2008 WSOP Hits Halfway Mark

Casualty Toll Yet to Be Determined

by , Jun 18, 2008 | 11:59 pm

It seems that the 2008 WSOP is at the halfway point. If judging by days, we are almost there, but if looking at events, more than half of them have concluded and we’re in the second half.

Thus far, bits of poker history have been made – the first set of siblings to each win a bracelet in the same year and only the second set of brothers to every accomplish the feat, and the fourth largest poker tournament ever held (Event #2). Professional poker players have absolutely dominated the Series, with numerous players like Lindgren and Singer finally taking home the gold. And through the end of the day June 17th, the totals were as follows:

30 WSOP bracelets awarded
28,223 players registered in tournaments
2,705 players finished in the money
$66,514,615 prize pools combined

There is also an interesting and notable change that takes place at the WSOP near the halfway mark.

It is a lull, certainly not in the action but in the energy and excitement of the bodies circulating through the halls of the Rio Convention Center. It is human nature to become exhausted after two or more weeks of long hours, but add in irregular meals, limited sleep, anxieties, financial ups and downs, emotions, and pressure, and it becomes a recipe for burnout.

Tell-tale signs of the stress are obvious in the faces of the players, staff, and media. The eyes are weary, and some of the smiles have faded.

Players who are running bad are getting concerned about the toll it’s taking on finances and relationships. Players whose bankrolls are suffering frantically play satellites, and those with backers are calculating what they owe in makeup and how much they have to win to get ahead again. In some cases, sleep and exercise are put on the back burner in order to keep up momentum, while energy drinks and sometimes energy-inducing drugs come into play. Spouses and significant others feel the intensity that often reflects back on them, and some of those relationships become strained.

Those who are doing well are focused on continuing the good run. Pros like David Singer and Scott Clements are up for the challenge and have had phenomenal years, not to mention a great WSOP thus far. (They are two examples of pros who are also very happy with their personal lives, though, and that makes a difference as well.) There are players like Tom Schneider who are somewhere in the middle; though he has five cashes thus far, falling short of his goal to win a bracelet and possibly another Player of the Year nod is disheartening. What he – and others in his position – do over the next few weeks remains to be seen.

Members of the media start to feel the pain as well. Not only do they pick up on the tension among players, but the ability to stay fresh is challenged. Finding new ways to write about aces cracked, large fields, lengthy hand-for-hand or bubble situations, players eliminated, and amateurs at the final table about whom little is known become difficult tasks as the days wear on. Writers and reporters also see the darker sides of the players – poor attitudes, nasty exchanges with dealers, detrimental vices – that become a struggle of integrity and ethics. Trying to decide what is fair game and what the publication or website will allow tests the strengths and weaknesses of everyone. And depending upon the hours they are required to keep for their jobs, many media members also suffer from exhaustion and poor health choices.

Those who are responsible for product booths in the Rio hallways also become weary. The CardRunners booth that boasted of names like Taylor Caby and Mike Schneider during Week 1 now typically sits empty with only the CardRunners videos running on a loop on the plasma screens. Fans take the sometimes-provided fortune cookies left out for fans and use the idle chairs to rest for a few minutes. The Sapphire strip club girls even look to be over it. They see our same faces each day and know that we’re not going to take their free pool passes, and those who do accept their offers, usually male tourists, are looking for a “date” or a pass to the strip club for a lap dance. No one has been at the Gamma-O testosterone booth for weeks, though someone does show up each day to turn on the plasmas to an all-music video channel. The only crew that doesn’t seem to be exhausted is the All In Energy drink folks who, strangely enough, always seem to have some energy to promote their products…

This is a tough time when the glass often seems half empty, but it is possible to see it as half full. Technically, there are only about 20 more events after today before the main event, one of which is the $50K H.O.R.S.E. that many feel is the truest world championship tournament of them all. And the $10K NLHE main event begins on July 3rd, and along with a new influx of players and media, the excitement returns. The end of the summer of tournament madness nears when media members can count the days until they return home to families and reasonable schedules and players can take some time off to soak in the results of the 2008 WSOP.

Despite the dark tone of this post, it is only meant to give readers and those far away from the Rio a glimpse into the reality of living this WSOP life for nearly seven weeks in the mad hot summer of Sin City. And it’s not to say that most of the players and media would choose to do anything else. Most of us look forward to it each year and miss it at least a little when it’s over. There is nothing like it in poker, and for those with a passion for the game, nothing beats it. In most cases, the good outweighs the bad over the course of the summer, and the experience itself is a valuable one.

Now, I return you to your regularly scheduled WSOP coverage.

17 Comments to “2008 WSOP Hits Halfway Mark”

  1. Zero

    Just wanted to say good job on all your reports. You and KevMat both are doing well at keeping us all in the loop. Thanks.

  2. olivert

    My two cents:

    The WSOP should be downsized, SIGNIFICANTLY, in 2009.

    7 weeks is way too long.

    3 1/2 weeks, with 4 weekends, are more than enough.

    My proposal:

    Week 1:

    Start the series with the $50K HORSE (Wednesday start, Sunday TV table finish)

    Run specialty events on Thursday and Friday (i.e. $5000 buy-in NL or PL at 12noon, $5000 buy-in Limit events at 5pm.)

