The first people in are the security guards, the ones who go undercover. Then there’s a man who adjusts something on the table, then there’s a floor producer, then there’s a small team of camera operators, Kara Scott adjusting her dress, the four dealers chatting and sending messages on their phones, and then there’s an appearance from Jack Effel.
By this point, a couple of reporters will be seated on the press risers, and a couple of representatives from the sponsors will be hovering around with a bag of patches. Lon McEachern and Norm Chad will rehearse their “bit”. Someone will rip open bags of chips and count them. Then a few more suits, a few more reporters, now a small army of camera operators and floor producers, and then in come the fans.
We’ve been watching the same gradual flow of personnel enter the Brasilia Room in roughly the same order from around 3.30pm over the past three days. By the time it gets close to 5.30pm, the cheering sections are full, the floor producers and camera operators have blended into the background, Effel has a microphone in his hand and a bowtie round his neck, and players are seated at the table, behind their stacks of chips.
The undercover security guards have been swallowed up, but they’re there in the bleachers if you know where to look. They’re the only ones still wearing black suit, white shirt and dark tie, sitting in the same seat they occupied from 3pm. They’re also not drinking–but I did see one cheer.
All of this happened again, for the last time, over the past two hours ahead of the finale of the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event. They started with 7,221 players and three are left: the entire 361 million tournament chips are now split between only Scott Blumstein (226.45 million), Dan Ott (88.375 million) and Ben Pollak (45.85 million).
All that remains to be determined is how the remaining $16.35 million in prize money is eventually split between the three. It could take 90 minutes. It could take 13 hours. But we’re here now and ready to wait it out.
Blinds at this stage of the tournament are 1 million/2 million (300,000 ante) and so there’s still potential for an enormous amount of play. Last year, which was a smaller tournament, the final hand was dealt in Level 43, but right now we’re still in Level 40.
Last year, they got heads up after hand #182 of the final table and Qui Nguyen was crowned champion on hand #364. When play started tonight, they were on hand #136. It is therefore possible that we’re less than half way through.
But we won’t get anywhere by delaying any longer. Play is now under way again and the search for the champion is now very close to its conclusion.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.