WSOP 2017: Three rooms, two cards, one goal

July 13, 2017

Play has begun, and so far during the first few minutes nothing too remarkable stands out as the massive 2,572-player restart got going in three different rooms.

That last detail, though — three different rooms — puts a thought in the back of everyone’s minds. The plan is to play down to the money today. The last 1,084 finishers make the cash, with $15,000 the minimum payout. (Speaking of WSOP Main Event min-cashes, see our specialized history of the topic here.)

The Brasilia room is one of the rooms in play, and should remain so throughout the night. So, too, are the Amazon and Pavilion rooms. One of those might empty out of Main Event players by the bubble, but not both, meaning it appears at least two rooms might be in action once the tournament reaches that first climactic moment.

Setting that thought aside for now, we took a stroll through the three rooms to gather a few early impressions.

The feature tables are up and running in the Brasilia, where our friend and colleague Kevin Mathers — the “czar” of the WSOP (and consistent resource of all things poker) delivered today’s call to dealers to “shuffle up and deal.” We haven’t asked Kev whether he considered alternative directives like “scramble and gamble” or “blend ’em and send ’em.”

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Kevmath with the call

2005 Main Event champion Joe Hachem and Rainer Kempe are among those up on the main stage. Several other Main Event final tablists are spread across those three tables as well — Kenny Hallaert, Chino Rheem, Allen Cunningham, and Donnacha O’Dea.

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2016 WSOP Main Event sixth-place finisher Kenny Hallaert

At an outer table in the Brasilia is Nick Petrangelo, sitting quietly behind a top 20 starting stack. The latest update of the Global Poker Index rankings has Petrangelo at No. 1 both in the overall rankings and the 2017 Player of the Year race.

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Petrangelo keeping pace

Moving across the hall to the Pavilion, we stopped by start-of-day chip leader Artan Dedusha’s table.

Speaking of min-cashes, it was amusing at the end of play last night to hear Dedusha talk about min-cashing being his goal in this event, especially as he was bagging 680,000, putting him well clear of the chase pack.

Walking by his table a half-hour into the day, the memory of his saying that returned when we saw he hadn’t arrived yet, his chips unbagged and spilled all over the felt in front of his empty chair. He probably could safely min-cash (at least), even if he never arrives today.

Hang on… strike that. He’s here.

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Chip leader Artan Dedusha takes his seat

Touring the Pavilon to look in on the Red Spades in action, the big-stacked Randy Lew is sitting comfortably behind his tall stacks, capped by not one but two card protectors as he now is carrying forward Celina Lin’s following her Day 2AB elimination.

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Nanonoko and friends

We saw the similarly well-chipped Andre Akkari not far away.

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Akkari accumulating

While there Akkari won a small pot off of his former teammate Marcel Luske, the latter looking dapper as usual in a sharp-looking suit.

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Luske, the dapper Dutchman

A studious-as-always Barry Greenstein is there, too, and Liv Boeree dressed in lucky green to match the felt. Boeree began the day shortest of the Team Pros, but walking past we spotted her doubling up to improve her prospects.

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Liv still alive

Moving down the hall to the Amazon, Felipe Ramos was winning a pot off of Bryan Rowland, sitting to his left, as we passed. Jake Cody is sipping a large coffee that’s taller than his stack at present. And Fatima Moreira de Melo is also biding her time with chips that are below the average though plenty deep in terms of big blinds.

Elsewhere Aditya Agarwal was looking serious while in a three-way hand. (Remember — you can monitor Agarwal’s progress level-by-level right here.)

Finally Jason Mercier seems relaxed, leaning back in his seat and chatting with David Len Ashby at a neighboring table. He started with 101,800 today, while several rows away his wife Natasha came back to a top 20 stack of 476,800. (More about the Merciers to come later today.)

Stay tuned to learn how these 2,572 become 1,084. And how three rooms become two (and… eventually… one).

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