    First weekend event: $1500 No Limit (5-day event, with Saturday and Sunday flights. TV table the following Wednesday)

    Week 2:

    Supersatellites to the $10K Main Event running Monday through Wednesday starting at 11am and 7pm

    More specialty bracelet events starting at 5pm on Monday through Wednesday

    $10K Main Event starts on Thursday: 4 flights of 2000+ players on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

    Week 3:

    Main Event continues with “Day 2” on Monday and Tuesday, with an off day on Wednesday for the Casino Employees event. Main Event resumes on Thursday (Day 3, a.k.a. money bubble day) with play on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and possibly Monday if necessary to play down to 9 players.

    Run additional specialty bracelet events at 5pm each day on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

    Resume Main Event Final Table at a future date and time, as dictated by the TV rights holder (if there is one).

  3. Kevin Mathers

    You forgot to mention where it’s going to be.

  4. California Jen

    Oliver, that’s a little more than two cents! That’s at least $1 worth. 😉

    Seriously, I think you have a point with your proposal, but are you saying the same number of events would take place, only condensed? It would be complete madness. There would be no place big enough to host it, and it would put soooo much more pressure on the media. Everyone would have to quadruple (at least) the staff… It would just be insanity.

  5. Kevin Mathers

    I think Oliver’s referring to a greatly reduced number of bracelets awarded.

  6. DanM

    Oliver, have you thought about blogging your ’08 travails in the agenting biz? I think lifetilterati.com is available!

    ***Week 1: Start the series with the $50K HORSE***

    Dude, c’mon, you know why that won’t work … Not a lot of players have $50k for that event. Players are hustling up buy-ins as we speak. They wouldn’t be able to do that the same way pre-WSOP.

    And then for the 90 percent of the field who start the series stuck $50k? Yikes … that doesn’t encourage buy-ins to later events, now does it? And if the pros play less in the smaller events, then you know the amateur fields will shrink as well.

    ***First weekend event: $1500 No Limit (5-day event, with Saturday and Sunday flights. TV table the following Wednesday)***

    I thought we all had concluded that 1500 NL final tables make for about as exciting TV as circuit events, no?

    OK, I’ll stop. But seriously, Oliver, tell me how The Empire (Harrah’s/Caesar’s) could put a positive spin on any dramatically noticeable change like you propose, and maybe I’ll reconsider. But as it stands now, I’ll take the status quo. Sorry, dude.

  7. California Jen

    What fun is it if there’s no burnout, no dark stories, no exhaustion? Ha ha.

  8. Kevin Mathers

    Well considering that Oliver’s given the point that the key to where the WSOP will be next year depends on the ratings of the final table on ESPN, it makes sense (in Oliver’s head).

    For those who are unfamiliar:

    If the ratings don’t get to 2004 levels, ESPN will opt out of their contract with Caesars (the current deal ends in 2010). The new owners of Caesars will then sell the WSOP, and the new owners move it to Dubai for late 2009.

    http://tinyurl.com/4jtcok for a link.

  9. tbonezz111

    GREAT, JUST GREAT…… Even though I have yet to build a big enough bank roll to play in a WSOP event, I can’t imagine it moving to Dubai from Vegas. Seriously??!! I moved from Dallas to Vegas with one of the reasons being that the WSOP is here… That will be one hell’uva drive for me to move my belongings to Dubai! (Anyone got a road map I can borrow??!!)

  10. California Jen

    TBonezz, settle… I would put my last dollar on the fact that they will NOT move the WSOP to Dubai. Seriously, c’mon folks.

  11. Kevin Mathers

    Tbonez, the same person also said that the 2006 WSOP would be in London, and we saw how that prediction went.

  12. tbonezz111

    phewwww…. I guess I can stop packing up my poker books 🙂

  13. olivert

    > Tbonez, the same person also said that the 2006 WSOP would be in London, and we saw how that prediction went.


    You forgot that there was a WSOP in London in 2007, and there will be a WSOP in London in 2008.

    The next exotic WSOP port of call, if Caesars were to remain in charge, will be the Conrad hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

  14. olivert

    >>> Week 1: Start the series with the $50K HORSE***

    Dude, c’mon, you know why that won’t work … Not a lot of players have $50k for that event. Players are hustling up buy-ins as we speak. They wouldn’t be able to do that the same way pre-WSOP. <<<

    There is not a whole lot of difference by starting the WSOP with a $10K Pot Limit Hold’em event vs starting the WSOP with a $50K HORSE event.

    A more compact WSOP, instead of this bloated affair where the diehards are burned out 3 weeks before the main event, makes more sense.

  15. Kevin Mathers

    You made your “prediction” circa October 2006 that the WSOP would be moved to London, because that was the only way the Gaming Expo could actually be held. The WSOP Europe was announced in Feb. 07.

  16. Kevin Mathers

    Recall this post? http://tinyurl.com/5nzws2

    That doesn’t mean WSOP Europe.

  17. corey

    Personally, I’m hoping they keep adding events, there is nothing wrong with pain and misery.Also,lthough ESPN is alot better then having to listen to Sexton and the human tanning bed I wish they would expand each episode to 2 hours and show more final tables