Chasing 9 Million

09 Jul 2010 | 15:12

The World Series of Poker Main Event started this week, and yesterday I decided to head over to the Rio for about an hour just to see what I could see.

Despite the recession, the 2010 World Series of Poker has pulled the second largest field in its 41 year history.

While some in the mainstream press are championing this as a sign that things are looking up for the town, in my opinion, this uptick could be interpreted in two ways.

  1. The economy is getting better
  2. The economy is getting worse as the disparity between rich and poor gets larger

My opinion is that #2 is occurring.

The construction worker who was laid off last month and is puking his guts out from god-knows-what because he cannot afford to go to a doctor likely finds little solace in the WSOP's good fortune.  There are a lot of just such construction workers in Las Vegas right now.

There will always be people in the world who can afford to part with $10,000 buy-ins regardless of unemployment numbers or S&P levels.  I'm not sure that it makes sense to read too much into the huge turnout, but people crave optimism I suppose .... founded or not.  If you are one of these people, then congratulations.  Everything is now okay.

Over 7,000 players have entered the tournament this year, and the top prize is now $9 Million.  Not too shabby.

After hanging out for about half an hour in the main room yesterday, I quickly succumbed to boredom.  Poker is still not a spectator sport.  At least not without hole card cameras and color commentators.  Not only that, but the chip crickets were so overwhelming that they almost put me into a weird hypnotic trance.

As I walked up and down the spectator alley from table to table, something occurred to me.

Poker players look like douchebags.


I've known this deep down for some time, but the realization really hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday.  For once, I actually stopped and looked closely at the garb, and I found some of it confusing.

Backward caps, enormous headphones that made players look like Princess Lea (it's not that loud in the room that you need such large headphones), and worst of all .... hoodies. 

What in the hell are the hoodies for?  Are players afraid that someone is going to read their hair?

"Hey Jim, I saw one of your follicles move three centimeters to the left so I can tell you're bluffing.  Call."

Seriously, guys, it's excessive.  It's freaking July in Las Vegas. 

"Rex, you look like a douchebag too with your knit cap, sunglasses, and huge pecker dangling from beneath your pant leg."

True, and I concede the point.  I am more comfortable in heavy clothes and I wear as much as possible until I can't take it anymore, but there is a limit.  I ditched the cap last month and cut my hair yesterday.  I sure as shit wouldn't wear a goddamn hoodie in this weather. 

It appears to me as though an inordinate amount of poker players are trying to look like unibombers or rappers.  Many of them have a swagger and "yo yo yo" vernacular.

Guys, if you are white, and you are playing in a $10,000/seat tournament, then guess what?

You're not F'ing Snoop Dogg.  You be straight out da culd de sac BIZZIYATCH!  Straighten your hat, take off the hoodie, and just play the goddamn game.  There are enough douchebags in this town.  Don't be another one.

Honestly, I don't get some of the prevalent fashion trends of today.  There is kind of a retro-80's meets pants-around-the-ankles thing going on in Vegas right now, and it's been this way for about 2 years.  Since these things are cyclical, I figure we're due for a change.

It wouldn't surprise me if fairly soon ... kids pull their pants back up, grow their hair back out, and have another brief fling with flannel.  From what I am seeing around town right now, pre-ripped jeans are already making a slight comeback.  Perhaps douchebag party attire is on its way out.  Hopefully, the ringtone bands go with it.  Five years from now, perhaps Encore's Surrender Nightclub will be a venue where you go to shoot a bag of dope in the bathroom and nod out in the corner while Nirvana's "Something in the Way" drones over the house speakers.  Hell, when that happens, I may finally go to the place.

I digrizzle my nizzle.

While the poker game wasn't terribly exciting to watch, the spectator halls were fun to cruise.  I got some food, talked with some of the vendors, and just generally soaked in the atmosphere.  I also got a free T-Shit by entering bogus information on an iPad.  For some reason, iPads are big at the WSOP this year and several vendors are trying to entice patrons with the device.

I was given a choice between a hat or a t-shirt if I agreed to enter all of my personal information into an iPad, and I immediately complied.

Name: Harry Balsagna
Street: I Feltersnatch Ave.

You get the idea.

I don't remember all of the bullshit info I gave them, but I remain astounded that anyone gives their real information to complete strangers.

Sometimes I do feel guilty about "stealing" free merchandise in this manner, so to make it worth their while, here is a photo of the shirt:

There, they got some pub out of it.

It's way more valuable than my real info.

For what it's worth, it's a nice t-shirt.  I actually wear the freebies I pick up throughout the course of a year.

Anyway, the WSOP Main Event continues until July 17th, at which point it once again breaks for several months.  I'm still not a huge fan of this start/stop format, but I seem to be alone.  It looks like a crowd-pleaser.  If you are in town, stop by and show your support for the event.  If you are so inclined, you can even get a free t-shirt out of it.

Tell them Harry sent you.

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