The World Series of Poker had a big moment earlier today with the announcement of growth in the main event for the first time since 2010. Players continue to file into the registration area at the last minute and essentially enter the main event at no disadvantage given how slow the blinds move on the starting days.
Some of those players are coming from the Pavilion Room, whose tables are occupied by main event players, cash game players and, as mentioned on Day 1, satellite players. As Day 1C plays on, there are fewer and fewer tables being utilized for satellite play. There are single-table ones, which are nothing more than turbos with 15-minute blinds, and then ... there are the flips.
And that, my friends, is where the true excitement is on Day 1. In the smallest pocket of that satellite section is one table next to the podium responsible for the madness. The floor staff yells out, "Two seats left in a $1,030! One seat left!" hoping to entice those who surround the section to buy-in. They eventually do get their players, and as 10 players take their seats, they're surrounded by tens of players and railbirds looking to get a glimpse of the ridiculousness. These players are looking for an ounce of luck to go their way, and they're all content with putting their cash on the line.
The dealer shuffles for high card, then gives everyone a hand. Nobody looks at their hand as the dealer runs out a board. One by one, the players look to see if they hit, and in less than 20 seconds, someone wins their seat into the main event.
In a game that likes to preach skill over luck, there is no skill here. There is simply gamble. And there are plenty of people willing to do so.
Frankie Flowers is one of those players, and he won his seat in a flip. Flowers, from Poughkeepsie, New York, plays incessantly on the east coast. The father of three (son Brandon, 20, and daughters Miranda and Lia, 19 and 7) travels back and forth to the casinos in Connecticut and plays $5/$10 for a living, mixing in the occasional tournament. In speaking with him for moments, you understand the gamble in his eye and his true passion for the game. The past month hasn't been great for him on the felt, but the past few days have provided him with a little boost.
"I've played in smaller events but have no scores," Flowers says, anxiously looking for other players to buy satellite lammers off of him. "The satellites have been good, though."
Good, apparently, is relative. When discussing the tens of thousands in satellites he's won, he still admits that he's down. Regardless, the smile never leaves his face.
The table gets the call and the crowd emerges. Players are quickly trading hundred-dollar bills with others, trying to reduce their risk, and among those in attendance is Eric Mizrachi who is currently playing in the main event. Mizrachi is all smiles and flanked with other players from his table in the main event.
"The whole table got excited when we saw the flips," says Mizrachi. "So I asked why don't we all do it. Jokingly. Then we got serious about it and did it. We pooled our money and entered."
As Mizrachi's table stood waiting for the cards to come out, they tipped the dealer, looking for a little bit of karma to line their pockets with another $1,000. The payout for the satellites come in lammers, and they had a buyer ready to go. Unfortunately, the winner of this latest flip, Pavlos Savouidakis, didn't. Savouidakis, who bought into the main event and is in action on Day 1C, now needed to find a buyer for his lammers, something that at this point in the event is tough to do given that the lammers are only used to buy into events. Regardless, he was thrilled with the victory, then rushed back to his table hoping to build up a stack that he had depleted over the first four hours.
Flowers, meanwhile, was already back in another satellite and probably will continue to enter them until the very last minute. Then he'll make his way down the hallway and register for the main event.
"If I win the main, I would call my kids and tell them we're going to Fiji for a month or two," he said.
While the risk is high, some, including Derek Dempsey who advanced to Day 2 already, believe the last-minute satellites still have value. Dempsey has pocketed nearly $7,000 today after winning one of the flips and finding a save in three of his other four. He should probably play the lottery tonight.
Small blinds: NFL defensive tackle Richard Seymour is in today's field. Jamie Gold is the first former main event champion to find the rail this year. According to his Twitter feed, Gold lost two pair to a bigger two pair. Phil Hellmuth hasn't taken his seat yet. Players are in action at Buzios right now which is a 10-minute walk from the Amazon Room. Jennifer Harman is one of the players in that situation. Joe Cada is on today's feature table set. Over at the Aria, the WPT 500 is completely destroying their $1M guarantee. There's a pretty good rail behind Greg Raymer in Amazon. The 2004 main event champion hasn't cashed in the main since 2005.