Linda Johnson (Former Gold Bracelet Winner) – This is my 31st year to come to the World Series. There is always something special about it. For me, it is like coming back home. You get to see all your friends and all the people you read about and see on TV all year who come here. It also seems to get better every year. The layout of the tables and organization is improved. Each time I come here I wonder what I will see and experience, and the WSOP never disappoints. It’s always a unique experience.
Jeanne David -- I’m very excited to be playing the first Omaha event of the year. As far as expectations, I think there are going to be a lot more people playing everything this year, and that includes tournaments, cash games, satellites – you name it. It’s very exciting. I love the World Series.
James Hoeppner – One thing that I noticed this year that’s much better is the temperature is more suited to playing poker. It was either too hot or too cold in various areas of the Rio last year. But now, it feels a lot more comfortable to me here in the tournament room.
Mike “The Mouth” Matusow (Former Gold Bracelet Winner) – As far as I can tell what’s different is it’s a little bit eerie with the situation with (some of the) online sites. It’s kind of like 1999 all over again, before Internet poker even existed. But from what I see here looking around at the Rio -- I think the whole setup is off the chart. I just went over and saw the big stage over in the (Amazon Room). It’s unbelievable. It makes me want to get there and make a final table even more, now. It’s like a big flying saucer just landed in the room. I can only imagine what the energy is going to be like in that room with all the re-starts and the final tables going on every day. I can’t wait to get over there.
“The Shadow” Huffmaster -- I’m just glad to be back. Seriously. This is what it’s all about – coming back here every year. The best tournament is still the best. Players come here from all over the world. As far as differences, there is a conspicuous absence of logos, this year which is a political statement in and of itself. But nonetheless, the World Series is the World Series and this is what it’s all about.
Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler – The new set-up seems better. I also see a lot of new mainstream sponsors. I predicated the Omaha High-Low tournament would get a higher turnout than last year, and that happened. There were 100 more players this year. As far as criticism goes, I am disappointed with the lack of middle buy-in mixed-game events. Basically, if you want to play any of the HORSE games, you have to either play the $1,500 or the $10,000. There should be three of each of the HORSE games, like Stud, Eight-or-Better, and so on. But there are just two events for some of these games. So, I am disappointed that the WSOP has taken out some of the games and events that are usually included on the schedule.
Andrew Barber – I think the setup here is really cool. It gives it more of a novelty, especially to make it to the final table. But the concern I have is that the World Series of Poker is becoming more like the World Series of Hold’em. We will see some poker games become extinct if we do not foster the development of people playing different games. So, that is something I would like to see the WSOP get back to. Other than that, it looks like it’s going to be another huge year.
Max Pescatori, a.k.a. “The Italian Pirate” (Former Gold Bracelet Winner) -- The final table is an amazing change this year. It looks like one of the greatest places you can ever be. It looks like some kind of extra-terrestrial final table. So, I love the improvements. I also like the rule about being able to register four hours into a tournament. If you get knocked out of one, you can still have time to join another event. This will be good for a lot of pros and for people who like to sleep later after playing the night before.
Al Barbieri, a.k.a. “Sugar Bear” (Philadelphia, PA) – Last year, I was very impressed. Back in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, it was chaos. They finally got it f---ing right. Now when you get here, you actually feel like you know where you are going and can get around. I was initially disappointed to learn it was back at the Rio again, but now I see that they have the room to do this tournament right and everything is run like clockwork. Believe me, I’m one of the biggest critics when I see something wrong. Like, there are no signs in the hallways. People are still lighting up. You got some ignorant people who still light up. I can’t tell you how many fights I have gotten into. Where are the diesels (sic) with those signs that say NO SMOKING. Where are the diesels (sic)? What do they call those things…oh, easels. That it. Do I have to die of cancer because you want light up and kill yourself? Have some consideration of your fellow f---ing human beings.
Eric Cloutier – The thing I like best? I found a new smoothie machine in the WSOP food court. And they serve protein shakes.
Christopher “Wrecking Ball” Tryba – I’m tingling. I’m very excited. I just saw the main stage and I was really impressed. It was like a UFO. They are here for me. They have come down to take me away! And believe, me – I am ready to get on that ship!
Steve “Bald Eagle” Zolotow (Former Gold Bracelet Winner) -- A couple of things immediately come to mind. First, I am glad to see Mori (Eskandani) and his television crew heavily involved this year. They are poker people…..I am really looking forward to how things will look on television this year, as opposed to how it’s been done in the past. As far as here at the Rio, it always looks better each year. The dealers always seem to get a little better, from what I see. Of course, I expect that as we move along, there will be some difficulties. That’s natural. Like with most dealers, they have never dealt games like Triple-Draw Lowball or some of the split-pot games before. So, everyone has to get up to speed. I think we as players have to pre-program ourselves to understand that some mistakes are going to happen. But every year it seems to get a little better and smoother. But right now, I need to win a few hands to stay alive in this tournament.
Andrew Black – To me, it all looks similar to last year….I still can’t win a hand.