Wow. That is the only word I can find to describe what is going on in side the Rio convention center. In case you were wondering about this whole explosion in poker, let me tell you a few things I witnessed at the Rio yesterday.
Firstly, I cannot ever remember waiting 20, maybe 30 minutes tops to register for a WSOP event. How does a four hour wait sound? That's right...if you wanted to play in event # 2, you waited in between 2 ½ and 4 hours to sign up. That's after you waited about 45 minutes to get your player badge. In case you are wondering what the most complaining you could ever hear in your life would be....now you know. Sit in a line of poker players who have waited hours to register for a tournament. Where is my iPod when I need it...
So, given that, this next statement will probably strike you as odd. The WSOP is actually pretty well organized. There just simply isn't enough staff to handle the volume. When I left the poker room at 2 am, Event # 2 was sold out, and they had taken about 300 alternates. I think with alternates, the final field of Event # 2 will be between 2,300-2,400. Due to this, they have changed Event # 2 to a three day event, and altered the TV. The Pot Limit event (# 3), which starts Saturday, will no longer be filmed by ESPN so they can focus on this massive $1,500 NL tournament.
The poker room, actually, make that the poker cavern at the Rio is absolute poker heaven. I would guess there are about 400 tables in this one massive room. There are live games, satellites, super satellites, and of course the tournament tables....all running in the same room. You want to play $ 6-12 hold em...we got it. You want to play in a $50 satellite...we got it. You want to play 10-20 Razz...we got it.
The satellites are particularly well run, and I played in a couple. You simply stand in line, and in 5-10 minutes, you are in the satellite of your choice. The only one I saw that took more than 10 minutes to fill was the $525, and that took about 15 minutes. They were literally seating $175 sats as fast as they could seat the players. The stream was constant.
I would guess the number of live action tables at about 75. Players were playing every game, for nearly every limit, and everyone was having a good time.
I highly encourage anyone who is thinking of registering for a WSOP event to do so online, in advance. While I don't think we will see the chaos that ensued today, it is clear that we aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto.
A few funny things from day one of the WSOP.
- A guy who was playing in a satellite was running back from trying to sneak in a bathroom break while they colored up (the bathrooms were about a 5 min round trip from the sat area), and fell, and I mean fell flat on his face, while running nearly full speed. I'm talking face meets carpet for about two full seconds. This happened right in front of the line of 200 players waiting to register for the tournament. Total number of players who asked him if he was alright, or tried to help him up: Zero. Total number of players who burst out laughing...about 100.
- The look on some of the pros faces when they realized they had to stand in the same line that everyone else did, and that 8:00 pm reservation at Fix was just not going to happen. I felt really bad for the out of town pros who were using Players Bank, as they had to stand in line to get a player badge (45 mins), then walk all the way to the main Casino cage (30 minute round trip + transaction time), then stand in the multi hour line to get into the tournament.
- The sighting of the day was David Williams, and his new 600 series Mercedes. One word for that car, Dave - Schweet.
Overall, I think the 2005 WSOP is off to a flying start. Props go to Nolan Dalla, who thinks like a writer, and as such created a private media area which has everything a growing writer needs....coffee, Diet Coke, and Hi Speed Internet connections....lots of them. The room is going to be ridiculously small to handle the media for the main event, but until then it will be really nice.
Stay tuned for more tomorrow...
Ed Note:Noble Poker has 6 handed single table tournaments that we think are easy pickins...get in on the action