By Bruce Bullington, Poker Writer
For die-hard poker fans, this past Tuesday was the culmination of another record-breaking World Series of Poker. Played at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, this year saw record entries in almost all events and record prize pools. The $10,000 Main Event did see a drop in entries, but, with 6,358 buy-ins, it was still the 2nd largest main event field in history.
As 1989 World Champion Phil Hellmuth noted during the pay-per-view broadcast, this was still a remarkable number considering that online sites were no longer allowed to pay playersâ€™ buy-ins directly. Once a player won a satellite, he had the choice of cashing out for $10,000 or taking the main event package. For a lot of people, $10,000 is a life-changing amount of money and would be difficult to blow on a lotto-style poker tournament.
The pay-per-view of the final table was much improved over last year. With Phil Gordon and Ali Nejad returning to call the action, a revamped graphics package gave players better ideas of the blind and antes, bets and pot sizes. This year also saw the introduction of original, behind-the-scenes packages during the dinner breaks and other stoppages. The edited version that will air this fall is a fun, but the pay-per-view is a must-buy for any real fan of poker. With over 16 hours of live coverage, the $20 price tag may be the best bargain in television.
The Greensboro poker crew got together to watch the pay-per-view, which was to start at 3pm EST. Of course, leave it to Time Warner to not have their act together for something other than wrestling or soft-core pornography. Problems on their end prevented anyone watching on cable from seeing any of the action until after 4:30pm. Fortunately, no one was eliminated in that period of time. DirecTV had no such problems, which is another reason why they should be the provider-of-choice for any sports fan (watch for a future column on the Time Warner vs. MASN battle, which continues to rage alongside the Time Warner vs. ESPNU quagmire).
After we finally got to see the program, we were able to guess along with the final 9. Since this airs live, there are no hole-card cameras. Edited poker gives the novice viewer the impression that every hand winds up all-in with the chips flying around, but real no-limit holdâ€™em is a game of â€œraise and take itâ€. Sure, there are the inevitable bumper-car hands, but those are few and far between.
Around 8pm our regular $30 buy-in game started. Keith got run over by the deck and wound up taking first place. I got lucky to finish 2nd as I was card dead most of the night and never got to mount much of a challenge. Raking in a $10 profit when I should have been a $30 loser is a nice feeling.
With our game over around 11pm, we were free to turn our attention over the main event, which was 4-handed at that time. It was amazing that they lost five players in eight hours and it looked like it would be a fast final table. We each pulled out our laptops and played online sit-and-gos like the degenerate gamblers we are.
At the main event, play slowed considerably after the break. The tournament wound up going until around 6am. Congratulations to the 2007 World Champion. For those who wish to be surprised when the edited version airs, please stop reading now.
For the rest of you, here is the final hand. I’d love to embed the video right here on the page but, unlike the rest of the blogging software in the known universe, simply pasting in the embedded video code doesn’t cut it.
Although his overt religious exercises may be off-putting to some, Jerry Yang seems like a genuinely good person. When people hear his story on ESPN, he should be a natural for the role of poker ambassador and can do nothing but help with the religious right who have attacked our great game this past year.
I hope to see one of you on the final table broadcast next year (or better yet, sitting next to you there).