Thoughts from week one at the WSOP.  A few things have taken me by surprise this week, particularly the turnout in the $1,000 buy in Stimulus special. 

Very Stimulating

The big story this first week was the stimulus special, and the early attendance.  The stimulus was a sell out at 6k+ players, and a blow to those who say the game has lost a step.  Oh, by the way - 2,700+ runners yesterday for a $1,500 donkament.....on a Tuesday(!).  The same event drew 2,300 last year.  The economy sucks, but the WSOP keeps rolling along.  Color this reporter very surprised.  Economy, schmconomy. 

I think there is an interesting contrast between the strong numbers in the smaller buy in No Limit events, and the numbers thus far from some other events.  The Seven Card Stud championship got 142 players (down 10% from last year, 22% from 2007 when it was a $5k buy in), while the $2,500 Deuce to Seven Lowball event yesterday got only 147.  This $2,500 Deuce to Seven is a new event this year, but after some cursory research, I couldn’t find any $2,500 bracelet (non-rebuy) event since the boom with a number even close to 147, with most easily doubling that number.  Maybe its just a rarely played game with a format that makes it extra tough.  

“Come Find Me, I’m at Miranda Table 281” 

One thing I that I think is interesting about this year is that, the main room (the Amazon) seems at times almost like an afterthought this year.  Since the WSOP took over Brasilia and Miranda Rooms (they basically control all but one of the big rooms in the Rio Convention Center for the first time since the WSOP moved here), most of the day one action goes on out in those rooms, and as such the Amazon Room has seemed pretty desolate at times.  Interesting considering it has been such a focal point in years past.  One good thing about it is it has alleviated some of the crowd issues around Amazon, because two-thirds of the fields start in other rooms.  It should be noted that today was an especially bustling day in the Amazon.

TV, or not TV - That is The Question 

With two of the four televised events in the bag, it seems we‘re going to need to pull some great TV out of our hats with the two remaining televised events.  The champion of the $40k No Limit ‘40th Anniversary Special’ isn’t an English speaker , and the Champions Event was not the most compelling final to say the least, particularly at the end.  Although the production in 2008 was the best ever in this reporter‘s opinion, the material doesn’t seem to be cooperating this year, and it may put poker in a bit of a pickle.  As they say in the TV business - “We’ll fix it in post (production)”.

Will ESPN scramble to tape more events?  Maybe it’s all about the Main Event, and their budgets must be completely allocated, but boy would it be nice to have one or two more compelling final tables.  Ante Up for Africa should be good TV, albeit lacking in real poker drama, but it seems to me that a good Main Event final table is more important than ever.

They’re Not Booing…They’re Saying “Luuuuuuuuu”

Thang Luu deserves a lot of credit.  Coming 2nd, 1st, and 1st three years running in the same event against these field sizes is just  world beatingly (note: ‘beatingly’ = not a real word) epic in my mind.  Could this happen in any event other than a split pot game?  I wonder if we’ll ever see this kind of consistency again. If this wasn’t Omaha/8, would we be making a bigger deal out of this?