So, what does the public think about the World Series of Poker? I was given mixed reviews. A lot of the old timers felt that the WSOP is too main stream these days. They reminisce about the days of playing in smoke-filled poker rooms, jammed into basements, illegal poker clubs and then the fear one had when leaving the poker room and making it to his car alive with all of his money and limbs in tact.
Those were the days when Johnny Moss and Texas Dolly were the big names in poker and women were seen, not heard. Certainly there was no media room with laptop hookups, ESPN camera crews weren't following players around the Amazon Room and the Rio wasn't even a factor when it came to poker. Binions was the place to be and poker players were considered dirty, grungy, hard-core gamblers. They definitely weren't put on TV and they usually hid the poker rooms in the back corner. When running on a heater, a player wouldn't leave the table for days, wouldn't go home and shower, and if he had to eat something, he devoured a sandwich while sitting at the table. Actually, that part is still true today.
Back in those days 7 Card Stud and 5 Card Draw were popular games and nobody had ever heard of Texas Holdem. A few of my new friends even remember that infamous heads up game between Johnny Moss and Nick "The Greek" Dandalos at Binions. Legend has it that the heads up match lasted 5 months, breaking only after 4 or 5 days of continuous play for a few hours of sleep.
Ahhhhh - the good old days. Poker has certainly turned into a different game and a lot of the older poker players aren't impressed. These are the men that still play during the day in the casinos downtown, they usually know all of the dealers, they are friends with each other and they pray upon fresh meat when it enters the poker room. They consider players like Jamie Gold, Chris Moneymaker, and Joe Hachem to be lucky because in their opinions the Main Event is simply a "crapshoot" these days. The field is too big, the hoopla is too much and they don‘t consider games where you hear "I'm all in" to be real poker.
I'm sitting in the poker room at the Eureka Casino when a familiar face walks in. His name is Bruce and I recognize him from a place I used to hangout in Florida. I didn't even know he played poker. After a little conversation, I realize he too is in town for the World Series of Poker, he's playing today in the Main Event.
My best friend says "Wow, he must be good to be playing the main event."
Well, that's quite a misconception. The average joe thinks that you have to be good to play in the World Series of Poker. The truth is that you need to have $10,000 to buy in with and be 21 years old. That's it! These are the only two requirements. Knowing how to play is a mere option. Having some luck is a huge gift! In a game like No-Limit Texas Hold-Em, I'll take luck over skill any day. Turns out that Bruce works for some sort of online poker site and his company is backing him and four others for the Main Event. This is pretty common practice. Websites do this in hopes that one of their players will win and they will get all the free publicity. Surely you would join and play at their website if one of their players won the Main Event. It's a win, win situation. This just proves that anyone can come to Las Vegas and take a shot at the "Big One".
Why is it that we see so many pro's playing in the 50K HORSE Event? Why was it that we recognized the names and faces of almost all the players in the HORSE Event and where were all of the young online poker newbies that we see so much of in the NLHE Events?
I believe it's because usually the pros are the only ones with the skill and stamina required of this game. Surely a secretary with a 9 to 5 day job who plays on Pokerstars back at home in Virginia isn't going to waste her money on a HORSE event. She has no shot. The HORSE Event is a limit game, so in my opinion skill plays a much larger role and luck isn't as big of a factor. If it was up to me, HORSE would be the new Main Event because to most of the players HORSE is more prestigious than the Main Event.
So, here's the million dollar question... Who's going to win the World Series of Poker this year? Will it be a pro? Will it be a "one hit wonder"? Will it be some guy that just hit the lottery in Arkansas and wants to play "that poker game" he saw on ESPN? I saw a tarot card reader on Fremont Street yesterday and surely her guess is as good as mine. If the Rio parking lot was any indication of the what the next few weeks is going to be like, we are all watching to find out the answer to that question.