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Five Thoughts: Fifth Week of the 2011 World Series of Poker


The World Series of Poker is entering its sixth week, and the Main Event is right around the corner. The past week was filled with drama and excitement, as a man made the Ladies Championship final table, the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship Event began, and a baller entered the Rio to test his hand in a preliminary event.

It's time for five thoughts!

1. Jonathan Epstein was wrong, but mob mentality is not the answer

Every year at the WSOP, the Ladies Championship is a magnet for drama and controversy. A handful of men always enter the field, whether in protest or as a joke or in an act of pure stupidity, and it leads to formation of an enraged mob. This mob is not satisfied until every male hits the rail, and during the 2011 Ladies Event, that didn’t come until the final table.

Jonathan Epstein, brother of former ESPN Inside Deal co-anchor Laura Lane, made the final table and was knocked out in ninth place, taking home $13,701. He was showered with boos throughout the tournament, and upon his bust, the crowd chanted, “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!” Even the tournament director took shots at Epstein – he called him “princess” and pointed out that he’s single and unemployed.

Should men play the Ladies Event? No. Should we feel bad that Epstein was subject to public ridicule? Not at all. But that doesn’t mean that it’s right. Mob mentality is a scary thing because it can turn even-keeled individuals into thoughtless monsters. People who dare speak out in favor of men who play in ladies events are subject to harassment, blackballing and outright nastiness.

Epstein should’ve never registered for the event, but at the same time, let’s try and act like human beings. Hopefully, next year the tournament staff will find a way to further restrict men from playing, and we can celebrate the women in poker rather than hunt down every male standing.

2. The $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship should always be at the end of the Series

The Poker Player’s Championship attracted 128 runners this past week – 12 more than last year – and it can partially thank the previous bracelet events for the increase. If they hadn’t already experienced a ton of success this summer, one can argue that Ben “Benba” Lamb, Dan O’Brien, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Owais Ahmed, Guillaume Rivet, Doug Booth, Brian Rast and Andrey Zaichenko wouldn’t have played this event. That’s eight names right there that add nearly $400,000 to the total prize pool.

It’s much easier to shell out 50 dimes after winning a bracelet or cashing a handful of times at the Series than it is at the beginning when the future of the summer is uncertain. Likewise, it’s much easier to find investors if you’re running hot. The Player of the Year race also plays a major factor. If you have an opportunity to take the lead or run away with it, than the PPC is a great value because the field is small, yet there are a ton of points available.

It is very unlikely that the PPC would’ve drawn such a high number at the start of the Series, especially with the Full Tilt Poker situation ongoing. Nobody wants to start the Series $50,000 in the hole. Instead, the riches of the Series were reinvested in the most expensive tournament of the summer, and despite the lack of FTP Red Pros, the PPC drew a great number of players.

3. Despite the great field in the PCC, the chips are horrible!!!

As a member of the PokerNews Live Reporting Team, I can honestly say that the T5,000 and T25,000 chips used in the PPC are the worst in the entire world. There are two main sets used at the WSOP – one for noon events, and another for five o’clock events. The PPC was a five o’clock start, so they used traditional, neon-like T100, T500, and T1,000 chips. The higher denominations do not match the traditional set; however, they are more of a forest camouflage and uncountable brown.

The two chips also look very similar – just ask Andrew Brown who incorrectly tossed a T25,000 chip in during this hand.

Obviously it doesn’t really matter what a live reporter thinks, but when the players are making mistakes, something needs to be changed. The higher-value chips should be unique to the tournament so that nobody can Men Nguyen any into play, but they shouldn’t be mixed in with another set nor should two chip denominations look alike. This problem could easily be solved if a set was made exclusively for the PPC.

The players are paying $2,000 in rake individually, so the least the tournament staff could do is supply them with a nice, fresh set of chips to avoid all the confusion and give the event and even more illustrious feel.

4. The Main Event will attract over 6,000 runners

Earlier in the Series, I was as pessimistic as anybody with regard to the Main Event. On the PokerNews Podcast I even told Ty Stewart that the under on 5,000 was a strong possibility. Now, though, after seeing the Series grow as a whole, and after seeing the daily deepstack attract 800 to 1,000 players every day, I can confidently say that the Main Event will be fine.

The loss of online qualifiers is clearly a massive blow, but at the same time, this is the greatest poker tournament in the world! Despite Black Friday and the FTP disaster, the Main Event lives on. It certainly won’t have more than 7,000 players like last year, but 6,000 is within the realm of possibility, and if the preliminary events are any indication, then the over might be a slam dunk.

5. Basketball World Champions > Poker World Champions

Speaking of slam dunks, Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks (who recently crushed LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA finals) talked with Lynn Gilmartin about his poker skills, poker socks, and even did a little planking.

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