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Views: 388
Date Posted: Jul. 6, 8:08pm, 3 Comments

Sunglasses and hat at poker tableConcealment is the art of obscuring something from view.  In live poker, players will employ various means of concealment to prevent other players from picking up information on them.  At the World Series of Poker, the two most popular means of concealment employed are hats and sunglasses, with the occasional hoodie. In May, Daniel Negreanu had urged players and tournament directors in his blog to lesson the wearing of sunglasses at the table.  It appears to have had an effect.

I took some time today to walk the Amazon and Pavilion rooms to gauge the prevalence of hats and sunglasses. With over 120 tables as my sample, the average table has 3.5 people wearing hats and 2 players wearing sunglasses.  Players wearing hoodies over their heads come in at less than .3 per table.  Of course some tables may have 5 players wearing hats and 4 wearing sunglasses, but those were the clear averages when all the tables were factored in.   Baseball hats are the most popular style of hat worn by far.  Sunglass use varies from constantly to only employed when people play a particular hand. 
Walking around, it made me curious if there has ever been a study done to determine a correlation between the wearing of hat and/or sunglasses on their relative results.  Do they really make a difference, or is it simply a comfort or fashion statement? 
Views: 349
Date Posted: Jul. 6, 1:46pm, 1 Comment
The first day of this year's Main Event was less than overwhelming.  There weren't a lot of prominent players in the  Day 1A field of 1125.  Grey Raymer gave the "shuffle up and deal" offering and then proceeded to be one of the first out when he gave away a ton of chips by overplaying his top pair and flush draw against a set.  Michael Mizrachi quietly went about destroying his featured table to end the day around 100k and 4th in chips.  Around 800 players moved on to Day 2A.
No friends were playing the first day. So with no personal interests to rail, when I was invited to Prime for dinner I took off early.  I met a few Icon status UB players for a nice meal overlooking the Bellagio fountains.  When the $1200 bill came, they wanted to do credit card roulette, but since I didn't drink or eat as much, I decided to buy out.
We headed over to the elegant Mandarin Oriental, to the beautiful 23rd floor bar where a UB party was going on.  Unfortunately, the lady at the door was being a real stickler and didn't honor the +1 aspect to invites despite my being with several Icon players.  So I walked down to watch the Bellagio night fountain show.  I texted Jeff218 and he was hanging out across the street at Bally's with the CR support staff crew, so I went over to hang with them for a while.  We BS'ed for a while and then I headed back to GC to catch my first decent night of sleep in a while.
Views: 375
Date Posted: Jul. 5, 8:40pm, 1 Comment

Each year the WSOP makes improvements and adjustments. Some improvements that I have liked:

