WSOP 2016: A slow walk to the big bucks

July 17, 2016


Drop a World Series veteran in the corridor between the main Rio casino and its convention center and he or she can likely tell you not only the time of day, but also the exact stage of the Main Event they have reached.

In the early stages, there is a throbbing throng moving en masse either towards the tournament room or away from it. They often run even, desperate not to miss a single second of the biggest event of their lives, or to get to a restaurant reservation.

Anybody walking the corridors away from the crowd has usually just been eliminated. Follow them as they pluck a cellphone from their pocket and you’ll hear the precise details. They have usually raised with kings and lost to anything from aces to total garbage that hit on the river. “I couldn’t give it up,” they say. “No. I’m going to change my flight. I’ll be back tonight.”

Today, those corridors are quiet, and nobody is running anywhere. In the minutes before Day 6 began, 80 players slowly paced towards the Amazon Room, often pursued by a phalanx of cameras. Three separate floor producers tried to encourage a skip or a whoop from Kenny Hallaert, to use only one example. But the stoic Belgian was focused only being focused. He clenched his first and gave a lacklustre “Day six!” at the very last. It may not make the edit.

Hallaert’s poker will definitely feature on the TV, though. He’s up there on the television stage along with the talkative William Kassouf. There were 80 of them at the start of the day. There are only 70 now, an hour into play.

The plan is to play five two-hour levels or to 27 players, whichever is later. That means that if they get down to the last three tables soon-ish, they will play on until the five levels are done regardless. That will be around midnight, by which point everyone will be guaranteed at least $269,430.

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