Beth Shak looks at me as I walk by. She's sitting at her table ten minutes before the dinner break is over.
“A little anxious Beth?” I ask her.
“I tell you Aaron, I just want to make it through the day, but I have a really good feeling so far.”
Other players like Nick Frangos can't say the same. As I was walking to the restaurant for dinner, Nick was walking beside me, oblivious to everyone. “F***ing ridiculous,” he muttered under his breath and started having a conversation. I thought maybe he was on the phone, but he was talking to himself. Obviously his tournament didn't end well. Most of the faces at dinner were eager ones. Talking with their buddies or loved ones about the play so far.
The ESPN crew was gathering around the feature table for a group shot. I snuck up on the observation deck and snapped a few photos. One guy watching commented to me, “They sure do have a lot of people.”
It's a big production I told him. One of the crew members was holding the Main Event bracelet. It's a thing of beauty, different than the regular event bracelets. Same rail bird asked me how much it was worth. I didn't know but guessed $10,000. I'm probably way low on that number.
I'm seeing some real bad poker now and tensions are running high. At one table, I saw over 50 big blinds go in the middle pre-flop with A-J against K-Q. The guy with K-Q hit a queen on the flop and started to pat himself on the back for his brilliant play. The ace on the turn had him looking at the table like he'd just suffered the worst bad beat in history. The first two levels rarely were the words “All in and a call” uttered by a dealer. In the 45 minutes since dinner break, I'd say it's been yelled at least once a minute. A lot of these are in the 10K range and the blinds are only 100-200. It's as if people feel just because they lost 1/3 of their stack that they have to panic and double up immediately. That's their mistake.
Perry Friedman knocked out Maureen Feduniak when he called her pre-flop raise with and flopped three nines. Maureen put the rest of her chips in with pocket aces and quickly exited the room when she did not hit an ace. The ESPN cameras come over to catch the moment and Perry says “I make more money cracking aces than I ever do with them.”
I laugh and respond, “Ain't that the truth.” It really is in the early stages of an event like this.
The official number of entrants for today was 1,116 which is the lowest it has been in the last three years. Last year there was 1,297. The year before there was 1,287. Despite this, I still think we're going to top 7,000. Just one of my not so epic hunches.
I walked by the secondary feature table. All but one of the players were decked out in poker site gear... hats, patches, jackets... I wonder which thief, err I mean agent, worked out those last minute deals. I should start a poker agency called For F***ing Free Poker Agency and represent players for free. Even though I'm on good terms with a number of poker agents, I really feel that some of them take advantage of unsuspecting newcomers when for most things a poker player can get the same deal themselves.
I just gave in to the devil and signed up for Twitter. Save me now.
One thing I am not a fan of and never have been is preferential treatment. I understand having players like Jason Alexander and Brad Garrett is good for poker, but I don't believe anyone, no matter how big a star they are, should have a special set of rules. Garrett is back in the corner (next to Alexander who is cruising with 80K in chips) getting a back massage from someone who is not an “official” masseuse. Not sure if it's girlfriend or lover or friend, but if it was a regular average Joe, they wouldn't let her in...thus she shouldn't be let in either.
I wonder how ESPN chooses to focus their cameras. Some are obvious choices like Jason Alexander, Nelly, and Brad Garrett, but others have me scratching my head. They've spent a lot of time at Andy Bloch's table today, who don't get me wrong is a good player but I wouldn't think he was worthy of that kind of attention. At the feature table today was Eli Elezra... personable guy is the only reason I can think of him being there. Maybe Eli had a prop bet with someone that he would be on the televised table and paid off the producer's. Nah, that would never happen, right?
The day is wrapping up and the “All in and a call” cries have actually slowed down. People are wanting to survive to day two and so less chances are being taken. I'm still seeing some 50 big blind all in pre-flop hands, but that's typical Internet play so I suppose I should not be that surprised.
Tomorrow, day 1B. Until then...