The opening level has been dominated by one thing, the rapid disappearance of a lot of players. Some 500 of them returned today but with an hour played that number had already dropped considerably. It becomes lower with each passing minute and the cry of "seat open" is one of both excitement and misery.
The set up here is not exactly favourable to the defeated players. A player will watch their last hand play and the light from the tournament go out. Getting up there's a walk to the ballroom exit and then an even longer walk out of the conference area and up towards the hotel. Along the way they'll pass the player lounge, (perhaps asking themselves "am I still a player?") before resisting the urge to topple the giant Perspex box of PokerStars stress stars to be counted later for a competition.
Still standing: the box of stress stars
When they finally reach the hotel lobby, at the end of the chlorine scented hallway, the bar will be empty, with no one there to share your grief. They might then turn to their phone before remembering that a call home costs more than a dollar a minute.
It's almost enough to ask: could this be different? Is it time to end this punishment and make elimination from a poker tournament less grueling, particularly for the player in a chance of a lifetime event.
The empty hallway
What such a process would look like is not clear. One imagines there would be a bar, perhaps soft cushions and maybe a priest. Each aspect of the drama would have to be examined with great scrutiny to determine what hurt the most. Was it a bad beat? Maybe a good beat? Or is it more that now there's simply nothing else to do?
We've discussed this, and while every player would likely have their own preference, we have a yardstick procedure, suggested by Rick Dacey of the PokerStars Blog.
At the moment of riddance, a velvet curtain would immediately descend from the ceiling, shielding the evicted from the awkwardness of company. Within this curtain would be a homely matron, with one hand around the player's shoulder, the other presenting them with a refreshing beer. Some natural force, perhaps variance, would then sweep them away to a safe place.
Meanwhile the matron would insist on being told exactly what had happened while using appropriate histrionics to contend that you were without question the unluckiest man alive. At which point a text message would arrive explaining that, due to an administrative error, your buy-in was being refunded.
Owing to a few development issues we can't yet offer this service to the nearly 100 players who have so far busted today, but we can at least try to think big. For now they have our sympathies.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter