Tomorrow, June 1, is the official day that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act will become the law of the land, but most poker players really have no idea what exactly that entitles. Some are fearful that they will try to log onto their online poker room of choice tomorrow and be greeted with a message saying they can no longer play there because they are attempting to play from the United States. According to Brian, the gentleman manning the Poker Players Alliance booth today, some, if not all, of these worries should be alleviated.
The PPA is well represented at the World Series of Poker. Many players wear patches on their clothes or hat with the PPA symbol. Additionally, they have a booth set up not far from the poker action, to not only try to get more members to join, but to answer questions poker players may have about their playing future. Regarding what will change tomorrow, Brian said the PPA is simply looking at it as “just another day.” He continued saying that “everything that is already in place (with the UIGEA) has technically already been in place since the day George W. Bush left office.” This is just the day banks are really supposed to start enforcing it.” Brian continued saying there is no real concern with online players being “shut out.”
Additionally the subject of California attempting to legalize online poker came up. Surprisingly, Brian said the PPA doesn’t fully support it. California is attempting to legalize poker, but it would just be for inter-state play, in an attempt for the state to cut into their billions of dollars of debt. Brian says online poker is meant to be played with people from all over the world, and not just with people in your same state. He’s obviously all for legalizing online poker, and agrees it is good news to the point that a government is considering legalizing any form of online poker, but “that’s not what online poker is all about.”
The Executive Director of the PPA, John Pappas, will be making his way to the WSOP this Thursday, and will be staying through the weekend. Pappas will be manning the PPA booth, taking questions from passersby and according to Brian, is also planning to play in a few events.
In what is shaping up to be one of the first big stories of this year’s WSOP, the Mizrachi brothers are still in the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship with just 12 people remaining. Robert is currently in 4th place with 2,050,000 chips, with his brother Michael right behind him in 5th place with 2,040,000 chips. The two will not square off with each other unless they both make the final table because it is WSOP policy to keep family members apart until it’s not possible anymore.
The current chip leader is John Juanda, who has 2,350,000 in chips. First place will pay $1,559,046.
Shortly after the second day of the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low event started, Phil Hellmuth was moved to a table right near media row after his table was broken up. Upon seeing their new tablemate, a total of five players immediately started fiddling with their cell phones, presumably to tell their friends and family who just sat at their table. Hellmuth is of course an 11-time WSOP bracelet winner, but has yet to win an event outside of holdem. Still, when a living legend sits at your table you tend to take notice.
Outside of Phil Hellmuth, the entire poker room is bustling with action. In addition to the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low and the $50,000 Poker Players Championship events taking place, the $1,000 No Limit Holdem tournament has resumed. At about 3:30 p.m. the bubble burst in the $1,000 event, meaning there are now around 420 players left vying for the top prize of $625,872.
Now that the players are in the money they are forced to listen to the constant babbling and locust-like sound of chips because they are no longer permitted to wear headphones when they make the money. Unaware of this rule, Nolan Dalla explained to me that they do this because of the events that they televise. ESPN doesn’t want players wearing headphones at their televised tables because then everyone is quiet, taking out a level of drama. Additionally he said there is slight concern that players could be receiving information through headphones, all though he admitted that’s a long shot. Even though this tournament is not televised, the WSOP went ahead and made this rule for all events.
One of the most amazing things to experience during the WSOP has nothing to do with cards. At certain times during the day the poker players take extended lunch or dinner breaks. Every once in a while all the tournaments will take one of these breaks at the same time, meaning upwards of 6,000 people, not including the spectators, will all make their way down the hallway to the various eating establishments the Rio has to offer. If you are ever in the unfortunate situation of trying to head towards the poker area while they are heading out, you’ll most likely be bumped, bruised, and broken by the time the swarm finally ends. A hungry stampede of poker players is one of the most unsightly things you’ll ever see.
If you are one of those searching for food, that’s another task all in itself. Even though the Rio has done a lot to improve their food choices for poker players, including introducing new options to the “Poker Kitchen,” many of them find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to getting a seat at a Rio restaurant. One player in a tournament was on the phone talking to a friend or a relative asking them to reserve a seat at one of the restaurants, BEFORE the break. This is good thinking, because a number of the eating establishments, particularly those closer to the poker room have signs that list the times the tournaments will go on break, and to “Please be Patient, as Wait Times Are Longer than Usual During These Times.” So in short, not only do you need a good strategy to navigate your way through these tournaments, you might need an even more optimal strategy to make sure you get a chance to eat during your breaks.