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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP 2010 | WSOP Sights and Sounds

WSOP Sights and Sounds Day 2: $1K donk-a-rama Begins, Employee Event Winding Down

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Immediately upon arriving at the Rio you could already tell it was going to be a zoo.  On top of Las Vegas expecting one of their better Memorial Day weekends in recent history, it was also the start of Event #3, the $1,000 No-Limit Holdem tournament.  The tournament has a lot of other names to other poker players and members of the media, including but not limited to: “donkfest,” “donkament,” and “lottery.”  A $1,000 ticket is a pretty expensive lottery drawing, but when you consider it’s the cheapest buy-in offered in all of the open events, it is understandable why it gets that stigma.

The event is massive.  Today was the first day of the two day event and saw nearly 4,000 people sign up, before registration was closed.  Registration for the event continues through tomorrow, with early estimates predicting a total well over 8,000, which would put it in the top three of the biggest WSOP events in history.  Last year’s winner Steve Sung earned $771,106 which had 6,017 runners.  *Correction: The number of entrants originally reported is incorrect, it is actually approaching 4,000 for days 1a and 1b COMBINED for the $1,000 No Limit holdem (event #3) tournament.  While it is a big number, the statement of it being one of the "biggest tournaments in WSOP history" is also untrue.  Seth Palansky added: “We are expecting between five and six thousand entries by the time registration is closed.”*

The $1,000 may be a cheap buy-in, relatively speaking, but that didn’t mean a lot of the bigger names didn’t find their way into it.  “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Humberto Brenes, Shaun Deeb, Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, and Jean-Robert Bellande are just a few of the popular players to pony up the 1k.  For some, like Bellande, 1k isn’t exactly small change, as it has been very well documented of late that he is busto, as evidenced by his Twitter name, “BrokeLivingJRB.”  Bellande’s plan to get un-busto during the WSOP has started off poorly, as he was eliminated before the first break of Day 1a when his bottom two pair was no match for the top two pair of an unknown player.  Bellande was hoping he was going to be participating in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, but was unable to get backed, despite trying up to the last minute.  One of Bellande’s Twitter followers showed his “support” by pointing out that he didn’t start the WSOP $50,000 in the hole.
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As tournaments break down, tournament directors like to put featured tables in good sight for the media and the spectators.  Today while setting up one of these sections close to where I am camped out, WSOP Media Director and author Nolan Dalla tells members of the media about an issue they are having.  Dalla wants both the media and the spectators to have a good view of the main table, but pointed out that the media having a good view was of the most importance.  Additionally, the barrier that separates the main tables from the others are filled with sponsors who have paid thousands of dollars to have those displays, so if you move them even slightly from where these companies expected them to be then there is some red tape to go through, which Dalla acknowledged.  Eventually, a compromise of some sort was decided, with very little housekeeping having to be done, which of course makes everyone happy. 

Media row was quick to agree that Dalla knows what he is doing.  Dalla has earned a level of respect that very{id:5} few people in poker have earned, and it’s because he’s quick to involve everyone in a decision, when he could very easily deem it an “executive” decision, and do whatever he wants.  Still, that didn’t stop a few members of media row from cracking some jokes, saying, “Six years and they almost got it right,” and “I’m sure they’ll have it right around 2016.”  Oh well.

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It didn’t take long for Rio to pull out the big, um, “guns.”  As I walked down the massive halls towards the poker action, I spotted the first scantily clad woman handing out (and hanging out) cards.  Last year I was skunked, not once being approached by any of these women, but this year started out much different.  One of these ladies stepped directly in my path, even as I attempted to move over.  She handed me a card good for one drink to one of the clubs in the Rio, and then pointed me into the direction of the “Bad Beat Bar” which was formerly known, albeit briefly, as the “man cave.”  In a hurry I bypassed the offer, instead opting to find my seat on media row.  However, about an hour later I ventured into the “Bad Beat Bar,” and it’s easy to see why they had to pull out the big guns on only day two of the tournament.  Nobody was in there, except me, and another scantily clad female behind the bar.

I eventually intend to ask why they hand out fliers to some people while ignoring others, but first I decided to do some spy work of my own.  After about ten minutes of watching them work from a nearby bench, I couldn’t figure it out.  One second they would ignore a 20-something year old guy in favor of an 80 year old, but then in the next batch of people they were ignoring almost everybody, including Erick Lindgren.  I figured if Erick Lindgren was getting ignored by the hired help, then I should stop complaining about it.  Still, this is not over.

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The WSOP Academy has a number of events planned over the course of the next few weeks, but have already run into some technical difficulties.  John, a man who works with the WSOP Academy but opted not to tell me what his official position is for whatever reason, said that they were having “audio-visual” troubles, so the event that was supposed to be starting at noon would be rescheduled tentatively for 4:00 pm.  This particular event was a free seminar, and the special guest was going to be mindset guru Sam Chauhan.

Chauhan has been associated with the poker world for a number of years, but has recently gained even more popularity with his work with poker players Antonio Esfandiari, Josh Arieh, and Mark Seif, among others.  Chauhan, as John told me, is also getting more into poker as a player, planning to play “a number of events.”  It will be fun to see if he can use his own advice at the poker table that he has taught others to do for the past few years.

Despite his issues, John was nice enough to show me one of the seminars taking place in another room.  These seminars cost $2,000, but last a couple of days with different trainers focusing on different aspects of tournament play.  At that point they were working on “late stage tournament strategy” while recreating different situations.  No noticeable faces immediately jumped to me.  As I was getting to peer in on something that costs $2,000, I wasn’t permitted to take pictures, and after a few minutes Jeff told me it was time to go.

Tonight the $500 Casino Employees event will try to wrap up, but it’s most likely they will have to finish up tomorrow.  Also tomorrow is day 3 of the Poker Players Championship and the start of the Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better with a $1,500 buy-in.

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