Related Essays and Reports by Andrew W Scott
World Series of Poker Main Event...
Report number 1
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Saturday July 7th 2007
far as I can determine the richest single event prize-money
in world sport goes to the winner of the main event
at the World Series of Poker. It’s richer than Wimbledon,
richer than any golf tournament, and richer than the
world’s richest horse race. Last year’s unpopular
and controversial winner, former Hollywood talent
agent Jamie Gold, took home a whopping US $12 million.
The total prize pool was a staggering US $87 million,
paid out to the top 10% of the record breaking 8,773
entrants, each of whom forked out the US $10,000 entry
it should be remembered that the main event is just
the last event in a poker carnival that lasts about
six weeks. Last year's entire 46 event schedule drew
more than 42,000 entrants from 56 countries and distributed
more than US $171 million in prize money.
has so often been thought of as a seedy activity,
portrayed countless times as the realm of old-time
degenerate gamblers in Western genre movies, and as
the realm of new-time degenerate gamblers in more
modern classics, like Matt Damon’s "Rounders".
But things have changed now, poker is big business,
with an organised world tour, genuine celebrity players,
corporate sponsorship, charity days and regular TV
coverage. The final table of the main event will be
broadcast by ESPN live across the US and on the internet
across the world.
since "Aussie" Joe Hachem (who featured
on last night’s Sixty Minutes program) won the big
one in 2005, poker in Australia has been booming.
A contingent of Aussies, including yours truly, have
made the trek to gambling’s mecca for the biggest
show in town. The 2007 World Series of Poker has been
underway since June 1, at the Rio Hotel and Casino
in Las Vegas, owned by the world’s biggest casino
company, Harrahs. This year’s 55-event schedule has
not been without controversy, mostly generated by
the pressure put on the venue by the sheer number
of events played, and the enormous starting fields
in those events. The gargantuan Amazon conference
hall has been bursting at the seams at all times of
the day and night.
all these gripes have been forgotten, now that the
main (and final) event for 2007 is underway. The scale
of the main event is mind-boggling in every sense
of the word. Sixteen-hour days of intense play, day
after day after day, with very few breaks and very
few rest days. Players receive $20,000 in tournament
chips, and by the time it is over, one player will
have all the chips, and that will be well over $100
million in tournament chips. To force play, blinds
and antes are progressively increased, with each level
lasting two hours. Six levels of play, taking 12 hours
in total, are played on day one. It is expected that
the entire tournament will take around 35 to 40 levels.
Players have to contend with the psychological pressure
of knowing they can be busted out of the tournament
at any moment. Indeed there will be a few poor souls
who get the dubious distinction of being eliminated
within minutes, losing their entire US$10,000 entry
fee in the twinkling of an eye.
general pattern is that a more than half the remaining
field gets eliminated every single day. The event
is scheduled to take seven days to eliminate the thousands
of players one at a time until the last man (or woman)
is left standing, late on July 17, after perhaps 75
hours of gruelling poker. The field is so huge that
"day 1" has to be split into four: days
1A, 1B, 1C and 1D, due to the fact that there are
"only" 229 tables at the tournament. A standard
regulation table accommodates 10 players, and therefore
only 2,290 players can play at once. The enormous
Amazon convention room houses 168 of those tables,
including the specially made-for-TV ESPN feature table
surrounded by a stadium with four enormous big screens
above the table just like the basketball stadia in
the US. There is a second "made for TV"
table just outside that area, and another 166 tables
in the main part of the room. A further 63 tables
are in the "Poker Pavilion", a temporary
construction which has been dubbed "The Tent"
by the players.
three day 1s were planned: days 1A, 1B and 1C. But
a week ago it was announced that what was formerly
a rest day had been re-assigned to day 1D. The number
of registrants is a closely guarded secret at this
stage, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that
at a rate of say 2,000 players a day, the announcement
of a day 1D indicates that more than 6,000 players
are expected. Even after the mass eliminations expected
on day 1, day 2 is still scheduled to be split over
two days, day 2A and 2B. It isn’t until day 3 that
the numbers still alive in the tournament are expected
to be low enough that a "day" actually becomes
able to be played in a single day. We won’t know the
exact number of players (and therefore the total prize
pool) until Monday’s day 1D is in full swing, because
entrants continue to register for day 1 as the four
days of day 1 proceed. Hence the bizarre situation
exists that some players register for the event after
some other players have already been eliminated!
be filing updates regularly throughout the tournament.
It will be a life-changing event for the winner, and
hopefully it will be me! Yes, that’s right, I’ve decided
to stump up the US$10,000 entry fee and take my shot.
Hey, someone’s got to win, right?
1A: Friday 6 July
1,287 people started day 1A at 12 noon Las Vegas time,
and by the time the dust had settled at approximately
4am the next morning, 842 of them (65%) had busted
out, leaving only 445 players left alive. Vegas is
currently suffering daily maximums around 114 degrees
F (46C), so a collective sigh of relief was heard
around the room when it was announced that all play
would take place in the air-conditioned Amazon room,
without any play occurring in the "fan-cooled"
legend of the game, 1976 and 1977 champion Doyle "Texas
Dolly" Brunson entered the room to a standing
ovation, but was eliminated after a few hours. Ray
Romano of Everybody Love Raymond fame also played,
but also didn’t make it. 1978 champion and former
Bellagio Casino President and CEO, Bobby Baldwin also
played today. He is still alive at the end of the
day, having turned his $20,000 starting stack into
$16,800. While Baldwin’s was not a great day 1, as
long as he is alive he remains a threat.
top five chips stacks at the end of day 1A were:
Timten Olivier $270,500
2nd John Dutchak $209,600
3rd Steve Austin $205,000
4th Michael Tureniec $203,900
5th Aurelio Arcano $166,000
2007 Andrew W Scott
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