As those of you who follow my Twitter stream know, I spent a good chunk of yesterday down at the Rio, cruising around Day 1A of the World Series of Poker.
Oskar Garcia has the action cover here. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts.
The story I was looking for at the WSOP was to profile the first person to bust out of the main event for next week’s Green Felt Journal in Vegas Seven. Luckily I’ve got a great deal of latitude with my subject material there. I thought that it would be interesting to share the experience of someone who came to Las Vegas, plunked down $10,000, and left the game quickly.
I’ve been seriously planning this column for over a month, and it never occurred to me that there might be a logistical problem or two. After all, it’s not like I was planning to interview the winner, who’s readily accessible to the media and usually in a mood to talk. Instead, I had to patrol somewhere around 150 tables, look for an all-in and a call, and quickly grab the unlucky one.
It sounds a lot easier than it is.
After about 20 minutes, I settled into one of the quads of the Amazon ballroom, loosely shadowing a poker supervisor who promised to let me know if he heard anything from one of the other quads.
By 20 minutes, my mouth was dry, and I was noticing how hot it was, with the lights and the excitement. It felt about 10 degrees cooler by the rail than it did at the tables.
I got a heads-up that a player was down to 200 dollars, and sped over. Turns out it was Greg Raymer, who kicked off the action with the official “Shuffle up and deal.” He bounced, and didn’t look anywhere close to being eliminated by the time I got to him.
32 minutes in, I felt like an undertaker waiting for a customer, circling the tables, looking for short stacks, or any inkling that someone might go all-in. This is around the time I started collecting a few statistics. In my section, about 10% of the players wore sunglasses; 25% wore baseball caps, mostly with the bill forward; 3.5% were women.
(someone busts out in another quad 35 minutes in, but I’m not there, and he wasn’t talking, anyway)
41 minutes in, I swear that the players know what I’m here for, and I can’t even look them in the eye. It’s like I’m a poker angel of death or something.
53 minutes in, I’m convinced that this is the worst story idea I’ve ever had. It’s the same feeling that I usually get around mile 22 of a marathon.
62 minutes in, I start to consider that I’ve crossed over into the Twilight Zone. No one will ever bust out, and I’ll spend eternity circling the tables, waiting for an interview that never comes, while a thousand players continue to push chips around the table without ever losing or winning.
68 minutes in, someone goes all in, but made the right call: he doubles up, and lives on.
70 minutes in, this is the idea from hell. Why did I ever think it was a good idea to write a column about failure?
71 minutes in, another all-in call, and this one wasn’t the right call. The player, who looks vaguely like Oliver Stone, busts out. I ask him if he wants to talk, and he says no before scooting out the door. Maybe he’s staying ahead of the snipers on the grassy knoll.
74 minutes in, another all-in call, right in front of me, and it’s another unhappy outcome. This time, the player is shell-shocked, but personable, and we find a few chairs in the media section to do a quick interview.
Turns out his name is Peter Turmezey, he hails from Budapest, Hungary, and he’s a professional poker player. Nice guy, too.
You’ll be able to read all about it in next week’s Vegas Seven.