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

Sights and Sounds of WSOP Main Event: Why They Play Day 1A

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“I’ve been waiting for this day for nine years,” he said. John made little effort to quell his excitement as he anxiously waited for the doors to open to the Amazon Room. “Do you know when they let the players in? I’d like to find my seat.”

There is a long-standing joke amongst the poker media that the first person to take their seat in a poker tournament will most certainly not be the winner. Statistical research has yet to prove that right or wrong, but the assumption is that the ones who arrive early, rush to the tables, and seem overly excited to play in a poker tournament are not likely the most skilled, patient, or experienced. Their chances of winning the tournament are diminished by those qualities alone, especially in a field of thousands.

What has been proven over time is that the World Series of Poker Main Event, its $10K buy-in no-limit holdem championship tournament, can be won by anyone. A player doesn’t need to have much experience in the live tournament setting or even be particularly comfortable in it. That is the beauty of the event. An amateur player who qualifies online can win. An accountant with the name Moneymaker can turn poker upside-down. Why can’t the 2010 winner be a player who saved up for years to play, arrived at the Rio early, and was the first player to take a seat on Day 1A?

The 2010 WSOP kicked off with its first of four starting days on Monday, July 5, and the crowd was an anxious and excited one. With the option of four days and Tuesday through Thursday not being starting days just after a holiday/party evening in Sin City, the question is why so many players would enter the first day? For many, the enthusiasm about wanting to play got the best of them, especially those who had saved for months or years to play the poker tournament of their lifetime. Those who have day jobs and not a lot of vacation time wanted to get their starting day completed on a holiday weekend so as not to take off any unnecessary days of work.

But there were pros in the field, too. The thought process behind their decisions to play Day 1A could have been based on the amount of “easy” money possibly found in the field, or the fact that a bustout from the Main Event would allow them to get home sooner, wherever that may be. Many players and their bad runs at the WSOP this summer would like to get out of Las Vegas at the earliest opportunity.

Clearly, generalizing about everyone who played Day 1A is somewhat pointless and pure speculation, but the field on the first of four starting days does show what the WSOP is all about. There are full-time professional poker players but quite a few more amateur or semi-pro players, all looking for their big break, poker career highlight, or 15 minutes of fame. And what that means is that a great deal of the field is excited to be there. They may even have family and friends on the rail or waiting in the hallway to support them and listen to their bad beats or brags, which would explain the significant rail contingent as well as the number of people in the hallways with novels staying out of the way until their player needs a break or busts from the tournament.

John eventually entered the Amazon Room and found his seat. He may or may not win the tournament, but it’s too early to say. Without knowing anything about his play or style or bankroll or experience, it’s hard to know if he’s the best player in the field.

“Good luck” was my response. And it was hard not to mean it. The dream of winning the WSOP Main Event was alive and well with John, and it was impossible not to hold out a bit of hope of seeing him in the November Nine.

**********

Two familiar faces in the crowd today, in a professional and non-poker playing capacity, were Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, commentators for the ESPN broadcasts of the WSOP. They are known to walk the floor, chat with a few players, and get a feel for the fields. Both in Vegas to watch the Main Event play down, McEachern and Chad were taking notes and readying themselves for snarky comments, as well as serious ones about the tournament in general.

As far as the players themselves, several previous Main Event winners took the felt looking for second wins. Bobby Baldwin was in the crowd, as was Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, the latter of whom also did the honor of welcoming the players and ordering the dealers to “shuffle up and deal.”

There were also several interesting faces in the crowd. Actor Ray Romano was in the tournament, though he is no stranger to poker tournaments or the WSOP, as poker has long been a favorite pastime of his. But a new face to the WSOP was David Alan Grier, who played the Ante Up for Africa tournament on July 3 but admittedly doesn’t have much poker experience. But he brought more humor to his table than most could have anticipated. Lastly, NBA basketball pro Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks took his seat on Day 1A, looking to test out his competitive nature on the green felt rather than the court.

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