I ran into the media room, threw down my laptop, grabbed my pen and paper and headed over to where the festivities were being held. I was 4 hours late since they started at 2 p.m. but I had been keeping up with the online updates and knew that there were still 5 players left.
The Amazon Room was packed like always, but it was even harder to fight my way through the crowd than usual, probably because I was in such a hurry to get a seat. I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to watch! What if they had they had decided to put the HORSE Final Table behind the "Iron Curtain"? What would I do? My worries disappeared as I saw a crowd of people heading up the stairs to watch from the Milwaukee's Best No Limit Lounge. I followed right behind, trying not to push, but insistent that I would get a spot against the rail and I did!
There was a nice little guy on my left saving a seat for his friend "Jeb" from Ohio. Jeb was outside buying beer in the tent. Not sure why he went outside considering the bar was right behind us, but I guess he was toasty already and didn't see the bar. So, I asked if they could all slide down a little bit take room for me and then I grabbed my own stool. They were happy to oblige.
Last year was the 1st time there was a 50K HORSE Event and things were quite different at this Final Table. The most noticeable difference was that they were actually playing all 5 games. Each game is played for 30 minutes and then they change to the next game. I sat down during the Hold Em round, after that they changed to the Omaha round, next they moved on to Razz, after Razz is the Stud game and then 30 minutes after that they play Stud Eight or Better and then they do it all over again in the same order.
The general consensus in the stands was that HORSE should be played all the way through unlike last year when they stopped all of the games and only played Hold Em at the Final Table. A few of the fans thought I was kidding. No joke - they only played Hold Em at the ESPN Final Table last year. I'm sure there was sound reasoning for this decision. Unfortunately, I wasn't privy to that information.
I remember sitting in the stands last year, "The Beast" in one hand and a red bull and vodka in the other hand, Jen Harmon's husband on my left, random guy from Maryland on my right, loud cheering all around, and a star studded event at the table in front of me. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world because I happened to stumble upon this final table. I was in the right place at the right time and I managed to score a seat in the bleachers for the action.
I was calling friends and family, praying that I'd be on T.V. and screaming loudly watching the every move of Phil Ivey , Andy Bloch, Doyle Brunson , T.J. Cloutier and the eventual champion, Chip Reese. It was one of the best days of my life. I have fond memories of a standing ovation and a tearful exit when Texas Dolly made his departure. Todd Brunson was sitting directly across from me, and there wasn't a quiet fan in the house. What a day!
There was no iron curtain last year, no Milwaukee's Best No Limit Lounge and a lot more fan fare. When I sat down today to watch the Final Table the only faces I recognized were those of Freddy Deeb and Kenny Tran. John Hansen was the chip leader, whoever he is and there were at least 20 empty seats in the stands below. Shocking!! I'm not sure why the stands were so empty, but I know that I had the best seat in the house. From where I was seated, I was able to see the table clearly, the ESPN camera guys were directly below me and I had flat screen T.V.'s over head.
The only complaint I had was that ESPN kept doing closeups of the players when I was trying to see the cards. Everytime Freddy Deeb or Amnon Filippi got up to talk to a family member in the stands, the 2 ESPN camera guys ran over and shoved the microphone in their faces. I guess I was feeling a bit "nice" myself last year and I forgot about all these little television "tricks".
The last hand I saw was before the final 5 headed to dinner break. Freddy Deeb had just doubled up with quad fives during the Omaha game and then he doubled up again during the Razz round. By far, Freddy had the loudest cheering section and they came equipped with cardboard signs. That's the way it should be!!
On my out, Amnon was whining to a groupie about his diminished chipstack, I still haven't seen Wil Wheaton and Phil Ivey was nowhere to be found. I had a great view of Pauly typing on his laptop sitting at a banquet table about 2 feet from the Final Table. There's a good chance that I'll be on T.V. again this year, but for once I don't care.
I'm just so excited to see who will be crowned the new champion and walk away with the $ 2,276,832 in prize money. Next year will bring a whole new set of issues, and another group of players, but the one thing that remains constant is that I'll be sitting in the stands because I'm a poker groupie at heart and the WSOP never gets old to me!