.

“Please don’t have the nuts,” RaiNKhAN pleaded and tabled 79 for the low straight. His opponent casually flipped up 88, a flopped set.

It was then RaiNKhAN started to get a little excited. He saw the set and said quietly, “Yes…”

Then he saw a blank on the turn and said a little louder, “Yessss….”

Finally, a blank on the river brought a “YESSSSSSSSS!” followed by an almost growling “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

© Neil Stoddart

Monday, RaiNKhAN was singing with multi-syllabic words. Today, he’s turned into a one-syllable-chip-eating animal. At one point, he sang “Oooh-ah! Ooooh-ooooh-ah!”

Finally, he noticed me standing there and turned into a human again. He shook his head with a smile and said, “I am such a lucksack.”

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