Fame is for the Famous

My WSOP trip got off to a great start. In the airport anyway. The immigration guy was Irish. His mother’s family is from County Mayo, which coincidentally is where Phil’s mother’s family comes from, so if he runs bad this year and needs a job, at least he’s got some connections. The guy suggested I should approach Guinness about a sponsorship deal. It would probably be the biggest rakeback deal in history. We headed downtown. As usual, I went to Binion’s in search of inspiration but had to settle for chicken noodle soup instead.

My first event was the $ 1500 PLO, which played a bit like an audition for suicide bombers. I got a cab driver from Sudan that was a real nice guy. He refused to complain about things being a little slow and told me that to be truly happy all you had to do was count up the things for which you could say thank you. He had read an article in a magazine which documented the misery that lottery wins had brought to people. About a mile from the Rio, he realised that he’d been talking so much that he’d forgotten to turn on the meter, but I told him that that was ok because he’d given me an opportunity to say thank you.

When I got there, I was delighted to see sponsors ads all over the place. It was no surprise that the beer crowd is back, considering how much the Irish lads put away at Marty Smyth’s and Tom Hanlon’s final table last year. There’s beef jerky ads here too and also some people who sell tablets for men which apparently slows the ageing process and increases testosterone levels. It’s hard to believe that’s really necessary here. I’m sure all of these goodies have brought a lot of money into the game and that a reasonable portion of it will be passed on to the players, as usual.

This extra money for players is really necessary this year as ESPN doesn’t want to put any poor guys on the telly. I think they’re right. So what if a guy beats 6000 people in a $ 1500 event and wins a bracelet? If he didn’t have 40k to blow in the first place, he can’t be any good.

While we were playing, the final table of a previous main event winners tournament was taking place in the corner. Phil dropped by to say hello and couldn’t help mentioning that ESPN, not for the first time, had made the final table a ten handed affair to make sure he got on the TV. The people in Mayo will be delighted. When he’d gone, Chris Ferguson told me that they’d done the same for him the previous year. He’d made the last ten of the first event and they were happily playing away, waiting for one more elimination so that the final nine could come back for the TV final table the next day. Chris said he wasn’t really short stacked but when he moved all-in and finished up splitting the pot with some other guy the TV guys were way more nervous than he was. They couldn’t handle the pressure and immediately moved the goal posts to ensure that they’d be at least one real poker player at the final table. God bless America.

With about 180 of us left in the tournament, they announced they’d be a one and a half dinner break. I’m not used to getting this far so when I asked them what the fuck that was all about they helpfully explained that the hour and a half was to help us with our dinner reservations. My dinner reservation was in the tent out at the back and the whole operation took somewhere between ten and eleven minutes. I must be missing something here.

Two hands after the dinner break, Chris and I were both walking, but not before Chris had kindly agreed to do a slot on the Poker Show Live. He headed back to the other tournament he was playing at the time and I took a cab to the Nugget. The cab driver was a poker player and had been for some time. He said he only played online now because there were too many assholes in the cardrooms, educating everybody. He said there was a lot of talk about studying guys looking for tells etc., but they never did that in the games he used to play in the old days because everybody was too busy watching every move the dealer made. He dropped me at Binion’s by accident and as I was getting out he told me he’d be down at the Rio the following day to play some satellites. Apparently assholes don’t play satellites.