The Big Time

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007, 1:43 pm

So yesterday I was assigned to cover my first WSOP Final Table, the $5,000 Limit Hold-Em World Championship. Big event. 5K. World Championship. I was looking forward to sitting in ESPN’s Final Table arena with all the bright lights and cameras. Dressed up nice, just in case one of those cameras happened to linger over lil ‘ol me.

Well, turns out that ESPN doesn’t think much of Limit Hold-Em. Instead of playing in the fancy new poker stadium, the Worldwide Leader decided to shoot a commercial there yesterday. Meaning the nine players contesting the $333K first prize and the bracelet had to play in a table shoehorned between the massive arena and the forbidding black curtains of “The Box”, the sequestered final table where the Ladies Championship was played.

The players didn’t like it. They were told they’d be playing in the arena, and then they show up and they might as well be playing in a closet. The rail was, oh, 16 inches away from the table. Fortunately the spectators were a pleasant lot (and, for the most part, Norwegian, as Thor Hansen and William Thorsson made it to the final four). As for me, conditions were less than ideal. It was so cramped that I didn’t have a table to write on–I had to rest my laptop on my lap. There were no electrical outlets where I was sitting, and when I tried sitting near The Box where there WERE outlets I was told by security that no electronic devices were permitted anywhere near it. Of course, six hours later there were two women from ESPN chatting on cell phones while leaning against the curtain, but whattya gonna do?

Of course yesterday was the one day I didn’t bring the extra battery for my laptop. I figured there would be plenty of power in the arena. So as my laptop died I had to run through the Stud/8 event, which attracted lots of big-name players and therefore lots of gawkers, to plug in. And then run back to grab updates. It wasn’t an ideal situation.

But we persevered, covered the event, and I got go home early. An eight-hour day almost seems like a day off, though it was pretty hectic. And now it’s time to head back to the Rio. Only 34 more days to go!

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