WSOP: The Calm Before the Storm

by Dr. Pauly

This is the second summer that I've spent at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas covering the World Series of Poker and lurking the hallways of the convention center doing my best to avoid hearing another bad beat story.

During the main event, I'll be contributing to the PokerStars Blog with updates, commentary, and other random tidbits. I'm flattered that PokerStars asked me to join. I'm also excited to help cover Team Poker Stars, which includes my friend Wil Wheaton and some of my favorite players such as Barry Greenstein, Tom McEvoy, Isabelle Mercier, John Duthie, Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker, and Joe Hachem. I'm also eager to meet the newest members of Team PokerStars such as Bill Chen, Vanessa Rousso, Victor Ramdin, and Humberto Brenes.

Sure I'd rather be playing poker everyday instead of standing around like a dork behind the ropes with an out-of-focus camera and ink stains on my shirt. I'm usually scribbling down notes from a pen and pad that I stole from the last casino I stayed in and those notes and thoughts get formulated into words and blog entries like this one.

There's nothing comparable to the WSOP in the world. And in my estimation, the championship main event is greater than the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, the Daytona 500, the Oscars, Wimbledon, and British Open... combined. There's no other event in sports where anyone can enter. If you are over 21 years old and have $10,000, you have a seat waiting for you at the Rio.

As of today, more than 7,600 players have entered with more than 1,600 of those players in some form or another qualifying via PokerStars. To put that number in perspective, when Chris Moneymaker won his seat in 2003, he beat out a field of 839 players. For a second year in a row, more than 1,100 players from PokerStars will be gunning for the World Championship.

The 2006 WSOP has already been one of the most memorable series in recent years. Joe Hachem made two final tables and was eliminated from both by bad beats from Dutch Boyd and John Gale, both of whom went on to win bracelets. Bill Chen made history when he picked up two bracelets in the $2,500 Short-handed NL event and the $3,000 Limit event.

Over the next two weeks, players from all over the world and all walks of life will be trying their best shot at fame, glory, and $10 million. Where else will you find lawyers from Long Island, contractors from Chicago, grad students from Ann Arbor, and grandmothers from Houston all trying to bust the world champion Joe Hachem?

The sharks are beginning to salivate over the schools of dead money. Time will tell if the sharks will get eaten themselves or if the next world champion will be one of your buddies that you play with on PokerStars. They're all trying to avoid being a casualty in the existentialist meat grinder called the first day of the WSOP.