Bulge. But, poker wise - I was there for the battle of the best. Granted it was an electronic connection but it was impressive in a very real way.
The starting field was every major player in the world of poker. Even the retired greats were participants. Many had favorites and saw them leave - sadness from both sides. Every player there had been around, playing big limit poker for longer than most or were hot, hot, hot. They made their chops in both time and quality. The one-shot wonders had been left behind along with the high level journeymen.
I visited Michael Craig's Journal and read his post about having both an electronic and physical presence. Great view – the last paragraph is his homer side – he isn't wrong and he was up front about it. But I have a different take.
The thing was a marathon. For something with that big of a buy-in and that kind of juice, it was another disservice by the organizers. Forty-two hours of poker in two scheduled days. Most of those folks have played longer and for more money. But the poker community deserved seeing poker without adding artificial pressures.
The battle approached its final moments when it went to heads-up between
Bloch and Reese. But wait, it was anything but the final moments. From a clash of Titans, it moved to the labors of Hercules and it would be eight more hours of struggle to find which one's heel would be pierced.
The mythical illusion continues. The gods were capricious and so was the poker. There was ebb and flow where both players were forced to gamble. There were the suck-outs that only happen in our favorite, on-line poker room. There were mistakes galore - at least galore for their level of play - at my level they played flawlessly. Toward the end I was wishing they could switch to soccer rules and play to a tie. That wasn't to be and two millionaires finally left the table; Reese with a bracelet and Bloch with a bittersweet check.
Both players aren't household names - even in much of the poker community. Reese is often called the greatest mixed game player to ever sit at the felt. But in the world of TV poker, he is a near unknown. That will change and the hyperbola of poker announcers will make my mythical analogies pale. From a background figure, Reese has gone in a heartbeat to super-star ranks. He has been gifted with the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.
Bloch seems the perennial Maid of Honor. He's more than a bridesmaid but he's lead a life out of Greek Tragedy. He's missed the big one and his activism on many fronts has brought meager results. So, once again, he's been born off on his shield. The fact that it has happened before and he still fights the good fight is possibly a bigger tribute than poker normally gives.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest for these two gladiators.