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

$10K WSOP Main Event – Day 1A Perspectives

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Poker’s big day had arrived. The preparations began before the 2007 WSOP had concluded, and it took a combination of time and effort on the parts of players and executives to make sure the 2008 World Series of Poker $10,000 World Championship No-Limit Hold’em went off without a hitch. When the time came to make it happen on July 3, 2008, everyone seemed ready.

Players were ready. Some of them arrived as early as 10:30am to buy in, pace the hallways, and psych themselves up for the first day of what they hoped would be a seven day journey that would end at the final table. Some of the pros in the crowd already knew what to do and expect, while the casual and newbie players took special care to have the proper gear – iPod devices, WSOP jackets, bottled water, favorite t-shirts, and family members in tow. In some ways, the majority of the players arriving to play on Day 1 resemble first-grade children who are nervous but excited about their first days at school, not sure what might happen but confident that they will perform at the top of the class.

Harrah’s was ready. The staff was trained and prepared. Each table was supplied with chips, All In bottled water, and Everest Poker seat cushions for each player. Tunes from the poker musical ( set to debut at the Rio played at low volume over the intercom, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas marching band went through some last-minute rehearsals. Dealers were instructed to make sure everything was in its place, and then the staff was warned that the doors were going to be opened.

And they were. Players flooded through the room, looking for tables and colored sections of the floor. The slight problem with that was the changing of various sections due to the number of players being dramatically lower than expected. Those scheduled to be seated in the Brasilia Room down the hall from the Amazon Room were relocated to the red section of the latter, and many players were confused, but the floor staff and intercom announcements from Tournament Director Jack Effel were helpful.

Once the majority of the players were seated, Effel welcomed everyone and introduced Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. When the formalities had been taken care of, Pollack introduced the person who would kick things off – Wayne Newton. Mr. Las Vegas then came in through a back door surrounded by ten showgirls from the Jubilee burlesque show at Bally’s. They proceeded to the small stage in the center of the room, and as he greeted the crowd, the UNLV band entered the room and surrounded the stage playing “Viva Las Vegas.” Newton then said a few words, including the important ones – “Shuffle up and deal!”

Upon the exit of the band and Newton, the photographers dispersed and real business of the day was underway. At first, it was obvious that many of the players were excited; they were chatty and more than willing to exchange pleasantries. But once the first elimination was announced, the reality set in that they could be next. A serious tone soon came over most of the room with respect to the seriousness of the tournament at hand.

In a humorous side note, ESPN television commentator Norman Chad was sauntering through the crowds of players during the first hour or so of the day. Many players could be seen pointing and whispering about his presence. Imagined thought: What would Norman say about me on TV?

With the aforementioned seriousness and intensity found at most tables, there was a fairly consistent exception. Since this is the main event, the ESPN television cameras roamed the room throughout the day looking for action, and some players could not resist doing something to ensure that clip will be used on a show. Some people get loud, try to be funny, become obnoxious, or say something controversial. In a few cases, they don’t even do it for the cameras but for any media who might report on them.

On the other hand, there were several celebrities in the crowd that acted in the complete opposite way. Players like Ray Romano, Mekhi Phifer, and Jason Alexander tend to stay low-key for the most part and shy away from the cameras. ESPN didn’t hesitate to focus some lens time on them, but most of them seem to wish to blend in, be poker players, and take the game seriously. Those who spend most of their lives in the limelight often crave the relative anonymity of a game like poker.

All in all, despite the occasional outburst from a player, such as Joe Sebok kicking a door on his way out of the tournament after elimination, most of the day was uneventful. Once the pomp and circumstance of the opening minutes have died and people realize that this is a serious poker game, possibly the biggest and most potentially profitable that they’ll ever play, the play becomes that of any other tournament – serious and purposeful.

The main event of the World Series of Poker has begun, and there will be three more starting days to go. Don’t miss any of the action and further perspectives!

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