There's a crowd in the Pavilion surrounding a table in the back of the room. Camera phones are out recording, fans are laughing and there's outbursts every few moments with oohs and ahhs. You're probably thinking the same thing I was thinking: that some star, like a Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu or Phil Hellmuth must be seated there and making some kinda of ruckus. OK, maybe not Ivey because he doesn't do much but crush souls at the poker table.
As I inch my way closer through the masses, I see no pros at this table. I don't even see any main event chips on the felt. All I see are players standing around watching as the dealer handles perhaps the quickest $1,000 satellite you could imagine. In a sense, the players are flipping cards for a seat in the main event, and with just a few hours of open registration left, those that are seatless are doing anything and everything they can to get into the big show. As soon as one of these satellites end, another one begins and quickly the WSOP creates a few more entries into the 2013 main event. While the players desperately want to get in, the WSOP wants them in equally as much.
Turnout on Day 1C should eclipse the 3,000-player mark, but all signs point to a shortfall compared to last year's main event. How should we react to the news of a sub-6,598 main event? I'm not entirely sure, but for those that watched the numbers closely during the WSOP, this really is no surprise.
Blaming Black Friday for every failure in the industry seems standard at the moment, and once again, I'll offer that the main event this year is another victim. On a day where the WSOP celebrated Chris Moneymaker with a bronze bust that represented his game-changing accomplishment, the reality is that Moneymaker's method of entry is no longer a reality for casual fans of the game in the United States. There were just a few online satellites in 2013, and the launch failure of WSOP.com's real-money site in Nevada only made that story worse. Beyond the satellites, we also have to look at the overall player base which has decreased since Black Friday.
The "younger" generation of poker players all followed the typical mold of playing online at 18, building large bankrolls and eventually "going pro." But if we glance back at 2011, there were probably some 18- and 19-year-olds who no longer had that ability and needed to leave the game behind. We're finally noticing this year that that crop of players is no longer part of the industry, and as a result, I'm assuming that the average age of WSOP participants has increased. Online poker sites always talk about retention, but we're finally seeing the results of what happened when they lost that younger American demographic.
Oh, and one last point, the U.S. Department of Justice has $300 million of the poker economy still locked up.
Final numbers will be in later and no matter where they end up, seeing a field size and a prize pool of this magnitude is still an accomplishment for the game. While the negativity may prevail, the industry has pushed aside the adversity and, once again, has celebrated our game with a main event like no other.
Small blinds: The TV production team is getting the feature table ready for Day 3, and as a result, there are players on the main stage today. ... The Blue section is once again "champions corner" with Joe Hachem, Jonathan Duhamel, Huckleberry Seed and Carlos Mortensen. ... The Green section in the Pavilion is being utilized for main event action for the first time this event. ... "ODB" David Baker was eliminated during the first level of play on Day 1C. ... Joseph Cheong doubled his starting stack during the first level. He's cashed in this event in each of the past three years. ... Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo is playing today. ... Chad Elie, one of those indicted in "Black Friday," showed up for the main event in an orange jumpsuit with a woman in a police uniform. ... Matt Perrins recently won his second bracelet in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold 'em event. He hadn't been able to accept his bracelet until today, as he was arrested for swimming in the lagoon in front of the Mirage.