2010 WSOP Main Event – Reflection Part 6 (The media event)
Once all of the Day 1′s and the Day 2′s were complete, it was a day of rest. The day after day 2b was a dark day for the WSOP, not in the sense that bad things were happening. No events were scheduled except for one, the Media Freeroll Event. Everyone showed up in casual attire, including Nolan Dalla who wore a bandana on his head, and Ty Stewart who had an interesting looking WSOP Cowboy Hat.
I got to the Rio about 2 hours before the scheduled start time so that I could write my news article for PokerTableRatings.com, and I wandered into the Amazon room and sat down in Media Row. I was alone in the room except for two gentlemen that were placing “Swag Bags” on each of the seats for the members of the media that would be playing in the Amazon Red Section. It was the most peaceful that I’d ever seen the Amazon room. Generally, the 121 tables are full of players, and the sound of clattering chips is heard from the hallway outside. There is a buzz even walking into the room. But at this moment, it seemed serene. There wasn’t a soul in the room with aspirations of becoming a world champion, or even finishing in the money. There wasn’t a worry about another person’s hole cards or what the river might bring. It was just quiet, and it was awesome.
After I set up my laptop, I wandered around the empty room by my lonesome for a bit and just soaked in the atmosphere of the room, completely empty. Hung on all 4 walls was the banners of main event champions of the past, the year that they won it, and a photo of them either in action at the table, or directly after their win and in front of a mountain of cash. It’s easy to see why so many people have dreams and aspirations of becoming a poker world champion. As you looked at the names on the wall, you saw an accountant (Moneymaker), a tax attorney (Raymer), a talent agent (Jamie Gold), and a host of unknown players. Until one day, they took a seat in this room, and stacked a bunch of chips, en route to having their name and likeness hung up on these walls. It was humbling, and it was really cool.
I headed back to finish my article and did so as the media members began to file into the room at around noon to collect their seat card and head to their respective seats. I was at a table with no one that I recognized. Three seats to my left was Lana from CardRunners who was talking about a $1k satellite that she’d just played over at the Venetian, finishing in 7th among a number of players that I couldn’t remember. But other than that, I didn’t know anyone until a gentleman from ESPN took a seat at my table. I never did get his name, but I recognized him as he’d hung out with Andrew Feldman a good majority of the week that we were there.
Jack Effel took to the mic, and passed it over quickly to Nolan Dalla after saying a few words. This was Nolan’s event, and he said a few words on the mic. “This is a fun event. We’re all here to enjoy our day off” he’d say. Then, he pulled out a piece of paper form his pocket and said something to the degree of “I want to take a moment to remember those that have helped bring the news of the World Series of Poker to the fans around the world, and are no longer here with us today.” Nolan would read off a list of about a dozen names, none of which that I recognized, as everyone waiting to play realized what kind of moment this was. It reminded me a great deal of that segment in the Oscars where they show the video of actors and actresses that have passed away in the last year. I felt privileged that I had ability to simply be in the company of individuals that were providing a service to the people who love the game of poker. And while I didn’t recognize the names that Nolan read, my heart went out to each and everyone as I know that they were a piece of bringing me the joy that I’d experienced from WSOP events in the past. It was a moving moment.
Nolan continued on the Mic thanking and commending each of us for the remarkable job of keeping the world in the loop with what we were doing. He recognized the importance of the job that we were doing in capturing a piece of history for the years ahead. It was a well spoken speech that I took to heart, and filled me with great pride. Nolan then individually went through some names in the event and thanked them. I felt embarrassed that the first crew that he asked stand and be recognized was the crew from PokerNews. No one stood up as there was no one there. PokerNews decided to hold their own event at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on the same day, so none of their employees participated in the WSOP event. I thought it was pretty poor timing at first, but I realized that there was only 1 down day, so there wasn’t another opportunity to do it. But still, I would have liked to have seen PokerNews join in on the event instead of hosting their own. It felt more than a little elitist, and I also felt like I’d missed out on the opportunity to play with some of the friends that I’d made on the team of field reporters in those weeks.
Once Nolan was done with the announcements, acknowledgements, and thanks, he hoisted a trophy with a donkey playing cards. The coveted (or not so much as it would turn out) piece of hardware was to be awarded to the first individual that went bust, and have their name inscribed on the trophy. Everyone laughed as they brought it out, and it was hard not to. The other prizes were laid out on one of the other Red Section tables that were not in use. They were duffel bags that were chalked full of WSOP items including Mugs, Shirts, Hats, and loads of Beef Jerkey from JackLinks, the sponsor of the WSOP. Given that it was a freeroll event, there were no cash prizes, but the WSOP had pledged monies that would be donated to the Nevada Cancer Institute on behalf of the individuals that finished in the money.
Everyone had a white WSOP bag on their chair full of a bunch of goodies. Playing Cards, a shirt, a hat, some Jerky, and some other things that I can’t remember. I didn’t pay too close attention to what I missed out on. I say missed out because as I left the Rio, I completely forgot about the swag bag and left it behind.
