Crowds are forming in pockets of the Amazon Room. It's not for Daniel Negreanu. Or Phil Hellmuth. Or Joseph Hachem, Phil Ivey, Paul Pierce, Joe Cada, or anyone else you can think of. In fact, the players and cards on the felt are apparently the side show on Day 2C. The crowds stand motionless with a blank stare across their faces. Don't ask them to move. Their eyes are locked on what's directly in front of them.
I stop to look down at my phone, probably to tweet. A player yells out to me and waves his hands furiously as if there was a gigantic bee swarming around his stack. It looks awkward, but I understand. My bad. I quickly take a step to the left. He gives a nod.
What was behind me was perhaps the most important thing in the room to hundreds of those in my view ... the television screen that was locked onto ESPN and showing the World Cup. Apparently that's a pretty big deal.
If there ever was the ultimate distraction for players as they compete for the chance to win $10 million, it's the Netherlands/Argentina game. The WSOP main event is an international spectacle that featured players from 83 countries. The majority of players didn't have a true vested interest in the game, but it has been all that everyone is talking about on Wednesday. Poker criticism turned to criticism of coaching and styles. Players were sporting jerseys and rocked with anxiety as if they were sweating the most pivotal river card in the world. Despite so much on the line in the event that could change their lives, the masses of players acted as if they were in a bar with their best friends.
They were watching a game and if they could, they'd try to chip up, too.
For a few hours, the social engagement that's commonly seen around the world in home games was replicated here in the biggest tournament in the world. This event is known for the quiet, meticulous behaviors, filled with hoodies, glaring stares and only a mumble or two per hand. Sunglasses were removed and smiles were seen. Leave it to the World Cup to bring out the best in the main event.
Then the game ended and players went back to business. Except for Phil Ivey, who never stopped being all business.
It's a scary thought that Ivey is not only playing like the best player in the world, but also running good too. Ivey began the day as one of the chip leaders and left for the second break of Day 2C with a stack nearly 150,000 bigger than his closest competitor. Ivey eclipsed the 400,000-chip mark nearly five hours before anyone in the field from Day 2AB attained it, and is seated in the middle of Amazon at a table that, when he sat down, looked up and him and asked how they could be so lucky to sit with the greatest of all time.
Bumps to Ivey's stack came a few times during the level, but a hand with just minutes to go put him well over the top of the competition. Ivey flopped bottom set of sixes on a board of 10h-9d-6s and led out in a three-player pot. Lazaro Hernandez called and Fabian Scherle moved all-in for 44,000. Ivey moved all-in over the top and Hernandez, holding the nuts 7-8, called all-in for 130,000. Scherle, holding kings, was in big trouble and began to get up. Even though he had the nuts, Hernandez joked that he was going home and Ivey looked at him incredulously. Then came the 5h. Then the 10c. Ivey had filled up and won a massive pot. Hernandez was going home.
Right as play was beginning, I joked that Ivey would have 700,000. Now that joke doesn't seem so farfetched.
Small blinds: The Amazon is filled with notables, but hidden in a back corner is Daniel Negreanu and a sub-100,000 stack. Phil Hellmuth is back in his survival mode with 38,000 in chips. Paul Pierce has 96,000 at the break. Earl Barron is right behind him with 90,000. Two 2013 November Niners went down so far today, JC Tran and Sylvain Loosli, as well as two former champions, Jonathan Duhamel and Scotty Nguyen. Nguyen told me that now that he's in the Hall of Fame he feels old. He was also drinking a Michelob at noon. UFC fighter Martin Kampmann has 70,000 at the break. The green chips are being colored up during the second break of the day. Bruce Buffer did the Shuffle Up and Deal on Day 2C. Sully Erna, Eric Baldwin, Matt Stout, Jesse Martin and Paul Wasicka will have to wait until next year. One of the players sitting with Paul Pierce, is wearing a Paul Pierce jersey. The media event begins at the dinner break. Tables are breaking from Pavilion into the other rooms. Should be cleared out by the end of the night. The Day 2AB Poker Edge daily podcast, featuring Chris Moneymaker, Antonio Esfandiari and Mukul Pahuja, can be found here. Dennis Phillips was standing in the hallway outside of the Amazon Room watching his final table on the televisions.