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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | The Works

The Ultimate Poker Tournament Begins – Day 1A Of The Main Event

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10:45 a.m.

I got here a little early, mainly to make sure I beat the mad rush that will get here in about an hour and to make sure I got a seat on media row. There is NO event like the Main Event in poker. People can talk all they want about the WPT Championship or the 50K H.O.R.S.E. event but this is the one that everybody dreams of... it's the impossible dream... the ultimate poker tournament. It's the one tournament where amateurs and professionals unite in force, at a whopping price of $10,000, to test their skills against one another. I know it is the one tournament that I personally dream of just playing in, and for many doing just that... playing in the Main Event... is enough.

Over the next two weeks, you will be seeing a lot of photos of poker players posing with a pink teddy bear. Here's the side story to this. At last years WSOP, I had a prop bet with a friend to get a picture of a pink stuffed kitten taken with at least 100 “known” poker professionals. So for the course of the first four days of the Main Event, I scurried around and embarrassed myself by carrying the kitten and asking people to take a picture with it. When it was all said and done, I won the prop bet and I sent the kitten to a little girl who had been following the coverage along with her aunt.

This year, as I walked around the Rio the first few weeks and ran into familiar faces, people would ask me where the kitten was. It got me to thinking, and after talking with the guy that I made the prop bet with last year, we decided to do it again. Only this time the challenge is much harder and the stakes are higher. The task? Get 500 photos of people with a pink stuffed teddy bear. It can be anyone this time, not just a poker professional, but 500 photos is going to be tough. They won't all be published here at pokerworks, but I'll send some of the good ones through. The bet? $1,000, only this time instead of the winnings going into someone's wallet, we are going to donate the proceeds to charity. If I win (and I will), it will go to a cause near and dear to my heart due to my mother passing away because of it... cancer research. I'm not sure what organization yet, but I'm leaning towards Bad Beat on Cancer, who I think sends their funds to the Nevada Cancer Society, the official charity of the 2008 WSOP. My prop betting friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) will donate his win (not happening) to the Make A Wish Foundation.

I just saw a marching band go running through the Amazon Room. Didn't they already do that once? Try something new guys! Anyway, they are rehearsing their entrance and how they will start. They come running into the room before entering their formation. Obviously, they have no idea that there is no chance in hell that they'll be able to run into this room without running over about 100 people.

11:30 a.m.

The tournament staff and dealers are hurrying to get everything set up. There is a table filled with racks of chips in the back corner. I walk up to snap a photo of the table and a security guard looks me over and demands to see the other side of my media pass (it was turned around accidentally). Tables are set up with seat cushions, water, and energy drinks. Jeffrey Pollack is roaming around, waiting for the start. ESPN producers are talking with their camera men about who to follow once they come into the room. No players are in the room yet, but you can feel the tension starting to build already.

11:55 a.m.

They haven't let the players in yet. I have a feeling the start is going to be a little delayed. A female spectator snuck in when a door was opened. She's wandering around looking a little lost, I am waiting for her to get kicked out. No disappointment there as it took all of 30 seconds for a security guard to show her the way out. They are playing the worst music in history over the loud speakers right now, the lyrics are definitely about poker but it's so bad that I'm wanting to go ram my head into the wall repeatedly. I'm betting it's the music for that Phil Hellmuth poker musical that is going on tonight.

12:45 p.m.

We are underway and they kicked off the Main Event with the usual preliminaries from Jack Effel and Jeffrey Pollack before handing the microphone over to Wayne Newton to get the players started. Newton was escorted in by a bevy of beauties wearing sky blue costumes you would only see in Vegas (or on a cruise ship). While Newton was talking to the players, the UNLV marching band came running in and as I expected they would, ran over about 10 people on the way to their spots. High comedy for this time of the morning. I even tried to warn some of the photographers but they were set on getting that prime photo of Mr. Newton. The band finished playing Viva Las Vegas and Newton let out a very enthusiastic “shuffle up and deal.”

I walked through the tournament area and it didn't take long for the laughs to dissipate and the smiles to fade. It was time to play some serious poker with millions on the line. It's a room filled with players you or I have never heard of... players who are here hoping to change that. They want to be the next Chris Moneymaker or Jerry Yang, but only a few ever will be. It is that hard to get through this field.

It's a smaller opening day than I expected. I figured this room and the Brasilia room would be filled, and while this room is packed to the hilt, there is not a player to be found in Brasilia.

It actually took more than 15 minutes for us to lose our first player. Jack Effel wanted to talk to the player after he busted, but he was nowhere to be found. I don't think I'd be in much of a talking mood either if I lost $10,000 in 20 minutes.

2:00 p.m.

The biggest mistake players are making has to be going broke in places they shouldn't be going broke. Too many are putting all their chips in post-flop with an over pair or top pair when the pot size doesn't dictate it. For example, one hand I saw went something like this... a guy raised pre-flop to 400 with aces and was called in three spots. Not unusual at this stage of the tournament. The flop came 6-6-4 and it was checked to the pre-flop raiser who bet 1,200 into the 1,700 pot. OK, nothing wrong with that. Two players folded and the small blind check raised to 4,000. Uh oh, trouble. Sure, the guy could have a draw or a smaller over pair, but it's definitely a sign of strength and one you should worry about. Instead of taking the cautious route at such an early stage and either folding or calling to see what develops on the turn (after all he did have position), the guy with aces moved all in for 19,000 into the 6,900 pot. He was called by the small blind who had 7-6 suited and when no ace came, his day was over. This was pretty much the same exact story, only different hands and players involved, at the other three or four early bust outs I witnessed.

Then there is just the plain stupid. Plenty of that to go around too. At one table, on a board of K-Q-5-9, a brash, talkative player moved all in for 15K into a 6K pot. His opponent was contemplating what to do, shaking his head and muttering, “I can't lay this down.”

The big guy in the 9 seat started talking...a lot. “It's been real good talking with you all,” he said. “I enjoyed the conversation.” He wouldn't shut up. “I've never been in a psych ward, but my Momma sent me to a fat camp when I was younger.”

Maybe it was just me but it seemed like he was TOO confident. I felt like he had nothing but the kid in the 2 seat wasn't picking up on it. He finally made the call... with pocket queens no less... and found that seat 9 had Q-10 for middle pair and a gut shot straight draw. I held my breath for the kid's sake, hoping a jack did not come. It didn't and the big guy was gracious in defeat, wished everyone good luck, and left to make the long walk down the Rio hallway.

That's a good start to the day. I'll be back with another report later from Day 1A of the WSOP Main Event.

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