  • The press area is more efficient, and communication clearer.
  • The tiered press rows in two corners of the Amazon room are nice, in addition to the media room.
  • The internet access and speed is the best it's ever been
  • You receive one daily $10 food voucher that usually gets you most of a lunch.
  • The poker kitchen is  centrally located, well set up, clean and open feeling.
  • Fewer vendors selling
  • All the winners and their bracelet pictures on display on the stage in main satellite poker room.
  • They covered up Russ Hamiltons's picture...he is a black mark on poker.
  • Fan access is much easier than the past.
  • Haven't felt like second class press, so far.  There is often a clear hierarchy exhibited.
  • Sign ups, movement of money etc seems to be flowing smoothly
  • Relaxed logo attitudes
  • No more catered drinks and food for the media.
  • No more gaming life expo, which on good years was interesting to see various poker themed company offerings.
  • Media event is later this year, so I will miss it.
  • They still err on the minimum room between some tables.
  • Fewer fans here watching
  • Didn't always promote their big events well (e.g. $25k 6 max)
  • When running multiple tournaments, it's not clear who is playing where
  • So many players seem to be distracted on an Iphone at the table, surfing the net etc.
Views: 371
Date Posted: Jul. 5, 6:04pm, 1 Comment
Vegas fireworksAfter my day at the Rio, I got dressed and headed down to Caesar's to the Everest rooftop party at Pure.  I was late in arriving because I was waiting on a friend who was still playing in a Sunday online tourney.  I arrived 10 minutes before the fireworks went off overhead, which is always spectacular being so close while being served drinks and hors d'oeuvres.  I ran into a new affiliate friend who was taking photos and also chatted with Brian Townsend, Kara Scott, Nick Wealthal.  The crowd is definitely Euro dominated, but I saw Patrik Bruel and Isabelle Mercier.  As my friends were just getting in the airport and the other was still in her tourney, I decided to leave instead of hanging out in Pure afterwards alone.  They were having the Bodog party downstairs and I passed Evelyn Ng and Lex Veldhuis on the way out.
I decided to walk down the strip, taking in the Mirage show and the always colorful people watching on the strip on my way to the Wynn.  I passed Tom 'Brystmar' Berg coming out of La Reve, who was headed out to a Sixpeppers party.  I then met up with Princessdonk, who got 4th in her tourney, and GuiGui_88, one of the true beasts of mid stakes online poker, who I had never met before.  We hung out for hours eating, chatting, and drinking until 4:30 when I left them at the roulette table to head back home to catch some sleep befoe the Main Event today at noon.
The Main Event day 1A has kicked off an Greg Raymer gave the inaugural "shuffle up and deal" lead off only to be one of the first bustouts from this year along with Nick Shulman.  Things feel more subdued than other years, but as usual most players want to wait until the latter days to play.  Evander Holyfield drew quite a crowd out in the halls as he posed for pictures with fans.  That's it for now...
Views: 359
Date Posted: Jul. 4, 10:08pm, 0 Comments
I had a very international upbringing, having grown up in several countries in Africa and attending international schools.  I have also had periods of my life where I've been in very homogeneous communities.  Where I live now, outside Portland, Oregon, would fall into that category.  Last week, as I was visiting family around New York City, I was exposed to the vast diversity that exists there.  Everyone seems to be from somewhere else. There is something to be said for each situation.  There is a certain constant stimulation being surrounded by various cultures and also a real comfort when amongst familiarity.
This year's WSOP continues the trend of the last few years of embracing the diversity of cultures.  When Harrah’s purchased the WSOP in 2004, its tournaments attracted players from 24 nations. In 2005, that number grew to 54, rising again in 2007 to 87 nations.  The internationalization peaked in 2008 at 124 countries represented, before going to 115 countries in 2009 and so far this year at 107 countries represented with a couple days before the Main Event start.  As you walk the halls of the Rio, you are more likely than ever to hear an accent or foreign language.
Each poker player brings a different perspective, history and attitude that is healthy for the game.  Poker is a game that is energized by new ideas and approaches.  The poker economy by its very predatory nature requires new players to feed its appetite.  What started out as a very American game has now become a global interest.  Managed properly, it could become a global passion.  So while you may pine for the 'clubby' familiarity of a home game, if the game is to prosper, we need to embrace the diversity of its increasingly global players.
Views: 410
Date Posted: Jul. 4, 4:21pm, 0 Comments
One of the benefits of being a poker affiliate during the WSOP is being invited to the occasional poker room hosted party. Yesterday, I was invited to Victory Poker CEO Dan Fleyshman's BBQ and UFC party at his Panorama Towers pool side townhouse. Victory Poker promotes their pro team heavily emphasizing that they are a fun tight knit team. That was on full dispay at the party. Antonio Esfandiari, Andrew Robl, Dan Bilzerian, Keith Gibson, Paul Wasicka, David Chicotsky, Sarah Underwood were all there. There were a few poker industry affiliates as well. There was a large Scandinavian contingent of high stakes pros, including Sami 'LarsLuzak' Keloupro and people associated with marketing partners CoinFlip, pokerisvut and PowerPoker. Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilly were there, along with Justin Bonomo, Sorel Mizzi, some models, and poker personalities like Lacey Jones.
Besides the poker celebs, it was nice to meet a couple of the other poker affiliates. One represents China, while another comes from the casino and global gaming world. I also very much enjoyed talking to Jorge Lopez, a talented 21 year old MMA fighter who is fighting next at the Hard Rock at the end of July. If that goes well, he may be on the next Ultimate Fighter if they feature his 170 lb weight class. He works out of the Wanderlei gym nearby and trains Dan Bilzerian and others. After beers, and the cookout, we all watched UFC 116. After the fights people drifted off for the late night plans.
