The “Bad Beat Bar” has barely seen any use during the World Series of Poker, except to host free WSOP seminars. Tomorrow that is likely to change because it’s the start of the World Cup. Soccer in America isn’t as popular as it is in most countries, many of which are represented by players at the WSOP, it is the national sport. With the “Bad Beat Bar” having eight flat screen televisions, and a plethora of comfy chairs and couches to choose from, it is expected to be the main viewing room for those looking to catch some of the action when not involved in the poker action. It’s unsure if the organizers of the WSOP created the bar for this reason, but I’m sure they are happy that a hoard of people will be walking in and out and buying alcohol during the course of the World Cup.
Also, what would be a World Cup without gambling? According to a researcher on ESPN’s Sports Center this morning, $1.5 billion will be wagered on the World Cup, and that’s just legally. To put the number of $1.5 billion in perspective, it has to be noted that the Super Bowl is usually the most watched sporting event worldwide every year and only had $84 million wagered on it this past year, according to the same ESPN researcher. I imagine the number will be at least that much between poker players making bets. OK, so maybe not that much, but considering players bet on if a flop is going to be all red or all black, it’s natural to think that much larger sums will be wagered when it comes to national pride.
Obviously, the main form of poker that’s most cared about is tournaments. After all, the WSOP is a series of tournaments, so that would obviously make the most sense. However, nearly half of the Amazon room makes up another big reason many players find themselves at the WSOP - the cash games.
On the very first day of the WSOP, the cash game selection was slim. The highest game available was 2-5 NL Holdem, and there were only a couple of games going at that. Heading into the third weekend of the WSOP, that is no longer the case. Holdem games are now hitting the 50-100 range, with a waiting list for even higher games. Omaha and Omaha hi/lo games, which weren’t even running the first couple of days, are now running as high as 75-150. Additionally higher stakes stud and mix games are being offered.
If none of those traditional games are to your liking, Chinese poker is also offered. In short, Chinese poker is played with 13 cards in your hand, and you try to make the best three hands from those. It is a very high variance game, but there are many people that make money from it, especially this time of year. If you want to try Chinese poker, be aware that many of the people who are playing it are highly skilled. A recent walk by one of these tables saw Barry Greenstein playing against another gentleman who is believed to be a wealthy business man, but chances are that he won’t be as wealthy when Barry is done with him. It was hard to gauge what the stakes were, but each man was sitting with several thousand dollars in cash and chips in front of them. Either way, proceed with caution.
Low stakes players, don’t worry, there are still plenty of 1-3 games going on. A lot of people just want to be in the vicinity of the guys wagering thousands of dollars, and the Rio makes that happen. Also, if you find the cash game section too much of a zoo, which it can be, you can always head back up to the front of the casino and play in the regular Rio poker room which is thin right now.
It’s been recently reported that the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Peter Eastgate has elected to go to South Africa for the World Cup instead of playing multiple events at the WSOP. Eastgate has said that after winning the big one he really doesn’t have too much desire to spend another hot summer in Las Vegas playing a lot of events he doesn’t have much interest in. He also went on to say that he believes that the reason most of the popular players elect to play in them is for the side bets only. Eastgate, who doesn’t like to gamble too much outside of poker, has drawn some criticism for the remarks, but it’s hard to disagree with his view in some capacity.
One of the smaller events, the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event, started today and sure enough a lot of those big name players were in it. Sure, some of them legitimately want to win another bracelet, but sometimes it’s so obvious they want to be somewhere else, and would be if they didn’t have big side bets.
Watching Scotty Nguyen for a few minutes, he appeared to be dozing off, apparently bored with the action. Finally, two players at his table got into a multi-raised pot, and Nguyen shouted, perhaps a little too loud, “Heyyy! Finally, some action!” This received some laughs from the other players at the table, but after that hand, Nguyen went back to his almost comatose state while waiting for a playable hand.
One player who grew so much of a reputation as being a loud player that he got a rule named after him is Hevad Khan. At the 2007 WSOP Main Event, Khan shouted with seemingly every hand, even ones he wasn’t involved in. Some thought it was light-hearted, but enough people were so fed up with it, that it became against the rules to be so loud, deeming it the “Hevad Khan rule.”
Watching Khan for about an hour today, you could still see he’s talkative, but he speaks at a very low volume. If you see old clips of the 2007 show you will see he was very animated in everything he did. Not so much now, as besides the quiet conversation, he hardly moves. To top it off, the once heavily bearded Khan now opts for a cleaner-cut look. It’s odd to say, but a lot of people miss the old Khan.