Nolan Dalla announced “Shuffle up and deal” and we were underway. The first hand of the day came at Nolan’s table and was the most exciting. The tournament director took the mic and decided to call the action so that everyone could hear it. He said, “looks like we have a 4-way all in here at the table, lets see the hands. It’s pocket Aces, It’s pocket Kings, Pocket Tens, and Pocket three’s!” Four pairs to start the event and someone was going to end up with a lot of chips to begin as we started with 10k chips. The tournament director uttered the words we’d heard often “lets see a flop,” and the place went insane as he rolled over the flop. He’d announced that the flop was “Ace-King-Ten! Looks like we have three flopped sets!” He then called for the dealer to show us a turn, and it was a Three! This gave all four players a set, with Aces being light years ahead of everyone else. The tournament director called for the river, and the dealer laid out the river card. The place exploded again as the dealer placed a THREE on the river to have pocket threes go runner-runner for QUADS and win the pot. Everyone realized that it was a rigged hand, and the tournament director would say so on the mic, giving the chips back to everyone at the table, and the real tournament got underway with everyone smiling and laughing toghether…the way a poker tournament should.
I played very well for my first few levels, and chipped up slightly to around 18k. We’d had a few bustouts at our table and things were starting to break when Ty Stewart joined us. I asked Ty about the new changes to the WSOP-Circuit events and got the run down from him. I was thrilled at the changes that they were making and couldn’t wait for the WSOPC events to get underway. This was a huge change from earlier, and it deserves its own post.
Moments later, Nolan Dalla joined my table and sat two seats to my left, and he was followed shortly there after by Andrew Feldman of ESPN who came to the table with about 5k in chips. Andrew was delighted to be at a table with players that he’d recognized, and placed his chips on the table just in time to see two cards from under the gun. With the blinds at 200-400, Andrew opened to 1200. Action folded to me in middle position, and I looked down at AKos. Feldman had won a prop bet with me earlier in the series when I took the over on 7,500 players, and he had taken 7,499 and under saying “I hope I lose this bet.” I was hoping to exact my revenge here as I said out loud ”oh, I’ve got to 3-bet Andrew Feldman,” and I promptly announced a raise up to 4,000. Action folded back to Feldman who didn’t really think about it before he moved all in. I immediately called and tossed my hole cards over, and Andrew immediately said “Oh, that’s not good” as he tabled A-Qos. The board ran clean for my hand, and Andrew was eliminated. I was asked by the gentleman from ESPN if I’d be available for interview after the event to talk about that hand, to which I replied “absolutely.” He asked Feldman and he frowned and said “Yeah, I don’t think so.” We all had a good laugh, as we shook hands and Andrew left the Rio shortly after to go the Hard Rock Casino for the PokerNews event.
After the lunch break (which was fully catered by the WSOP), I got to be the center of attention in a big pot again, as Nolan Dalla had grown short, and committed his last 800 chips into the Big Blind. Nolan, Ty Stewart, and Seth Palansky (along with a few others) had a last longer bet that I never got the details on, and the crowds began to swell as he was all in. Action folded around to me on the button, and the encouragement rose up from the group to fold around and give Nolan a walk so that he could win out on the last longer. But I peaked at my hole cards and saw two Kings. I sighed, and I raised. The small blind folded his two cards, Nolan said “have you got it?” and I nodded, tossing over my Cowboys. Nolan hadn’t looked at his hole cards and said that he wasn’t going to until after the river. He playfully called for an Ace, which didn’t come, and when the final card hit, he’d said “I hope I have a pocket pair for a set or made two pair. He tossed over his hand of A-6, which hadn’t improved at all, and I eliminated Nolan Dalla from the media event.
I then tangled in a pot with Ty Stewart, only to get a chop, when I shipped AQ in a 3-way pot with a short stack who had A-T. Ty also had AQ, and we chopped the other guy’s chips. After that hand, our tale broke. I was moved to a table with Pokerati’s Dan Michalski, who I didn’t know was him until he recognized the Twitter Poker Tour shirt that I was wearing. He’d last only 2 hands getting it in behind while shortstacked and in the big blind, and not catching up going bust in about 35th or so. That table broke shortly after and we were down to our final 27 players.
The blind structure had the blinds increasing every 20 minutes for the first 4 levels, and then 15 minutes every level thereafter. So things were moving VERY quickly. I was up to a high of 28k, but had blinded down to about 16k when I got the last of my chips in the middle with K-7. Lana from CardRunners made the easy call and tabled Ace-Ace. It looked bad for me, and only got worse as the dealer showed an Ace in the door card, then proceeded to fan out the flop of Ace-Ace-Five. Lana had flopped quads and I was drawing dead, eliminated in 24th place. I had enjoyed my time spent with the group and enjoyed playing some cards for once instead of watching.
I packed up my things and headed back to the house to meet Bob and Nicole for some dinner, before I’d head over to the Venetian to watch the play down to the final table where Lee Childs was running amazing. I’ll talk about that experience in my next post.