I walked into the poker room at 11:55am, just in time to hear Tournament Director Jack Effel welcome everyone to the start of the 2010 World Series of Poker. It was a nice welcome, with Effel telling the crowd that none of this – the poker, the casinos, the WSOP, would be possible without the players and the fans, which was of course very nice. He then revved the gathered crowd by getting everyone to yell the customary, “LET’S SHUFFLE UP AND DEAL!” It was fine, but I have to admit I expected a little more.
I believe I expected more because there are thousands of people that plan every bit of their life the rest of the year, so they can devote their full-time and attention during these six weeks. I didn’t expect a show like the start of the Winter or Summer Olympics, but I did expect a little more pizzazz.
Then, sitting back in the media room after the opening ceremony, I began to think about it. Poker players don’t really give a damn about pomp and circumstances. For ten-and-a-half months they have waited for this moment. In fact, as I looked around at the poker players settling in for the very first event, the Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em $500 Buy-in, it was easy to read their pained expressions. It yelled, “Hurry up and say ‘Let’s Shuffle Up and Deal’ so we can get on with it already.” At the end of the day, and for the next 52 days, all that really matters is the poker.
Prior to yesterday I didn’t think much about the $500 Casino Employees Event, the event that officially starts the WSOP. Then, while playing poker with a handful of dealers that have made their way up from Daytona Beach, FL, I began to see that this is indeed a very serious matter, especially to them. When I used to think about it, despite having a $500 buy-in, I felt that this is small peanuts compared to the rest of the tournaments to follow. Then Jeff, one of the Daytona dealers, set me straight.
For starters, to 99 percent of the world, $500 dollars is a pretty big buy-in. Also, as Jeff explained, a lot of people participate in the event. Tournament Director Effel solidified that during his opening statements that they are expecting upwards of 800 runners for the event. Furthermore, last year’s winner Andrew Cohen earned $83,778. Yeah, definitely not small change. One lucky casino employee will not only win the equivalent of upwards of two years of salary, but they will have the honor of earning the first gold bracelet of the 2010 WSOP and of winning the very first new bracelet, as designed by jeweler Steve Soffa. So Jeff, and casino employees everywhere, I stand corrected.
One more little note about the employees tourney: I was telling Linda over lunch that every cash game I have ever sat in I have had at least two people who will blame the dealer for the cards they are dealt and the cards that are put onto the board, particularly the river. Linda said this is standard, and that she wouldn’t be surprised if the average is higher than two per table.
I couldn’t help but wonder if participants in the employee tournament, many of them dealers, would blame the dealer for their lack of fortune. Within two minutes of walking inside the ropes I hear an older man blame the dealer for a turn card, which gave his opponent a flush. Two minutes in, one dealer complaint and from his own kind nevertheless! The first of a million or so, I’d imagine.
Unfortunately when thousands of people gather for six weeks at a time, injuries will happen. Usually it’s nothing too serious. Dealers will start to get a little repetitive stress/carpel tunnel; people may slip on a wet spot in the hallways, and all kinds of unpredictable things. I believe I earn the award for most unpredictable poker related injury, and we are only about one hour into the WSOP as I write this.
Yesterday while eating lunch and having a “pre-game” strategy session with Linda and Jennifer, Linda started telling a story about how she got the better of a curmudgeon of a poker player a number of years ago. Linda is always making me laugh, and this story was no different. During one of her lines I was picking up my drink, and as I laugh I jerked my head causing my nose to smack right into my straw. At the time I didn’t think about it, other than being a little embarrassed. But when I got into my car I realized that I had a nice little straw-shaped marking on my nose.
I am now thinking I am going to be known as the “with something on his nose but I’m too afraid to tell him for whatever reason” guy. I am new to the live poker media scene, but for the next week or so you’ll be able to point me out by the perpetual spaghetti or ketchup spot I seem to have on my nose.
When picking up the massive “Official Media Guide” for the WSOP, our crew noticed that located on the map on the back page was an area designated as the “Man Cave.” We couldn’t help but imagine that many people are going to see this as sexist, and were surprised to see tournament organizers would allow a room to be called the “Man Cave.” After all, according to many different media outlets, this is “The Year of the Woman.” I personally thought women have been doing just fine in poker tournaments for a number of years, but I digress. Either way, this idea did not seem like one of the brightest.
Naturally, one of my first orders of business was to go check out this “Man Cave.” After walking around for a bit and noticing none of the banners hanging from the hallway ceilings pointing me in the right direction, I poked my head into a room right off the poker player’s kitchen. A woman standing behind a makeshift bar told me that “the man cave idea has been done away with,” while giving a wave of her hand. But, she did say the room I was standing in was the room that was going to be called the “Man Cave.” The original idea of the room was for poker players to have a place to watch the World Cup, which is scheduled to start in two weeks. The room has eight flat screen TV’s, with big comfy couches, a few random, seemingly out of place vendors, and of course the bar. So far this room doesn’t have an official name, but is it any surprise the term “man cave” didn’t even last to day one of the WSOP?
I know it was a good day when I was able to share this much information with you guys and I didn’t even touch on the $50K Players Championship , which kicked off at 5:00 pm. In just a couple days, one of these guys or gals will add (another) $1,000,000 dollars to their bankroll. I’m going to hang around and watch the proceedings for a while before heading home and getting a good night’s rest before Day 2 of the WSOP.