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Padraig Parkinson's WSOP Tales

Padraig and Day One of the Main Event


There's nothing quite like that feeling of anticipation you feel when you wake up on the morning of the first day of the main event of the WSOP. In the not-too-distant past you knew you were facing an exciting day's poker against a table that would typically be made up of three world-class players, three tough pros, and a couple of chancers like yourself; and that was the way it was going to be for days on end. It's not quite like that anymore because you're much more likely to be faced with one guy that you have seen before - though you're not sure if it was in the buffet or at the poker table - and seven guys you've never seen before and probably won't see again.

It mightn't be as much fun or as exciting a test, but if there's going to be close to 100 million in the prize pool, that's just fine by me.

I'm fed up listening to guys who say they'd much rather be playing against a table full of really good players. What a load of nonsense! Give me the Muppets any day! The funny thing is that the guys who want to play against the good players generally speaking aren't all that good themselves, or too bright for that matter.

When you walk into the room, it looks like you've either accidentally arrived at a Star Trek convention, or have stumbled into a bunch of people on their way to the beach. The sooner they ban sunglasses the better; and hiding under your jacket while they're at it.

Card Player Magazine reported that I had got a tough draw. It didn't look too tough to me. In the middle of the announcements at the start they came up with a new one:" Let's have a big round of applause for Team Brunson." I though they were having a laugh, but they were deadly serious. I'd be the first guy to stand up and applaud Doyle Brunson, but I didn't really see why we should have to clap at a bunch of guys who had been paid to wear a shirt walk solemnly down the aisle in the middle of the tournament room like pallbearers at a funeral. So the guy beside me said that if I'd qualified for $14 bucks on the net, I'd be quite happy to clap whatever they told me was good all day long.

Some real champions from other sports were in the field. Multiple World Snooker Champions Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry went completely unnoticed by the guy with the microphone, although 888's Lennox Lewis got a warm welcome.

Everything went very smoothly from my point of view, which is completely out of character for me, and I finished the day with an above-average stack. Phil Hellmuth provided most of the entertainment by skipping the first level at the feature table and proceeding to get knocked out before level three. I thought the cheers when his elimination was announced were a little out of order for a man who'd had a marvelous World Series, but what do I know?

I bumped into Dan Harrington and told him his book had got me into a lot of trouble, and should come with a warning that it should be packed in a suitcase when traveling, and not carried as hand luggage. I had innocently been carrying Dan's book in my laptop bag as I passed through Beauvais Airport in France, when I was called aside for a security check. A routine check almost turned into an international incident when the girl decided to flick through the pages of Harrington on Hold'em. The book contains a lot of diagrams of a poker table that take the form of numbered circles all nicely connected up. The security girl jumped about a foot in the air when she saw these diagrams and shouted some instructions in French. I'm not sure what she said, but within seconds a guy with a machine gun, who looked like he was just itching to use, it was at my side, and a supervisor arrived who split his time pretty evenly between looking malevolently at me and glaring at Dan's diagrams. A heated discussion that seemed to take minutes ensued, after which more instructions were barked at my friend with the gun. While again I didn't understand what was said, I gathered that they had decided that the diagrams weren't a make-your-own-bomb recipe, and that he wasn't allowed to shoot me just yet - which suited me just fine. Instead of sympathizing and apologizing for the hassle, Dan just burst out laughing in my face, which probably confirms his Irish heritage. I don't know if he'd have laughed that much if I told him I still hadn't read his damn book.

Well, that was day one - except for the announcement on the ESPN website that pre-tournament favorite Phil Gordon was out. I come to Vegas a lot and for the last couple of years there's been a lot of talk about an inevitable water shortage crisis. USA Today had stated that Mr Gordon's regimen for the WSOP included drinking a bottle of water every hour during the main event, whether he was thirsty or not, so his untimely early demise must have come as a relief to at least some of Nevada's more concerned citizens.

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