Random Thoughts: All-Nevada Edition
This week, we take a spin around the poker world catching up on a few recent news items and sharing some random thoughts.
Poker took one more small step closer to legal status in the U.S. last week when Nevada governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill that allows the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations to permit internet gambling if and when the federal government approves it. Through this bill, Nevada has done a nice job of keeping themselves relevant in the gaming world. Now they just need to hope their elected Senator Harry Reid can pull some strings at the federal end. Will online poker's Dark Ages be over in the U.S. within a couple of years? Maybe. But don't hold your breath.
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It's been a year of new bracelet winners at the WSOP so far. The first fifteen bracelets were handed out to first-time winners. The streak will end at that number, however, as John Juanda and Phil Hellmuth are playing heads-up for the bracelet in Event #16 as I write this.
Among the newly-minted WSOP champions were two UK players, Jake Cody and Matt Perrins. After UK railbirds showed a penchant for raucous consumption of alcohol while sweating their fellow countrymen, WSOP officials decided to ban alcoholic beverages from the final table stage known as 'The Mothership'. The final table stage at the WSOP may be the only public place in Vegas where you'll find a "no drinking" sign. Another sign you'll find in that area? Advertisements for Miller Lite. Kind of cruel to put those right in everyone's face next to the "no drinking" sign, don't you think, Harrah's?
Let's take a break in the action for a public service announcement courtesy of PokerTips.org:
If you are a poker player and you have to sneeze, do not sneeze into your hand. That is disgusting and spreads germs. Sneeze into your shirt or sleeve. If you insist on being a barbarian who sneezes into his hands, at least wash them or use hand sanitizer before you go back to touching cards and chips. Thanks!
Alright, back to the action.
Paul Pierce, the All-Star guard for the Boston Celtics, was in the field for WSOP Event #18, a $1,500 no-limit event. Mainstream sports superstars participating in the WSOP is a great thing for poker. One should always root for those guys to win any event they're in after rooting for themselves. Can you imagine what Paul Pierce taking down a WSOP event would do for poker in America? It'd almost be as monumental as our government actually... you know... legalizing the game!
For anyone who was concerned that Black Friday would mean disaster for WSOP participation, you may now exhale. Event #18 drew the largest field in a single-starting-day $1,500 event in WSOP history with 3,157 players. As improbable as it seems in light of a bad economy and wretched poker legal situation, the WSOP seems to grow more and more popular each year. One can't help but wonder what the field sizes would look like if the world economic meltdown and Black Friday had both never happened.
Finally, we'll close with two sincere suggestions for the WSOP tournament officials:
1. More TVs, please. Poker players love betting on and watching sports. Unfortunately, the TVs are few and far between at the WSOP. Adding more TVs all over the room could pay for itself; there has to be some percentage of poker players who opt to sit out of certain events in order to watch an anticipated sporting event. More TVs could mean slightly larger field sizes. While they're at it, why not put a sportsbook in the WSOP area so players don't have to walk a thousand yards back to the casino to place a bet? They'd make an absolute killing!
2. More parking lot security please. It's amazing that more people do not get mugged in the Rio parking lot at night. Poker players are notorious for walking around with very large amounts of money in their pockets. After busting out of WSOP events, one must walk to their cars through a massive, dimly-lit parking lot. There is virtually zero security presence. While walking to my car this evening after busting a $1,500 event, it occurred to me what an easy mugging target I was. Harrah's should be proactive about this problem. Hire a couple dozen security guards. Equip them with golf carts. The parking lot of the Rio is literally a mugger's haven. They need to do something about that immediately.