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

Sights & Sounds of WSOP Main Event: Seeing Through the Sea on Day 1B

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It was only the second starting day of the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event, the $10K buy-in NLHE championship tournament that focused the eyes of the poker world and its fans squarely on the Rio in Las Vegas. Excitement was still in the air as only the second of four flights of players took their seats in the hopes of becoming the next poker champion.

For those family members and friends of poker players in the event, Day 1B was the only day that mattered, and the only thing in their sights was that player, that table, and those hands.

For the poker media trying to cover well over 1,000 players each day, many of whom we had never seen before and may not see again, it was tough. The excitement from the players was contagious only to a certain extent, but the time had already arrived in the WSOP that it was becoming difficult for many in the media to distinguish between faces and names. The exception, of course, was the well-known players, those pros and the occasional non-poker celebrities who are known because of their frequent appearances in poker news. And those recognizable faces were inevitably the ones who received the most coverage.

From the perspective of those well-known pro poker players, though, the attention isn’t always welcome or desired. Most of them would never admit it publicly, thus they be ignored and not receive publicity that helps - or is even sometimes required - for their careers to thrive via sponsorships. But the public interest, thereby leading to media interest, in their every move can be stressful. When ESPN crews follow a player, especially when they hover with their microphones and cameras over an already short-stacked player, just looking to catch the elimination and the player’s subsequent reaction, it puts pressure on the player and possibly affects their decision-making abilities. Their cards are reported online during live reporting as well, which prompts the poker community at large to scrutinize plays and sometimes criticize a player’s skills without knowing the larger context or all of the previous plays that led to a particular hand.

There is a fine line to walk between receiving the attention one wants and/or needs versus coverage that borders on intrusion and negatively affects a player’s ability to perform at the tables.

A perfect example of that situation happened near the start of Day 1B. Tournament Director Jack Effel took to the microphone to draw everyone’s attention to the presence of a young poker phenom, one who won a WSOP Europe Main Event and is currently playing in her first year of WSOP events in the U.S. Annette Obrestad was the player, and as the announcement was being made, those near her table attested that she was visibly embarrassed at the attention she received. Though most players might be a bit uncomfortable at the spotlight, for her to show it with a slouch in her chair and a hand to her face indicated that she may experience that discomfort more than others.

In some ways, those playing their WSOP tournament in complete anonymity might be the lucky ones. Should they go deep in the tournament, the spotlight will shift to them many days from now, but for their first few days, privacy and tranquility can be their advantage over those being constantly pursued by cameras and reporters.

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Each day of the Main Event seems to bring a few faces from the world of Hollywood and sports. Today, baseball legend Orel Hershiser made his annual appearance at the tournament. He enjoys playing poker whenever possible, and after years of playing with friends during his years on the road with baseball teams and since then with friends in the poker industry, his tournament game has greatly improved. Summer months are tough for him, as he generally fills his time as an ESPN baseball commentator, but he tries to make time for the Main Event. Obviously, he was able to do that again this year.

The other famous face in the crowd on Day 1B was Robert Iler, the actor who most know as Anthony Soprano, Jr. from the long-running HBO cable show “The Sopranos.” He recently acknowledged that he has put a great deal of effort into his tournament game as well, so his appearance at the WSOP seems only proper.

On the opposite note, three pro poker players who seem to be expected at the WSOP will not be playing in the year’s biggest game.  Tony G's blog states that he won't leave home ground and is spending time with family. Rumor has it that Gus Hansen has chosen not to play this year, but confirmation has been given that 2008 WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate will definitely be a no-show. He wrote a statement for the PokerStars blog, noting that he never intended to play poker forever but wanted to become financially secure, which he achieved by winning the Main Event. But he added, “I feel that I have lost my motivation for playing high level poker along the way and I have decided that now is the time to find out what I want to do with the rest of my life. What this will be, I do not yet know. I have decided to take a break from live tournament poker, and try to focus on Peter Eastgate, the person.” With that, the 2010 WSOP will play with one less former champion in the field.

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