There is a dance people do. It happens in corridors and casinos. It happens festivals and fairgrounds. It happens anywhere too many people are in too small a space.
You know how it works. You see him coming. He sees you coming. You both want to be polite, but there is no structure to the crowd, and neither of you know which way is out of the way. So you step right, and he steps in front of you. So you step left, and he responds in kind. Eventually, one of you must take the initiative and decide for you both how you’re going to avoid colliding.
Sometimes that works. Sometimes you end up in a chest-to-chest collision that maybe you could’ve avoided, or maybe not. Fate doesn’t give a damn about you, and sometimes it just likes the laugh of watching you look like an idiot.
These kinds of collisions and dances happened every day of the World Series of Poker when the hallways outside were packed with throngs of distracted people in a hurry. Sometimes there were apologies. Sometimes there were just muttered expletives. It’s the way crowds work.
Now we’ve reached the stage of the WSOP Main Event where only a couple hundred people remain. The hallways are easy to navigate. The real trouble is inside the Amazon Room where the dances and donnybrooks are happening at the tables.
You can watch it happen as the nerves start to ratchet up. A player looks at his hand and chooses his path while someone across the table does the same. Before long, they are locked in this seated version of the hallway dance. One player insists on a path, and insists on being in the way. Unless one concedes, the collision happens, and each time they clash it can mean the end of the road for one or the other. It’s the nature of poker tournaments. They are built on the idea that people are too stubborn, distracted, or otherwise mean to get out of the way.
That’s where things stand here on Day 5 of the Main Event. Each passing minute offers another chance at a collision. We watch Marc-Andre Ladouceur and Jennifer Shahade, the last of PokerStars’ official representatives in the field, and neither looks particularly happy about their day thus far.
“Eh, I’m still in,” Shahade says looking down at a stack that is only 1/3 of the chip average.
Meanwhile, Ladouceur isn’t looking much more pleased, despite having a stack much closer to the average. He takes the time to take a photo with a fan, but it’s clear he’d rather be the guy who has enough chips to buy up all the little chips before the color-up.
It would take only a 15-minute break to color up the chips, and just slightly more than that to end Shahade’s day.
Just after she got back from break, she had one of those unavoidable collisions. She had aces. She ran them into queens. The board ran out a heart flush for her opponent. And that was it. She placed 204th for $42,285.
While Shahade is among the latest victims of this silly dance we call poker, she will not be the last today. Before the chip bags come out, there will likely be fewer than 80 people left in the WSOP Main Event. That will only leave Sunday and Monday to play before we figure out which of these people will go to the big dance in November.
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