The first thing I noticed was that CC wasn't in his usual spot, he was forced to move down a couple of seats since some new kid took his spot. What a travesty! Don't these "one-hit wonders" realize that we are here everyday and we like our claimed seats? I was already warned that things get a little out of control at the Rio as we move closer to the Main Event. Today seems to mark the beginning of this trend.
When I heard that the 50Kk HORSE Event would be an amazing spectacle of stars, I knew there would be a large crowd of fans to follow. What I didn't realize is how quickly I would get caught up in the excitement. My drowsiness quickly dissipated as I made my way through the crowds to get a view of the action.
The first pro I saw was Phil Ivey and at the table next to him was Barry Greenstein. Thankfully, CC had already warned me that the media had restrictions placed on them for this event. How embarrassed would I have been if I would have been kicked out of the room for roaming through the tables? Wandering the rows from table to table is one of my favorite things to do - especially when the room is crowded.
The word "crowded" doesn't do justice to the scene in the Amazon Room today. I didn't know SO many people could fit into one room and they were all smashed up against the ropes trying to get a view of Daniel Negreanu, Annie Duke, Jesus Ferguson, Mike Matusow, Doyle Brunson, Erik Lindgren, Jen Harmon, Howard Lederer, Cyndi Violette, Phil Laak, Greg Raymer, John Juanda, Andy Bloch, Phil Helmuth and of course last year's champion, Chip Reese. What a cast of characters!
I heard comments like "Hey, where's Phil Ivey" and "Honey, did you see Jesus over there?" People asked me the usual questions, "Can we take pictures?" and "What event are they playing?" One of the funniest things I saw was when a sweet little old lady from Alabama asked a famous pro to take a picture of her and her husband! I quickly offered to snap the photo since she was unaware of her faux pas. Patrik Antonius had a crowd of females sweating him, and I can certainly understand why. He is quite stunning, especially from up close. A few others commented oh how tall Kristy Gazes is. Today was the first time I noticed that myself.
There was no shortage of fans willing to chat with me! I met Tabitha from New York, and she told me that she made the trip to the Rio all the way from the Red Rock Casino because she was dying to catch a glimpse of "The Grinder," and her friend Samantha was hoping to get an autograph from T.J. Cloutier. They both got their wishes.
Martin from San Antonio, Texas didn't know he was watching the 50k HORSE Event, but he did recognize Gabe Kaplan from "Welcome Back Kotter," and that made his day. One of the crowd favorites was Daniel Negreanu. I must have had at least ten people ask me where he was playing. If you look hard enough, you can always find Daniel hopping up and down in his seat. I'm thinking he must drink a lot of Red Bull.
Missing from the game was the usual table banter and constant chit chat between the players. Mike Matusow even had headphones on! You know it's a serious game when "The Mouth" isn't running around from table to table and putting on a show. I saw Cyndi Violette frantically tapping her foot, and Robert Williamson was getting a massage from the same girl for an hour straight.
I started to get somewhat envious of the cocktail servers and the chip counters because they were the only ones allowed to get close to the tables. As a media representative, I was allowed to go under the ropes, but I had to stay on the edges. I was still afforded one of the best seats in the house (even though I was standing).
An announcement came over the loud speaker six minutes before the HORSE players were to go on break asking all spectators to leave the room for the next 25 minutes to allow the players a quick and easy route to the restrooms or to grab a quick smoke. Well played Harrah's! Nobody wants to see a pro miss his chance to go to the bathroom because of a crowded walkway.
Of course, where would we be without a little drama here at the WSOP? The payout structure was announced a short while ago and the players were a bit concerned about how top heavy the payouts are. Usually the payout is spread out a bit more, so the management at Harrah's is looking into the situation. I'm sure we'll hear more about this later.
Limit Hold-em was the game being played when I came in to write this article. Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson and Robert Williamson III (my pick for best dressed male) made it to the river when Doyle showed a set of Kings and Robert mucked his hand. Doyle scooped up a nice pot on that one. Jeff Lisandro was the first player to be knocked out, Eli Elezra was the chip leader, and Annie Duke was in the top twenty.
In my opinion, the 50K HORSE Event is the new "main event". Only the cream of the crop would have the money, the skill, the determination and the dedication required of this event. Anything can happen in poker, but for the most part you won't see the "one hit wonders" taking this title because this is truly a game where the skilled players will prevail. I think we'll all be watching this one very closely.