Las Vegas, NV
65 million years ago, a comet or asteroid crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula. The immediate explosion and ensuing fallout killed off the dinosaurs and 90% of all life on Earth was wiped out.
65,002,010 years later, the poker world almost witnessed another mass extinction event -- decimation of the equus africanus asinus species.
Disaster loomed late on Day 1A in the $1,000 buy-in Donkulus. The bloodshed was so fierce and rapid on Day 1A that a mere 279 souls (out of 2,601) were left standing in the killing fields. When the field got under 420 players, some of the staff were concerned about the speedy pace of eliminations would affect the money bubble because they really couldn't determine how many runners would show up on Day 1B. The decision was made to play out the scheduled 10 levels.
In hindsight, WSOP officials admitted that they made a mistake and the right thing would have been to stop play on Day 1A around 350 or so players to give them a cushion. Before the re-start of the 50K Players Championship, several members of the Players Advisory Council were a part of an impromptu meeting with WSOP VP Ty Stewart and TD Jack Effel. They consulted a semi-circle of pros (Erick Lindgren, Jen Harman, Barry Greenstein, Phil Hellmuth, and Doyle Brunson) on what they should do in the Donkulus.
The gaunt field of 1,744 on Day 2 worried the bean counters. Did the Memorial Day holiday weekend negatively affect numbers? Did all of the online pros play on Day 1A and skip Day 1B so they can sit at home and grind the Sunday tournaments? Where there simply too many running of the equus africanus asinuses, with six different Dokulus events and a score of $1,500 Donkaments on the 2010 schedule? The truth lies somewhere scattered among those answers.
After the end of the second level on Day 1B, it was evident that numbers fell way short of expectations. Savvy members of the media picked up on the potential cataclysm. Twitter was soon ablaze of the situation, while the knitting circles on different forums went ballistic.
The discovery of the Donkulus dilemma was sort of like a bunch of astronomers huddled underneath a telescope tracking an asteroid the size of Rhode Island with a trajectory headed toward the Earth. Once the news broke, authorities hoped to contain the news. The last thing they wanted was a bunch of religious freaks committing ritualistic mass suicide wearing online poker schwag and Nikes.
The top 441 players in the Donkulus would win prize money out of the total field of 4,345. That meant the magic number was 165, a number that two different staff members told me was the point where they have to pull the plug. 165 players or 10 levels -- whichever came first.
"I don't think we're going to hit that number," said assistant TD Steve Frezer, "but it might come close.We're gonna be sweating this to the end."
Even Ty Stewart returned to the Rio shortly before midnight to monitor the end of the night in person. Many of the Harrah's and WSOP bigwigs made cameos inside the Pavilion, which told me that this was more serious than I thought. There was a slim chance that 90% of the field would be eradicated because anything can happen on the killing floor.
The media was eagerly awaiting the calamity, because the new drama was a welcome respite from the tepid events in the 50K and the tedium of constantly refreshing an uncooperative Poker News website. For a third day in a row, the languishing coverage pissed off a lot of people on all levels of the industry. On one hand, how can you complain about a free service? On the other, how could you not have your shit together for the biggest event of the year?
My trusted source in Vilnius told me that the Lithuanian IT department installed two new wheels of hamsters and upgraded another server to a rabbit. By the end of the week, the rest of the hamsters will be euthanized and replaced by an unknown marsupial that The G found in one of the Asian groceries on Spring Mountain.
One of the staff members told me that this near miss will not happen again, because they will be instituting a 15% rule whereby multi-flight events in future donkaments will not shed more than 15% of the field in a given flight. But what didn't they make that decision on Day 1A? Then they wouldn't have had to sweat the slaughter on Day 1B.
Once unnamed source suggested that the number of runners in the first Donkulus were 25% less than original estimated figures. Ty Stewart said that he expected 4,500 runners for the first $1,000 buy-in event, and somewhere between 4,500 and 5,000 in subsequent events.
Action slowed down significantly during the final level. Day 1B ended with 200 or so runners, well over the 165 panic number. Disaster averted. The comet missed us by thismuch.
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Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 3...
Snoopy told me that he encountered a rookie dealer in one of the NL cash games inside the Pavilion. "He was so bad that he got cards thrown in his face on the third hand," explained Snoopy. "That's when he whispered to me that this was his first day on the job." Every year you hear players bitching about dealers because it's one of their favorite past times. However, this year seems to have an extraordinary amount of lackluster dealers. On a positive note, history tends to repeat itself and by the second or third week, the shitty ones get fired, quit, or improve.
Event #2 $50K Players Championship: Maridu spent most of the day on the rail of the 50K sweating her boyfriend, David Baker. The Brazilian Team PokerStars Pro was bummed out that she had to fly to Lima, Peru on Monday morning for the LAPT instead of staying behind and cheering him on to the (eventual) final table. Despite the scheduling conflict with the last minute addition of LAPT Peru, she had no choice but to head to South America for a week. Meanwhile, Baker was among the 21 players (out of 54) who advanced to Day 4. Only the top 16 pay out in this event.
With four tables to go, the Scandi Mafia appeared on the rail. That's the nickname that Benjo gave Thor Hansen, Gus Hansen, and Martin De Knijff. They each represented the triumvirate of Scandinavia -- Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Everyone knows that Thor is the Godfather. De Knijff and Thor are big time money men who put shitloads of Euros and Greenbacks on the streets staking the spectrum of players from teenage wunderkinds to seasoned Euro lagtards. De Knijff paced back and forth on the rail while sweating his horse Mikael Thuritz.
Gus Hansen's motivation to hang out on the rail had little to do with financial investment -- he was looking to get laid. The Great Dane flirted, diddled, and seduced one vixen who sauntered by. Sweet Jesus, Gus Hansen has laid so much pipe in the last five years that BP should hire him to plug the hole in the Gulf of Mexico with his cock.
Cliche of the Day: After advancing to Day 2 of the Donkulus, Men the Master posed for photos in the hallway in front of the Pavilion for a gaggle of frat boys. He hammed it up and screeched "All you can eat, babeeeeeee!"