And while it was 70% guys, the women in attendance were all beautiful model types. If only I had game, was 15 years younger, single, fit and good I did chat up recent interview Playmate of the Year Sara Underwood as she hails from Portland too.
Views: 410
Date Posted: Jul. 4, 1:15am, 0 Comments
Three times in my first 24 hours in Las Vegas I've had that same feeling.  Each year, I pop back in the poker scene.  The rest of the year I am far removed from my pro poker friends.  I don't normally travel to any tournaments other than the WSOP.  It's not that I don't try to keep up with their happenings.  With blogs, forums, emails and tweets, I can keep abreast of their lives.  But then when I meet them, It can take a minute or two to distinguish that while I maybe be aware of aspects of their lives, I haven't spent any time with them in a year.  I feel this familiarity with them that no one who hasn't actually lived those moments with them should feel.
When I met Krantz's girlfriend at the DeucesCracked party, I felt a familiarity with her despite never having met her.  I had seen her on the 2 Months, 2 Million poker show.  I had seen pictures of her in Krantz's room, and heard her mentioned by Krantz in our conversations and in his blogs.
When I spoke to David 'Gaucho2121' Paredes tonight, I had the similar sense from following his tweets that I already knew how his summer at the WSOP was going, before he even had to tell me. We've been casual friends over the years, but I haven't really spoken to him much online in the past year.
When I met up with Lee Childs today, I knew about how he had become a father through adoption this year and how it had changed his life.  I knew him from his WSOP Main Event final table run from several years ago, but I had only seen him twice since, both at the WSOP.  And yet, following his tweets, I felt like I knew of his life.  Interestingly enough, he expressed some familiarity with my world from having read my blog.
In each case, I have physically interacted with each person in previous years.  So there is a direct connection to them, but despite the lack of interaction throughout the year, I still get a sense of familiarity with their lives through the various forms of social networking.  I suppose you can call it a virtual familiarity.  So can I say I know them, or can that only happen if my knowledge of their world comes from direct contact?
Views: 387
Date Posted: Jul. 3, 5:07pm, 1 Comment
The numbers for the WSOP through the first 55 events were just released.  According to Harrahs, participation stands at 63,706 entrants, up 20% from last year.  For the sixth year in a row, the overall prize pool generated has topped $100 million.  Harrah's feels quite positive about the overall results in the face of the weak performance of numerous global currencies and strong international attention on the FIFA World Cup.
Among the highlights of the 41st annual World Series of Poker through Event 55:
·        Three of the Top 10 largest events in live poker history have been held at the 2010 WSOP; seven of the largest 15 tournaments also have been held this year
·        Largest event, Event #3 ($1,000 No-Limit Hold’em): 4,345 players
·        Smallest event, Event #19 ($10,000 Deuce to Seven No-Limit Championship): 101 players
·        Largest event prize pool, Event #2 ($50,000 Poker Players Championship): $5,568,000
·        Largest first place prize, Event #2 ($50,000 Poker Players Championship): $1,559,046
·        Average event participation: 1128 (vs. 2009 average of 961)
·        Total prize money thus far: $113,948,265 (vs. $107,260,976)
·        Youngest winner: Steven Kelly, 21, who won Event #39 ($1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout)
·        Oldest winner: Harold Angle, 78, who won the largest-ever Seniors tournament (3,142 players)
Having watched the proceedings online and my first couple days in Vegas, the numbers can be a bit deceiving.  Some events grew, while other significant big buy in events were down.  The new layout of tournament rooms and tables makes it more challenging to compare the crowds playing and watching from previous years.  It will be interesting to see how many turn out for the marquis Main Event.
Views: 350
Date Posted: Jul. 3, 1:43pm, 0 Comments
Once a year, I get transported to an alternate universe.  It has few if any similarities to the world I regularly inhabit. The characters in this world may look like you and me, but they act in unworldly ways.  Here are 15 observations of these people we call WSOP poker players.
  • Many of them I've watched on TV or online.
  • They carry thousands of dollars around in cash or chips.
  • The biggest stars in this world stand next to me at the next urinal or walk the halls with everyone.
  • They will show up late for their job knowing that the blinds aren't significant yet or they just want to be noticed.
  • They plan their days around rest and eating breaks imposed upon them.
  • If they bust, there is always another event to come later that day. 
  • They can recall minute details of hands played hours earlier, and they always have bad beat story ready.
  • Their nervous energy is disappated by constantly riffling chips throughout the room.
  • No two players stack their chips the same way.
  • They will debate the most arcane situations and rules with great fervor.
  • Dressing down is the accepted norm.
  • They like to conceal their identity with hats, hoodies and sunglasses.
  • They will stare you down in an attept to read your soul.
  • Extreme patience is a necessity due to the galacial pace of action in some hands.
  • They will look to deceive their playing neighbor then tweet the truth to the whole world.
These poker players may have started out like you and me, but somewhere along the poker way they became something else.
Views: 307
Date Posted: Jul. 2, 11:17pm, 0 Comments

One of the great things about coming to the World Series every year is your access to all the most famous players.  Take seven minutes from my day today. I walked down the long hallway from the Rio, passed through the press room, and wandered into the Amazon room.

World Series Main Event champions I passed:
2007 - Jerry Yang
2006 - Jamie Gold
2005 - Joseph Hachem
2003 - Chris Moneymaker
2000 - Chris Ferguson
1989 - Phil Hellmuth
1977 - Doyle Brunson
Tack on another seven minutes and I saw seven more great young players who might join them:
Tom Dwan
Annette Obrestad
Jonathan Little
Daniel Kelly
Brian Rast
Vivek Rajkumer
David Benefield
Rounded border
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