I'd love to say that the first level of Day 1A was filled with tremendous moments that have defined a tournament that lives up to the main event billing, but thus far, the first day has been relatively calm with only a few eliminations.
After the first two-hour level of the tournament, it seems that the main event is simply missing something. The field today is sparse, and at times there were tables playing five- or six-handed. The shuffling of chips that typically deafens the Amazon Room is limited, and as an observer of the industry, it's relatively unsettling. The fans aren't really lining the rails, the hallways are easy to navigate, and after years of watching the WSOP squeeze players into 10-handed tables, Day 1A is anything but reassuring.
Take this with a grain of salt since official numbers for the day aren't in and it is only the first level of the main event but the lack of attendance today sends me one distinct message: The amateurs aren't here. Note that it's not that they aren't coming, but they just aren't here ... yet.
Walking around the rooms today, I've seen a lot of familiar faces. Such players as Mike Sexton and Matt Glantz along with recent champs Pius Heinz, Joe Cada and Greg Merson are in Day 1A action. It was hard to walk through a section of tables where I didn't recognize a player, and that isn't the norm. Day 1A usually features a strong mix of amateurs and pros, but this year, the field is pro-heavy.
The WSOP began to offer the first starting days of the main event on the weekend as a way to give players who have other jobs an opportunity to play. They could play Day 1A and, if they lose, are back to work on Monday.
Before I get ahead of myself and send a doomsday message way too early, there are a number of other possibilities as to why this is a small field today. First, Day 1A is always the smallest. As we know, poker players often wait until the last minute to register, and as a result, Day 1C is always the biggest. Players may wait as they are trying to satellite in, are flying into Vegas today or woke up just not feeling like playing. The satellite room was completely packed this morning and probably will be for the next two days. Without the online poker effort, the WSOP reacted intelligently and made these a big part of their plans. Thus far, they have been successful.
Nolan Dalla, the WSOP's media director, offered that amateurs will begin on Day 1B or 1C to limit their time in Vegas. Hotel rooms are definitely more expensive on Friday or Saturday night than Sunday or Monday, so if they're looking to save some money, that may be part of the strategy. Players that survive today will wait two days to play again compared to only one day in between for Day 1B and 1C.
On top of all of this, there are still other bracelet events being played out, which reduce the potential player pool on Day 1A.
The jury is still out, but if I'm the WSOP and I'm looking at empty registration lines on what should be one of the biggest days of the Series, I might not sleep too well tonight. In all honesty, I hope I'm way off on this one.
Small blinds: When players arrived at their tables today, there was a bag of Ruffles chips waiting for them. Considering they are one of the sponsors of the event, it makes sense. ... Joe Cada is seated at the feature table with a limited audience. ... Actors Jason Alexander, Kevin Pollak and Robert Iler are in today's field. ... The WSOP should do a banner-raising ceremony next year for the previous main event champion. Or maybe it should do that for the Hall of Fame. Just an idea. ... The calls of "seat open" are few and far between today. Those will pick up later. ... Congratulations to Flaminio Malaguti, who won the Bluff-sponsored Deepstacks Player of the Series award, which provides him with a seat into the WSOP main event. He won four events and had eight final tables throughout the WSOP Deepstacks. ... Paul Pierce is in action once again at the WSOP, but this time it's in the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha event. ... The final table of the Little One for One Drop will stream on ESPN3 later tonight.